I feel dirty.
I sat here for a while this afternoon and contemplated writing about the Elmo show we took Sophie to this weekend, or the craft documentary Annabelle and I saw, but I couldn’t get going on either. My “to do” list was tugging at me.
I often write “to do” at the top of the lists I’m constantly making, but this morning I wrote “TODAY” at the top of the page, hoping it would push me to get to the bottom of the list by day’s end. There’s lots of stuff on it that’s overdue — checks to deposit, bills to pay, end of the year thank you gifts to buy. An IEP to turn in. And doctor appointments to make. (Not to mention all the actual work I need to do for my job — which winds up being 24/7 because of days like this one. There’s a separate “to do” list for work. It’s too long to list here.)
I furrowed my brow and picked up the phone and — like ripping off a Band Aid — quickly scheduled an overdue thyroid test for Sophie and well check visits for both girls. Then I looked up the number for Dr. Death.
That’s not her real name, of course. I first heard about this psychologist — and her nickname — several years ago, when I was writing a story about autism, namely about how tough it is to have a diagnosis dependent on so many variables, as opposed to one like Down syndrome, which is neatly diagnosed with a blood test. (You can read that story here: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2006-12-07/news/the-scarlet-letter/)
At the time, people told me about this psychologist in town who would pretty much give you whatever diagnosis you needed, in order to get services. She’s legendary, but when it came time last summer to get Sophie’s IQ tested (for the second time; the first time, the school said she was not mentally retarded, meaning we would soon lose state services — and please, I know, the whole IQ thing is totally bogus, particularly at Sophie’s age, but we don’t have a choice if we want the services) I didn’t even think of calling her. Somehow, it seemed like cheating.
And so I searched high and low for the best, most caring, qualified psychologist. We spent much of last summer with the woman I found — she interviewed Sophie several times before she even started testing, to be sure Sophie was comfortable with her and her office. She did the tests in very small bits, always first thing in the morning, to be sure Sophie wasn’t too tired.
Sophie’s IQ went up three points from the school’s results.
So now Sophie’s IQ needs to go down 14 points, or she loses it all — two hours a week of physical therapy, and one each of speech, occupational and music, and respite care. (Apologies if you’ve read this litany before — several times.)
I asked Sophie’s pediatrician if he could just write a prescription for the physical, speech and occupational therapies. No, he said, but if I needed to get Sophie’s IQ tested, he could refer us to a good psychologist.
I looked at the name he scribbed on a prescription pad, and looked at him. He wasn’t winking, there was no knowing glance. The pediatrician’s a straight shooter; I couldn’t ask him if he knew this woman’s nickname was Dr. Death.
Either way, I figured, it was a sign. And I put “call Dr. Death” on my “to do” list.
I didn’t tell the receptionist at Dr. Death’s office much. I just told her — in a small voice, that’s all I could muster — that Sophie has Down syndrome and needs to have her IQ tested when she turns 6, to see if she still qualifies for state services.
The receptionist was polite, but not chatty. She took down some basic information, informed me that her office does not accept our insurance, asked me to send copies of Sophie’s IEP and previous test results, and scheduled the IQ test for 1 pm on a Tuesday in July.
“That’s the only appointment?” I asked.
“Yes, the doctor will do all the testing in one afternoon,” the receptionist replied.
Of course she will, I thought. “Okay,” I said. “See you then.”
Fingers crossed. But for what?