Monday, September 25, 2006

Asshole Doctors

Everyone says that living in rural areas is so serene. There’s no crime, no pollution and everyone knows everyone right? The people who live here are real, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people.

As someone who’s been exiled to the frozen wasteland and grew up in some of these small, “idyllic” communities, I can say that it’s a load of bullshit. Small towns are petty, ignorant, and full of people who were not smart or skilled or lucky enough to leave so they wrap themselves up in their self-righteous small fish superiority. “Let’s not talk about it” is the memo that everyone gets about anything, which allows the dominant culture to do whatever it wants, unchallenged. Most of the time it’s just annoying; such as the lack of any type of cultural touchstone (museums, restaurant that aren’t sports bars, concerts), but other times, the ignorance and hypocrisy is down right dangerous.

Biting Beaver has an excellent post up illustrating the problems of this ignorance.She had a condom break, and then the run-around she got in her rural environment in order to get Plan B. Read the whole thing, and her follow-up, it’s very enlightening.

I have never had to get Plan B; however, this hasn’t stopped me from having to deal with asshole doctors. One night, soon after I had lost my virginity, I was sleeping at my boyfriend’s dorm and had to go to the bathroom. And as soon I had gone, I needed to go again…and again, after this happened a few times, I started to urinate blood.

At this point, it was about six AM and I was freaking out. I didn’t know if it was a STD or not, even though my boyfriend and I were fascistic about using condoms. I was embarrassed, and I was in pain. I came in, told my boyfriend (who, in his credit, was half-asleep) and said “I’m going to the hospital” to which he replied “It’s down the hall...*snmph snort* snuggle” before rolling over and going back to sleep.

The only thing open at this hour was the emergency. Weighing my options carefully, I decided that bleeding in places that do not normally bleed while in immense pain qualified as an emergency. I drive myself to the hospital, and rushing in. The very bored looking receptionist goes “what are your symptoms?” I, attempting to be mature, but still embarrassed as hell about the whole situation, said “frequent urination and bleeding….down there”.

The nurse, perhaps trying to keep me from being embarrassed, said kindly, “I’m going to need to know a little bit more specifically where “down there” is.”
“You know…I’m urinating blood”.
“Oh,” she said. “You have a UTI. Don’t worry too much about it…we’ll get your blood pressure and the doctor will do a blood test to confirm it. It’s no big deal…it’ll be uncomfortable but not deadly”

I immediately felt better. The nurse looked completely assured that this was what it was, and lots of people have had UTIs. No big deal.

So I’m sent to the doctor’s office to wait. And wait. And wait some more. I’m in pain, pissing blood, and the doctor takes about a half hour to get there. When he FINALLY gets there, he asks me again, what my symptoms are.
I said “Pain, frequent urination, and blood in the urine”.
He then gets this odd look on his face and says “When was your last period?”
I respond “I have no idea. I don’t exactly keep track of them, since they are so erratic.”
“Are you sexually active,” he asks, horrified.
“Yes,” I say, figuring it must be relevant to the discussion.
“Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” he asks.
“I’m pretty sure,” I said, taken aback. “I always use condoms”.
“Hmm,” he said. “Well do you want a pregnancy test?”
At this point, I’m pretty annoyed, tired, and still in pain. I go “Would a pregnancy cause me to PISS BLOOD? Because otherwise, I’d like to get that taken care of first, please”.
He gets annoyed, and says “Well, it may be a STD. I’ll take some blood, and test it, and get back to you.” He then storms off.

I’m left to wait in the doctor’s office. When he finally comes back, the doctor goes “Well, you’re lucky: you just have a UTI. I’m going to give you medication that won’t harm fetal life if you are pregnant. This should clear this up the pain in a few hours. Call me if anything unusual happens”. He then storms off.

