One of the first things I did following the positive blood test result was to find an OB to make an appointment. I contacted the GYN department of my primary physician’s practice only to find they no longer practice OB. Woe was I. Next I hit the internet to find a capable OB local to where hubby and I are moving, which isn’t too far from where we’re living right now.
I found a doctor that looked really good on paper. Years of experience, good degrees, works in what appeared to be a lovely practice with lovely ladies. Scheduling an appointment was easy and I was asked to arrive a half hour early because I was a new patient. The receptionists were kind over the phone, and I was looking forward to the appointment, though obviously nervous. And for good reason.
When I arrived the office was split into two sides, OB and GYN, which isn’t uncommon. The waiting room was linked directly to the outside room which made it rather cold, but otherwise I had no initial complaints. There was a friendly husband in the waiting room care taking his kids while his wife had her appointment and plenty of magazines to read. I was brought back to be weighed, measured, and vitals taken promptly at my appointment time. No real complaints there.
I waited in my room about five minutes until the doctor arrived. I amused myself by looking at the growth of the baby in the belly chart on the wall and scanning over the various brochures for skin treatments and hair removals on the counter. I was a bit surprised to see so many on the counter of an OB clinic exam room. And then my doctor came in.
She was about my height, middle aged, and ill kept. She kept natural hair, but it was not well kept natural hair. I usually love natural hair. This hair bothered me. She wore no lab coat or anything to signal that she was a doctor. Her sweater was old and covered in pills and a few stains. She shook my hand and I mentally hesitated but took it. I would give her a chance, regardless of my dislike of her physical appearance.
And then she didn’t wash her hands. Not even a sanitizer.
I have a mother who is a Nurse Practitioner. She became a Nurse Practitioner by working her rump off in school while raising my brothers and being pregnant with me. We were always taken to the best physicians under her watch and thus I was really spoiled in my medical care. But I also learned to catch any and all red flags. Not washing your hands is like the Doctor’s black spot. It marks that the patient you just didn’t wash your hands in front of will never see you again.
I watched her hands. Before they touched me they would be gloved or washed. Luckily for us both, she wore gloves at all times I was being touched post-handshake. She began rambling on with her shpeil while she touched all over my boobs and stomach , which was especially distracting as she never warned me she would start doing this and never explained what she was doing. She was asking me questions like do you smoke, drink, wear a seatbelt, how do you know you’re pregnant, etc. I answered on auto-piolet. She was pretty monotone. She didn’t seem very excited to be treating me. But I waited. Maybe she would explain everything in the wrap up. Maybe she liked to summarize.
This next section is not for the squeamish. Skip the next few paragraphs. I’ll see you on the other side.
Next, I needed a pap-smear. I’d never had one before because I was in that “no pap-smears under 21” window. So lay back. relax. slight pressure. you might feel something like a pinch. Or something like a rough bristle brush scraping cells off of an area of your body so sensitive it’s buried half a foot into your lady parts. Ouch. Out of the corner of my eye I caught her throwing away a very bloody speculum. I was, naturally, alarmed. She must have caught my eye because she began dully explaining how because there is more circulation in a pregnant woman’s system, the cervix is swollen due to the increased circulation. It’s also much more sensitive. She explained that’s why it hurt more than a normal pap-smear would, and also that because of this I would probably have some bleeding, but not to be alarmed because it didn’t indicate a miscarriage.
I am 22. Recently pregnant. First pregnancy. First pap-smear. COULD YOU HAVE EXPLAINED ANY OF THIS TO ME IN ADVANCE, PLEASE?!?!!! I’d really like to be warned that I’ll probably have spotty bleeding BEFORE the OB appointment since I’m obviously not carrying any pads or panty liners any more and I’d have loved to have been warned of the pain in enough time to take some tylenol in advance. I’d also like to know I’m going to bleed a bit BEFORE I watch you throwing away a bloodied instrument, not AFTER.
Then she did the basic pelvic exam. Yes, after the pap-smear. She gave me half second’s warning that she was going to shove her hand into my vagina, did so, and I lurched uncomfortably. She then assured me that my uterus was swollen, consistent with pregnancy. Well thanks. I hadn’t noticed myself. And I certainly hadn’t taken steps to ensure my health in being pregnant. In fact I had no idea. I’m so very glad you shoved your hand up my lady bits to tell me so.
I’m sure you can tell by this point I was peeved. Solidly peeved.
There’s still more time, I told myself, she could redeem herself. We’re probably going to sit and talk about all the important pregnancy things I don’t know yet now.
She began telling me in her droll speech that there were a number of tests which would need to be performed on me during my prenatal care to ensure the health of the baby. She used medical terms to identify these tests and never explained them or asked if I needed explanation. She then took a full five minutes explaining to me that I could have optional tests done to ensure that my child didn’t have down syndrom, autism, etc. I patiently waited for her to finish talking and then told her I wasn’t interested in these tests. She seemed annoyed.
On the sheet I filled out in advance it asked if there was anything I wanted to discuss during the visit. I listed three things. Working during pregnancy, working-out during pregnancy, and taking vitamin C to clear my bladder of a UTI during pregnancy. I also wanted to discuss multiples, which will probably hit my generation.
