Infusing Love: Watching An Advocate Bloom

My 11-year-old, Natalie, is not your typical 11-year-old. She is whip smart, savvy, and mature beyond her years. I suppose that comes with being the youngest of three siblings. You have to wise up when your older siblings are trying to pull one over on you since the day you were born.
Natalie has recently had the opportunity to show off her advocacy skills. I suppose she’s picked up on how to communicate with medical providers and school staff after years of tagging along to meetings for her brother. But the really cool thing to sit back and observe is how she has taken the lead in advocating for herself.
As I type this, we’re sitting in the emergency room. Five days ago, she started having abdominal pain. I’ve been traveling for work during that time and her dad immediately got her to our primary doctor to be checked out. All the testing has been inconclusive so far, yet Natalie’s pain is increasing. The primary doctor said it was time to have an ultrasound to rule out a couple of things, which has necessitated the trip to the ER.
Since I’ve been out of town. I haven’t been present for the conversations Natalie and my husband have had in the doctor’s office. I’m not even really sure what questions they have asked of Natalie and I don’t know her answers. I don’t know what blood work they have ran, possible diagnoses they have talked about, or exactly what else they’ve done in terms of testing. My poor husband really needed to get back to work, so I tagged in, armed with only the doctor’s orders to go to the hospital ER and a few pages of lab work results from the previous day’s visit. It’s fair to say I was a little anxious on the drive here as I knew I was not going to be able to provide the medical providers with good information.
Sonji_NatalieBut I had no reason to worry. As we arrived at the registration desk, Natalie checked herself in. The triage nurse asked her a few questions and summoned the doctor. As soon as the doctor began asking what brought us in, Natalie began reciting her complaints, what her primary doctor has done so far, and what her lab values were yesterday. The doctor looked at me and said, “She is how old?!” which elicited a reply from me of, “I’m just here because she’s not old enough to drive herself.”
The doctor made a plan to evaluate what’s going on, which we’re in the midst of now, so we’re likely to be here for a while. But to watch your 6th grader eloquently and confidently navigate the confusing battleground of unexplained pain, while in pain, is truly awe-inspiring. It gives me great assurance that she’s growing into a strong, independent young woman.
Footnote: After several hours in the ER, it was determined that Natalie had appendicitis. She had surgery to have her appendix removed and is now resting comfortably (while still telling the nurses exactly what she needs.)

Sonji lives with her husband, Nathan, and three children Nora, Thomas and Natalie, in Colorado.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.