I’m Running Out of Short Titles and It’s Only Been a Few Weeks

9 Nov

I saw Dr. Modern-Huxtable on Saturday.  (Again, still amazed that I was offered a Saturday appointment.)  His office was on an upper floor of a medical office building downtown.  I could tell walking in that the practice hadn’t been there for very long.  The office space itself was pretty stark.  The walls were that generic beige and the chairs could have been from any waiting room in the last 15 years.  There was a television playing some informational videos and there were magazines on the few side tables.  The waiting room had no posters or “art” on the walls.  I even noticed a dearth of those nice notes from the admin. staff like, “Call 24 hours in advance for cancellations, or we will own your firstborn!”  Not a bad sign, but it felt odd to me.

I knew going in that Dr. M-H had a solo practice and that’s something I’ve never had experience with.  Growing up, my mom took us to a large clinic network in that city.  I swear I must have received care at 8 different locations.  It was nice in that it was well-established so the admin and nursing staff never seemed caught unprepared.  There were testing labs right there in the same building – super convenient.  I’m pretty sure it was some type of HMO or POS set-up, not that it matters — in my memory, it was a pretty well-oiled machine.  Moving out here to this city and just trying to find a primary care physician has been hard.  I thought I did my research and found a decent, but tiny practice… but it didn’t feel right.  And then they referred me to Dr. Diablita (by name, not just group) for gyno care, and that didn’t work out for me.

After that good visit with Dr. V., who belongs to a medium-sized group, I really wasn’t nervous about meeting Dr. M-H.  That first consultation was like a reminder that I don’t have to be fearful of all doctors.  When I got to the office and saw how it was, I admit, I had some psych-ing up (out?) to do.  I had to concentrate on the positive.  There was just the doctor, the receptionist, and the one medical assistant that afternoon – three faces for me to remember, who would likely remember me later.  The low number of patients meant I didn’t wait forever (he only takes 10 women due a month, the extra he prefers to refer out).  The medical assistant was able to chat a few minutes with me.  The office was rather “plugged-in”: I personally saw the doctor teach the receptionist how to perform an action on their new iPad system and the main office line can receive text messages.

There were a lot of wonderful things going on in that office and I did not have a bad meeting with that doctor.  I just didn’t feel that connection.

Maybe it was how if I brought up the word “doula”, he had to constantly remind me he works with many of the midwives in the area.  Was he confusing the terms?  Would he misunderstand the role of a doula? Or what I needed of whomever else I asked to be there when I labored?

Maybe it was that he was “young.”  He’s in his thirties.  He mentioned that he went to medical school “early” and was telling me about his first daughter, who’s just 3 months.  I like to watch Doogie Howser M.D. on Hulu and it’s cute and full of early 90s win… but I definitely understand the bias some of Doogie’s patients had.  I’m not saying being a young doctor is a bad thing, I just recognize that I, too, could have a bias.

Maybe it was because he was a man – I’ve mostly had female doctors perform physicals and internal exams on me.  I encountered some male doctors last year when I was dealing with my pilonidal cyst and the “marsupialization” surgery – but I think the extreme pain and the prone (tummy down) position I had to take during those exams made me forget to be shy.  Dr. M-H did not examine me, I just have to be honest with myself that if he were to become my OB for this pregnancy, then he would likely see me starkers and probably want to give me an internal near the end at least.

Maybe it was the starkness of his office – thinking back on it, it reminds me of one of those fly-by-night scam office fronts.  Even if it wasn’t necessarily shady, it certainly wasn’t “warm”.  It’s not his fault he hasn’t spent the big bucks on interior design, but I respond to those kinds of things.

Maybe it was that he seemed to be more business-y than Dr. V.  He wasn’t “cold” but he seemed to keep our dialogue in the direction he wanted it go.  Dr. V. answered most of my questions before I asked them in a very conversational way.  She let me feel like I could “open up” in her office, whereas I didn’t get that touchy-feely, verbal diarrhea in Dr. M-H’s office.  And without breaking HIPAA she told me about what she was doing when she wasn’t it going to give me her full attention; “Let me call to check in on this mom – I think she’s about to push,” or, “the nurse is going to take you to Dr. So-and-so’s exam room – he’s not using it – because I’m going to meet with a patient in my usual room.  It’ll be a few minutes.

Maybe it’s just that God is leading me in a particular direction.   Maybe it’s just that I clicked more with Dr. V.  I won’t claim to pinpoint why exactly, but I think I’ve found my provider.

I feel am going to fare much better with Dr. V. not just because she is my kind of doctor, but because I have the self-confidence (and supporters) to ask for a certain level and style of care.  This experience has been a lesson in the service-industry side of medicine.  I have a right to choose my provider and I have a right to be treated with respect and dignity (thank you old Starbucks Mission Statement) and I can’t get what I “need”, then within reason and limitations like insurance and lack of other options, I can walk away.  I’m very fortunate to live in an area where there are multiple OB practices.

My prayer today is for all those women AND men who don’t have medical options or think they don’t:

Lord, may those who are the sole providers available to their patients be more than competent and may they learn to cater their care.  May medical schools continue to work on the bedside manner of it’s graduates.  For those patients who feel they are without options, Lord, I ask that someone comes along in their lives and inspires them to look into the resources and information available.  May all those with resources, time and information to give be able to reach their audience.  Amen.

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