Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Becoming Your Parents

I used to kid my grandmother, so firm in her ways, how she fought, kicked, and screamed at the mere thought of having a dishwasher (other than her grandson), a microwave, or a VCR.  By the end, she did have all three, appreciating all the conveniences.

I have done my best not “become my parents” as my daughters have gotten older, a typical “guarded” father.  But my older daughter has a very peculiar sense of humor.

I have been lucky that there have not been many instances of major “crushes” or interests for me to deal with by either.  Just opportunities to offer fatherly advice and reminders about what they should expect from anyone who wants to spend time with either of them beyond a basic friendship.

I speak to my daughters nearly every night, exceptions would be when there is homework, perhaps they are out with their mother.  Or, she was “over at my ‘friend’s house.”  Of course my radar goes off as there is no name of such friend mentioned, and I pressed further as if looking to have myself feel uncomfortable on purpose.  “Who was it?” as I rattled off a list of the friends I knew of, all who happened to be girls.  She gave me a name I did not recognize.  It was a boy.  My instincts were right.  She was hiding something from me.  So I thought.  She was toying with me.  “Come closer father” she was probably thinking as a predator in the wild kingdom stalking its prey.  And she enjoys that game.  And I oblige.

“So, what were you doing?” I asked.

“Just hanging.”  I have to pull the details out.  She knows what she is doing.  The trap is set.  “Did you have dinner there, with his family?”  “Yep.”  “So then what?  What did you do?”  Slowly she the predator gets closer to the prey.  “What movie did you watch?  What did his parents think of it?”  The silliest question, and clearly let my daughter know that she had caught her prey.  Now it was time to go in for the kill.

“We were watching it on Youtube in his room,” saying it so innocently.  Of course, it was innocent.  All I had to do is just stop right there.  And just like I had some sort of case of parental turrets, it came out…”but you had the door open right?” I seemed to have been begging and hoping, remembering my time as a teenager, and rules expected to be followed by parents.  “Nope.”  That was it, just a one word reply.  She made it clear that there was nothing to be discussed.  But, I am her father.  She then burst out laughing at watching me squirm with discomfort.

To be clear, I trust both of my daughters, and there are situations that will come up that are bound to push my boundaries of comfort.  I am becoming my parents.

Geico Insurance even capitalized on these moments with a commercial series of various situations where adults morph into their parents, something we swear never to allow to happen.

But there are signs, and not just my recent conversation with my daughter, that change is happening, being so set in my ways, not wanting to accept change.

There is one are however, I really feel firm about, and I believe it makes a difference.  I want to be clear, when it comes to the world of medicine, and as involved as I am, personally and with knowledge, I respect every medical care personnel working.  To them, their job is not just a shift, of following procedures, these people, heroes, all have emotions connected to their jobs, constantly under duress, rarely knowing of successes, but never able to forget those that have not survived.  So I want it understood, I am not undervaluing any nurse, tech, doctor when I say what I am about to say.

I am not okay with the new system of medical care, recently finding another change I was not aware of happening.  Others I have been able to see the change, and if unable to object to it, and least strategize around it, so I could accomplish what I needed to, to feel I got the care I was looking for.

I have stated many times, my current primary care doctor I have had over thirty years.  No matter where I have lived, she is the only one that I will see, which is miraculous given that most reading this are less likely to have seen the same primary care doctor from a practice, twice in a row, and especially how fragile my health is.  Yet, if she is not available, I put the “pause” button on what I am dealing with and ask, “when will she be available?”  And then I wait.  I don’t care how long.

If it is something I feel I can handle with the nurse, I do it.  Not sure the difference between a nurse and a nurse practitioner is, and I have no interest in knowing.  I am guessing a nurse practitioner is like saying a “nurse plus.”  Either way, I know that I am dealing with a nurse.

My doctors, I know who they all are.  I know the care I am getting, and I know the information they give me is based on their education and experience.

These are the two medical professionals that I am used to dealing with.  If not something a nurse can handle, my doctor takes care of it.

Now, here comes “my parent” mode.  Enter the “physician’s assistant.”

Over the years, I have heard this term used around me multiple times.  My doctor either still performing other surgeries, or for any other unavailable, would result in another individual coming in on his behalf.  Ok.  I am cool with that.  The doctor was not available so he sent his peer, another doctor, to discuss my concerns.  They appear just as experienced, so I am unsuspecting as to who I am actually talking to.  Once that particular event is done, I move on, noticing nothing.

I recently had a conversation with a physician’s assistant, whom I have had many conversations in the past.  When it comes to my care, I know my doctor cannot be monopolized by me, and has many other patients.  And I know that he has others around him, who he has trained to deal with our unique situations.  And they are very good and have bright futures ahead of them in survivorship care.  So then, what bee flew up my shorts with what happened next?  Obviously I have become my parents in another aspect.

I referred to him as doctor, as I often do, because I thought… well, I thought he was one.  “Please, not Dr.”  I began to feel like a television episode or movie scene where someone trying to escape in a hospital slaps on a lab coat to look like a doctor.  Have I been played?  He was so convincing, so knowing.  And while I knew he would not be the one doing any kind of procedures on me, I was okay with him relaying  information from my “other” doctor, and being able to answer my questions.

So, what exactly a physicians assistant?  It is not a nurse, or nurse practitioner, or else they would be referred that way.  I though a nurse was an assistant to the doctor.  A PA is not a nurse, but also is not a doctor, though works under the supervision of a doctor.  Both have the education, and likely the experience.  Ultimately though, the doctor is the one in charge of the patient.  However, that does not change the fact, this assistant is not a “doctor”.

Here comes the parent.  “Back in my day…” we had doctors and nurses.  And if doctors were too busy, or nurses could handle the situation, that is what happened.  I have to admit, I really feel weird about this situation.  I have dealt with this PA many times, and up until he had me stop referring to him as doctor, I would never have been the wiser.

But when it comes to my care, I need the best possible.  And at least up until now, he had me convinced he was, as long as I thought he was a doctor, because I was convinced he was.  There is a reason I have had only one PCP for three decades.  I trust her, and only her with my care.  Specialist I need to see, I need the best.

Again, I want to be clear, I do not want to be perceived as cutting anyone down.  I have been used to one form of health care my entire life, and things have changed for whatever reason, but my needs have not.  Probably my fault for not understanding who I was seeing, and I likely would have cancelled any appointments, waiting to see the actual doctor.  Worse, refusing to see anyone other than.

This “becoming your parent” thing is not only real, but a serious issue.  That said, I do respect the PA I see, but at least I now know, his “teacher may teach him everything he knows,” but may not have taught him everything his teacher knows.  And now I am aware of that.

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