Our Dr. Jane

September 29, 2010

One of the easiest decisions I ever made was which pediatrician Rahul would go to when he first came home with me.  To choose Dr. Jane Aronson was a complete no-brainer.  She is known as The Orphan Doctor (www.orphandoctor.com) and is a pediatrician who specializes in treating children who have been adopted and have crossed cultures in doing so.  She has made it her business to deeply understand conditions for orphans around the world so as to better treat them here.  (She also founded WWO, wwo.org, to improve lives for children in orphanages around the world.)

So when Rahul arrived on US soil (4/08), one of the first things I did for him was to make an appointment with Dr. Jane.  It seemed that he had received good medical care in India, but I needed to make sure his immunizations were up to date and that he was as healthy as he seemed on paper.

The day of our appointment was Rahul’s first field trip at school, and I really wanted him to be able to go to the Bronx Zoo with rest of his class (he had just started school a few days earlier).  So I met him there and after we had lunch with his class and rode the monorail, we headed out.  Now, at this point, Rahul and I did not speak a common language, so we had only a few words–and a whole lot of gestures–that we used to communicate.  I didn’t know the Hindi word for “doctor” and I certainly was NOT going to do the “putting a shot in my arm” gesture to explain where we were going, so I said, “dost”, which means “friend”.  That’s where we’re going.  To our friend’s house.  Where she is then going to stick big needles in your arm.  Can’t wait.

So we arrived and I parked my car in a garage one block from Dr. Jane’s office.  Then Rahul refused to get out of the car.  After a few minutes of prodding, followed by a few minutes of threatening, followed by a quick experiment to see if I could lift Rahul out of the backseat (I could NOT), I called my parents.  They were 7 hours away, but they were also the only people in the world that Rahul seemed to like at that time, and I thought they might have some luck convincing him to get out of the car.  So Grammy and Grandpop worked their magic and Rahul got out of the car.  So then we took a few steps along the sidewalk and Rahul sat down on the curb and refused to budge.  Again I tried the prodding, the threatening, the lifting — nothing.  This kid was going nowhere.  So I called Dr. Jane’s office.  Her receptionist was really sweet and smiley and I thought if I could convince her to walk over to where we were, Rahul would feel more comfortable and be inclined to get off the curb and into the office.  She immediately understood what I was asking her to do and why and was happy to come over.  So a minute later, not only does Bubbly Receptionist come walking up the block, but Dr. Jane herself, flanked by two other doctors she was training that day.  Now Dr. Jane is a striking woman, with white, curly hair and brightly colored glasses, and as she led her team across the street to where we were, she had a huge smile on her face and was shouting “Hi, Rahul!” as she walked.  Of course, he immediately stood up and smiled and was happy to go with this fun group wherever they were going, and as we started walking towards her office Dr. Jane sidled up next to me and said, “Is he driving you crazy yet?”  She is an adoptive mom as well and has more experience with the trauma that occurs when an orphan crosses cultures and enters a family than anyone, and I was comforted to know that she didn’t judge me–or HIM–because of our behavior that day.

We stepped into the office suite and Dr. Jane started her examination right in the bright, cheery waiting room.  But after a few minutes it was time to move into her office.   She weighed and measured him, checked his pulse (it was racing, he was so scared!), and interviewed me about his habits.  Then it was time for the needles.  She had to draw a lot of blood for testing, and once Rahul realized that’s what was coming next he flipped out.  He kicked, screamed, bit, flailed his arms, and ran out of the office and down the hall.  A large, male doctor grabbed him as he ran by and Dr. Jane yelled out, “Papoose him!”  Another person grabbed a contraption that looked like a straight jacket attached to a wooden sled and it took five adults to strap Rahul into it.  Rahul was terrified and called out for me, and I held his head so he wouldn’t bite Dr. Jane.  She drew the blood, vial after vial.  And then she was done.  She unstrapped him from his straight jacket and let him run out of the room to be alone and cry in a little heap at the end of the hall.  Then when he was done, he came to Dr. Jane and got a sticker and a hug.

And then she reminded me that Dylan’s Candy Bar was right around the corner from her office.

So off we went to the greatest candy store in the world.  And I was so relieved and strung out that I gave Rahul carte blanche to get whatever he wanted.

I have the receipt from that visit in his scrapbook.

75 dollars.

On candy.

Rahul with his $75 worth of candy

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