We went to PT for the first time yesterday and it was horrible. Seriously, I cried all the way home...so did Sadie.
My first clue should have been the way they talked to me on the phone when I first called, but they were the ONLY ones out of pages and pages of agencies who would even take a new client. And we had to drive to them, which isn't ideal, I'd rather have them come to us...but that's damn near impossible with PT. So, I was desperate and willing to give them a try.
When we got there, we were 15 minutes early. I didn't know how long exactly it would take to get there, and I figured we'd have some paperwork to fill out. Sadie was coming off a not-so-good night's sleep. She had woken up at 2:30 and not gone back to sleep until 7:45. She slept until the last minute when I woke her up and strapped her into the car seat. So, she didn't scream the way there because she was still in wake up mode. But she was still really tired.
I filled out the paperwork, and then we still sat there for another 20 minutes. Our appt was at 10, nobody called us back until 10:20. As I sat there I examined all the certificates on the wall in the lobby. There were at least 8 different ones, from 2 different countries. Apparently, the PT who runs the place is Nigerian. And so were his staff, all of them. He was well qualified with 2 Bachelor degrees and a Masters in PT, as well as memberships to different PT associations and things. I thought to myself, "don't be so quick to judge, Christie, maybe this guy is a treasure hidden in the ghetto." Nope.
Next red flag should have been witnessing how they talk to the other kids that were there. I truly think it's cultural, because they all did it. The lady would come out to the lobby and almost criticize the kids who she was calling back. And I heard Bob, the PT, working with a kid who seemed to NOT be doing what he wanted so he'd yell, "NO!" at him. I sat there thinking, "I hope he doesn't yell at my kid like that!" Nope.
It was finally our turn, and we went to a back room and then Bob walked away. He was gone long enough for me to put Sadie on the floor, change her diaper, clean myself up, and even play with her a little. Then he came back and we talked. I told him all about Sadie's birth and how the damage happened, and he asked me questions about what she's able to do now, what she likes and doesn't like, how she reacts to certain things, and even showed me what her body language right then told us about what's going on with her. He was VERY smart. But then he started telling me there's no reason to do an MRI at 6 mos because they won't really be able to see what's going on until she's 2 or 3. Fine, Mr., but it's not like I am requesting the MRI, a neurologist recommended it. He went so far as to tell me we SHOULDN'T do an MRI until she's 1. I told him they probably wanted to compare it to the one at birth. He explained to me different kinds of tone in the body (I already knew this) as if this was the first time I've ever heard of these things, then showed me that she has high tone in all 4 of her limbs. We also talked about her hyper sensitivity to certain stimuli and he told me that the Developmental Psychologist SHOULDN'T have been the person to tell me this, it should have been an OT (being careful to explain to me what an OT is...as if I didn't know). Then he argued with me about it. Sorry Mr., it's already been done, I don't know what you want me to do about it now!
So, then he got down on the floor with her and went "HEY!" in her face. Maybe he was trying to get her attention or something, but that just seemed like a pretty harsh way to do it...I can think of better ways. Then he picked her up and put her on her tummy, she immediately started screaming. He stuck her arms out like a starfish and wondered why she didn't lift her head. It's hard for me to lift my head like that too! Then I got the lecture about the crying. I told him we really work on having a no-cry household (which is TOUGH) because we feel like she has enough stress and we really want to try to meet all her needs so she has no reason to cry. Plus when she starts, it's sometimes hard to get her to stop, so we try not to let it start. He told me that when I respond to every cry I'm letting her manipulate me. I protested and said, "she's ONLY 6 mos old! All she can do is cry to let me know something's wrong or that she needs something!" I understand that doing tummy time and some of these exercises will make her cry, and that's okay to a degree, but I also know different cries, and which ones are just mad because I'm making her do something she doesn't like, and which ones really need me because something hurts.
When he started putting her on the floor, forcing her legs to bend when she was holding them straight, she was crying like it hurt. He wanted to show me some positions to work on at home, but she fought him and SCREAMED and cried like she was in pain. At one point I told him, "she's HURTING, please stop." He told me she's not hurting, but that it's her brain protesting to using different muscle fibers in ways she's not used to and it's making her cry. Fine, but then when you're done, please at least hold her and tell her good job and that everything's going to be okay and that we're doing this to help her. Instead, he cradled her and SHOOK her (as opposed to the bouncing we do with her which is a little more gentle), then went, "ayayayayay!" IN HER EAR!! And clapped all loud in her face. No wonder she kept screaming at him. Poor baby.
I asked some other HIE moms and they say PT is hard and sometimes they cry DURING PT... instead of waiting til they get in the car like I did! And now that I write it out it doesn't seem that bad. But all I kept thinking as we walked away from that place was that I needed to save my baby from that bad man. It may not seem so bad written out, but my gut is telling me to not go back. I called the pediatrician and she said she'd see if she could get Sadie into PT at the children's hospital. We'd have to pay copays, it wouldn't be covered by the state, but we're on a bunch of waiting lists, maybe it would just be temporary, or we could double up...or maybe we'll find a PT that we love. I hope so.