The Doctors' Waiting Room: The contribution our daughter makes

Today we spent a good 40 minutes in the waiting room of our local Doctors' Surgery. Nothing unusual in that with our Natty. 

We're talking low-grade 'poorly'. Off-colour, off school, off her food. 

But after the out-of-the-blue 'nasty episode' that sent Mummy and Daddy 'off the scale' with worry, and her into hospital 2 weeks ago, we were covering all bases.


Dr Natty is here to help

I digress.

I sat, mentally noting the events that took place in the waiting room today. No more out of the ordinary than on any other of our gazillion visits, but perhaps because we were there a little longer, and perhaps because being a blogger changes the way you view the ordinary, I thought I'd write to you all about it...

We check in. Each of the receptionists knows Natty by name, so we have a little chat and a giggle with them, while Natty sits on their desk. We tell them about our latest modelling shoot and media foray. I give them one of my brand spanking new 'business' cards this time, to put on the staff noticeboard.

As we round the corner to the seating area I realise I am a little tense. I know from experience what is to come, and I am on red alert in order to orchestrate it. For Natty loves attention, and here is her audience! A captive audience, stuck in wipe-clean seats, impatiently awaiting their turn to deliver their 5 minute soundbite about their ailment to their busy GP, hoping s/he'll understand and come up with the right solution. It's a kind of medical X Factor on a conveyor belt really.

I digress again.

These people are stuck, with Natty thinking she is at the helm of #HMSWaitingRoom!

The contribution our daughter with Down's syndrome makes to her community

She starts gently. We both sit down, all quiet and demure, sweetness and light, politely smiling at the silent ones who got there first. I whisper conversation to Natty about the doctor, how she is feeling, what we will eat for lunch, but she has spied her first target. A girl around her age, sitting slightly off to the left. Natty sends out a precisely-aimed cheeky look, engages her prey, then pokes her tongue out as far as she can (one trick kids with Down's syndrome are rather good at!) whilst shaking her head. 

The whole waiting room stop and look, then titter in unison. Just the very positive reinforcement we need to keep this act going. Great. 
Natty smiles her cutest, sweetest, sugar-coated smile, flashes it around the room, and there, we have them all entranced.

We all return politely to semi-silence, ship shape and British fashion. I do my distraction routine, pulling things out of my handbag. Everyone else tries to look away, but I know they are ensnared. Trapped in Natty's charming headlights. 

It's half that they want to look at the child with the disability, half that they can't believe how pretty and bright and chatty she is bacause they are conditioned to think differently, half that she is such a star entertainer that they can't wait for the next installment. (Wait, that make one and a half! ... that'll be the 'Extra Chromosome Factor' then.)

A pale but pretty young woman with bleached hair and sad eyes sits opposite Natty. She's bundled up in oversized dark jumpers and sits with her head in her hands, elbows resting on quaking knees. She looks to me like someone who needs a hug.

Natty hops down from her chair and stands 3 inches from her, bent low to look into her eyes, and whispers "Are you cold?". The woman slowly looks up, as if roused from a dream, or maybe a nightmare. She smiles slowly, directly at Natty. 

I apologise for the interruption, but she says it's OK. She and Natty compare shoes and chat for a bit. I notice her legs don't shake again.

Then Natty decides it's time to remove everyone's noses. (Don't tell me you don't do the same when you are in a waiting room?) She took mine off first, between her thumb and fore finger, in the style of  '4 and 20 black birds'. She then went to each and every patient, from 5 to 85+ years, all 12 or so of them, and performed her nosectomy. When they were all giggling enough, she did another lap, this time replacing the olfactory feature. 
When she'd finished, she brushed her hands up and down past each other in opposite directions. "There" she stated, "all done". She got one or two guffaws as her reward this time.

Finally she went over to a lady sitting more quietly with her husband. 
Silently, she placed her head on the lady's lap. I heard her say "It's OK lady." 
Husband and wife shared a knowing glance.

We were called in. Quick recap. More antibiotics. Hand gel application while we waited for the magic potion, or 'banana juice' as we call the yellow gloup.

As we made our way to the car outside, the lady and her husband approached us. She told me she has breast cancer. She is due to start chemotherapy in a day or two. Such private information from a stranger humbled me. She also wanted to tell me that she usually dreaded doctor's appointments and waiting in a sombre waiting room. She wanted to tell me that today was the first time she and her husband had laughed in quite a while. She thanked Natty for that.

