Yesterday was our daughter’s first pediatrician’s appointment. And, hopefully, our last. (Although we really liked the pediatrician, we have a family doctor, so hopefully we have no future need for anything particularly specialized in terms of medical care for the little peanut.)
Our family doctor has seen Stinkerbelle twice, and pronounced her healthy. But he is cautious. Since she is adopted from another country, he wanted to be completely sure that everything was properly checked out by a specialist. And I appreciate that.
The last time we visited the family doctor, the thing he was most concerned about was her HIV tests. It seems that, although our child had two HIV tests before her adoption, and both of them were clear… our doctor is aware of some cases locally in which patients from Ethiopia had tested negative in Ethiopia, but when they arrived in Canada, were found to be HIV positive.
Now, the doctor just kind of mentioned this matter-of-factly to us during her last appointment. “Just because she tested negative while in Ethiopia does not necessarily MEAN she is negative” was basically the gist of the conversation. And although it is uncommon, as our doctor can attest, it DOES happen. So, he booked us an appointment with a pediatrician.
So for the last couple of weeks, this little niggling factoid has been sitting in my subconscious. I know our daughter is healthy, but still…
So yesterday, we went to the pediatrician’s office. It was quiet, and a nice, bright, friendly place. The receptionist was very nice, very gentle with us and the baby, and she took us to the exam room where we stripped Stinkerbelle down to her altogethers and had her weighed and measured. And she’s growing: 24.5 inches and 14.5 pounds. Still tiny by national averages, but growing and growing well.
And then the doctor came in.
I detected an accent… he is from South Africa! Whee! And this turned out to be AWESOME on a number of levels.
First off, and most importantly, he knows African medicine, so reading all her charts and whatnot from her care while in Ethiopia was a breeze. He understood it all. AND… he immediately put us at ease about HIV. The tests she received for HIV in Ethiopia were checking for the virus in the DNA (or something along those lines… the medi-speak kind of lost me eventually), which means they are the most technically advanced tests you can get and are completely accurate. The other type of test is an antibody test and in the case of infants, the antibody test can be incorrect because the antibodies can be passed from mother to child. So while our family doctor was cautious — and given the different tests people use for the virus, rightly so — there is no need to worry about that.
But another reason this doctor’s background came in handy was that he recognized all the vaccinations she has already received, and recognized that one of them is not going to be suitable enough for life here in Canada. Don’t ask me which one, I don’t know… polio maybe? But basically it goes like this: the vaccine provided in Ethiopia protects a patient from, let’s say, 4 different strains of the disease, because that’s all they have to be concerned with there. But here in Canada, the vaccine we use protects us from 5 strains. So he recommends we do the course of vaccinations again. It sounded like a plan to us, so on Monday, when she returns to the family doctor for a follow up, no doubt we’ll be scheduling Stinkerbelle for some shots.
After that discussion, the pediatrician did an exam, and pronounced her sound and healthy. “Lovely” was a word he kept using. “Oh, she’s just lovely.” It was wonderful. And he tested her for some basic developmental milestones: pulling up with her head level, following things with her eyes, grabbing things, passing things from hand to hand… She passed with flying colours. She stole the man’s pen, for goodness’ sake. And the doctor seemed absolutely delighted with her. “She’s just lovely”. He identified some birthmarks for us, as well as explaining about Mongolian spots (not bruises! apparently some people freak out and think it’s bruising), and just generally giving her the once-over. He seemed delighted with all the rolls of baby fat, and how alert she was, and, as he was leaving, told us to “enjoy her”.
And so we shall.