Language Barriers

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc

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When the white-coated doctor emerged and called our names my heart lurched.  I scooped my daughter up and hurried into the glass-walled office.

In a thick accent, he asked, “What seems to be the trouble today?”  Describing as best I could everything that had happened over the past hour, I waited as he performed a perfunctory exam.  After this short once-over we went back out into the lobby where he wanted to “observe” her symptoms.  We stood, watching, as she stumbled and weaved around the lobby like a wounded bird.

My anxiety was mounting with each passing moment, not knowing what could possibly be causing such a strange and sudden illness.  Finally, the doctor turned to me, like he’d just discovered penicillin and said, “Maybe she was not walking so well before today?  Maybe this is how she walks?  She’s not been walking long, no?”  I wanted to scream!  I thought Are you kidding me?  She’s been walking for over a year–and just fine–before today.  My confidence was waning as I realized that he should’ve been aware of the normal age for children to start walking.  But clearly he wasn’t.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a language barrier when the welfare of your kids is at stake.  While this doctor and I were technically speaking the same language–we were definitely not communicating effectively.  After several unsuccessful attempts at convincing him that her behavior was abnormal, he finally said, “Watch her today, and if she gets no better, bring her back tomorrow.”  At that point, there was nothing else to do, so we loaded up and headed home…and a few hours later her symptoms disappeared.  She showed absolutely no signs of anything having ever been wrong.  But a nagging feeling deep inside my heart told me that this was not the end of it…



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