When the Veterinarian Asked About My Son's Diagnosis


“What’s your son’s diagnosis?” the veterinarian asked me in a rare moment when my son had stopped talking and instead was focused on his guinea pig.

Normally such a question would make me get my back up. I mean, who asks such a question? But there was something about this man in his white coat, leaning up against the counter across the room from us. Something told me he wasn’t being rude. His question was genuine and I had to believe it would lead
to a conversation I didn’t want to miss.

“Well…” I stammered, “depends on who you talk to at this point.” But I went on. “Attention deficit disorder, OCD and Tourette syndrome are the main ones.” (We wouldn’t know about the autism and bipolar disorder for a few more years.)

The doctor crossed his arms and nodded. “I ask because I see a lot of myself in him. I was diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities as a kid. Teachers told my parents I would never amount to anything. Doctors told my parents to put me in a special school to keep me busy. No one imagined I would even graduate high school. Look at me now!” He held his arms up and out, motioning to all that was around us. “I love what I do… and all this is mine.”

“Hey buddy,” he said to my son. “Can I show you something?” He walked over to the other counter and motioned for my son to join him. “See this?” He held out a picture of a bright red sports car. “This is
mine. You just remember that you too can get one of these. You can get whatever you dream.”

I don’t think my son, who was 7 at the time, really understood the full meaning of this man’s words, but I did. I was paying this man a small fortune to care for our guinea pig, after all. This man who struggled
all through school somehow found his way to veterinary school and a booming practice. Even more importantly, he obviously loved his life. I can’t ask for more than that for my boy.

As we left the vet’s office, my son looked up at me with a bright smile and said, “Hey Mom, wasn’t that cool? He said I could get a sports car one day. I can do anything.”

I smiled back and hugged him. “You sure can!”

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