“Maybe we should call and cancel,” I said to Tim last night as we were pulling our white comforter up to our chins at midnight.
“You’re just telling me this now?” he said sleepily, “Their appointments are tomorrow.”
I reply, “I know, but I’m just not sure how I feel about it. Why are we taking our two perfectly healthy children to the doctor?”
Our eyelids are getting heavy. I know I’ll be out in about 5 minutes flat. We pray and decide to go. After all, it might be a good idea to get them checked out one more time before we hit the road…zzzz.
Are we the only ones who think it’s a little strange to take “well” kids to the doctor? Our culture – the medical establishment – the insurance industry – somebody has convinced us all that we need to take our children to the doctor once a year for “check-ups.”
As far as I can tell, check-ups are all pretty much the same. Height. Weight. Ears. Eyes. Blood Pressure. Vaccines. Done.
The doctor also shares the highly revered growth charts to parents, which often turn into bragging rights (“My son is 98th in height!” or “My daughter is 5% in weight!“).
For the record, I don’t really care where my girls are “on the chart.” Nor do I need to obsessively know exactly how much my baby weighs for the first year. (“How much does she weigh?” strangers ask at the grocery store. “I don’t know,” I say, which – to me – seems to be a perfectly good answer.)
Besides all of that, the very premise of “well visits” is contradictory. Hey – why don’t we bring our healthy kids to a confined space where people have been coughing, throwing up, running fevers, scratching rashes, etc? Hmmm.
In the waiting room, we distract our girls from the books and toys. Our 18-month-old is content in my arms. Our 4-year-old is content watching YouTube clips of “Beauty & The Beast” on my phone. I see a colorful poster with the numbers 1-10 on it. It is sponsored by Similac. “Annie of PhD in Parenting wouldn’t approve of this,” I say to Tim.
The office is clean and new. The walls are splattered with artwork and brochure racks – and vaccine alerts (“5 confirmed cases of whooping cough in CA!” etc.). The doctor is attentive and spends a lot of time talking to us. He shows us the growth charts (In the CDC one, our youngest is falling off the charts. In the WHO chart, she’s just fine. Funny.). He wants her to be poked for anemia because of her low weight – just in case. We agree to the blood prick on her finger. (She’s not anemic. Surprise!). He recommends lots of vaccines – 4 or 5 each. We decline for our 4-year-old. We get 1 for our 18-month-old (that we had previously decided on).
It was a positive visit. Everyone was nice. The doctor didn’t pressure us about vaccines. Our 4-year-old was a bit enchanted by the stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.
Even so, we’re trying to decide when – if – we’ll go back again.
(Also. When we got back home, we put both girls in the bath right away.)
Do you take your children to “well visits” once a year? Why or why not?