December 18th, 2010


Another Vintage Suck

This one is 28 and a half years old ;)

I have Spina Bifida, which is a physical neurological/spinal disorder that you can google if you so wish. My parents only discovered this the day I was born and knew nothing about it. Two days after I was born my mother, armed with only information gleaned from overhearing people and asking nurses, asked a doctor: "will she be brain damaged?"

"Oh yes, of course" he said lightly, "she's definitely brain damaged."


I don't know if that's bad service or bad bedside manner or whether it's both, but surely it's something. Technically, a neurological disability like this has "brain damage" so in a purely semantic medical sense, he was right. But surely this doctor would have realised that 99% of the general population equates the expression "brain damage" with "intellectual disability", which I don't have? Sheesh. Way to freak out my terrified 23 year old mother of two.

It's also possible that he simply didn't know- from my understanding it can be hard to pick up a mild intellectual disability in a newborn, depending on the nature of that disability. But that still leaves us with "she's definitely brain damaged" crap!

This was the neurosurgeon, naturally. When Mum relayed this conversation to the pediatrician (a guy made of win and awesome) he reassured her that I did not have an intellectual disability, then stalked down the hall and yelled at the neurosurgeon so loudly that half the ward and the whole nurses station heard it. I love my (former) pediatrician. Years later there was a similar clash of the titans when my neurosurgeon (same lovely, cheerful fellow) called me fat. All I remember of that is the entire clinic hearing: "I AM THE PEDIATRICIAN, YOU ARE THE NEUROSURGEON. UNLESS HER HEAD IS FAT, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!"

In retrospect, I wonder how many times those sorts of clashes happened, how on earth my pediatrician kept his job (he was a remarkable doctor with an incredible bedside manner, but I doubt shouting at colleagues is considered helpful for a non-hostile work environment) and what the heck my neurosurgeon's damn problem was. That clinic must have been an interesting place to work in those days...