Saturday, April 3, 2010

'Wait and See'

As a parent, 'wait and see' is about the most frustrating phrase you can ever hear from a doctor when it comes to the health of your child.

Jack has been having some problems with his right arm. It is weaker and less coordinated than his left arm. We started noticing it about a month and a half ago when Jack began grabbing and reaching out for toys. It is especially noticeable when he is playing on his back on his activity mat. His right arm has a tendency to lay straight out from his side or, more recently, resting on top of his head, while his left arm does the bulk of the exploring. As a result of the uneven activity, the right arm is not growing as quickly as the left. It's a very subtle difference, but as a mom, it's definitely cause for concern.

A trip to the pediatrician did not alleviate my fears. After a brief physical exam, and some questioning regarding his birth, I was told there was a notable difference, but that the doctor could not really identify what was behind the difference in arm movement. He threw out Erb's Palsy as a possible diagnosis, but ultimately shrugged his shoulders and felt we should 'wait and see'.

I was heartbroken. I realized just how badly I had wanted the doctor to tell me I was crazy and that it was all in my head, and that Jack would be fine. After a mini-meltdown, and a lot of googling on Erb's Palsy (Jack most definitely does NOT have Erb's Palsy), I had a long talk with Mr. C and we both decided that we felt very uncomfortable doing absolutely nothing when we still didn't know WHY our son was struggling to develop his right arm's coordination.

So, after some additional encouragement from friends and family to follow my mommy gut, we got a referral from our pediatrician and took him to a neurologist that he recommended for a more in-depth evaluation.

I can not even begin to tell you how discouraged I was by that appointment. The doctor did an even less in-depth physical exam than our pediatrician did! His response was "I am not impressed by the difference, let's just (you guessed it) WAIT AND SEE!"

I know many of you reading this probably feel I should be encouraged by this response, but as a mom when you KNOW something is wrong and you see your child struggling, you have an overwhelming need to identify the problem so you can fix it. Doing nothing goes against every fiber of a parent's being. So one good thing did come out of that appointment, it has inspired me to keep searching until we get some answers!

Jack has another check-up with his pediatrician in two weeks. I WILL be getting a referral to a different neurologist (one that was recommended to us for diagnosing Cerebral Palsy).

I know Cerebral Palsy would be the worst-case scenario, but Jack fits enough of the criteria, including his traumatic birth experience, and a possible seizure when he was a few weeks old (we couldn't be sure at the time), that we recognize it is a possible explanation for what is going on.

So I am forewarning any other doctor that tells me to 'wait and see', you will be promptly dismissed as an arrogant a-hole and you will be lucky if I don't tell you just where you can stick your 'wait and see' recommendation. I am a mom, there IS something wrong with my child, I am not crazy, and YOU are crazy if you think I'm just going to 'wait and see'.