Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Do you really care for your child?

Please see this example of how a doctor cared for her patient.

Saraswati was pregnant with her second child. She had pregnancy- induced diabetes causing her to go through a very tough regime. Last week she was admitted at Mallya Hospital in Bangalore because of her labour pain. She was admitted at 5 am in the morning.  

At 7 am, when the pain became too difficult to bear, she requested her doctor, Dr Shalini  to do Cesarean section. Dr Shalini acknowledged the request and continued with her efforts to help Saraswati. At 9 am, Saraswati's husband again approached Dr Shalini to relieve Saraswati's pain. Dr Shalini explained all the possibilities to her husband and told her why C-section is not necessary. When her husband, after seeing the continuing screams of Saraswati, again approached Dr Shalini later at 11 am, she firmly reminded her husband that she is a doctor, not her husband. 

As the afternoon progressed, Saraswai's pain increased. She hurled abuses to her nurses. She almost twisted the hand of her husband as she continued to fight the pain by holding the hands of her husband. She tried again and again to talk to Dr Shalini. Dr Shalini continued to firmly say no and remind her that she was in safe hands. By evening, Saraswati had stopped asking help from Dr, Shalini

At 10 pm, after 17 hours, Dr Shalini took Saraswati in the OT and delivered a baby child without doing C-section.

When i met Dr Shalini next day and asked her how could she withstood the continuing barrage of requests, solicitations and even veiled threats of her patient to relieve pain by using short term measures, she simply replied ' I really care for my patients'.

Being involved in helping parents and students for the last two years, it is rare to find a parent who truly cares for his/her child. Instead, I often see parents who are too eager to help ( helping child too quickly when the child is struggling to tie his shoe lace), who do not take the tough decisions helpful for the child ( such as not watching TV), or firmly saying no to the child's request of ice-cream in the evening ( because you feel guilty for going to work and leaving the child home!)

I have seen parents take seemingly difficult one-time decision, but do not have the self-discipline to practice appropriate behaviour with the child. For instance, two months back i met Sudha  who left her well settled job to ensure that her child is not put to day-care. But Sudha was unable to control her worry when her child did not eat food at 12 pm. She started force-feeding the child. Now her child of 3 years, who has never learnt to sense her own hunger, makes Sudha dance around for 1 hour to make her feed. Despite taking the tough decision to leave the job, Sudha finds it more difficult to maintain self-discipline in her daily actions with her child.

Why do you think Dr Shalini can practice this self-discipline, while Sudha could not maintain hers?  Even if Dr Shalini had acceded to the request of Saraswati and performed the operation, no one would have faulted Dr Shalini for her action. Infact she would have even got paid more for doing ceaserean. And,despite the honest intentions of Sudha, why is she unable to put them into practice?

One of the biggest difference between Sudha and Dr Shalini is the difference of subject knowledge.  Dr. Shalini has the 'right knowledge' to take a decision and stick with it, while Sudha is not sure of 'what to do and what not to'. Sudha's knowledge of child development is insufficient as compared to Dr Shalini's knowledge of 'child delivery'. How can Sudha gain the required confidence in her daily actions without acquiring the expertise of child development herself?

Sudha, as you would have guessed, should find an expert in child development and rely on her knowledge. Like Saraswati found Dr Shalini and then 'trusted' her to take care of 'child delivery', Sudha also should find an expert on child development and trust that expert to take the right decisions for developing her child. 

With the help of an expert on child development, Sudha will be able to avoid the mistake she did with her child and not get sucked in the ''downward spiral' of her child's behaviour. She will know for instance that TV and video games are the least useful gadgets that impede child's development. She will also know the 'exit paths'. For example, when the child gets stuck with a behaviour, she will be able to find a way to 'break the spiral' of the self-defeating behaviour of child.  Sudha will know that teaching 'language' to her child requires a different strategy than teaching child to develop qualities like concentration and patience.

In other words, despite her good intentions and one-time decision, if she really cares for her child, Sudha needs to find a consultant in child development who can guide her. Do you really care for your child?

Post script: When i asked Saraswati next day what she felt, she replied " In the first pregnancy which was done thru operation, i never experienced the birth of my child. Thanks to Dr. Shalini, this time, i could experience the feeling fully. It is very very different. I would have missed this if Dr had listened to me. And i would not have known what i missed. I wonder how many things we miss in life, but we never know. Life is really queer.".

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