TITLE: Who is amazing in your life? Which doctors made a difference?
By Anne Harrell
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In last twenty-five years, there have been different medical issues that have come up in my family where a doctor of different specialties has treated my family. Every single one of the doctors has their own personality that has made each one of them in some way or form very special to us. They have all touched our lives to some degree whether in words, compassion, or the treatment they have given to one or more of us that have left a lasting impression on our lives where the mere mention of their names brings back a flood of memories. Each doctor deserves a standing oblation for all that they have done to improve the quality of care they have given to my family. Some of those special doctors are Dr. Garrison, Dr. Miller, Dr. Thomas, and Dr. White.
One doctor that stands out the most to my family over the other doctors is Dr. Larry E. White, a pediatric neurologist from the Children's Hospital Of Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. One of the countless reasons why Dr. White stands out the most to us is that he has a very caring attitude that makes each of his patients feel very special. He has a very calming voice that takes the defense out of the most excitable parent. He has his way in a very stressful emergency to defuse the fear that the parents have where they see that he has things under control, even if he is sweating bullets on the inside, he will keep his composure while trying to stabilize the patient.
One of the many things that Mark and I remember about Dr. White when Cyndy would be in a crisis, whether it was in the emergency room, or up in the unit he would stay in the room with Cyndy or near by until he knew that Cyndy's condition had stabilized. One instance that I remember very clearly was a time when her blood work came back looking horrible, and he admitted her to the hospital to pull her off a few of her seizure meds without tapering them down. He was very honest with us when he told us that he was not sure if she would go into status quote seizuring or what would happen. He prepared us for when the seizures would start up that he was going to send her to the ICU unit where she would be placed on the ventilator. Cyndy seizured one time that night but do you know, he stayed in the room with her that whole night. The only time he left the room was to deal with another emergency issue that had arisen, but he would come back shortly. Cyndy must have had to know when Dr. White was on duty because when she would have seizures and would get into the most trouble when he had duty.
I can still recall the very first time that I met Dr. White. His bedside manners really stood out the most to me during that hospital visit. It was August 4, 1988 when my daughter Cyndy had been admitted to the hospital by her pediatrician Dr. Garrison, after she had been having numerous bouts of seizures in a twenty-four hour period. When Dr. Garrison sent Cyndy over to Kings Daughter's, it took a lot of coaching from him to get me to give Dr. White a new doctor in the neurology practice a chance. I had been always leery of new doctors working on Cyndy because of them quickly wanting to change Cyndy's drugs to ones that didn't work the first time around. Before leaving Dr. Garrison's office, he told me he really thought I would like Dr. White and please have an open mind when it came to dealing with Dr. White. Dr. Garrison wanted me to give Dr. White an honest chance to try to control Cyndy's seizures.
When it came to first meeting Dr. White, he was young, but he didn't have the attitude of the freshly out of school doctors who think they know all. He came into the room, and grabbed a chair, and sat the chair down directly in front of me where we were at eye levels with each other. He asked different questions about Cyndy's seizures and how long each of the seizures lasted Etc the one thing, I noticed then also was he was truly listening to me. After all the questions, he had for us, and we had for him, he explained what he was going to try on her and why he thought it would work. He gave me a chance to question him again about all that was happening with Cyndy, and he didn't feel inferior as if I was questioning his ability to treat Cyndy. He came across to me, an anxious mom as I was, as to, he will do all to his best ability to get to the root of Cyndy's issues. A different matter that really stood out was that he would treat each patient as if they were his only patient and would take an hour with them if that were what they needed. Over the years, that side of him never did change, he remained the same. I had often wandered if Dr. Garrison had told Dr. White to deal with me with kid gloves but as the years went by, I found out from other parents that this is his true bedside manners. Before Dr. White would ever leave the room, he would always recap what his plan of action was going to be with us, Cyndy's parents. We always knew when he admitted her how long possibly, she would be in the hospital, and how he planned to tackle her break through seizures.
Over the twenty years, my family has known Dr. White I have had to call him frequently when it came to dire emergencies. When an emergency would come up, I always felt better when I found out, that he was the doctor on call because I knew he was going to be very understanding, reassuring, and wasn't going to push to get off the phone until he knew the child was ok or the emergency crew was on the scene. Many of the times I could tell he was listening to the background noise while he was sizing up the emergency, by listening to see if the child was having difficultly with breathing or listening to see when the child has come out of the seizure. Still no matter what, he was going to stay on the phone with you the parent, until he knew that the child was going to be ok along with the parent.
Dr White is also one that tries to educate his parents when it comes to having to bring the child out of a seizure swiftly or about their child’s health issues. The one time that really sticks out in my mind was when Cyndy had been in a seizure for at least ten minutes and her breathing was being affected where I had already called for the ambulance, but intervention had to be done immediately. He had given us some Valium to use on her rectally, but it came in injection form. He was worried that giving her the Valium rectally wasn't going to work that particular time. Since the Valium was in injection form, he talked with me through the crisis and giving Cyndy the Valium by injection. My first response was to resist giving the injection to Cyndy. Nevertheless, even when I defied him, he managed to give me a quick crash course and the injection was given without further resistance.
Dr. White won my heart over when it came to different small things that he considers them nothing really out of the normal was the one time that he had to tell me the news, I did not want to hear. It was the day before Thanksgiving of 1996 I had an appointment for all six children with him. That day he met me at the car to help bring all the children in to the office. I have never known a doctor that would step out of the comfort of his office to help with bringing a child in the office. That day I had noticed that Cyndy was slipping when it came to her health, I point blankly asked him if Cyndy was leaving. He turned his head a way from me for a few minutes. When he turned back around, I could tell by the looks on his face that the worst fear was coming about soon. His face was red and the hurt that he was feeling was a tell tale sign along with the tears that were running down his cheeks. When Cyndy died, he told me afterwards that he never wanted to tell me that Cyndy's number was about to come up. I am not sure he expected Cyndy's time to be when it did happen. I have a feeling he thought he had a little longer time to brace himself and us before she passed away. By different things, he said he thought it might come to a time that he might have to tell us to let her go. I am very thankful we did not have to make the decision to let go. Cyndy died in her sleep peacefully in the early dawn hours of January 1, 1997. The Lord blessed us by taking her in her sleep. That way Dr. Garrison or Dr. White or Mark and I had to make the decision. The decision was made for us.
Dr White and two of her other doctors, Dr Garrison and Dr. Thomas severed as her pallbearers. Dr. White over the last eleven years has been a blessing to my family and has done as much as possible to help us deal with Cyndy's death. He has been a blessing also with being the coauthor with me of “Cyndy's Blessed Assurance.” One thing Dr. White has shown me that he is not afraid to get down to eye level with his patients. It is not below his dignity. He puts the patient before his self. Thank you Dr. White for all you have done to improve life for all the special needs children that are in your care. We parents of special needs children at times seem to forget that you have a heart and feelings like those that we do. You have made us parents' lives much easier when it comes to our special needs children.
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