Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The mind of a progressive educator

By Maureen Kelly Rossi, seasoned educator and parent
Editor's note:  This post is a response to today's earlier post, "This guy oversees the lives of children?"
The attitude of Ben Chavis (educator) is almost comical. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my son just this week. Joe -my 20 year old, college sophomore, snowboard-loving son- took a terrible fall while in Killington, Vermont three weeks ago. The ER doctors assured him his injuries would heal in a few days, and he should just take it easy. Upon returning to NY, I took him to an Orthopaedic doctor in Stony Brook who immediately cleared his schedule for the next morning to operate on his severely shattered clavicle--one broken piece of bone was embedded in his pectoral muscle and the other end was prodruding on the top of his shoulder a good inch. His stage 3 tear of his MCL was diagnosed in Vermont as a sprain. "How," Joe asked, "can two different professionals come up with such different diagnoses????" My short answer was, "closed minds, Joe." I have been there before with doctors, teachers, colleagues, friends and family members.
Of course, I am older and possess more experiences--so I knew to take him to the top as soon as he returned to NY because of past experiences - namely his brother's horrifying health crisis two years ago.
Tommy looked like hell for a few weeks and his doctor told me it was just a sinus infection and his mood and sleepiness was normal for a teenager. I accepted that for two weeks, until I called her back to see if she would see him again. She said it wasn't necessary. I took him for a blood test to get to the bottom of it. Then all hell broke loose.
The first hospital diagnosed him with a rare disease called Hirschsprung's Disease. I had never heard of it, but quickly learned it's a genetic disease of the intestines where a patient's guts are literally paralyzed. Tommy's had stopped completely and he stopped absorbing nutrients, and stopped making blood. He was near death. They treated him by pumping him up with fluids. When I questioned the doctor's, "If he can't move food along his digestion tract, how can he move what you are pumping into him?," I was met with the same arrogance you described. I wasn't called a moron, but I was treated to a visit from CPS because I was a little "too informed" on such a rare disease, and to be sure I wasn't poisoning him.
The last straw was when they called in a specialist who front of the boy..."I can't save this kid." He sat there, blown up 20lbs of fluid that couldn't escape is body because HIS INTESTINAL TRACK DOESNT WORK! I'm not a doctor, but I have a logical thinking brain and a computer to education me anywhere I go as quickly as I can click a button! Thankfully, I clicked the right button and had him transferred out of that hospital and into the hands of OPEN-MINDED, progressive thinking, innovative doctor's at LIJ Cohen's Children's Hospital, who stabilized Tommy within 6 hours and had a plan for his prognosis charted out within 10 hrs. Thankfully, he is doing great now, and has a team of doctor's to thank for it.
Progressive minds not only think out-the-box -- to them -- THERE IS NO BOX! The LIJ doctor's were fascinated by Tommy's case because he defied all they knew-- up until that point-- about this disease. They consulted with the most progressive minds from around the world and have used him as a case study. They questioned me on how the HELL I was able to keep this kid healthy and ALIVE without a working digestive system??? -- all to be included in their ever-evolving point of view of healthcare and the power of the human body to adapt. "Tommy is a testament to the power of the human body to adapt -- which he did beautifully until the wheels fell off the bus," they said.
The greatest things I have learned so far in my 47 years and three advanced degrees is this --- I know nothing --- and don't pretend to. The more I learned, the more I realized there is so much to learn. The more experiences I have, the more I realize there are so many experiences I will never get to (and maybe don't want to either!). I am growing older and wiser (operative word being GROWING and not shrinking older). Shame on anyone who dares to think they know it all-- and no one should have any voice in any forum when they hurl personal insults at those who challenge them or their theories.
I have had the personal displeasure of being around far too many professionals who are "shrinking old" and it is my personal belief that they resort to insulting others out of fear of becoming insignificant and irrelevant.
Perhaps one of your innovative methods might enlighten Mr. Chavis -- that is if he hasn't already shut the box completely.

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