Please be Patient

Savannah sat placidly in her wheelchair.
Paperwork, paperwork...

The Endocrinologist asked, "Does she get more alert?"

"What do you mean? She's alert, right now," I said.

"Hmm. Does she smile?"

"Yes, quite often." I clipped my answer.

"Savannah, can you smile for me, Sweetie?"

"She's not smiling because she knows she's at the doctor's office."


I've noticed an interesting phenomenon among people who encounter the severely disabled, especially the non-verbal, and that is asking them to perform arbitrary tasks to prove they exist. I used to get into arguments with Savannah's teachers many years ago when they would insist she didn't understand. They'd say, when we ask her to do x, she doesn't do it. I'd say, "why should she do it? I wouldn't do that just because you asked me, so why should she?" They didn't see her as a person with any volition. To them, she should act like a trained monkey.

The small talk concluded, the doctor examined Savannah. Afterward, she ordered some tests.

"Will the orders appear at the lab as if my magic?" I asked, trying to contain my sarcasm.

"As if by foot," the doctor said, trying to contain hers.

I laughed.  Okay.  I deserved that, I suppose, even though my experience has taught me to never believe anything a doctor says regarding how any of their systems will work without my intervention.

We checked-out and rolled to the lab.

"This is Savannah."

"Do you have the orders?" The receptionist asked.

"No, we just came from the doctor.  She said someone would bring them down," I added, "by foot."

"Okay, have a seat."

She eats formula...
A thin, young woman, carrying a clipboard, approached me in the waiting room. "Mr. Borden, I need to ask you about Savannah's nutrition information."

"Sure, have at it." I laughed.

She asked me about all the sections on the intake form regarding her eating habits where I had scrawled, "Formula, N/A."

I pointed at her apparatus humming away. "She eats formula through a tube, five times a day."

"Oh," she said before disregarding my response and barreling forward with her questions. Who's the trained monkey here? I thought. I pointed at her feeding tube again.

We waited for a long time with the other miserable patients. I overheard one mother say, "We've been here for two hours."

Finally, the receptionist addressed me, "Now, who were you again?"



"Borden. Those orders didn't arrive by foot, now, did they?  Imagine that? You should check with Dr. Endocrinologist, who sent us."

The receptionist, disgusted, retreated into the office.  She returned some time later with a hand full of paper.

Eventually the phlebotomist jabbed Savannah full of holes in both arms. Dug around under the skin with the butterfly needle. But, Savannah was so brave.  She didn't punch the poor, scared girl in the face (which she used to do). She took her torture session like a pro.

#disability #specialneeds #parenting #doctors #healthcare #TrainedMonkeysWorkingInMedicalOffices


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