I’ve Always Known That Not All Superheros Wear Capes
Updated: Jan 13
With the pandemic, our medical community received so much love and support for taking the primary role in risking their lives to help fight Covid-19. But truth be told, way before Covid-19, my family knew they were superheros.
It all started when I had problems conceiving, and my OB/GYN fresh at out of residency, put her hand on mine and said, “Sweetie doo,” because that’s how she refers to all her patients, “you will get pregnant. This will happen for you. You have to stop worrying, and just go home and have lots of sex. It might take a year, but you are thirty and I think it will happen.” I was a hot mess of worry, with ovulation kits, and inverted pillows, but I took her words to heart, and sure enough months later popped out my first son. (Well, popped is an understatement since it took me 28 hours to push him out). Then came my next son, and finally my daughter. Whenever I see her she says “Remember how worried you were, and look at you now.” Then, a few years ago, when her practice was bought out, she did the unthinkable, and left to start her own practice. This black female physician wasn’t going to let the quality of care she offered be dictated by anyone else.
When her doors opened, in a building that she bought and built with her own financing, I couldn’t have been prouder, and brought her champagne and a card. This was her baby that she had been trying for all those years. When I came for my next visit, she showed me she saved the card I had given her. Shortly after, my ninety-year-old blind grandmother started having lady part problems (yes, ladies, these issues will follow us forever, make besties with your OB/GYN now), and even though she wasn’t set up to receive Medicare patients yet, she saw my grandmother anyway for free. She called her sweetie doo, and spoke to her directly, which sometimes doesn’t happen for older people. It was very touching. She gave my mother her cell phone, and said call anytime with questions about my grandmother. She would text me too asking how my grandmother was doing. I’m so fortunate to have such a considerate and loving doctor in my life. Superhero.
Then, when my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four years ago, we came to rely on our pediatrician and his office staff for support and guidance. I cannot even count the number of times I have called that office with questions or concerns. The nurses all know my phone number, and answer saying, “Hi, Julie.” I know this sounds insane, but when you have a child with a chronic illness, you worry all the time. My son’s A1C has been solid since diagnosis. He’s never been hospitalized or gone into DKA, every diabetic parent’s worst nightmare, and I know it’s in part because of the close relationship I have with my doctors. Anytime there is a hint of an issue, my pediatrician steps in to circumvent it before it erupts. He tells me all the time, “We got this,” and I know he means it. Yes, I’m an over worrier, but they are my kids, they are worth worrying about. And I fully believe they think the same thing.
The list of things they have done for me would be too exhaustive to write, but, my favorite most endearing moment came when my pediatrician sewed my son’s diabetic bear's arm back on when it fell off. (Yes, even though I am a female, I do not know how to sew. I missed that day of law school.) And my pediatrician did this not just once, but twice. My son loves this bear, and cannot sleep without him. He thinks of the bear as a person, and takes him everywhere. The bear is diabetic like my son and it makes my son feel better knowing sometimes he’s not the only diabetic in the room. He even makes me take the bear’s blood sugar and give him insulin shots. When the bear’s arm started to fall off, my son said, “Dr. Wilde will sew it back on.” I said, “Honey that isn’t how it works. That’s not something I can ask. He doesn’t sew bears.” My son said, “Well I can ask him. He’ll do it for me.” So, he wrote him a note and asked him to sew Jerry. And my pediatrician gladly obliged, but sadly Jerry’s arm came undone a second time months later. (I mean it’s not like the poor guy sews bear arms on all the time.) And much to my shock, my son asked him to sew him a second time, and he said, “No problem.” And Jerry’s arm has been sewed solid ever since. I love that my son feels such a level of support from my pediatrician and his staff. Superhero.
Then, there’s our endocrinologist’s office. My endocrinologist gave us his personal cell phone from the first day of diagnosis. He, at that moment, could have had no clue the pandora’s box he opened by giving me that phone number. My endocrinologist isn’t compensated for texting or calling me, but he never makes me feel that way. One time he didn't return my call until late in the evening. He apologized and said he had been at a funeral. What? What? You don't have to apologize. Go be a human being and ignore my penchant for over reacting. Endocrinologists are some of the most over worked doctors and underpaid. So many of their patents, like my son, have chronic illnesses that require close management, and we are so lucky to have their support. For type 1 diabetics, you also work closely with their nurse support staff, who I value the same. Two years ago, when my father died four days before Christmas, my husband and I had to suddenly go out of the country for his funeral. It meant leaving my son in the hands of people unfamiliar with changing insulin pumps. It was daunting.
Both the nurses at our endocrinologist’s office gave us their personal cell phone numbers, and said to call if there were any issues. Sure enough, on Christmas Eve, when I was crushed and broken after burying my father and about to board a four-hour flight home, my son’s insulin pump failed. It was a terrifying moment to be so far away on one of the worst days of my life, and to not know what to do. I called both nurses on their phones, and the one nurse happened to be at the office and she said, “Bring him to me. I will fix it.” His grandparents packed him up, and drove him to their office at the hospital thirty minutes away. It was Christmas Eve, and the nurse took them back immediately and changed his pump, sending him on his way right as I boarded my flight. I drop her flowers each year for Christmas because it was a kindness I will never forget. They will always be my superheros.
Then there are the medical research doctors that I just randomly reach out to about ideas of how to try to cure type 1. (Dr. Dan I'm talking about you.) He reads my articles and engages my ideas. He might even try to design a trial to test my theories. No pressure but, and since you actually have type 1, I'm sure you would agree, it would be really nice if you could cure type 1.
So, we’ve known for years that not all superheros wear capes. Doctor’s Day is like a national holiday in our home. Signs are made. Cakes are baked. To thank our pediatrician’s office, we bring bagels every Tuesday to their office. I’ve dropped Bundt cakes and bagels to my OB/GYN office. My son dropped a thank you and cake to our endocrinologist. It’s one small way of repaying the kindness they show to our family sometimes at the expense of their own.