Just a Number
Saturday, October 23, 2010Tweet
About a week ago, I took a pregnancy test for the first time in my life.
I didn't want to, and I didn't think I was pregnant. Actually, I was about 99% sure I wasn't. And that is why I'm not going back to this gynecologist.
When I first went to this gynecologist a year ago, I was newly married and naturally had some questions for her. She was efficient and business-like, but did take the time to answer my questions. She seemed to know what Natural Family Planning was and didn't push birth control pills on me, so I was satisfied enough. The nurse beforehand had, of course, asked a lot of questions about my medical history and taken a lot of notes. Not surprising for a first visit.
This time, though, I was struck by how little they knew or cared about me as an individual.
When the nurse first took me back, she asked me questions I expected, like when was my last period. It then quickly became apparent that she hadn't bothered to look at my chart ahead of time. "Any surgeries?" Before I could answer she flipped back to my chart from last time. "Never mind, I see them." She seemed to be filling out a blank version of the exact same chart as last time.
"Sexually active?" "Sexually monogamous?" I was a little taken aback by this. Sure, it was standard enough information for a gynecologist to have, but it seemed a little insulting to ask the questions so briskly of a married woman. She may not have even realized I was married until she started to ask another question and then flipped back a chart and said, "You live -- with your husband?"
Without going into too much detail, I had brought my cycle charts because my current cycle was pretty screwed up. It looked to me like I just hadn't ovulated at all, but because I'd had a week of heavy spotting in the middle of the month, I knew I should bring it up. I started to explain about the various signs that were out of whack, but it was clear it all went over the nurse's head until I got to the part that I hadn't gotten my period when I expected to.
"You trying to get pregnant?" No, I explained, if I were pregnant I would have a consistently high basal temperature, but I had a consistently low one, as if I hadn't ovulated. But that wasn't my biggest concern--
She came back with a cup.
Naturally I had just used the bathroom before being called back (who wants a GYN exam with a full bladder?), so I had to suck down the contents of my water bottle, pace for five minutes, and then go pee in a cup. It was humiliating enough that I had to wait for my turn outside the one-person bathroom for a good five minutes holding a cup, and then bring a cup of my pee down the hallway back to the nurse, but the fact that it was completely unnecessary just made it all the worse.
The nurse was unsurprised when the test showed I wasn't pregnant, and muttered about the doctor, "Just because you a week late she want to do a pregnancy test. You knew you weren't. You got a chart." Never mind she didn't have any clue what my cycle charts meant.
About five or ten minutes later, the doctor breezed in. "We just doing a pap smear or you need an STD test?"
A standard enough question, I'm sure, but I'd been interrogated enough between this and my last visit that she should have known that was an unnecessary question.
The exam itself only took about five minutes, but the kicker is that the second she looked at me she could tell I was about to start my period. So the pregnancy test was even more unnecessary.
Before she left she asked, "You need any refills on any -- wait --" she looked at my chart "--you're not taking any birth control or anything, right? You don't need a refill on anything?"
No, no refills.
"OK, you should get your results in three weeks. Call me if you don't." She turned to head out the door.
The nurse hadn't told her anything about the cycle I was concerned about. I described the symptoms, and she agreed it sounded like an anovulatory cycle and said it was nothing to worry about.
And that was that.
When I got home, I tried to find a gynecologist in the area who specializes in NFP (or the non-Catholic version, Fertility Awareness Method), but there's no one anywhere close that I can find. In any case, that might be a trade-off if they subscribe to CCL's notion that "responsible parenthood" means "being pregnant as much as possible."
At this point, though, I'd be happy with anyone who bothers to look at my chart before seeing me and knows that they don't have to ask me every time if I need an STD test.
I don't know if I have any NFP- or FAM-practicing readers, but anyone have any suggestions / similar stories?