Conservative. The word has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it's used. Most often in my neurotypical sphere, it's used in conversation about politics. Or religion. In another realm of my world–the weird world of autism–I use it to refer to medical doctors….
Once I entered The Land of Autism, I eschewed the variety of docs to whom the label applied. Usually a doctor who was "conservative" in this strange land meant that s/he whipped out the prescription pad readily. And, things such as diet and other "bio-medical" treatments, including nutritional supplements, were…pooh-poohed.
And then there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Like those docs who embrace the bio-med path so readily that parents who follow their often generic protocols rake the shelves of the health food store indiscriminately. And then there's doctors who embrace every pyramid schemed natural product which enters the market.
That is when conservative is Good. For me. I want someone who ideally knows and understands something beyond the pharmacy shelves or is at least willing to respect where I'm coming from and my lifestyle factors.
Nashville, where we abide, is conservative in regional politics, religiously, culturally AND medically with the heavy dominating presence of Vanderbilt Medical University. So, with the cultural and medical climate, it is not easy to find a doc truly open and truly savvy in "integrative medicine." Every now and then I luck up on one. Or, I travel out of town to him or her. What I often must settle for in pediatricians, neurologists and other specialists here is someone who is open-minded enough to respect that we do use bio-medical regimens overseen by those who do specialize in these things. I am not an idiot parent who looks to the literal word of the internet as bible to self-treat my child. (I use the word "idiot" here not to infer the label of other parents but of the perceptions by many physicians especially of parents of children who have autism.)
So, I am swelling with Gratitude today ever since I left the office of Grace's neurologist. He knows me. He knows I'm going to say "no" much of the time to the prescription pad. He knows that we have our bio-medical stash and I discuss it with him. So while he may be conservative in the use of biomedicals (meaning he does not prescribe them and may know little about them) he is also conservative with his prescription pad. Many docs like him would be knee jerking with that little palm-sized stack of paper.
So, for this spiritual, political and bio-medical liberal–conservative in this case is Good. I am heard. I am respected. And the doctor is slow with the pen. Grateful I am.
And with Gratitude comes an awareness that not every parent has these relationships. Or knows to seek them. If you are a parent, I say choose your doctors like you hopefully choose your child's classroom teachers. Rarely do you have to take what is given to you in terms of systemic recommendations–this teacher, this class, even this school, or this doctor. Research, dear parent. And don't listen to one person. One doctor. One parent. And, very important: check in. What does your gut say? (See this post: "The Really Do Come with Instructions.") Ask questions about doctor-parent report. Ask about his/her attitude toward things that concern you. You have a choice. And for me, the choice is sometimes, (or usually, here in Nashville,) those who are conservative when I cannot find credible bio-medical expertise in an area or an area of specialty. In the end, it is my responsibility to choose because I am the keeper of my child. I will have to live with the choices I make for her care. The doctors do not.
I will not tolerate in a physician for myself or my child anyone who does not respect me and treat me as a team player. And the same goes for teachers. I may not have a masters or a Ph.D., but I am an expert on my child. I come with skills and I hire those who offer skills that complement my own.
A Good Doctor is Hard to Find. Be smart. Trust Your Gut. And, Choose Wisely.
While this post may seem to echo sentiments of last Wednesday's book excerpt, this was written in December.