It has been just over a week since I sat with this sweet person I love and heard one doctor and then another tell her, “Well, I hate to assume you’ll need to have a c-section. Especially after you’ve had such easy births.”The first time, my ear twitched and I replayed it in my mind. Did I really hear what I thought I just heard?
And then a second doctor came in and said basically the same thing.
I had the most amazing high school math teacher, Miss Bell, who taught my Daddy, my aunts, my uncle and my cousin before me. She was intimidating and wonderful all at the same time. When you gave her an answer that was obviously way off track, she’d move her glasses on her face, give her head a shake, and say, “Do what?”
When I heard those doctors, I pulled a Miss Bell.
And yes, both of these doctors were men. I’m not a man-hater at all, but in the philosophical words of Taylor Swift, I say to these men doctors, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Childbirth, easy? Dude (sorry, that sounds disrespectful)…..Doctor Dude, you don’t have a clue.
First of all do the math. (Sorry for the TMI here, but obviously there’s some that don’t get it.) Something this size (picture my finger and thumb pretty close together) has to increase to something this size (about a fist, right?) and then something this size (grapefruit) has to squeeze through it, all while your body is trying to convince itself to turn inside out and your brain is on fire.
What. on. Earth. Easy, my big toe. Natural, okay. But easy? Never.
I remember a discussion of childbirth on a sitcom many years ago–“Murphy Brown,” I’m pretty sure it was. It has stayed with me and that’s all I could think about last week. I think I have this right–I apologize if I’m off. (I looked and looked and I can’t find the story verbatim.) If I recall correctly, Murphy was stressed about having her baby. It was either in discussing an epidural or a c-section that she moaned and said, “I want to have this baby naturally.” And someone, don’t remember who but she had sense and sass, said something like, “Honey, unless this baby comes out of your ear, it’s all natural.”
Thus my frustration with the doctors pushing for a “natural” childbirth (because it’s been so EASY) rather than a c-section. It’s great if it can happen, but this baby was breech and Mama was in labor. I had been trying to relieve the anxiety about a potential c-section for this sweet Mama, and they had to come in and start it all over again. I had two by c-section, neither by choice, and it was fine. None of it was easy, but it was all okay.
My own OB/GYN whom I have known for eighteen years now (oh how it has flown) once mentioned to me that if I quit drinking my sweet tea I would be able to lose some weight. Dude. Excuse me, Doctor Dude. I just told you I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and the tea is decaf. What will you have me give up next? Chocolate? Naps? Not gonna happen. A friend asked me why I didn’t change doctors then and there. Eh. He’s a good guy. He tries. But he just doesn’t get it. He don’t know what he don’t know. And I pity him for that and he knows it. We laugh it off and move on. Besides, he delivered my oldest. That’s a bond I can’t easily let go of. So I call him on his ignorance from time to time. It’s a great relationship.
I saw a doctor once who wanted me to come back three days in a row to have my blood pressure checked. With my children in tow. Umm, yeah, because that won’t skew the test at all, will it? All I could think was “aren’t you precious?” and “won’t the bp monitor at CVS do just as well?” Then there was the time I went in and saw a new doctor about what I suspected was pinkeye. Cooter was little and in a stroller sitting next to the exam table where I sat. When the doctor caught sight of my little guy there, he stayed as close to the door as possible. He would not come close and look at my eye. At all. In a moment of mischievousness, I asked him to come and look at something that was pulling in my finger. (In truth I had not worried much about it before, but I seriously wanted to see if he would even walk two steps away from that door. He finally gave in and did.)
Not all doctors say or do crazy things. I had one doctor who, in the face of what could have been interpreted as heart issues, talked to me, the whole person–body, mind, soul, and spirit. She talked to me about fear and anxiety and worry. And when she figured it would be okay to do so, she shared a bible verse with me. Crazy? No. I still carry that moment with me today. That day she gave me control over what was happening to me. In a mind over matter and stepping outside of myself to see the big picture kind of way. Another doctor, many years ago in my previous life, was treating me for something that was very likely stress related. It wasn’t what he said, it was what he did. He listened. And he heard me. And then he reached over and kissed me on the top of my head and patted my shoulder. He had known me a long time and he knew the situation at home. In some situations that would not have been appropriate, but in that one it was comforting and it spoke volumes to me. He knew, he understood, I wasn’t crazy. In that moment, the healing of my spirit began. And I eventually became strong enough to do what I had to do to make my life better.
They’re not a bad bunch, doctors. I appreciate them. I trust them. For the most part. But I also use my brain, my common sense, and my voice. I learned from a dear friend who is living with MS that you have to be a good advocate for yourself. And for those you love. No one else will be. In her book “Cancer Shmancer” Fran Drescher talks about her over two years and eight plus doctors journey of undiagnosed symptoms before she was finally diagnosed and treated for uterine cancer. She had to be persistent and a good advocate for herself. So yes, I trust them, but they are human. I was particularly fond of one pediatrician who told me, when I took Cooter in because he was having regular leg aches, “I can’t find anything, but I want you to keep listening to your Mama voice in your head. That’s the best tool we doctors have.” I wanted to hug him.
And in the end, I guess that’s really what I want out of a doctor. To be able to trust him or her, to have confidence in my doctor, and to have a relationship–but most importantly I want to feel heard and that I’m an important part of the team handling my care. Yeah, it doesn’t matter where the paper hanging on the wall came from, as long as his or her heart is in the right place.