10 September, 2013

Because We Matter

You may remember that, in late July/early August, I made a decision to swap OBs. Even before that, I had decided to take the "civilian" healthcare route. I'd had the military experience once, and while it was good for the most part, I wanted something different this time. After today, I have no doubt that I made the best decision in choosing to see a doctor off post...and then switching doctors halfway through my pregnancy.

Truthfully, my pregnancy in Hawaii was fine (other than the GD, of course). I was taken care of. Medically, anyway. I was seen by at least half a dozen doctors, none of whom I remember. I was mostly prepared for that, because that's just part of it, right? I had ultrasounds, blood work, urine samples, check-ups... All of it. But the whole time - especially once I was being seen at Tripler - I felt like a number. In fact, when you check in to the OB clinic at Tripler, you have to take a number. No kidding. It's all very rushed. Very military. Hurry up and wait. Do this. Do that. See ya next time. Sure, most of the doctors I saw were friendly. But now I wonder how much they truly cared about me.

At my first appointment off post (with the first doctor), I felt at ease. I had to wait a while, but that's normal with any doctor. The staff was kind. My doctor was very nice and friendly. Obviously busy, but friendly. I really never had any issues with her, and enjoyed seeing her. It was the hospital policies I was really concerned about.

Everything changed when I saw this new doctor, Dr. P, we'll call her. At my first visit with her, she asked me questions. She encouraged me to ask questions about her, about her practice. She floored me when she said that she felt it was her place to be my advocate - to help me have the kind of birth *I* wanted. Yeah, she said that. No agenda. No "my way, or the highway."

And then there was today. The dreaded glucose test. Oh, how I hate that thing!! The sickeningly sweet drink, the fasting, the waiting, the icky feeling....it's all awful. And yet....today it wasn't all that terrible. 

The drink was still mostly gross. I still feel icky afterward. But I also got taken care of. After a nurse took my vitals, I waited in the lobby a while and read. I watched as the receptionist handed a daddy in the lobby a bottle of apple juice, and offered it to others in the room. Then, I was taken back to a room, where I could, like...relax.

When it was time for my blood to be drawn, the lab tech came to me. Not only that, she asked me if I had good veins, and where. I'm a hard stick, so I tell every lab tech I see the same thing (whether they ask or not): I have good veins in my forearms, and sometimes in the creases, but they're hard to get to. Most of the time, they go ahead and try for the one I've just said is a hard stick...and then they hurt me, and end up getting from my forearm. This lady? She listened to me. One stick, 2 vials, and done. And then she asked me if I wanted some chips. I about fell out of the chair, ya'll. Obviously I was shocked, but I managed to utter a "yes, that would be fantastic." She left with my 2 vials of blood and came back minutes later with my precious snack. (Which I proceeded to devour while watching TV with my feet up.)

When Dr. P came in, I made sure to mention how much I appreciated the snack. Her response just kind of shocked me. "...My best training to be an OB came from being a mom [from having babies]. I always dug in my purse for snacks after the glucose test. So when I opened my own practice, I make sure we keep snacks on hand for all my patients. Because I've been there." That right there is what I love most about this doctor. She isn't all about the medicine, although that is important. She focuses on the person

When I look back on Charlotte's pregnancy, and how much those doctors shoved me around, it makes me so frustrated. By the time they were done with me during my OB appointments and NSTs, I could hardly tell my head from my hand. I was rushed in and out of the OB clinic, antepartum clinic, and lab. I barely got answers to my questions, and I only half-knew any of the doctors I saw. Not to mention the fact that none of the nurses even attempted to get my [last] name right. Nor did they ever call me by name, or pretend to know my due date from my chart. I was a number. Just another pregnant military wife. 

It may have cost us a bit of money for me to be seen off post here, but it is 100% worth it. I'm not a number; I'm a person. I'm a person who is growing - and will birth - another person. I matter. My baby matters. We deserve to be cared for.

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