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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鈥檚 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鈥檙e sitting in the emergency room. Five days ago, she started having abdominal pain. I鈥檝e 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鈥檚 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鈥檝e been out of town. I haven鈥檛 been present for the conversations Natalie and my husband have had in the doctor鈥檚 office. I鈥檓 not even really sure what questions they have asked of Natalie and I don鈥檛 know her answers. I don鈥檛 know what blood work they have ran, possible diagnoses they have talked about, or exactly what else they鈥檝e done in terms of testing. My poor husband really needed to get back to work, so I tagged in, armed with only the doctor鈥檚 orders to go to the hospital ER and a few pages of lab work results from the previous day鈥檚 visit. It鈥檚 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, 鈥淪he is how old?!鈥 which elicited a reply from me of, 鈥淚鈥檓 just here because she鈥檚 not old enough to drive herself.鈥

The doctor made a plan to evaluate what鈥檚 going on, which we鈥檙e in the midst of now, so we鈥檙e 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鈥檚 growing into a strong, independent young woman.

Footnote: After several hours in the ER, it was determined that Natalie had appendicitis. She had聽surgery to have her appendix removed and is now resting comfortably (while still聽telling the nurses exactly what she needs.)


Sonji lives with her husband, Nathan, and three children Nora, Thomas and Natalie, in Colorado.

*Note: 鈥淚nfusing Love: A Mom鈥檚 View,鈥 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.

 

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