Some folks are afraid of spiders. Others are terrified of wide open spaces. Some shudder at the thought of public speaking, while others have nightmares about clowns.
I am scared of germs. Like, “don’t you dare touch my child unless you’ve washed your hands with boiling water and antibacterial soap, and have used a paper towel when turning the bathroom door knob, or I will cut you,” scared. I’ve always been this way, and no amount of therapy or heavy drugs is going to change it. Since taking my kids outside to the grocery store is already hard enough, as you can imagine, going to the pediatrician’s office is a test in heroics.
And, to make matters more challenging, while some doctors offices have separate rooms to segregate the sick from the healthy, our pediatrician’s office back in Los Angeles only offers a narrow center divider, with colour-coded chairs on either side. Blue if you’re sick. Orange if you’re healthy.
Yeah, like the germs give a shit where you sit. Trust me, they will find you: The last time M had a “well baby” visit, she came down with Roseola, and the time before that, she caught a nasty cold.
In other words, going to the pediatrician’s office is like enduring an intense session of immersion therapy.
The good news is, Dr. S. is one of those rare pediatricians who is almost always available to offer advice over the phone, which means that nine times out of 10, we’ve saved ourselves a trip to Pathogen Paradise.
The best thing about Dr. S is that he doesn’t care who calls him: He never asks for names or medical record numbers, because he figures that if you’re calling him, then there’s a sick kid involved and it’s his job to help. Period. The End.
Since we’re FOB new immigrants getting smacked sideways by every virus and bacteria known to Israel, I’ve racked up a lot of long distance calls to Dr. S. (Hi B. You thought my cellphone bill was high? Just wait until you see our landline.) The best part is that when it’s 1:00 am here, and M. is puking up a lung, or Little Homie’s poop has a decidedly greenish hue to it and my mind is swimming–no, drowning–in a sea of Very Scary Thoughts thanks to sleep deprivation and very real circumstantial evidence that Something. Is.Wrong. With. My. Children. Dr. S’s office is still open, and I can get him on the phone in two minutes.
And every time I hear Dr. S.’s cheerful voice, I am comforted, remembering the halcyon days in Los Angeles when I could navigate the medical system in English.
And until we make our way back home to the blue and orange seats in Dr. S.’s waiting room, I will continue to stay in contact with my favorite pediatrician from the other side of the world. Hell, I may even send him a postcard, because fair is fair. And if the phone charges are too high, I can always sell the number to his direct line to other exhausted, overwhelmed and terrified new immigrant parents facing wave after wave after wave of illness, again and again and again. And again.
Believe me, it’ll be more lucrative than selling weed on Ben Yehudah Street or hooking in South Tel Aviv.
And a lot less germy.