And here is the point in a nutshell; 

My fears over the germs Natty was getting in the waiting room seemed insignificant. My worries over not letting her talk to strangers seemed neurotic. 
Natty had again lit up a room with her presence, and made a real and lasting difference to someone's life  this morning.

Natty the joker, Natty the entertainer, Natty the carer, Natty the intuitive ambassador, had struck again. 



27 comments:

  1. Love it. My extra factor baby is only 4 weeks old and has spent most of that time in hospital mesmerising staff. She is a diva in the making and i hope she turns out like Natty1

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    1. Yes, that's how Natty started! Is she home with you now? Much love as you begin your journey together x

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, I laughed, giggled and then cried. Natty is such a beautiful person, thank you for sharing that.

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    1. Thank you. I just want the world to know that children with DS are fully rounded characters, and very much a valuable part of their communitites.

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  3. I don't know why but this brought a lump to my throat. We are blessed by our children in ways some people can't understand. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. Tania

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    1. Thank you for reading Tania. I am saddened by the fact that 92% of babies with DS are terminated, when people don't realise what well rounded characters they are, and what valuable, active members of their communities they can be, as with all our children.

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  4. oh that is so wonderful. I have goosebumps reading the last few paragraphs. I adore Natty. And you know I am a huge fan of yours too Hayley. Thank you for sharing this and thank you for letting Natty be Natty. How many parents would have spent twenty minutes insisting their child "sit still and be quiet". You allowed Natty to be who she wants to be and look at the benefit other people have reaped.

    Wonderful.

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  5. Natty - you star. I would love to meet you in due time (and when we're all healthy!). The Cheetah Keeper has been known to light up a waiting room before now - and also to go and ask consultants at GOS when his appointment will be because he's been waiting aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages... they love him. Love to you all x

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    1. Cheetah Keeper, this made me laugh out loud! You go boy! We'll meet one day I'm sure x

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  6. Your posts should come with 'will need a hankie' warnings! What a little sweetheart she is.

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    1. I seem to be getting a reputation! Will ask Kleenex to sponsor.

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  7. I smiled, then I smiled some more, then tears came to my eyes. Natty, you are trully an inspiration, as is your mummy xx

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  8. I love this, its so important that people see that disabled people are valuable members of a community. Natty sounds great. :-)

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    1. Thank you. She is, and yes, you are right, everyone is a valuable member of society.

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  9. Love it! My boy is also hilarious like this. Elevators, for example, used to be awkward and silent. Now they are the perfect time to meet new people!

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    1. Our children are such great ice-breakers aren't they :)

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  10. The Babe's already in more strangers' photo albums than is healthy (seriously, I fear for the consequences), but in our case it doesn't seem to be the Ds but the extreme blondness. I dread the moment it'll be about the Ds, since I'm really uncomfortable with that whole 'special children' deelio (she's special alright, but only to me and the Viking and maybe Grandma when she's off of her gardening obsession) and I seriously wonder how I'm going to tackle it the first time I'm confronted with something like that. I'm hoping Babe's personality will rival Natty's and then it'll automatically be about the personality and not the Ds.
    Here's to hoping!

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    1. Yes, I dislike the 'special' tag too as all kids are wondrously special. Actually, you hear that term less often in the UK I think, but yes, it's all about the personality and Natty's fills a room alright!

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  11. Oh wow - I wish Natty could be there to speed up the waits in our Drs waiting room! :-)

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  12. This story made me smile - thank you for your post. I often wonder what my patients get up to in the waiting room while I am madly trying to care for everyone in my short appointments!

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    1. They probably aren't quite as well entertained when we aren't there...
      Thank you for what you do for us all.

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  13. Our love to you! xxx

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  14. Hayley, what a fantastic post. I love this story - we could all take a lesson from Natty: be kind to strangers, smile, and choose to be joyful. I'd love to see what sort of effect she might have on a London Underground carriage... ;0) Julia x

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    1. Thank you Julia, so honoured you have read the post. It's the little details in life that most of us miss isn't it. It takes a "Natty" to show us.

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  15. I've missed this post last summer (I was on holidays), but luckily I found it today.
    Your story is so funny! It made me want to meet Natty! I hope I will find someone like her in a waiting room next time I go to a doctor's!
    Of course I hope Luna will have the same gift and make people smile. For the moment she's 3, she doesn't speak much (expecially with strangers), but she does have a charming smile...

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