Friday, January 23, 2009
Last August, I wrote about Ashley and her visit to the dentist. I asked the dentist about braces during the visit, and he indicated that it was not worth pursuing because of Ashley’s medical issues. He was making a judgment call – believing that Ashley would not live long enough to reap the benefits of braces. I feel that he was also thinking, “With all her disabilities, why is this mom worrying about straight teeth? No one will probably care.”
I think those of you who read my earlier post had no doubts how I felt about that dentist. Unfortunately, since that time, I have heard similar stories from other parents of children with significant disabilities and/or medical issues.
First there was the mom whose eye doctor didn’t want to discuss removal of her 7 year old child’s cataracts. The child did have significant medical issues and was also significantly intellectually disabled, but he was also happy and loving, communicative in his own way, and very driven to experience all life had to offer. The eye doctor told the mom that it wouldn’t make much difference for the child to be able to see better.
Then, a doctor for a 10 year old girl scoffed at the mention of orthopedic surgery, surgery that would help straighten the young girl’s spine. Like the 7 year old above, the girl has significant medical issues – is tube fed, has a trach, and is not mobile. Many of her doctors couch their treatment suggestions with the term ‘life expectancy’, but this child is defying the odds, and with the dedication and support of her mother, she is proving her doctors wrong.
But we have all met doctors who don’t like to be wrong.
I’m curious – is it unusual that I have heard these three stories? Have other parents experienced something similar? Do you have a story of a doctor who dismisses what you consider appropriate treatment for your child based on your child’s disabilities or expected life span? If so, I would appreciate hearing it…