We’re definitely not “just” tourists here: Tourists don’t typically need to find a pediatrician. And this isn’t finding a doctor who will treat you for a day or a weekend or a week because you got sick on vacation: this person will be the primary doctor for the next few years for our children — guiding us through vaccination regimes, tests and developmental yardsticks that are all different than they are a home, and mostly important.
We really, really liked our pediatrician at home. (Well, we still like him, and he’s still there.) It’s not an easy thing to go out and find a doctor in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language (I know, I say that about a lot of things, but it’s true about a lot of things).
We went and “tried out” our first pediatrician candidate today. Her English is very good (although I think I will always hope for better — this is an important interaction where you really want to be able to understand each other), her office is across the street from our apartment, and, most importantly, Benjamin liked her. (Liam didn’t, but he’s going through his “stranger anxiety” phase, so he doesn’t like anyone.) Today was just an appointment to meet her, have her meet the kids, and to talk a little.
Things are different here, which is both good and bad. They appear to do more testing here: hearing, vision, etc., none of which we did at home, so the boys will probably have to “catch up” on a bunch of evaluations. (Of course, this is an Austrian thing, not specific to this doctor, so that will be true regardless of the doctor we choose.) The vaccines they give, and the timing of them, are different. (I like the fact that she said she’s going to try to come up with a plan that combines what’s normal in the US and what’s normal in Austria, rather than switching them to the Austrian schedule, just to have them have to switch back when we go home.) Even the vitamins and supplements, and their doses, are different here than at home. As examples, they recommend more Vitamin D supplementation than we do at home, and they give fluoride tablets, since it isn’t in the water — and we’re supposed to give these tablets even to little Liam as soon as his first tooth comes in. It’s a lot of “different”, which is hard for me, because I was comfortable and confident with the way we were doing things at home. It’s hard to change the game plan.
On the plus side (and I don’t know if that was just this doctor, or if this is common) we met with the actual doctor the entire time — there wasn’t a nurse who showed us back and took heights and weights — the doctor did all of that herself. I liked the fact that we didn’t feel rushed (she spent an entire hour with us) and I liked the fact that she actually took a moment to get down on the floor with Benjamin to play with him and make him comfortable. I also felt like she understood us well, and was really making an effort to communicate well — and I don’t mean in terms of language — there’s a language barrier, to be sure, but there’s also the potential for a “doctor speak” barrier where you just don’t feel like you’re understanding each other.
Overall, I liked her. I expect that, for now at least, she will be our pediatrician. As much as I don’t love all the differences between what we had at home and what we’re experiencing here, it is really comforting to at least have a doctor, who we’ve met with, to call if we need someone. That need stays the same, wherever you are.