Saturday, November 18, 2006

He's not overweight, he's just undertall!

So Sarah took Sacha to the doctor this week as his persistent jaundice had not diminished in the 2 weeks the doctor had initially mentioned. When he got there, his doctor looked him over and was still a little bit concerned and so referred him on to one of the 2 local pediatricians in Timmins. We could get him in that night, so I was able to go as well.

It just so happens that not only is he one of 2 pediatricians in Timmins, he is also 1 of 3 Dutchmen in Timmins (myself and his son, the other pediatrician, included). (Not sure if that 3 is accurate or not, but pretty close.) Johannes Herbertus Verbeek graduated in 1969, so he is certainly no spring chicken. I had heard some funny stories about him, namely that he showed up to a continuing education seminar in rubber boots. I also heard he did not have the most stellar bedside manner. Typical Dutchman.

We got to his office, which is actually an old house used as a doctors office. Quite cool actually. I noticed that he had orange chairs in his waiting room, which I interpreted as his attempt to maintain a connection with his native land. As you may or may not know, orange is essentially the official color of the Netherlands, as the Royal Family is the House of Orange, descendant of William of Orange, liberator of the Dutch people way back when. Sarah thinks that I’m full of crap and that the chairs are just orange.

He certainly was an abrupt man, but seemed very competent. He was extremely thorough in his questioning and even more thorough in his physical examination of Sacha. Sacha thought he was playing with him and was smiling the whole time. He thought it was hilarious. Then came the event that would lead to a night full of grief and concern. Dr. Verbeek measured his length, weight, and…dun, dun, dun…head circumference. Apparently babies heads have a thick layer of fat around their skull impeding appropriate measuring of circumference and thus necessitating the creation of a measuring tape tourniquet to ensure accuracy. His head came in at a miniscule 14.75 inches.

When I got home I was interested in his percentile ranking, as apparently physicians in Timmins do not share such information. He is short (10th percentile). No surprise there. He is light (25th). Bit of a surprise there. However, he is 75th in weight for length. Therefore, he is either overweight for his length, or underlong for his weight.

Then came the real shocker. He was off the charts for head circumference. He was so far below the lower limit, I could barely determine what to classify him as. This would normally be an indicator of developmental delay, but he is clearly not suffering from that. So I panicked for about an hour. How could my child’s head be so small when they do not even make hats large enough to fit mine? Furthermore, how could he be developmentally delayed when there is no other indication as such? Maybe he is a little person, but only in his head.

Then I asked Sarah, “How big was his head when he was measured 3 weeks ago?” She said it was 15.25 inches. Well, now I was really concerned because apparently his head was not only small, it was actually shrinking. I knew we kept it warm in our house, but not that warm. I always make sure to lay him flat to dry.

Finally Sarah ended my angst when she brought out the measuring tape and determined that he was in fact a respectable 15.5 inches. All that worry for nothing.

Some day I will find all the growth charts in the world and burn them. Or at least we could make them password protected and only allow access to parents on their second child.

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