I go up to the nurse, because I don’t know where to get the prescription filled. She was much nicer. “It was a UTI, wasn’t it sweetie?” I nod. “I thought so,” she says. “You probably got a medication for it, right?” I nod again. “Did he tell you anything?” I shake my head. “Hmm…let me guess, you just started having sex?” I blush furiously. “I’ll take that as a yes. UTI aren’t uncommon among girls who have just started having sex. If you just make sure to use the restroom after sex, you shouldn’t have this problem again. And also, this medication that you have, it will turn your urine weird colors, so don’t freak out about that. Mmm, the pharmacy isn’t going to be open for about another 20 minutes, but I know the guy’s already there, so I’ll ask him if he’ll open up for you”.

“Thank you,” I say gratefully.



At 6:00 AM, Anonymous papa said...

Who is everyone ? And, why is it that you have been "exiled" to the frozen wasteland ?
I admit, North Dakota isn't the greatest place to grow up in, ( I was born and raised there ), but I did have a pretty good child hood in G.F.
I can surely say it is not even close to Eden.
As for the "doctors" visit.
You sound as though you were scared half to death just going in to see the doctor and couldn't control the embarassment so decided to strike out at the only person you could, (being that your boyfriend is still snoring his ass off).
Try being on the other side of the desk once in a hospital or e.r. you may change your tune.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

I was exiled here for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to go to an East Coast school. My parents wanted me to stay on the west coast. So we compromised: I'd go here where it's cheap and there are a lot of relatives to "look after me" and I wouldn't have to live with my parents anymore.

Secondly, this is the best flight school in the country.

I was frightened, although not as much as you make it out to be. And I wasn't "striking out": the doctor was taking his sweet time getting to me (I didn't see anyone else in the waiting room, or any of the other room doors closed) and he was more focused on if I was pregnant than if I was in pain. The nurse didn't act like a jackass, I don't see why the doctor would have to.

Oh, fyi, my mom's been an RN for 10 years now, and an LPN before then. I think I've sat on the other side (and heard the subsequent, although legitimate, bitching) to have a rough idea of how it is.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Clio Bluestocking said...

You aren't alone. I've been to one or two asshole doctors like that for different reasons. I've endured condescending patriarchal speeches, doctors who treated me like a machine on an assembly line, and doctors who saw me simply as a baby machine (like that "pre-pregnant" thing that was in the news a few months back) despite the fact that I do not want children. Most of my female friends and relatives have worse stories. Some of these dudes trained to deal with patients at a time when women were considered overgrown children, and they have persisted in that attitude.

Anyway, you aren't alone by a long shot. Assholes indeed.

At 5:07 AM, Anonymous papa said...

I didn't know the flight school there was the best in the country.
I guess you miss alot after being gone for over 30 years.
I didn't mean to jump in with both feet on you about striking out at the doctor. That really came out wrong and I apologize to you.
My mother worked at St. michaels for 25 years and my daugther has been an RN for about 8 years now and have heard all the horror stories from them both.
I naturally take the side of the nurse because of what I know they go through with some people.
Again, I apologize.
The doctor was being an asshole toward you and should be banned from practice.
Some of them just don't seem to understand that they're dealing with humans instead of bugs or tissue samples.
Oh, and if you really are a goddess... don't strike me down for my misunderstanding of he situation.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Sage said...

I had the opposite happen to me with a doctor in the city. I had painful urination, he prescribed drugs to treat a UTI. Then I had another bout a month later, and several more within a year. He asked me lots of questions about tight jeans, pantyhose, and vigorous sex. Then he sent me in for exploratory surgery. Ouch!

Then one night I had pain so bad I couldn't sleep and went to a walk in clinic. They automatically tested for everything - pregnancy, stds, etc. Then they gave me drugs for a UTI. Three days later, they called: I had clamydia (SP?). I had never had a UTI. But my silly doctor didn't even consider that a nice girl like me could have an STD, so didn't ask those kinds of questions nor do the tests necessary to find out the real problem.

Go figure.

At 4:32 AM, Blogger Authentic Woman said...

