One dreary damp February morning I glanced through the door of the waiting room and noticed a boy sitting on the floor playing with two blue wooden building blocks, twisting and tapping them.
He looked about twelve years old and I was struck by the incongruity of a boy of that age playing with baby toys, an oversize cuckoo, among the small chairs in the play corner.
Up until that moment my morning had been fairly routine just the usual winter coughs and colds.
Back in my office as I scanned through the remaining appointments an unfamiliar name stood out like a sore thumb.
‘New Patient ‘I sighed’ Just what I need on a busy Monday morning’
Trying to suppress the irritation rising up at this threat to the smooth running of my morning, I proceeded steadily through my next few patients, until the NP was at the top of my appointment screen.
I pressed the intercom button
“Samuel Taylor, please come to Dr Collins in room number 4”
There was a tentative knock, the door opened and the child from the play corner was coaxed over the threshold by a woman who I presumed to be the boy’s mother.
In an attempt to put them at ease I said
“Hello there, I am Dr Susan Collins. Do come in and take a seat”
The boy looked puzzled, walked to a chair, grasped it by the frame and started to lift it off the floor.
His mother put out her hand to halt him
“Sam, the doctor wants you to SIT ON the seat. “
She turned to me
“Sorry, Sam tends to take things literally He has Asperger's syndrome”
Then Samuel spoke abruptly addressing his remarks to the wall behind my desk
“Well, why did the Doctor tell me to take the seat then? “
“Samuel,” says his mum gently “That is because Dr Collins does not know you well yet. Now sit down on the chair and then we can ask for your prescription”
She turned to me again
“I am so sorry, Doctor, Samuel does not mean to be rude. We've just moved into the area and have come to get a repeat prescription for his medication. I have brought all the details as I expect you won’t have our notes yet. I am so sorry to come on a Monday morning - I know how busy you must be.”
She handed a sheet of paper and the cardboard sleeve from his medication pack.
The neatly typed sheet summarised the boy’s medical history I check the information on the sheet and I realise with a jolt of surprise that Samuel s date of birth is exactly the same as my own son Cory .
I reach into my drawer to get out the prescription pad. Under the pad is a blue plastic cube. I bring it out and stand it on my desk. It is just one of the many trinkets that I get given by pharmaceutical representatives to remind of their products. This blue cube has a silver-coloured “S” emblazoned on one side.
As I fill out the prescription the cube gets Sam’s attention as I thought it might.
“Sam, would you like this blue cube to take away with you?” I say as I hand his mum the prescription. “See, it has an ‘S’ on it for Sam?”
Sam looks at the cube and says “Is it Ok mum?”
“Yes, Sam. The doctor says it is for you. Say 'thank you' to the doctor.”
She smiled gratefully at my gesture.
“Blue is his favourite colour, Doctor”
I felt a connection with her and a pang of sympathy. She was coping with a difficult situation and I could sense the love and care she had for her child.
“It ‘s no problem and…. Please make another appointment at the end of a surgery so I can do Sam’s new patient check, and get to know him a little better" I said.
“Thank you doctor.” she said. "… and…. thank you for listening”
Our eyes met, we smiled at one another, but Sam was too engrossed in his new blue toy to notice.
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