Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"Support" from the health visitor




Following our visit to the Minor Injuries UNit, I got a phone call from a health visitor - but not the one who had come round before. The funny thing was that I was having a very rare nap when I answered the phone, so I heard her say her name, but missed the bit where she said where she was calling from.

She wears another hat and is quite well known, so I thought this was what she was calling about and she was quite miffed when I mentioned it and said I was confusing her with her husband who also wears this hat.

Her tone was one of accusation from the start, asking if the bump was an accident. Did she genuinely think we'd done it on purpose, or was this badly phrased. Then she asked: "DId you let the baby roll off the bed?"

We felt terrible about what happened, but at the same time, how on earth is it possible to go through life without the odd cut or bruise? We would never deliberately hurt our child and if we did, we would hardly be likely to take him to hospital, would we? And not one of the people who I've told about the bump has not done the same thing themselves.

She then suggested that as we left the hospital before being seen, that I wasn't concerned about the baby. With a flash of inspired genius, she also suggested that I mention the bump to the GP next time we see him.* It's this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that separates health visitors from us mere mortals.

I think she sensed that I was quite irritated and then said her phone call was to offer "support", which would have been much more useful the previous night.

In case you think I'm being unreasonable, let me quote from a hilarious book called "A parents' survival guide" by Laurie Graham. It was written in 1986, but still relevant, so it's going to the charity shop today for someone else to enjoy.

She says: "On her way out on the 10th day, the midwife will leave the door ajar and something called a health visitor will slip in. She won't have a uniform, so you may mistake her for a Jehovah's Witness. CHeck this out before you start yelling. After all, Jehovah's Witnesses will usually go quietly if you ask them to. The health visitor is a different kettle of fish.

"If you've never met a health visitor before, you may be wondering what sort of person would be attracted to the work. Misguidedly, you might suppose that they are people who have done time with their own children and want to be paid to pass on what they have learned. Not so. There are such people. But not many."

She continues..."Health visitors exist to advise us and police us in our parenting. WHich goes to show just what a cowed generation we are. SOme families need HVs - I'm talking parents who feed tiny babies on bottles of tea. Or tie them into their cots for hours. Or jump on them. Most parents don't need HVs. They only serve to raise your blood pressure and sap your confidence, but they are a fact of modern life, so you should know about them. One of her concerns will be your living arrangements. She will want to satisfy herself that you are not drawing water from a well or sharing your living quarters with a herd of cattle."

*To be clear, I was planning on mentioning it to the doctor when we see him.

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