Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rachel’s 2-year check-up

We finally took Rachel into the doctor today. It’s been quite a while since she’s had a check-up, considering her last check-up was on July 21, 2008. We just hadn’t been satisfied with the pediatricians we’ve met here.

A while back Rachel got a vaginal infection of sorts that just wouldn’t clear up. We took her to the pediatrician Melissa used with Finn and he was awful. He took no time to get to know Rachel before examining her and insisted on examining her on the table instead of on my lap. And as comfortable as she is being stark naked at home no matter who comes over to visit, she knows that her private parts are private parts. I thought he’d at least chat her up before examining her so that she would trust him a bit, but he didn’t.

He just had us take off her pants and underwear and put her on the examination table. One quick glance and he told us to…bathe her more regularly. He did prescribe some anti-fungal/anti-bacterial wash to use in the tub. But seriously, that was his main advice: bathe her more regularly.

Rachel was not impressed with her treatment, and we weren’t impressed with the diagnostic. Not only was her infection making her privates red, it smelled awful down there, so of course we were bathing her regularly!

Anyway, ever since then the very mention of the word “doctor” has sent her into a tizzy.

Since I’ve had to start going to the doctor regularly for prenatal appointments, Rachel has warmed up to the idea of going to the doctor. She asks when my next appointment is going to be and loves coming along with us to the office so that she can hear baby Miriam’s heartbeat and see what the doctors and nurses do.

After my last appointment, Rachel started asking when I was going to make an appointment for her.

“Make me a poinpament! I need a doctor poinpament!”

We had been trying to hold off going to the doctor until she was ready—since we’re pretty sure she’s healthy—and I figured this was a good time. So I picked up the phone and dialed a different pediatrician that had been recommended to us, Dr. Mohamed Omar.

I wrote down the date and time on a little scrap of paper.

“Is that my poinpament? Can I hold it? Can I hold my poinpament?”

After transfering the information to our calendar, I gave Rachel the paper to hold. She was very excited have an appointment. She was very excited all week long. She was excited all morning this morning.

And then we got to the office. Her excitement disappeared, while mine grew.

The waiting room was painted a bright yellow and had a cheerful, circus-themed wallpaper border. There were pictures of smiling children and babies on the wall. The benches had blue cushions and red throw pillows.

It was a friendly environment.

We were even more impressed when we walked into Doctor Omar’s office. He called us back himself, which was nice. His room was painted more of a peach color and he had a Winnie the Pooh cover on his tissue box, which helped set Rachel at ease.

He chatted for us a while, just getting to know us and trying to make Rachel smile.

“Is it Rachel?” he asked using the proper American pronunciation of her name. “Or Rakheel?” he joked, switching to an Arabic pronunciation.

“Rachel,” we answered.

“Heiss,” he said, “That’s a German name.”

We almost went into shock. No one gets our last name right on the first try. Usually it’s Weiss or Hess or something like that . Here in Egypt we most often get Hiss.

“It is,” Andrew said, “My great-grandparents were German.”

“But you are American,” said Dr. Omar.

We went back to her vaccination schedule. We’re behind on a few shots because we skipped her 18 month appointment, but that only really put us behind for Hep A. Europe apparently gives fewer rounds of the immunizations than America (and Egypt) do, so Dr. Omar said she’s technically immunized already, but that we’d still get her “caught up” on her rounds, simply because disease is a little more rampant here than in Europe or the States.

“What state were you living in when she started her immunizations?” he asked.

“Utah,” we answered, preparing ourselves to further explain exactly where Utah is located.

“Oh?” Dr. Omar said cheerfully, “Are you members of the Latter-day Saint church?”

“Yes!” we said.

“I know many members,” he said. “Actually, I know a Heiss. Frank Heiss. He worked with LDS charities and visited Cairo a few years ago and I got the chance to meet with him.”

“That’s my grandpa!” Andrew said.

Small world.

Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sharon served their second mission in the Frankfurt, Germany area office, acting as the head for all Middle East/Eastern Europe humanitarian projects. They got to travel a lot during that mission—Romania, Albania, Moldova, Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria—in order to help train humanitarian missionaries stationed in those places, to help with existing projects, and to help instigate new projects.

One big project that LDS Charities advocates is Neonatal Resuscitation Training. Dr. Omar has been involved with this project in Egypt for years, has gone through the training several times, and now works with the current humanitarian missionaries here to help train other doctors.

He showed us all the certificates he has around his office from the NRT program, and a thank-you gift from LDS Charities for all his help with their medical projects here.

He was excited that we knew Frank Heiss. We were equally excited that he knew Frank Heiss.

With that out of the way, he focused on Rachel a little bit more. She was brave for a little while, but when he broke out his tools she flipped out. He was really patient and understanding, though.

He took a big teddy bear off a shelf and showed her how he was going to listen to the bear’s heart. It didn’t really calm her down any—she screamed all through his demonstration and the whole time he was trying to listen to her heart. It was like the stethoscope was a noose or something. But she talked about it after we left…and said she really liked that part.

She screamed while having her ears looked at, even after stopping screaming for a brief second to look through the otoscope and into the panda’s ears. You would have thought he was shooting pins in her ears the way she screamed when he looked in her ears.

She refused to open her mouth for him to look inside. She would open it enough to let screams out, but not enough that we could catch a glimpse of her teeth or throat.

She screamed on the scale—she weighs 12 kilos (26.4 lbs).

She screamed while being measured—and he even had us lay her on the baby tape measure so that he wouldn’t have to measure her standing up. We didn’t quite catch her height. Andrew thinks he said she was 80-something centimeters. When we measured her at home a month or so ago, I think she was something like 34 inches…so 86 centimeters…2 feet, 10 inches.

She’s growing proportionally to her birth weight, which is good. She’s still right on track.

When Dr. Omar grabbed his measuring tape to measure the circumference of her head, she completely lost it.

Some of the things she screamed while she was being examined were:

  • I want Mommy hold me!
  • I want Daddy hold me!
  • I don’t want doctor touch me!
  • No! I will not do it!
  • Don’t listen my heart beep!
  • No! Don’t take off my shoes!
  • I don’t want to sit there!
  • I don’t want lie down!
  • No! I’m done!
  • Leave me ‘lone!
  • Where’s my baby doll?!

After her physical examination, Dr. Omar started asking us questions about her cognitive and physical abilities.

“Does she string two or more words together in a sentence?” he asked, and then laughed and checked off the box before we could even answer. “Of course she does! I think we all heard evidence of that.”

In the end he pronounced her healthy and suggested that we skip vaccinations for today so that she could maybe remember that doctors aren’t really scary. We thought that was a good idea.

So while Rachel sat and sniffled on my lap, we instead talked with Dr. Omar about baby Miriam. He said that he’d love to be her pediatrician as well and that he’d meet us at the hospital to give her her first physical assessment. He was excited that my doctor is Dr. Tarek and said that he’s one of the best doctors available and that he likes working with him. That was good to know.

We said goodbye, and paid our bill—150 LE ($27)—having to ask some other patients in the waiting room for change since all Andrew had were 100 LE bills and 40 LE in smaller bills. Oh, Egypt!

Rachel had somewhat recovered by the time we reached Miriam Market—Andrew said that she could have a special treat for being brave so he ran in to get her some Gummy Bears—and was able to talk to me about the things the doctor did and consented to go back again some day.

She might not like Dr. Omar yet, but we felt comfortable with him, so that will help her to feel comfortable with him. I hope. Next time she goes in it will be for shots… I don’t think that will help their relationship any.


  1. I want your pediatrician! He sounds great!

    And what a small world. Wow.

  2. I'm so glad! Dr Cherif was such a jerk.

  3. Yay for great Dr's! Good find!