Medical Longings

We used to have a wonderful, sweet, old-school, top-of-the-line pediatrician on the mainland. He was part of a small practice – all members of which I adored – and there was a 24-hour number we could call with whatever concerns or dumb questions we had (and we had plenty). There was an onsite lab so test results were immediate, they had Saturday hours, and would even open for you on a Sunday if need be. These doctors, nurses, medical assistants and secretaries were the people who gave my Babies their first check-ups in the hospital when they were born, helped keep them healthy and happy, and made them well when they weren’t. They watched BG, and then BB, grow from newborns to toddlers, and I spent hours and hours there with my Babies between ‘well visits’ and countless sick visits over the last three snowy, bitter winters. A week before we left town, I went in to pick up BG’s and BB’s medical histories; I burst into tears when I told the secretaries there we were moving. Twice.

Ah, Rockwell. Close, but their old pediatrician was younger...

When we came to St. Thomas, we found out that most people at BG’s school didn’t have a pediatrician. Rather, they went to the highly rated Red Hook Family Practice. One of the doctors there is the father of BG’s classmate, and during the second school day drop-off, he very kindly introduced himself and gave me the precious 24-hour clinic hotline number. There is also a pediatrician on staff at the clinic, who I’m told is excellent. All that being said, I really didn’t want to have to go to the ‘best medical practice in the Virgin Islands’ – I was still in mourning for our old pediatric practice. I tried very hard to keep my children healthy: they ate well, took vitamins, slept well, and got plenty of fresh air and exercise. We avoided: unknown and untested allergy-type foods; leaving the house when they had a cold (once until this week); and especially sick children and places where their germs ran rampant. The one time we had to go to the clinic was to get a medical form filled out and they had to send a simple test somewhere else; between the normal mailing time, a Sunday, and Three Kings Day (closed), it took a week – not their fault at all (they send their lab tests to Miami), but I couldn’t help but wistfully compare.

Beautiful Conch shell

Beautiful Conch fritters on almost every menu here, which I worry BB might be allergic to.

So imagine my dismay when this past week, not only were both Babies sick, but BB developed some weird hives out of the blue. All is okay with both Babies after staying home, over-the-counter meds, a baking soda bath, and cream, but I am now petrified that she will develop bronchitis (which I hear is going around) and he will develop some bizarre deadly allergy to palm trees, no see-ums, coconuts, or conch. This is on top of my current daily worries of Dengue fever (which Husband got our first month), weird biting insects, and crazy iguanas (I know they don’t normally attack, but I have heard stories).

Fever? Rash? What child doesn't occasionally have these? Freaks me out.

I want our old pediatrician so I can call and ask what to do, or just voice my concerns so he can tell me not to worry so much. I want a CVS that most definitely will carry what I need instead of having to settle for what is available. I want to know that if I have to take my Babies to the hospital in the dead of night, I won’t frantically drive off a cliff by accident, we won’t have to wait behind gunshot victims (have heard this is not out of the ordinary), and they will have all staff, equipment, and supplies at the ready. We are fortunate enough and grateful to have health insurance that covers emergency airlifts to Puerto Rico and Florida, and credit cards to cover anything else. I have met countless people who grew up here and are ridiculously healthy and happy. People assure me that island children are healthier and taller than mainland children, and I have heard wonderful things about many doctors here. But still, but still, I miss the kind of medical and emotional insurance that familiarity brings. I miss Dr. P.

The closest CVS, store #3236 in Key Biscayne, FL, is 1100 miles away from us.


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