Like 19 month-old toddlers, my daughter, S.J. has received shots every time she has gone to the doctor’s office. It didn’t take long for her to figure out that if we walked into a waiting room, we were not walking out without getting multiple needle pricks first. She learned very quickly that a good defense mechanism was to scream and cry and thrash around as much as possible (although that tactic never really worked). It used to be easier when she was nonmobile and less fluid with her motions—we could bribe her or simply hold her down. Those days are, alas, over. I have a true Tasmanian devil whirling about when we go for a doctor’s visit.
When I found out that S.J needed evaluation by a neurologist, I sought referrals to pediatric neurologists outside of MedStar Georgetown because as an employee here, I wanted to keep my home and work lives separate. However, I had the most frustrating experience getting an appointment. I spent so much futile time on the phone pressing buttons to answer what seemed like an endless array of questions but how do you tell an extensive and impenetrable phone tree that your child needs help? I was finally able to get an appointment but it was four months from the time I was calling. My daughter needed to get evaluated much sooner than 4 months, so I decided that I really needed to put aside my own concerns about separating my place of employment from my personal life. I contacted Dr. Cesar Santos at MedStar Georgetown who responded immediately and put my daughter on the schedule in 2 days!
Our experience at MedStar Georgetown was different from the moment we walked into the waiting room. Toys, games, and bright colors everywhere put her at ease immediately. However, she definitely knew what was going on when we were called back to the evaluation room. As soon as she realized where she was, the screaming and thrashing about routine began. I thought to myself that this was going to be a complete waste of time because there was no way Dr. Santos was going to be able to even lay a finger on her, let alone perform a complex neurologic examination!
Wow, was I wrong.
Within a matter of minutes of coming into the examination room, Dr. Santos had the room quiet—S.J. was not screaming or crying…just looking at him curiously. My hopes were rising but learning from prior experiences, I was certainly still doubtful. But in just a few more minutes, Dr. Santos had my “Tasmanian devil” toddler sitting quietly in front of him, playing and engaging in his “games” while he was getting his neurologic examination information. I couldn’t believe it! Plus, at the end of the visit, she let him pick her up and take her up front to get a sticker. She has never let anyone pick her up except our immediate family!
I cannot tell you how reassuring and comforting it was to have Dr. Santos see my daughter. I think, I, like most people, would have thrown in the towel early in the game, so it was inspiring to see Dr. Santos take the time to calm and gain trust from my acutely wary 19-month-old child so that he could obtain the information he needed. I have never encountered a doctor-patient experience quite like the one I witnessed between Dr. Santos and my daughter. He was simply magical with her.
I am profoundly grateful for the expedient and gracious treatment we received in the MedStar Georgetown pediatric neurology department. My daughter is thankfully fine and will hopefully not have to return for additional testing. However, I know that if we do, that we will be in the most capable and caring hands.
– Dr. A.J.