Monday, August 28, 2006

Pain from an Unexpected Source

Recently, I went for my annual well-woman exam and I expected the usual discomfort from this visit, but this time the pain wasn't physical. The medical assistant had a few torturous questions. This is what our conversation looked like:

"How many pregnancies have you had?"

"How many live births?"

"What happened to the other two? Miscarriage? Abortion?"
"Isn't this in my record?"

"Okay, so what are the ages of your living children?"
"I have no living children ... this is all in my record."

"But ma'am, you said you had two live births ..."
"They all died soon after birth! I have no living children. Isn't this in my record!!?"

"So ... let me get this straight ... um ..."

Sadly, I had to go to the doctor four times last month and went through variations of this scenario each time. Some nurses would try to guess my babies' cause of death ("Um, stillbirth, huh?"). Others assumed I had multiple abortions! One general practice doctor spent 10 minutes trying to troubleshoot why my babies died (although I explained I already had extensive testing from some of the best specialists in the field of high risk obstetrics). Then the doctor gave up and said: "You're young, you can try again."

Here's how you can gently educate your general practice medical staff without losing your cool.

  • Go to the doctor's office with your guard up. Expect to have to answer annoying, hurtful or silly questions.
  • Tell the doctor up front about your pregnancy(cies) and explain that it is painful having to answer question after question. State that the facts are in your record.
  • Practice what you are going to say before you get to the office.
  • Become familiar with basic medical terminology, so you aren't confused by the doctor's questions/comments.
  • Know that some doctors are blunt and use impersonal medical terminology like "spontaneous abortion" and "fetus" because they don't want an emotional response to your experience. They may just want to do their job and move on to the next patient.

Share your own personal doctor story experiences with others by leaving a comment here. Post the good, bad and ugly!


Sherry Burris said...

Sharee, I love your blog & what you are doing for others!! I too, believe God has a higher calling for you & everyone. Thank you for having the courage to put your experiences out there for others! May our God continue to richly bless you! Is Henry home yet?? Take care!

Rian said...

Sharee, I'm sorry that you had to answer all of those questions again. I dread seeing a new dr and having to tell them the whole story over again.

Here is my dr's office story. My old Ob's office had gone completely computer based, there were no more paper charts. So I had a d&c on Friday. The following Thursday I was still cramping really bad so I called and talked to the phone nurse and she said come in and they would do a u/s to make sure they got everything. So I go in and the nurse asks me what I am here for and I tell her that I am having pretty bad cramps and she says to me "Well cramps are normal during pregnancy!!!!" I was floored. I said well I'm sure they are but I just had a d&c. She was slightly embarrassed. Needless to say I found a new OB.

Sharee said...

Rian ... I'm glad you found a new doctor. It's sad that it is left to us ~ the victims ~ to educate the "educators"!

I'm sorry you were subject to such insensitivity! And I'm terribly sorry about your baby.


Sharee said...

Sherry ... God is good. I pray this work is pleasing in His sight. Nope, my hubby isn't home, but I should see him soon.

Angel Mom said...

I have both a good and bad experience to share. My OB was out of the country when my water broke and our daughter had to be born at 29 weeks. The OB on-call was horrendous. We knew our daughter had serious problems that were considered lethal. However, we chose to trust God and leave it in His hands. This OB admitted he was treating us differently than the lady down the hall with a "normal" baby. He didn't want to monitor our daughter while she was in my womb because "she was going to die anyway." He didn't want to do a c-section even though she was breach and we weren't sure of her exact condition because "Remember, she's going to die anyway." I could go on and on.

When my OB returned home and realized I had given birth and our daughter had died, he called me at home. The day he returned to work he called. When I went back for my 6-week check-up, he hugged me and asked if I had any pictures I wanted to share. He is such a compassionate Christian man that will always be dear to my heart.