Monday, September 13, 2004

Boy Doctors, Girl Doctors, and why they both suck

There so much to say here, I may have to make this part 1 of several. For anyone who read installment one of the doctor saga, you won't be terribly surprised that I decided to doctor shop a bit. I called the birthing center at the hospital and got some discreet recommendations. Since the desirable female obstetricians all practice in the same office with my current Dr Dull, the nurse suggested checking out a man whose patients reportedly "like him very much." Uh-huh. Such are the times of my life. Never would I have believed for a minute that I'd VOLUNTARILY go see a male doctor, much less a male ob.

The morning of my consultation appointment, I threw all caution to the wind and brushed my teeth. It was a special occasion, after all. (Oh – haven't I mentioned that a sure way to vomit up my carefully chosen, iron-rich preggo diet is to brush my teeth? Yeah, the preggo books don't mention that either. Dr Dull shrugged when I told her and said to gargle afterwards, adding that some vomiting won't deplete my overall caloric intake that much. Thanks, Doc! That's exactly what I was worried about – caloric intake! Damn, you're good! I'm bringing my Oral B to your house!)

I entered Boy Doctor's large, neat, empty waiting room with straight-back chairs and was greeted efficiently and friendly enough. After filling out paperwork up the wazoo, I met the nurse who, naturally, wanted me to pee in a cup. It's a theme in my life, it seems. I'm the candidate for clean toilets everywhere! I reiterated the consultation status of my visit and so was ushered into the doctor's office. It was large, neat, and empty also, but with comfortable chairs. Pictures of two young girls were the only things on his L-shaped desk, not a piece of paper or a folder to be found.

I asked questions and he gave me answers plus. For example, he didn't bother me with things like having to draw my own conclusions. No, the considerate doctor provided those as well. Question: How many of your patients' births are you actually present for in the hospital? Answer (summary): Last year, I missed 10 out of 200. … That's incredible! What is that? 5%? Incredible!

He went on to provide me with an extended example of what, I thought at the time, was already quite clear. It involved a story about his family on its way to his daughter's school picnic, which, he took pains to stress, she was very excited about and that only happens once a year. It was a holiday weekend, and he wasn't on call. When his beeper went off telling him he had a patient in labor, he turned to his wife and girls and said – I quote – "See ya!" and headed for the hospital.

Curious story, doc. So, I say, laughing, "Is that meant to be a plug? Don't you think that could be seen in more ways than one?" So, he says, "It's a matter of commitment." So, I say, "And how much of that commitment do you think has to do with the fact that you're a man … (to self: stuck in the stone age)?"

Walked this earth for over 40 years. Read books. Studied medicine. Started a family. And another one for the reject pile, I'm afraid. Damn. We're running out. In her book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, Anne Lamott has a beautiful description of her conflicted feelings when she discovers that she's having a boy – i.e., that "her baby will have a penis."

Anyway, I am then treated to a monologue about female and male obs that I found truly enlightening. It covered a wide gamut, and I'm not being facetious when I say it opened my eyes. For starters, he mentioned how virtually all female obs are part-time, how his wife "takes care of the homefront," and how his daughters really don't want to talk to him anyway since they are girls and pre-teens (here's where he's lucky I didn't jump him. a friend of mine once tried to argue with me – me, girl who lost father at 6 years old – that a young girl missing a father was somehow less tragic than a young boy missing same. get me fucking started why don't you.)

When the fog of geez-I'd-slit-my-wrists-if-I-were-married-to-this-moron started to clear, I started to think. I hadn't solved my problem of disliking my current doctor or what doctor I should go with, but I had more information. If a stranger to me ends up delivering my baby, perhaps I'm in some tiny way contributing to the humanization of my doctor. Maybe she is somewhere else, having a life, a family, a bowl of udon soup.

to be continued…?

(BTW, I've set it so anyone can comment now, not just blogspotters.)

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