It’s true that our “kingdom” at present doesn’t amount to much, and as many odd things as I’ve encountered thus far, I really haven’t gotten the impression from anyone involved that the offer of a deck badly in need of refinishing or a falling-down fence or even the pond full of peep-peep-peeping frogs would significantly improve our odds of being helped, but whatever we do have, I would happily offer it in exchange for the ability to:
1) Locate an appropriate child psychologist,
2) discover said professional takes our insurance,
3) admire said professional’s extensive experience in dealing with kids on the spectrum,
4) celebrate at the news that this doctor would be DELIGHTED to take Monkey on as a patient.
You know, Monkey? Cute, adorable, charming, Monkey? Who WOULDN’T want to spend a couple of hours a week with this kid? I’ll tell you who: Every damn therapist in this town, THAT’S WHO. I am trying not to take it personally.
So, there was the holidays, right? That’s a bad time to be looking for a new doctor. Plus, Monkey was still so sick. And then getting everyone back on schedule in January, that’s hard, too. So let’s say I didn’t resume this search in earnest until… oh, let’s say mid-January. That means I have been at this for a good month and a half. And… nothing.
Because… some offices just never call back. And some don’t take our insurance. And some call back and take our insurance but all of their doctors specialize in everything (seriously, now, is that a southern thing? because that’s the second time I’ve run into that and it didn’t make me any less furious this time ’round) OR “specializing in autism spectrum disorders” actually means “we have people on staff who do assessments but if you want talk therapy you are out of luck.”
I’m starting to feel like Dr. Seuss. (Timely, I guess… didn’t he just have a birthday?) I will call them from my house and I will call them while I grouse. They won’t call me here or there and they’ll never call until I swear. When they call back they say no, when I ask why they do not know.
Really, I wish I was kidding about that last part. DESPERATELY. We were referred to a doctor who required us to fill out a mountain of paperwork just to consider him, and then we heard nothing back for a week. I had to call the office and leave messages twice before getting a call back from a secretary who wanted to let me know that the doctor had decided not to take Monkey on as a patient.
“What? Why not?” I said, ever eloquent in my surprise.
“I… don’t have that information,” she said. She almost sounded like she felt bad about it, too.
“Call me crazy, but it seems pretty cold to me that you make us spend all of this time to gather this paperwork, fill it out, bring it back, wait to hear back, and then we’re told he won’t be accepted as a patient without explanation. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?”
“It means the doctor does not feel your son would be a good fit.”
I stopped short of suggesting she FIT THIS, thanks, but when I asked if the doctor had any other recommendation for us, the secretary did give me a name… someone I hadn’t already contacted. Fine; onward and upward.
I called that doctor, who actually answered her own phone (bonus points!) and was extremely kind. She, however, doesn’t do talk therapy, only diagnostics. She gave me three more names, though.
The first person she suggested has not called back. The second person she suggested doesn’t take our insurance. And the third person she suggested is actually no longer at the practice she told us about, so I called BOTH the practice AND the individual doctor. That one was SUPER LUCKY because no one at the practice takes our insurance and the doctor who is now an independent DOES take our insurance, AND is willing to see Monkey, but doesn’t have any openings until June. They gave me another name, though. I am—naturally—waiting for a call back.
Remember how Monkey’s old therapist swore she’d help us find someone when she decided we needed to switch? Remember that? HAHAHA.
I’ll admit it; when reaching my bullshit limit earlier this week, I emailed an update on the saga to someone at school and I cc:ed the old therapist. Passive aggressive much? WHY YES, THANK YOU. (Hey, she said she wanted to be “kept informed” so there you go.) I knew it was a shitty thing to do while I was doing it but you know what else is shitty? Abandoning a family, promising to help them, and then just… not. She’s in good company, though, as she is one of… let me think… FOUR different mental health professionals who swore to help us find a replacement and was forever saying “I’m going to get you some names” and just… didn’t.
[To the old therapist's credit, she appeared appropriately mortified by my email, and sent back a very sympathetic response, even offering to "help fill the gap" in the meantime. (Translation: Now that we've all discovered that being incredibly sick makes Monkey insane rather than him just, you know, pretty much BEING insane, maybe she could handle him again.) Otto and I talked about it; the bottom line, though, is that we really need a specialist and a fresh start, so I think we're going to hold out. But I did appreciate her offer and immediately felt like a jerk for being mad at her.]
Now. If Monkey was floundering, this whole thing would be making ME insane, instead of just pissing me off. But Monkey is actually being kind of awesome. So this is aggravating as all heck, but it’s not a crisis. We MUST find him someone, though. Here is the thing about Monkey: He is InertiaBoy. A Monkey in motion tends to stay in motion. A Monkey at rest stays at rest. A Monkey with a limited set of coping skills does not progress without a skilled professional to guide and challenge him. I wish the reality was something else but it’s not, and better to understand what’s what than to pretend everything will be just ducky when it won’t, you know? Monkey as he is RIGHT THIS SECOND will finish fifth grade and be relatively happy and fine. But that same Monkey is nowhere near ready to go to middle school, nor will he be in three months or six months or even three years if we don’t have a skilled therapist on his team. That’s just reality.
As an extra special bonus, I think I forgot to report on this little gem: When Monkey was being tested for everything under the son by the pediatric neurologist, he had a ton of bloodwork done and one of his tests came back wonky, but it was chalked up to him being on antibiotics at the time. So we waited until he was done with that round of antibiotics, but then there was another round, and then he had surgery, and then he had MORE antibiotics, and FINALLY it was all done and I took him back in for a repeat and then a week later the neurologist’s office called to scold me for having him retested while on antibiotics. Except… he wasn’t. Which meant his test was genuinely showing something wonky.
I won’t bore you with the specifics, but it appears that on TOP of everything this poor kid’s recently been through, he might have a rare metabolic disorder! Just for shits and giggles! (The good news is that the disorder in question is often harmless. Except when it’s not! So, you know.) And now apparently we have to go see a geneticist, but I was reluctant to set that appointment up while trying to get him in with a new therapist, plus the neurologist’s office kept saying “It can probably wait. Unless it can’t.” (helpful!) so now we have neither a therapist nor a geneticist appointment and OH MY GOD HERE KID HAVE SOME MORE COOKIES BECAUSE THAT IS THE BEST YOUR MOM CAN MANAGE, APPARENTLY.
In conclusion: I am spending a lot of time on the phone. And baking. And if you think healthcare in this country isn’t broken, I would like some of what you’re smoking, please.