Saturday, April 23, 2011

Military Medicine

Jack has been blessed for the past five years with Dr. Zernzach, a developmental pediatrician at Wright-Pat Air Force Base Hospital. Dr. Z diagnosed Jack and has met with him every six months since. He's answered countless questions, worked the system to get Jack the services he needs, and encouraged and cheered Jack on as he has made progress. When we were at the hospital seeing to Jack's foot injury, we saw Dr. Z across the atrium, and Jack said, "Dr. Zernzach is my favorite doctor."

So, of course, the Air Force is transferring Jack's favorite doctor to a base in Texas, to an administrative job in which he will not see patients.

No one, including Dr. Z, is happy about this. But that's the military for you: take someone who has amazing gift in one job and give him a different job that he doesn't want in a place he doesn't want to live. Yep. That's an awesome way to use taxpayer dollars to build morale and quality medical care.

Cynicism is smoke rising from the ashes of burned-out dreams.

Of course, I'm melodramatic in my disappointment. I know that Dr. Z will do a great job in whatever position he finds himself. I know that he will continue to advocate for quality patient services because he's a doctor and an officer and a gentleman of integrity. And in a few years, he can retire to private practice and do what he loves: see patients. I wish him all the best and send with him my undying gratitude for all he has done for Jack and for us.

We could transfer Jack's care off base to Dayton Children's, but the wait to see a developmental pediatrician there is l-o-n-g. Jack will be seen by Dr. Z's replacement in September, as per his regular schedule. But this also means that we cannot start Jack on attention medication until October (his teachers do not want him starting them at the beginning of the school year as their experience with that has not been good).

This delay frustrates me and George, mainly because it took us so long to work up the courage and conviction necessary to give meds a try and now we have to wait. At least we have health care; at least we have access to a major medical center that staffs developmental pediatricians; at least we'll get there eventually with the meds. Trying to look on the bright side, here. But it's hard.

After all, this is our son we're talking about.


Jessi Fogan said...

Ugh, Susan, this sucks. I can't imagine losing the psychiatrist we've worked with all these years - she's the one who's been with the boys the longest, and the one who's always been in our corner.
And having to wait medication-wise when you've finally decided to go ahead? Double ugh. It really is hard to look on the bright side. When we changed meds last, from Adderall to Strattera, we actually did it when we went on vacation. Sounds strange, but for us it worked to mess everything up while schedules were already messed up. I can see Jack's teachers' point, but maybe starting him on meds before school starts would be beneficial? That way he has time outside of school for any side effects to wear off, and I think as family we're less likely to mistakenly attribute things to side effects - if our kids have a rough day, we've been asked if we forgot their pills, when doesn't everyone have an off day once in a while?

simply me said...

I must say I will be using your quote "Cynicism is smoke rising from the ashes of burned-out dreams" I have been secretly following your blog. My daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD, and Anxiety last December. I find myself seeking support and information online often. You blog has stuck out to me and so I am a secret stalker - in a good way. Also an Air Force wife who shares your sentiment about the trials of Doctors and the system. Thank you for your blog.

Susan Raihala said...

@Simply Me,

Glad you like the quotation. Ever since I first heard it, I thought it applies to so much of life...and I'm not usually a cynic!

Welcome to Questioning. Please feel free to weigh in, ask your own questions, and share your experiences.


I might have started in the summer, but the new doc won't arrive until August, and school starts August 24. Jack has a huge change of classrooms, teachers, and curriculum next year, and I want him to be settled before we experiment. Your changing meds on vacation sounds very bold...good for you!

Anonymous said...

Like you, we have struggled with the same questions and concerns. My son was diagnosed with Autism (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) when he was 8. It took us that long to get any sort of diagnosis even though he was in speech therapy, OT and PT since he was 3. We made the difficult decision to put him on medication for ADHD and anxiety. This truly is a trial and error process..we had to try three ADHD medicines before we found one that didn't over stimulate him. The anxiety medicine had to be changed twice. Children with Autism react differently to medicines compared to Neuro-typical children.

As far as psychiatrists..keep looking. We have been to three different doctors or social workers until we found one that we felt was strong with Aspergers/PDD children. We pay out of our pocket for her, but we limit our visits and she is flexible with payments. She is worth it.

Just thougt I would share a few ideas..saw your blog on SCS. We are also a prior Air Force family. Mom's of Autistic children have a special place in Heaven!