Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Little Monkeys: A Study in Medical Philosophy

While singing the popular children's song Five Little Monkeys (Jumping on the Bed) for the tenth time the other day, I realized that the lyrics illustrate a lot of my opinions about the doctor-parent relationship. Here are my thoughts:

1. The doctor is not in charge of the monkeys health, Mama is! Mama is the one making decisions for her monkeys, not the doctor. I hate when I hear things like, "Get your doctor's permission before [insert activity]." Guess what? Your doctor is not your mom or your boss or God. You don't need his permission to do anything!! If you decide you'd like his input or expertise with an issue, you call him and then make your own decision. (Note: I've chosen to use the masculine pronoun in regards to "the doctor" because women aren't smart enough to be doctors, duh!)

 "Dr. Monkey" by Dan Mills

"Mama" is the one who ultimately decides to let her children continue jumping on the bed. The doctor is a consultant. "Mama" calls the doctor to ask his opinion, he gives it, and then she does what she thinks is right, taking into account several factors, including and not limited to: the doctor's input, her own intuition, and the insight gained from her knowledge and experience with that particular child. In Mama's case, she decides to disregard the doctor's advice in favor of her children having fun and learning from their mistakes. Her monkeys aren't living in a bubble! Keep jumping on that bed while I catch up on Downton Abbey!

This little monkey jumped a little too hard ...

2. Preventative medicine is best. I like the doctor in this song because he doesn't tell Mama to bring her kid in for needless MRIs, physical therapy, and a round of intravenous antibiotics, all potentially for the purpose of covering his monkey bum or padding his wallet. He tells her how to prevent the problem in the first place: stop jumping on the bed, dweebs!

Monkey can't sleep. He'd rather be jumping.

3. The doctor was reachable by phone. I know doctors have lives, but I think the fact that Mama was able to call her doctor--not an answering service or a nurse--shows that they have a good relationship. Do you know how many times my kids have gotten worry-level sick Monday-Thursday (our doctor thinks Fridays are part of the weekend), from 9-5? ZERO. It's always late at night or on the weekends.

Our favorite hypochondriac. This kid moped on the couch with an ice pack for two hours after Nate pulled his arm a little funny while playing.

I would love a doctor who trusts his patients with his cell number. That being said, if you are the type of neurotic crazy mom who would have the doctor on speed dial and call to inform him whenever the texture of your baby's poo changes ... you are ruining it for the rest of us. Also, when did house calls go out of style? That would be awesome. For now, I guess I'll have to be content with the nurse hotline provided by my insurance company, even though I only remember that this resource exists when I get a pamphlet about it once a year in the mail.

4. The doctor respected Mama. Even when she calls him for the fifth time, clearly after disregarding his previous advice, the doctor still offers his professional opinion and help. I don't expect my doctor to agree with me about everything, but I do expect him to be respectful of my role and responsibility as the mother of my monkeys. You should never put up with a doctor who talks down to you, ridicules your choices, or won't listen to your concerns.

I love how it looks like this mama monkey is collabing with her trusted pediatrician. They work side-by-side, not against one another. via

I switched pediatricians a week after Ruby was born because the doctor was unprofessional and disrespectful to the midwives who had attended Ruby's birth (which took place at a birth center I had chosen after thorough research and prayer). When I confronted her about her behavior (a rude phone call made to my midwives, within earshot of me, followed by her continued mocking comments made to her nurses), she started spouting off a bunch of medical jargon meant to intimidate me back into submission. I never went back. A doctor who doesn't respect you and your right to make decisions regarding your family's healthcare does not deserve the money (thousands of dollars if you have a newborn who needs a year + of immunizations) you will bring to their practice.

5. The doctor didn't jump to conclusions and call CPS. Even though Mama's monkeys are getting bumps, the doctor doesn't overreact and accuse Mama of abuse or negligence (letting them jump on the bed isn't the same as letting them jump off a roof, contrary to what the helicopter moms at the playground might think). I know this one is probably a rare occurrence, and I do think physicians should watch out for evidence of child abuse, but this happened to one of my best friends, initiating a huge ordeal for her family that could have been avoided if the doctor had investigated the cause of some mysterious bruising more thoroughly (they were a result of a recent infection).

Managing your family's health can be complicated enough without throwing a crummy doctor into the mix. I hope you have a great pediatrician who is respectful and qualified, and who also stocks interesting magazines in the waiting room, employs nurses who don't wear Skechers Shape-ups, and has a bowl of good candy at the check-out counter.

P.S. I updated my "About" page. I know everyone's been waiting for that like Christmas morning.


  1. Kim, you should buy this book for your doctor. Or the other dorky one. Now with the internet, you can really research stuff, BUT it all goes back to mom's intuition and spiritual guidance.

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