Four medical appointments over 12 days.
Rukai spots a bit of fluff in the carpeting from twenty paces and goes to retrieve it.
"We must monitor his vision. THEIR eyes are commonly not working properly."
A rattle of keys in the front door turns his head. His eyes go wide and fingers point at the arrival of his Daddy. Down the hall, I open the bathroom door. One door is quickly disregarded for the other and he comes charging down the hallway to interrupt me, his curiosity piqued.
"We must monitor his hearing. THEY commonly have hearing loss."
Pediatrician 1 cannot confirm another issue, off to Pediatrician 2. I tell Pediatrician 2 that over the years, we have left off therapists and unnecessary appointments because Rukai is driving his own development. We don't want his default to change from easygoing, chilled, to pressured, overworked.
He's only 3. A three year old should not be overworked. A three year old should play. A three year old should not sacrifice his daylight to waiting rooms in search of issues which mayormaynotmaterialize.
"Oh yes," says He. "THEY are very happy people."
(Except when he's being a monstrous little shit, Old Mister P2. Come to mine when we've got a new menu item and watch me try to get it down him. If that is happy, then Bozo the Clown got it all wrong and we're living amongst the comedy of Pennywise.)
Saturday comes and we have The Baseline Echo. Two years since discharge from cardiology at Great Ormond Street. Yes, THAT amazing place. Yet here we are having A Baseline Echo. Doctor suggests he may call us in for a follow up and Tiger Mama pounces.
The hell you will. "He was discharged two years ago," says I.
Doctor is calm. Doctor is the very best doctor I have come across in my entire 13-1/2 years living in this country.
Doctor and Tiger Mama smokem Peace Pipe and reach agreement. Daddy sits quietly, watching, listening, asking. Don't poke a stick at this Quiet Man or he will become Tiger Dad and you don't want that tag team in this very quiet hospital this early in the day.
Doctor is calm.
Doctor is the very best doctor I have come across.
Heart too, is calm. Heart is fine. As we knew.
Born with two holes in it, today there are none.
No surgery required.
Rukai 1 : Pessimism 0.
We leave shaking hands.
We leave shaking heads.
Four appointments. Twelve days. 33% of our time over the better part of a month spent visiting doctors when there is pretty much nothing wrong.
They call it 'health monitoring' but it feels an awful lot like Big Brother.
This is in no way "the life". But this is The Life.
We drop everything, we drive to and fro, we pay, we park. You poke and prod. Rukai thrashes and shouts. Cut it out. Quit poking me. You just weighed and measured me two days ago. Stop shining that goddamn light in my eyes. Get that fucking thing out of my ear. That gel on my chest is cold. I was fine and you are now really pissing me off.
THEY are not always happy.
God damn it, stop suggesting it.
And stop calling my son THEY.
I told the Doctor (because he did drop a 'they' early on in the conversation) that the services were crap where we lived, that those people threw Rukai into a box labeled Down's syndrome and discounted him. So we packed up and moved house to begin again.
"He is our SON. He is our child. He is our world," says I. "He is not THEY."
And this Doctor, he nodded. He smiled and he nodded and he kept scanning for a problem that did not exist. He searched for one acronym and I told him it was the other acronym we were looking for, that the notes were wrong, that it is column B not column A.
And this doctor, he smiled and he nodded and he GETS it.
My goodness, he GETS it. I wish for the world, that they all could GET IT. I explained at length why Tiger Mama pounced initially and he GETS it.
"You just want a normal life. If nothing is wrong, you just want to get on with things," says he.
Thank you. My faith is restored. And so we agree to a suggested check up five years hence - 'suggested' being the operative word, no 'mandatories' here.
Thank you for hearing us.
Thank you for listening to us.
Thank you for understanding us.
I told him where we came from and to where we've gone.
I told him how bad it was there and what we endured.
My words did not ricochet off. They nestled in and had a cuppa.
We turned to go and Rukai turned towards him.
We turned to go and there was a high five.
We turned to go and Rukai reached out. To the Doctor who Reached Out.
Rukai delivered a cuddle.
Rukai is the world's greatest bullshit detector and that cuddle was there for the giving.
To the Doctor who Reached Out.
This is The Life. But we are now very firmly in the driver's seat.
Thank you Doctor.