But it's not about politics. Well, sort of. It's about the politics of being a victim of the American medical system. I'm healthy, so I know it could be worse, but I'm livid over my first physical with my new doctor.
First a little background. As I said I've enjoyed very good over-all health all of my life. My visits to a doctor have been mostly limited to annual physicals and one pesky ailment: chronic UTIs (urinary tract infections), which are not unusual in women because our urethra is so close to the vaginal opening, causing bacteria to creep into our sweet spot and make us miserable. If you've had a UTI, you will understand how exasperating it can be - it's not only pain but a type of discomfort that makes me, anyway, feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. I will take a toothache any day over a bladder infection.
My gynecologist, Dr. P, and her entire staff are absolutely wonderful. But because UTIs are not considered a gynecologic issue, they cannot treat them. The primary care physician is charge of my urethra and bladder.
I had the same primary care physician for over 15 years - Dr. L. , who was a really, really good guy. He listened and he partnered well with me when I pushed an issue. He retired two years ago and I was assigned to one Dr. Smith, a very young doctor who could multi-task like nobody's business and always seem to hear what I said even if he had his nose in his tiny computer and was tap, tap, tapping away on it. This young doctor, for the first time in my medical history, prescribed for me an antibiotic that I could fill ahead of time in anticipation of a future UTI. It was a quick run - six pills in all, and after the first day of treatment, the symptoms were gone. And, I could refill it several times before seeking another prescription. So no more having to wait until morning to call the doctor, missing work to go in for a urine sample, getting the prescription filled and waiting for it to kick in. Beautiful. I loved Dr. Smith. Well, Dr. Smith beat feet back to Ohio where he came from.
I am now assigned to a certain Dr. R, another very young doctor with the bedside manner of an icicle. They didn't teach herhow to smile in medical school, apparently. She asked all the right questions but didn't want to hear any elaborations. Sensing this immediately and disliking it, I turned a bit passive-aggressive and gave her longer answers than she wanted. This caused her to cut me off and tell me that "I need to talk now", rather rudely, I might add (for which she apologized later). I may have deserved it, I'll admit it but even though I admit to doing it, it is my nature to be detailed when discussing most things. In fact, I'm very articulate when speaking, particularly on issues that I know and understand well: in this case, my body and my health. Well, Dr. R would have none of this.
Now what I'm really fired up about is this: you know that great preventative UTI treatment that the wonderful Dr. Smith prescribed for me? I told her about it and she refused to continue it! That is what I'm so pissed off about. She told me the following: "I cannot do for you what I will not do for my other patients." To which I replied politely: "But every patient is different, with different needs and this has worked extremely well for me. Due to this treatment, I have not suffered for hours or missed work because of a UTI." She would not budge.
I'm now back to the dark ages again with the UTI situation. When I have symptoms, she expects me to call her office, come in for a urine test and get a prescription.
Dr. Smith had explained to me how archaic this was and why, while he tap-tapped on his tiny laptop, with the toes of his polished wingtips peeking out from behind his very neatly pressed rayon trousers. He said that a urine test will almost always reveal one of two possible types of bacteria that cause such infections and that the antibiotic he prescribed took care of either. So why put a woman through the agonizing postponement of treatment? Dr. Smith, why did you have go away???
I've been really angry over this. Firstly, Dr. R's manner and condescension. Her message was clear - you're the patient and you don't know anything and I'm the doctor who will lord over your body because I know best.
Needless to say, I'm going shopping for another doctor. Wish me luck.
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