Conventional wisdom says you should always make sure your doctor and your lawyer are younger than you.
The theory is that as you get old and, yes, die, they will still be around to take care of you and your affairs.
That’s a little more complicated when you’re talking about your pediatrician. Let’s just say it takes longer to go through medical school than it takes most people to have kids.
So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when we got a letter last month saying that our pediatrician is retiring. It’s not that she doesn’t deserve it. She seems on the young side to hang up her stethoscope, but she works long, intense hours including shifts in the emergency department of the children’s hospital.
Despite all that, I was shocked. She is the only pediatrician both my kids have ever had. Sure, Deane has seen many – too many – other doctors, but she was always our first step. My kids like her and don’t complain about going to see her – needles aside.
The jolt I felt reading the letter was how much a part of our journey she has been, how crucial she has been to our physical and mental well being. Deane already had his diagnosis when we first went to see her. But all the way along – from early asthma, to possible pneumonias, basics colds and all his vaccines – she calmly explained what we needed to do and she treated Deane like a normal kid.
As he got older and we learned of a second underlying diagnosis, she co-ordinated his specialist appointments and always made sure to follow up. Even as Deane’s medical file overflowed into a second folder, she would touch all the bases and was willing to call other doctors to hurry them up.
She came to visit us in the hospital after Deane’s hip operation and stick-handled me through the feeding study-NG tube-g tube ordeal.
Every appointment begins with her asking how we are. And as busy as I know she is, she meant it. Her calm demeanour reassured me. No matter what she was telling me, she delivered it in a way that made me believe we could handle it, that everything would be all right.
She gave us excellent professional care and genuine personal care that meant I knew my kids – and I – were in good hands.
I’m sure those who are taking over her practice will do a good job. It just won’t be the same.
We will indeed miss her. Her calming influence and gentle humour always made things seem a bit more normal.