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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Experience is Worth a 1,000 Words

Yesterday Dave had to bring Ellie to her new neurologist. My last visit with him was fairly useless. I could tell he had written me off before he even met me because he was really dismissive and didn't answer my questions and only met with us for about 7 minutes. And he had no answers. I left feeling very frustrated.

So move forward one year to yesterday. I had to work so Dave had to take Ellie in, which I thought was really good considering my failure at the previous visit. We discussed what we wanted to talk to him about - mainly that we are worried that the useless shunt that Dr. Death installed is taking away Ellie's vision. Also we want to understand what her third and fourth ventricles are doing (since Dr. Death's big mistake where he allowed Ellie to leave the NICU and go home with active hydrocephalus with third and fourth ventricles blowing up like balloons pretty much taking out her cerebellum. Yep more brain damage on top of an anoxic brain injury at birth. That is a pain this mother will take to her grave). Anywhoo, we wanted to get an overview, discuss an MRI and also what Ellie's unusual ability to read and read a lot meant in terms of brain development. Ellie has like a 200-250 word READING vocabulary (she understands many more words that that at an age appropriate level for a 5 year old - maybe more but hard to tell). But in terms of words if you say them she could pick out of a line up and/or also spell out on a letter board - that is pretty good isn't it?

In the morning Dave and I were rushing around getting ready (you have no idea all the things we have to do each morning to get Ellie and ourselves out the door- it's post worthy). Dave gets Ellie in the car and comes running back in the house and grabs Globee (affectionately - Vtech's Sing and Learn Globe) and Ellie's Magnadoodle and dashes out.

That evening at dinner he told me how it went. He said the meeting got off to a slow start. After the weighing and measuring and reflex testing the doctor asked about Ellie's development. Dave mentioned that she could read and the doctor looked skeptical. So Dave handed him the magnadoodle and said write down anything you see on this Globe but don't say it - just ask Ellie where the thing you wrote down is.

The doctor wrote down "North America" Before he was even done writing, Ellie, who though she often looks like she is deep in to playing with her toys is always listening to it all, immediately spun the globe to North America and put her thumb on it and laughed. He did it again with a couple of other places and Ellie enjoyed showing off her skills.

The doctor was really impressed and said that Ellie being able to recognize so many words is unusual for a 5 year old.

He then seemed more engaged and interested in "the case" which is Ellie's life.

He took a deeper look at the last CT scan we have of Ellie from her last emergency seizure scare last year and showed it to Dave. Ellie's third and fourth ventricles are teeny tiny! Ok - they would only have gone down if there were brain growth to be pushing on them even with a shunt there has to be brain growth dynamically make what were once huge water fulled ventricles that small. Balm to mama's heart for sure! He also paid more attention and addressed the issues Dave brought up after that (some of the very same issues he sidestepped when I brought them up one year ago which of course made me think he is a big chauvinist to pay attention to them only when a man presents them - but that's the gender chip on my shoulder - I really think it was because of what he saw Ellie do with Globee).

I was so impressed by Dave's willingness to just go in there and share his joy with Ellie and in what Ellie is capable of. It's a contagious thing - Dave's enthusiasm for his daughter.

And, as far as visiting doctors, that is so how it's done. If we have to prove Ellie does the things we say she can - Fine! And thanks to her experiences at her new school she doesn't turn into a lump in public anymore and enjoys showing off a bit.

I don't know when doctor's decided that parents are constantly unreliable witnesses to their children's behavior -but I have been experiencing that more and more - the proverbial eye roll when you tell them what Ellie can do. Which really pisses me off because I am not one of those parents who want to see their kid through rose colored glasses. No way - in our case that would be dangerous, literally medically dangerous if I were to gloss everything up all the time. No. I am really fine seeing Ellie just the way she is and keeping my level of hope for her at a steady sane pace, hoping for the world for her but seeing her, really seeing her for who and where she is and taking joy in that. Because she is perfect just the way she is and wonderful in that perfection.

So, fine, next time I will just have to show them what she can do rather than tell them (and take Dave with me)!