A recent insurance change required a change in pediatricians.

Gone was the small, intimate office in Greenwich Village, the one with the discreet plaque on the door distinguishing it as a business. Gone was the pediatrician I liked, the one who graduated from my alma mater, the one who was always calm no matter how many kids were bouncing around his office or how many were puking, the one who treated me as an intelligent person.

For her nine month appointment, we found ourselves uptown at a public clinic. Granted, it was new. And granted, I’d chosen the doctor. I knew her and I liked her. She was efficient, professional, and friendly. She even gave me her personal phone number and told me to use it if I ever needed it.

Stepping into the elevator yesterday, a woman looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re going to WIC, right?” “No, I’ve brought my daughter to see the doctor; she has a fever.” I said it politely, but inside I was a little indignant. Did I look like a WIC mom?
“You may not be able to see her doctor; she’s booked all day. And since she has a fever, she’s on the priority list, so she’ll see whichever doctor is available first.”

When he called us–the middle aged white guy with the glasses slipping down his nose–he did a double take. “She’s Mariel Collazo?” he asked me. “Yes,” I said. He walked down the hall and asked me again. “Are you sure?” “Very sure.”

He went on to tell me she didn’t have a fever. “I *know* she doesn’t have a fever now; it comes and goes. But when it comes, it’s high. I wouldn’t have even brought her in if today was any other day but Friday. But I just wanted to be sure before the weekend.”

The exchange continued; he wasn’t judging my decision as a mother, but I should “treat the patient, not the fever”; in short, I shouldn’t have brought her.

I wanted to tell him that I’m not one of those mothers… the ones who overworry and rush off to the hospital at the first sign of fever. In fact, she’d had the fever for two days. I wanted to tell him that I also wasn’t like the moms in the waiting rooms, the ones who talked on their cell phones and said “fuck” every other word… in front of kids. I wanted to explain why I’d chosen this clinic from my other choices; wanted to assert that I wasn’t a WIC mom; wanted to prove that I understood the acronym he’d just used.

“Look,” he concluded. “She’s the happiest, healthiest kid I’ve seen all week. Go home.”


One response »

  1. Ouch. That doctor sounded helpful…I would have been so frustrated after making the effort to go out to a new doc’s office. Sounds like they are way too busy. Hope you’ve found somebody else!

    I was called and offered WIC (the two-student income puts us well below the ‘poverty line’) – it was a strange experience trying to explain that yes, we don’t make a lot of money, but we eat very well, probably better than most Americans and that ‘nutritional counseling’ and food stamps weren’t something we needed.

    Have been wanting to write a post about the socio-economic status of graduate students for a while…will get to it sometime!

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