She turned next to these questions. She said I should be able to work just fine. I explained I work in retail and was concerned about exerting myself or lifting too much weight. She said I “should be alright” if I didn’t lift over 50lbs. I can easily strain my back lifting half of that wrong, so I wasn’t convinced. She said working out during pregnancy was fine. She didn’t tell me to wait till a specific week, she just told me “do what makes you feel comfortable”. I’m waiting on a second opinion before I start working out.
About this time she coughed. Into her hand. The hand I shook when she introduced herself. I stared. I didn’t even try to hide it. Was she coughing into that hand before she came into the room?!
She next addressed the vitamin C and asked what I meant. So I explained the wonderful home remedy I’ve found.
A few years ago I got a really nasty UTI. It was my first, I had no idea what it was, and it got to my kidneys before I knew what hit me. But there were really simple signs weeks earlier that I would have known had I known anything about UTIs. I had a few smaller UTIs later and found a great home remedy on them. You take a bunch of Vitamin C. I usually take around 1500mg (3 daily tablets). Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means whatever you don’t use comes out in your pee. It’s also Acidic, which is why having a bunch of OJ can make your stomach bubble rather unpleasantly. So having something that acidic coming out in your urine wipes all that bacteria away if your UTI is still in it’s early stages and only in your bladder. This is a really handy home remedy for early stages of UTIs, and I’ve used it for years.
But considering everything changes when your pregnant and even vitamins can pose a threat to you or baby, I wanted to check with an OB before taking this much vitamin C.
Her response? “Yeah, I guess that’d be fine.”
WOMAN YOU’RE A DOCTOR NOT A PSYCHIC!!!!!
And last, but not least, she skimmed over my multiples concern saying we’d find out later, nothing to worry about, blah blah. Even though everything I’ve read says multiples are almost always immediately considered high risk. I even shared this concern. She didn’t care. She just didn’t care. She told me she’d like to draw blood and get an ultrasound later that week.
The duration of this entire encounter, exam and all? 15 minutes.
At the front desk the girls wished me goodbye. I asked if I was to have the blood drawn today. They didn’t know what I was talking about. She didn’t write it on the chart. Did she write anything on my chart? I still don’t know. I asked the woman drawing blood if I could go hydrate and eat before having the blood drawn. She said that was no problem. When I returned from lunch she proved capable of taking blood from my tiny little veins.
By this point I knew I wasn’t going back to see this doctor. But I decided to get the blood drawn in the office because blood is blood and tests are done pretty standard when you’re pregnant as far as blood work goes. After a long discussion with my mom I decided to wait on the ultra sound until I’d switched practices.
Having a mom who’s been an NP for a long time has its perks. She has a lot of connections, a lot of friends, and knows exactly who to trust. I texted her immediately following the appointment asking her to contact a female OB/GYN she’s known for years in order to receive a recommendation for another physician in my area. She called the next day while mom and I were discussing her pregnancies, asked me lots of questions about the visit, was about as horrified as I was (and my mom was) and guaranteed she’d get back to us the next day with some recommendations after contacting local physicians she knew. I’d be just as glad to see her, but she stopped OB care after being nominated to various nursing boards while juggling her full time job and full time family. The questions she asked me were pretty important.
- Was I taking a vitamin with DHEA/DHA and had the OB asked me about this? No, I wasn’t; and no, she hadn’t. DHEA/DHA is really important to the development of the neurological systems of the baby. This is especially important during the first trimester, when those key parts are taking shape. I bought some the same day.
- Had she discussed the spine bifida ultrasound with me? No. I explained I had one scheduled later that week, but nothing like that had been discussed. Our nursing friend explained to me that this is an imperative ultrasound which must be conducted in a narrow window of the pregnancy. She recommended later when she found a few practices to recommend that I inform the receptionist that I would need this ultrasound. I did so, and I think the receptionist I spoke with was more informative in the few minutes I talked to her than this Dr.Horror was through my entire appointment.
- Had she discussed eating complex carbs in order to maintain a stable blood sugar? No, of course she didn’t. At this question I just laughed. I don’t know that Dr. Horror even knew this term, much less how to apply it to a conversation with a patient. I had luckily already read up on diabetes and pregnancy and after kicking gluten I naturally ate complex carbs. I also had a run in with hypoglycemia in high school which taught me how to not throw my blood sugar around.
- Was I given any information packets, brochures, booklets, etc.? Haha no. Nothing. Not anything. They didn’t even send me home with tons of brochures for their skin care products.
All in all I was really disappointed. I was lucky to have the support of my mom and this great physician to help me learn what I needed to know and help me find a decent OB to see later. I’ve now scheduled an appointment with a new highly recommended OB, and I’ll be sure to blog about it. I’m informed I’ll spend at least 45 and up to 90 minutes with the OB and I’ll be given plenty of information.
There are two morals to this story. First, Don’t settle for poor medical care. Ever. If you have insurance which covers a large network switching doctors is easy. Ask around, do lots of research, and find someone who at very least washes their hands. If you’re not sure if you’re being picky or if you’re accurately unsatisfied, ask yourself: would you trust this person with your life? And in the case of an OB: would you trust this person to deliver your child, and thus with your child’s life?
Lesson two: Do tons of research on your doctors. TONS. After my appointment with Dr. Horrible I found out she was kicked out of a local area hospital due to her ignorance and high infant mortality rate. She has six local law suits in which she is the defendant, one still active. Three for medical malpractice. She has terrible reviews on websites I don’t normally cross check for reviews, and some of them warn of the horrors. Do your research people. It’s *so* very important.