American in Spain

Clean Bill of Health

August 24, 2010
Proper ladies wear hats

As I mentioned a month ago, there was some very mild concern about Nora's slow development in both speaking and walking, and an appointment was made to see a specialist. Well, we just got back from the specialist today, on her seventeen-month birthday. We were initially surprised that our appointment was in the Rehabilitation Department of the Valdecilla hospital in Santander. "We don't need rehabilitation; we need habilitation", I quipped. After some reflection, however, it makes sense that experts in the task of learning to walk and speak would probably best serve the people in a center for injured adults that need to relearn those skills. We got there a little early – stupid, in retrospect – and spent an hour in the waiting area. For the first ten minutes, Nora stayed in constant body contact with us, but soon was venturing around the waiting area, touching empty chairs, never strangers, and generally exploring. Oh, she can walk now, by the way. Sometime in the last week she finally figured out that she doesn't need to hold someone's hand anymore. We've been saying "any day now" for months, and the day has finally come. Expect walking videos soon.

Everything about the way we were treated during the doctor's visit impressed me. When we first arrived, a nurse came out, looked at her clipboard, and guessed who we were. She told us that we were third in line and that it would probably be at least thirty minutes, and that we were welcome to go for a walk outside in the meantime. How many doctors' offices do that?

When we were finally called in, Nora immediately recognized the soft-spoken woman in the white coat for what she was (all her pediatricians have been women) and got extra clingy. The doctor noticed the problem immediately and told us to leave the room and make her walk down the hallway while she observed. Then we went back into the office and the doctor started playing with some toys in front of Nora. It wasn't until the doctor moved further away and I began to play with the toys that Nora joined in. We built a little tower out of some cups, and there were some wooden blocks held together with a magnet that could be put together and pulled apart. Towards the end of the visit, Nora was quite calm and was enjoying the toys so much that she almost didn't want to leave when it was time. The doctor, having realized that it was the best strategy, never got close to touching Nora.

At the end, the doctor told us that we didn't have anything at all to worry about. Children in a bilingual household always take longer to speak and comprehend (duh!), and her tendency to walk on the inside of her heels is also quite normal, but that we should try to find some better shoes with more of a supporting arch. It was all pretty much what we suspected, but it's always reassuring to hear it from an expert.

Proper ladies wear hats