What does UTI stand for? Can you suffer from it if you have not had sex for a while and then start again?

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Mermade said...

I recently lost my virginity, and now have a UTI. I feel your pain.

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UTI is a urinary tract infection. You can get it from bacteria being pushed up into your urethra during sex, which is why the nurse said to pee after sex. You can also get them randomly.
Cranberry juice helps if it's just minor and hurting to pee but if you're passing blood then go see a doctor.
But not that one.

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At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree some doctors can be assholes, but they're found in both the big vibrant cities and the remote towns of the world. Not only that, but I once worked with a small town surgeon who used to repair the work of the big city doctors. And people flocked from all over to see him.
And just as not all cities are the same - NYC isn't close to Whistler, and Vancouver doesn't have all the live theatre NYC has, but both are special places.
I have also met very sophisticated worldly and well educated people in small towns - where the skiing and hiking is only 10 minutes away and there's great theatre, restaurants, etc. I've also met great people in the Australian outback and the high arctic where there isn't much of anything.
And I have also run into simple minded executives in the big cities who are fueled by greed, status and not much else. How is this so different from the people you find unappealing in small towns?

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Mina said...

I was once in your shoes as the patient with a similar complaint. In another year, I will be a doctor. Speaking as someone who's been on both sides of the equation, I can tell you that not every doctor out there is going to be empathetic. Is there a good excuse to ever not be? No. But medical schools admit students not solely based on their ability to empathize. Because honestly at the end of the day, it's his ability to cure you, not to rub your feet and apologize that will make the difference. It sounds like the thought process that he went through was not incorrect in the least, though in my opinion he could have been more tactful about what he said to you, and started with "we'll work on figuring out what's causing your pain." As for him taking "his sweet time," we are more busy than you think, even if no one is in the waiting room, he might have already been with a patient. I can tell you that I never take extra time to do things for myself when a patient is waiting for me and oftentimes there are too many people to see, and not enough of me to go around so we are forced to triage and prioritize who gets seen first. Speaking as a soon to be MD, sometimes I wish that the general public understood the personal sacrifices we make every single day to do our jobs.

At 3:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Doctor's entire purpose is to benefit the patient. Once Dr. GOD forgets that the whole system is broken.

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live in a big city and now choose to live in a small rural town. lol Anyway, speaking of asshole doctors, years ago, I was having years of symptoms of migraines and finally considered going to a doctor to ask about the possibility of that diagnosis (I have a family history). When I described the symptoms, one by one, the doctor dismissed me, literally waving his hand in the air, telling me, no, that doesn't sound like a migraine, that's just a stress headache (sometimes they lasted three days, so no, it couldn't be a migraine), etc. He seemed irritated. Family history? No, migraines don't run in the family...This went on and on until he basically handed me some samples of tension headache medications and walked out the door, never to come back. He was so rude and dismissive, I never went back. I had only gone to him because he was a new doctor accepting new patients and I was new in town with new insurance. I was screwed. I continued to suffer for about 7 years until I moved to this small town and found my permanent new doctor and told him the same symptoms and about my experience with that ass. He was disgusted and let me tried some migraine meds. I have been in such relief since then. My job has been easier, my life has been brighter, I feel validated. I don't know why I didn't stand up for myself ages ago! Be assertive and do research. (At the time, I did not have a computer.)

At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I detect strong overtones of jealousy when people talk disrespectfully of doctors. Not too many people can endure 15 grueling years in medical school combined with a grueling internship to complete. And not too many people have an iotas worth of intelligence to even comprehend the most basic understanding of life sciences. Doctors are superior to the average common folk. Yes, they do make errors on a rare occasion, but they're only human and strive to do their best in their very hectic lifestyles. So if your doctor gets a tad pissy with you it's because of your bad attitude not the doctors. If all patients would just follow their doctors orders and not be in some sort of denial over a prescription or diagnosis, then these patients would live long and healthy lives.


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