Of Kids, Mystery Ailments and Jam Jars

You may have noticed I’ve stopped making excuses for long silences. Something will, and must, fall between the cracks when one juggles home, work and blogging. But I’m sorry to have kept the three of you hanging all these weeks 😉

On Monday, my younger boy woke up in tears because he couldn’t walk. Bewildered, I urged him to stay in bed while I got my older son ready and out the door to catch his school bus. Eventually, he got out of bed, and, I gave him an umbrella to use as a walking stick while I set up an appointment with his doctor. He couldn’t climb stairs, he could barely hoist himself onto a chair, and I later had to lift him into the car. In between banging out seven stories, I took him to four different medical establishments – his pediatrician, a lab for bloodwork, radiology, and finally, a pediatric orthopedist (or is it orthopedic pediatrician?) way out in Cedar Knolls, Morris County.

Let me tell you about that journey.

It took us, by us I include the GPS, an hour to find this precious pediatric orthopedist in Cedar Knolls near Morristown. Why? Because, while his practice has a sensible name with the word ‘Orthopedic’ in it, it’s secretly housed within another building with a German name that has no relation to pediatrics or orthopedics, or indeed, anything I would have a use for. Something like ‘Celeste Muehler.’

So, of course, as the GPS blurts robotically and nasally, “Ew have arrived,” I look around, see nothing except Celeste Muehler, and keep on driving. After 15 minutes of U-turns and backtracks, I call the practice in desperation to say I was early – half an hour ago – but have been going in circles due to the invisible nature of the orthopedist’s office. Where, the flippin’ heck, was it?

The receptionist is blind to my pleas and the fact that I didn’t want to use my cellphone while driving (at a time when we were still early for the appointment). “You’re too late, don’t come in. Just go home!” I get agitated. “My son is in agony and can barely walk, I have my other son in the car, too and we have been driving an hour! We came from Montclair.”

“Just go home,” she says. I ignore her and drive into Celeste Muehler’s parking lot. I call again and ask her if the practice is in a building with another name. “We’re right opposite Sears,” she says.

As it turns out, so is Celeste Muehler.

I rush the kids into the clinic and sign my son in. We’re not the only ones signing in at this time – three other parents do the same. My son is called up, after 10 minutes, to the doctor’s waiting room. We wait, for 1.5 hours.

[Some details: After a few minutes in this second waiting room, the nurse asks for xray films, which I explain were done just that morning and that I don’t have them because I presumed they were being sent to the pediatrician. She says my son needs a second set done. As he had 6 xrays done that morning, I hesitate and consult with my husband, who agrees we don’t want to put our son through another set of xrays. This is just 10 minutes into waiting here, with my son having changed out of his own clothes and into the clinic’s robe; I tell the nurse we’ve decided against the xrays and, since the doctor can’t see my son without them, we’re going home and will come back in the morning with the xray films – after making another appointment. I specifically say, “It’s no point wasting the doctor’s time, or ours, if he really needs those xray films.” She says, wait, I’ll check with the doctor, maybe he’ll see your son anyway. We waited for more than an hour before seeing her again, and she didn’t have good news.]

At the end of that time, the nurse, who 1.5 hours earlier already knew I had no xray films on me, says “The doctor won’t see you without your xray films.” Two minutes later, the precious doctor walks past the door of the room we’re waiting in. He neither glances at us, nor pops his head in to say hi, nor apologizes for not seeing my son, nor chastises me for being late. He just buggers off. It’s 7.35pm and getting dark.

We head back to Montclair.

After the humiliating experience at the Celeste Muehler orthopedist, whose office has the front pages of “NJ’s Top Doctors” plastered all over it, I wasn’t going back. You can take my money (some of the time) but not my dignity. And you don’t keep my tired and hungry kids waiting for 90 minutes without saying something.

My son was finally diagnosed on Wednesday by a lovely orthopedist in Millburn, NJ. He has a transient sinovitis of the hip – a secondary inflammation that can occur with 2 to 9 year olds following a viral infection. He is hobbling less and is going to school today, and more resembling the cheerful and lively son I know. He also has doctors’ chits permitting him to skip gym and to use the teachers’ elevators until further notice.

The panic I’d had for three days, which had kept me on the brink of tears, imagination gone wild, stomach tied in knots, slowly loosened its grip.  My baby will be okay!

Which brings me to the jam jars.

When the boys were younger, I regularly made jam for them so I could be certain what was going into it, and add more fruit vs sugar. (Pfah! To think I once worried about silly things like sugar!) Homemade jams are just lovely, and one of the things I used them in was a cream cheese, sliced avocado and homemade jam sandwich, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed.

Now, I buy jam. Especially the ones that come in these attractive, wide-neck jars! Why? Well, they’re tasty, the jars wash easily in the dishwasher, the label will come off and wait for you without disintegrating and clogging up the dishwasher, and I can use them for all manner of things. More homemade jam, for example, or charoset, or leftover coconut milk, or homemade pickles, or leftover baked beans, to name a few possibilities.

The most frequent thing we use the jam jars for, however, is salad dressings. I call out the ingredients and amounts to either one of the kids, they get the relevant mustard, garlic, oils, lemon juice, and so on, measure each out and pour them into the jar, screw on the top, give it a good shake, and we’re good to go! They get to help me in the kitchen, I get to multitask, and food is on the table quicker.

