Here is the nitty gritty of Thursday.
I picked Gabriel up from school, dropped off the Valentine's Day gifts to my boys' teachers and rushed into the van to drive Gabriel the 30 minutes to Dr. King's Seattle office.
We arrived, greeted by Jeff (my hubby) in the parking lot and headed in to wait in the waiting room, a fairly large room in what appears from the outside to be an office building. On the inside of that strangely plain exterior is an office of Autism experts that rival those anywhere.
Once inside, I check Gabriel in, only to find out my hubby already did that. Jeff laughs at me and is instantly in his I-can-only-be-sarcastic personality which surfaces in every medical situation. Some cry, some get angry, Jeff gets sarcastic.
We watch the fish tank. I only pretended.
Really, I am watching the other families in the waiting room. Carefully checking out every child. I smile at the other moms, casually, when they see I am watching their child, and his or her quirks with a sense of connection.
One boy plays puzzles on the floor and refuses to go back to see the doctor when it is his turn. His doctor, Dr. Stobbe, who is also our neurologist (and the man that diagnosed Gabriel's Autism last year) smiles his unphased-smile at the boy and his parents, and insists that it is fine if the child wants to finish his puzzle. I am quickly reminded how much I love that man. That smile is the look of understanding--not sympathy, not empathy, not compassion or pitty -- but understanding. He gets our kids.
Another family has a daughter, a little older than Gabriel, maybe 12 who is yelling some and has a very unemotional look on her face. She looks exactly like her father, who appears a little uneasy in the room -- he is smiling nervously, a little larger than he should, but at least I get to see exactly what his daughter's smile would look like.
Another family sits in the back, with their daughter, maybe 5, sleeping on the floor. But I am pretty sure it was the teenage boy with the ear phones on that was the patient.
It doesn't take long to realize we are going to wait longer than anticipated in the waiting room. I call my neighbor and good friend and ask her to get Nick off the bus, but assure her I will be back in time to get Matt. Especially since I haven't listed her as an emergency contact, so I am not sure they would release him to her anyway. She agrees no problem. I have the best friends.
At about 20 after Dr. King comes out, with another woman trailing him.
Dr. King is unassuming, dressed in a tie, with greying hair and a very warm smile. He introduces himself to Jeff and I as "Bryan King", but to Gabe he refers to himself as only "Bryan". At this Gabriel reaches out his left hand to shake Bryan's all while clutching two stuffed lions (he smuggled the second one into the office by hiding it in the plastic tub of army men--damn, I should've checked) and the plastic tub of army men and softly says, "I'm Gabe."
Dr. King introduces us to the woman with him as a colleague visiting from Minnesota who is there to observe and learn how he works.
We do a quick height and weight on Gabriel, and then off to his office.
We sit down in his office on a strange plastic feeling small couch with stars on it and the first thing he says is, "It looks like you haven't had good luck with doctors here in the past." With a smile and reference to Gabriel's head injury.
I look at him and run backwards in my mind until Gabriel was 2 and we had his follow up appointment after his head injury with a neurologist who said everything was fine and dismissed my concerns. He actually made me feel stupid when I saw him. I laughed and told Dr. King a little of our encounter with that doctor.
"He wrote in the chart that Gabriel had "normal development." And laughed that same calm I-get-the-inside-joke laugh as before. "It is even strange that he would write that phrase."
I immediately like this guy. :)
We talk a lot, about Gabriel's challenges, the changes in his mood swings and cycles over the last year and he is asking questions along the way. He asks Gabriel some questions, all of which Gabriel responds "correctly" to (gives the answer he thinks you are looking for) and again Dr. King seemed to clearly understand that is what Gabriel was doing.
He asks a few questions to the other doctor who was visiting. At one point he asks her if she sees anything besides Bipolar that might be going on. She says, "I keep thinking attachment."
I think, Seriously lady? Just because he is adopted doesn't mean he isn't attached.
Dr. King politely dismisses her suggestion and with that I move from liking him to loving him.
We go through more of the things that have gone on in Gabriel's short life and Jeff peppers the conversation with sarcastic remarks. Dr. King appears concerned (about Gabriel, but rather entertained at Jeff), recaps to clarify and has legitimately read all of Gabriel's medical history dating back prior to his placement with us.
We start to talk about medication, and Dr. King assures us that Gabriel's history of responding positively to medicine is a great sign and very encouraging. He suggests that we try an A-Typical Anti-Psychotic (he assures me the name of the medicine is scarier than what we are treating) and suggests a TINY dose (1/8 of a ml -- literally a drop) for a week to determine if we see any results -- positive or negative before deciding to jump into the med full force.
Jeff and I are on board. This is what we expected.
Dr. King asks his colleague a few more questions, and at one point she shifted her weight in her chair and said with an uneasy laugh, "This is really complicated."
We leave the appointment with high spirits. All of us. And except for the fact that I am rushing to dial my friend back and crossing my fingers she will be able to get Matt off the bus too (which she agrees to and is successful at), I am not stressed any more.
My husband says to me later, "I liked him. He didn't seem phased by what we said. Like he had heard all of this before and knows what he is doing."
Even though I have a sneaking suspicion that Jeff liked Dr. King because he laughed at his inappropriate, yet on going, sarcastic commentary, I liked him too. Dr. King does know what he is doing and has done this before. The best two things you could ask for in a doctor if you ask me.
We got home with a renewed sense of hope. Because, after all, that is all any of us have as parents: Hope.
Now, before I close this post, I want to assure you that I came home and cried. A lot. Cried as a part of the mourning, as part of the release of emotion and as part of the cleansing. But now it is time to wash away the fear and move on.
Since we can't get the new medicine until Monday (not in stock and will have to be ordered), I will report how things go in the next week or two.
Until then, thank you all for supporting me (and my family) and Happy Valentine's Day!
Photo: Gabriel waiting his turn to play Ping Pong in Mexico beachside.