So one day about a week before Mr. Personality's first birthday, all seemed well and fine at the Gina household. About an hour after Mr. Personality awoke, however, Hubba-hubba noticed him doing some repetitive grunting noises. As he was at that time non-verbal, we just thought it was some new sound he was experimenting with. After about an hour of it though, we began to think something might be wrong.
As new parents, we tended to be a bit paranoid about even the smallest things, and I had already given the free nurse advice line provided by our HMO a huge workout over the course of that first year. We tried to reassure ourselves that it was just our imaginations. Then Mr. Personality refused to eat. He didn't even want to drink. The grunting got louder and more steady. Mr. Personality didn't seem to be in pain, but had rather a concentrated look on his face.
Hubba-hubba didn't like it, and insisted that we take him to the emergency room. As I was buckling him into his carseat, Mr. Personality's expression had changed to one of alarm, and the grunting was getting worse, basically coming with every breath. Luckily for us, we are about two minutes away from our hospital, so we whisked over, trying not to worry too much.
Something about the ER made Mr. Personality break loose, for almost as soon as we got our little alcove assigned to us, he began to scream. It was a horrible scream for parents to hear. It broadcast for everyone to hear his fear and now obvious pain. His face reddened, and he was stiff and not seeming to recognize us any more.
Various doctors came in, felt his body, and had no idea what was wrong with him. One of them wanted a chest X-ray, so off my poor little baby was bundled, screaming the entire time. The X-rays came back with nothing, and so more doctors came.
It was apparent to anyone with a set of working ears that the pain was worsening. For almost two whole hours, we had to hold our screaming, crying child, and those were two of the longest hours of our lives. Finally someone at the ER had the brilliant idea to call a pediatric specialist. But we had to wait, and in that waiting period, Mr. Personality had screamed himself to exhaustion. His was not a peaceful rest, but one of twisting and grunting and hitches in the breathing.
In came Dr. M, young and articulate. He radiated empathy, and I'm sure Hubba-hubba and I looked pretty bad. He gently examined Mr. Personality, quietly asked his symptoms, and left our alcove. Within minutes he was back, and told us that he had diagnosed our son's condition. He had ordered a barium enema, and he hoped that it would do the trick. I will always remember asking him what would happen if the enema didn't do the trick. He then said that the only other option was surgery, and that was probably the closest I came that day to passing out.
The physical exam had woken Mr. Personality up, he was back to his heart wrenching screaming. Waiting for that barium enema to be set up seemed to take even longer, since we had the anticipation of having a "cure." Finally they were ready, and I watched them prepare the little guy for the not so great experience he was about to have. The technicians told us that there was only room for one parent, and that they preferred it was the father. I had a bit of energy, enough to try and fight their silly, self-imposed rule. But I was, for one of the few times in my life, overriden by hospital staff. My last image was of him with all limbs in restraints, fighting, uncomprehending of what was going on.
The best I could do was to position myself outside the door of the room, which happened to be a busy corridor. I could hear my son's screams, but I couldn't see what was going on, and I was of course left to imagine the worst. I was openly bawling, and a number of people stopped to ask if I was ok, and if that was someone I knew in that room. I could only nod, I didn't trust myself to speak.
When it was over, my baby lay motionless and limp on the table, but the horrible screaming had stopped. I began to hope that the nightmare might be over. We retreated with him to another alcove of the ER, and Dr. M came and looked him over. I was again impressed by his demeanor and empathy, and I decided right then and there that he was going to be Mr. Personality's personal physician. It turned out that Mr. Personality had a condition called intussusception, which is a term that has somehow burned into my memory.
Through the years, Dr. M has been a wonderful doctor, always delighted to see how much Mr. Personality was thriving. He had attended a top tier medical school, and had done his internship at a well-known children's hospital back east. On his last check-up, he even delved into his own personal book stash to give Mr. P a book, since the one they had given him he already owned.
A few days ago, I got a letter from Dr. M stating that he was moving into an administrative position, and that he would no longer be available to see patients. My heart sank, because I hate having to look for another doctor, and others that we have seen for urgent care visits and the like have been extremely lacking.
So off I am going to look at the online directory, and I am not having happy thoughts about finding a suitable replacement. I am one of those parents who is probably a pediatrician's nightmare. I ask a lot of questions, I do a lot of research, and am somewhat knowledgeable about medical conditions. Probably just enough to be a royal pain in the ass.
Watch out unknown doctor, 'cause here I come!