Great news: Dar has a new doctor!
His current doctors wanted this. No one is being replaced. Instead, for the first time, we’re adding a child psychiatrist to his “team.” And confession: I may be a little bit in love with her.
Context! We’d been looking for a child psychiatrist for months and months, going back to the day when Dar’s neurologist suggested such a thing (that had barely crossed our minds). At the time, I said, can you refer me? Neuro replied that I don’t need a referral, I just call and they set me up. We googled people on psychologytoday.com and entered my zip code.
Turned out that a lot of those first few names weren’t as easy to reach as I’d hoped. A month of calls got a lot of non-callbacks and some we’re-all-full-sorrys. We also assumed that no one could really talk to Dar, so it seemed like a wasted effort. We got caught up in other things over the fall.
Then, Dar’s behavior took a serious turn, as described in the last blog post. On the day he came back from vacay, we saw the neurologist again, and he made it clear that he didn’t feel comfortable prescribing Dar drugs that addressed behavior. He wanted someone to take on Dar’s prescriptions.
I despaired of telling the new person “hey his neurologist needs you to be responsible for any and all drugs he once prescribed and any that get prescribed in the future.” I was already redoubling our efforts to reach someone, calling UCSF, Stanford, and every name on our insurer’s list that was in Oakland, Berkeley, or nearby. Turns out finding a child psychiatrist is already hard; finding one that can talk to a nonverbal kid is a needle in a haystack.
Or is it? This time the neurologist gave me a list of Lamorinda-Concord-Danville area providers, and this time, I called the first name on it. And this time, the admin called me right back and scheduled us a week later. (!!!!!!!) On Tuesday afternoon, Dar and I drove to a land that is apparently full of available child psychiatrists called Walnut Creek. And we met her.
She was amazing. She seemed to me like one of the Breeders or Sonic Youth or Pixies or one of their fans had grown up and decided to help kids with their medical issues. Her hair was purple (tied back) and she was wearing Doc Marten boots, or as I call them, shit-kickers. She had that wiry intensity that I think maybe Stieg Larssen tried to capture while writing the title character of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but with easy smiles, quick banter, and SO much empathy for Dar even after watching a video of his full-on person-hitting meltdown.
I was like, really, you examine kids that can’t talk, like Dar? Her head made a slight motion toward her shoulder as she said, “It’s kind of what I do.”
Reader, I did not marry her. But, for a half-second, I wanted to.
We explored some iPad stuff, mostly to show the doctor that Dar can’t really communicate with it, other than to ask for things that weren’t in her office. By the end of the hour, she took on the prescriptions and added a new one only to be used if needed. She arranged another visit for February. She gave me a cell phone number on the back of her card. By the way, that card says that she treats children, teens, and adults. She is youngish (she looks younger than me), and ready to be Dar’s psychiatrist indefinitely. Oh. My. God.
This is becoming a tiny bit of an annual ritual now. Readers with long memories know that at the beginning of January 2019, after six years of effort, wifey and I convinced the BUSD to change Dar’s IEP to have him attend a more special-needs-focused school in Berkeley. At the time, I told wifey, wow, this year’s going well already! And then…it didn’t. Karma got us back on that one, from my dad dying to Dar’s first-ever seizures to other problems that are chronicled in the blog.
Knowing that, this probably isn’t the time to spike the ball in the end zone. This is just one thing. But…it’s a huge, huge relief nonetheless.