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Are Your Papers In Order?

Today my son started his first day at middle school, but it almost didn't happen. My son attends a school in the Highline School District that has the endearing trait of pretending that they have never seen you before every year when school starts. So we went to enroll and received the stack of forms that we always get and gave them the information that we always have to give them. Yes, in 2012, in this very high tech area, you have to take off of work, drive to the school, and pick up pieces of paper and fill them out with all of the same information that you have given them every year that your child has been in school. Oh yes, they also assume that every family has a parent that can take off work and come to the school any time for any reason - but that is another story.

Anyway, there was a brand new piece of paper this year and it asked about all of the health conditions that a student might have. Like an idiot, I was honest and checked the box for Asthma. Alex has very mild Asthma and only uses a rescue inhaler at home, before bedtime, if he has a cold, and he has a cough. That's it. Because I checked "yes" on that box, however, a series of unfortunate events unfolded.

We were sent to speak to the school nurse who informed us that Alex would not be allowed to start school unless he had a form, signed by a doctor, that indicated that Alex was allowed to have an inhaler and that he was allowed to carry it. Alternately, the nurse could keep the inhaler in her tiny, messy office.  I explained that he didn't ever use it at school, but the school nurse very sweetly, and slowly, explained to me - using small words so I would understand - that they find that kids come to middle school, and the classes are a little bit further apart, and the kids are in a hurry to get to the next class, and then they need their inhaler. I responded that, just that Saturday, Alex had returned from a 37 mile hike where he carried a 40 pound pack through the Olympic National Park and crossed mountain passes. Twice.

Me: "Alex, did you use your inhaler on the hike?"

Alex: "No"

Well, the nurse continued to sweetly explain, that was the law and they had to follow it. Hmm. Really. OK, so school starts in a couple of days and I have to get a form signed by Alexander's doctor. Wouldn't it have been nice to know that sooner? Fine. Give it to me. The nurse spent the next 10 to 15 minutes trying to find a copy of this form that is supposedly required by law. I am fairly certain that Alex is not the only kid in the whole school who has Asthma so I would have expected there to be a stack of forms ready, but maybe I am just the only parent who was stupid enough to check "yes" on the health questionnaire. Anyway, she finally came up with the form and then very slowly and sweetly explained to me where I needed to sign it - so I would not forget - and then had me sign it right there while she watched.

I faxed the inhaler form to Alexander's clinic along with a cover sheet explaining what day school started, and that Alex would not be allowed to start if they did not complete the form and fax it to the school nurse. I also included my phone number if there were any issues. I did not, of course, count on option C - not signing and not calling. So I dropped Alex off at school on the first day and drove off towards work. I received a call from Alex a few minutes later. He was in the health office and the nurse would not let him start school because the clinic has not faxed the form.

I immediately turned the truck around and drove to the clinic. The clinic said that they could not find the form, but they found the doctor's notes in the computer and he had said that he had not seen Alex for Asthma since 2008, so he could not sign saying that Alex knew how to use an inhaler. I explained that Alex was just at the clinic in June for a full physical, and the clinic had renewed his prescription for the inhaler then. The beautiful thing about doctors is that they tend to assume that everyone else is an idiot - even other doctors. Because a different doctor - at the same clinic - had examined Alex June - this doctor could not sign the form. Also, the appointment in June had been a physical, not an Asthma check. Uh, what? The people at the clinic very helpfully asked if I could bring Alex in for an appointment later the same day. I responded, "Oh yes, because I don't have to work or anything and he doesn't have to go to school." Sarcasm is lost on them, apparently, because they started planning the appointment.

Anyway, the clinic did finally find the form in the physician's assistants area and they faxed it off to the school, with the exception that he could have an inhaler, just not carry it. The nurse accepted the form, and took the brand new inhaler - that Alex will never use - to keep in her extraordinarily disorganized office on the theory that if he ever does need it then she will be able to find it faster than she could find the critical form that is required by law. So in the end, Alex did finally get to start his first day of middle school.

Comments

dan said…
Pretty sure the tail end of the Soviet Union was like this.

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