A refreshing change of apporach


When you meet someone who is really good at their job, it is such a pleasure but you  realise how rare those skills are too : Joshua and I had the great pleasure of a hospital appointment yesterday with a consultant who looked at options to straighten Joshua’s wrist out. we had never met him before and my expectations were not high as we waited in a crowded waiting room over half an hour over our appointment time. In fact Joshua was just tucking into a bag of crisps from the vending machine when he called us in. I joked ‘ we are just having a picnic’ and he smiled like a Cheshire cat, and said, no problem, bring it with you.

As we entered his consulting room he offered Joshua the choice of any of the four chairs in the room and he introduced himself and the student nurse who was observing – so often they are not even mentioned I have found in the past! He shook Joshua’s hand and said ‘It is a very great pleasure to finally meet you Joshua, I have read all about you in your notes and who have you brought with you today?’ I was stunned  as he had read his file in advance and he made Joshua the focus of the appointment, again usually they address me and have no idea what is contained in his notes so that they ask me for heaps of back ground material.

This consultant/surgeon specialises in hands and yet he asked about Joshua as a whole, wanting to hear about his brain surgery last year and about his seizures too as they were context for his hand tightness. Again I have found that specialists do not tend to want to discuss anything beyond their own area so that was refreshing too, to treat Joshua as a whole!

He asked Joshua if he could feel his hand, wrist and elbow and of course, being asked so nicely, Joshua obliged even though he does not usually like his right hand to be touched. He then stayed kneeling on the floor next to him, as Joshua grabbed his hand, while he clearly explained what our options are ranging from doing nothing up to doing intricate surgery! He was not patronising but explained using helpful metaphors to make his point  such as ‘it would be like having a tug of war team and moving one of the team members onto the weaker side’ when explaining the surgery he proposed to Joshua’s muscles and tendons.

He acknowledged that I knew Joshua better than he did and that I had some knowledge of botox and of splinting too, whereas frequently the parent’s views and experience is disregarded. He accepted that we had a choice to actually take no action too, he kept stressing that we had an option to do nothing too. He put me under no pressure to decide what to do there and then, although I have opted to explore botox with physiotherapy again, as the least invasive solution. He is going to collaborate with a colleague, again a unusal approach in my experience, and explore the benefits of treating his right leg at the same time as his right arm. I joked whether he knew a decent dentist who could also examine his teeth while he was sedated!

We were given plenty of time for our appointment, never once felt that he was rushing us out of the door, and so when we left, we too were smiling at having had the most positive NHS hospital experience that I can remember for a very long time. I like to give credit where it is due and I look forward to meeting this surgeon/consultant again.