Here’s one of my favorite salad dressings, a lemon-maple vinaigrette.

Into a clean and dry jam jar, measure out the following: 1 1/2 tsp mustard of any kind you like, put 2-3 cloves garlic through a garlic press and add that, add zest of 1 lemon and juice, too, drizzle with lots of mild olive oil, add 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, season with salt and pepper and give it all a good shake! Add a handful of chopped mint if you like.

Enjoy! To the health and happiness of our kids!


May 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Health, Kitchen Snippets, Kitchen Stuff, Musings, Salads, Sauces and Dressings, Stories.


  1. Deb Levy replied:

    EGADS!!!! Will you share with everyone the name of that first doctor so we know who NOT to go to? So glad boy #2 is okay and I think you need to fill one of your jam jars with some red wine and enjoy.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Mark Rieger, top NJ physician! Too talented to see my son, it seems.

      • tracey replied:

        I have to comment since I’ve taken two kids to Dr. Rieger (i think it’s Mark, and he’s in Cedar Knolls, if he’s the one I think). He is an amazing Dr., and while his office is very busy we had a great experience. Sometimes you just run into a toxic person, but please don’t rule out his practice.

        In any event, so glad he’s ok…he was missed in school.

      • divaindoors replied:

        Thanks for dropping by Tracey. I’m sure the good doctor is one of the best and I’m glad you had a great experience. But I have always believed that a key characteristic of a good anybody, is their respectful treatment of others.

        The nurses spoke to the doctor many times, and we were in the doctor’s waiting room, after being called in from the public waiting area. My son had been asked to wear the clinic’s robe instead of his own clothing. I could hear the nurse discussing us with the doctor and he just swished by, as I described, without even glancing at us. That was 2 hours in total, just at his clinic. Sure, we were about 15 minutes late due to not finding the practice, but two families showed up after us and apologized too, for being late.

        I’m sure you understand why we wouldn’t return.

      • tracey replied:

        Sounds like a terrible experience, and I totally agree with you that there is no excuse, ever, for rudeness or a lack of respect.

        While I’m sure you want to be done with it, I’d suggest you write Dr. Rieger (or sent him a link) to be certain that he is aware of how you were treated, as I’d like to give him the benefit of doubt that he may not have been told the whole story by his staff.

        Oh and p.s. love your blog 🙂

      • divaindoors replied:

        Thanks Tracey 🙂 I added a post script in the middle of the story to explain how my son had to change into a clinic robe as we waited in the ‘inner sanctum.’ One day, perhaps, when the trauma of last week is behind me, I may write to the doctor. Right now, I’m just grateful son #2 is getting his mobility back and that it wasn’t anything serious!

  2. Gudrun Lake replied:

    Poor boy, what a horrible experience. So glad to know he’s on the mend.
    If it’s any consolation, I’ve also been reduced to tears trying to find some obscurely numbered and located clinic in Morristown. Not even a GPS can save you in that sickly, disorientating place!

    • divaindoors replied:

      I’m so sorry you had to go through a similar clinic-locating nightmare. You’d have thought the receptionist, from whom I got the address, would be accustomed to warning everyone what to look out for.

      Child #2 was more cheerful and mobile this morning and pleased to be allowed to use the lifts at school, reserved only for teachers 🙂

  3. Dionne Ford replied:

    Good heavens, what a terrible experience. A parent’s worst nightmare. I’m so glad he’s doing better and I’m so trying that dressing. I’m now embarrassed to say I’m originally from Morristown. Yikes.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Oh Dionne, I’m sure every town has its good and bad. You’re firmly in the first camp! 🙂

  4. Mrs Josiah-Jen replied:

    I’m glad baby is making good progress. With mommy’s lovely jams to keep company, who wouldn’t be on the speedy road to recovery? 😉

  5. debragalant replied:

    I can’t believe that story. Why does a doctor like that even bother going into pediatrics? Glad things are on the upswing. And I can’t believe you WROTE THE PAGE on Monday while going through all that. Talk about grace under pressure.

    • divaindoors replied:

      I hate to be lame and flake off! Poor boy was happy to read and draw and watch cartoons in between appointments, luckily for me x

  6. Environmental Cancer Risks and Minimizing Exposure « Diva Indoors: Food, with love replied:

    […] irks me is how casually xray tests are offered. When my son, 8, recently had a mysterious ailment (later found to be virus related) that made walking difficult, he had up to 8 xrays taken (of his […]

  7. leila replied:

    Okay, I am so late to read this but this is AWFUL. I understand Tracey’s defense of the doctor but I’m with you – there is no reason for any doctor to treat people with disrespect, particularly in pediatrics, and particularly when you’ve come in rather severely worried and distressed about what could be happening. I left a pediatric practice in Montclair for that very reason – 2 doctors were lovely but the 3rd was a pig and of course every time I went in for an illness as opposed to a well-visit I would get that 3rd doctor. I finally got tired of being treated as though I was annoying him whenever we came in, and left. But! So glad your son is okay, what a relief for you. And thanks so much for sharing the story and the practice itself.

    • divaindoors replied:

      Thank you Leila. It was rough.. he’s still in a bit of pain but improving slowly. However, that day? I never want to relive it!

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