bye bye OB

[warning: long vent] I’d been dreading this day for a long time. I have avoided returning to my ob/gyn’s office since, well you can imagine when.

Two months after our son died in 2006, my ob/gyn did a follow-up surgery to remove the fibroid that had grown during pregnancy, the one I believe was related to my P-PROM. Believing we were all clear, we tried on our own for six months before finally returning to my RE. I never went back to my ob/gyn again. 

When I think of that office, I think of the day I got the worst news of my life (months after the best) — the day our world collided with fate and doomed me to life as a babylost mama. It doesn’t matter that I adored my doc for over 17 years (with family connections even further back), or that I’d referred loads of friends to her. It doesn’t matter that her eyes welled with genuine tears as she looked at that last ultrasound before telling us “I am so so sorry” and we believed her, before she referred me to the specialists who would confirm the worst; or that she hugged me from her heart when I was speechless and couldn’t breathe, when M had to hold me up to get us out of there through the fog and tears.

My ob/gyn has always been a rare and wonderful empathetic provider. But none of that mattered. I couldn’t to go back there. 

But, considering I haven’t had an annual exam or pap in more than two years, it was time. Plus I thought I had a UTI or something. So I called and asked to come in, knowing I wouldn’t see my doc anyway. They squeezed me in with a nurse this morning, while I was on my way to a meeting. 

While I’ve always loved my doc, dealing with her office is awful. Aside from the joyful (carefree) pregnant women and uber-fertile teens seeking birth control, they accept way too many patients, overbook appointments, always run late, never apologize, and make it difficult to talk to anyone. Today topped it all though.

First I had to wait 45 minutes after being told the nurse was “pretty much on time.” I had considered bringing my new adoption book, but decided against it, and I avoided the magazines. I had to negotiate around several ready-to-drop bellies, and of course faced constant reminders of my routine ob appointments during pregnancy.

Then I got “the” room. Not the ultrasound room, but the one we had to wait in while she confirmed the worst, that the leaking fluid was in fact amniotic, where she told me how sorry she was. Deep breaths, luna, deep breaths. 

Then I had to wait some more before the nurse came in after not having read my chart. She went through the usual routine, e.g., LMP, cycle length/quality, etc. I tell her about my shorter, lighter periods, and explain my symptoms. “Are you having unprotected sex?” Are you fucking kidding me? She didn’t just ask that, right? Before I find my words, I take another deep breath. 

I calmly explain that for years (since 2002) my doc had treated me for fibroids and (later) infertility, including after our baby died at 21 weeks over two years ago, and that since then I’d been through multiple surgeries and treatments, to no avail.

“Oh, so you were able to get pregnant?” Is she serious? Read the fucking chart. Bitch. Did you miss that part? “Naturally? Or did you have some help?” What does it matter? On our own, after being told it wouldn’t happen, but not since. “Have they ever found a reason for your infertility?” she asks, out of curiosity I guess, because she’s not taking notes. Partly to amuse myself (and vent) and partly to shut her the fuck up, I run through a whole list of reasons: uterine scar tissue, pelvic adhesions, blocked tube, recurring fibroids, luteal defect, thin lining, poor morphology, oh and now 39 year old eggs… reason enough for you?

I realize this whole discussion is pointless. So I tell her we’ve given up and are now pursuing adoption. She writes down “adoption.” Then I direct her to the matter at hand: my pap and possible infection. But it seems the lovely front desk made a scheduling mistake, allowing no time for an annual exam. They squeezed me in only for the urgent stuff. 

Now my cervix has received a LOT of attention these past few years, poked and prodded with dildocams, IUIs and transfers, dilated for surgeries. But I haven’t had a pap since December 2005. I know, I’m bad. But it’s not like she was being ignored. In fact, my RE said she looked “beautiful.” But still. 

So the nurse is down there, checking for signs of infection. And I ask her again, can’t you just do a pap real quick? You’re right there! Can’t you just swab the thing?! I mean jeez, who’s a girl got to spread ’em for to get a fucking pap smear around here? Turns out no, she couldn’t, because the gel would interfere. Great, thanks for telling me that now. 

Believe it or not, it got worse. Noting my super short light last period, she actually said that if I don’t get my period in a couple of weeks, I should poas! Because you know, so many patients fall “spontaneously pregnant” after failed fertility treatments! I am not making this shit up. 

Finally, she hypothesized that my possible infection was some other condition that I could look up on the internet. I kid you not. She sent me to the lab for a urine sample, and I’ll get the results tomorrow, but questioned why I’d want other bloodwork (cholesterol, glucose, etc.), since those fertility experts must have looked at all that already. 

To top it off, she said to come back in six weeks if (it’s not an infection and) my symptoms haven’t cleared up (on their own), and I can do the annual then. I mean what’s another six weeks after 2.5 years, right? Fuck that. I’m never going back there. 

When I got to my office, I emailed my RE’s “wonder” nurse and asked for a recommendation at their respectable academic institution. She replied right away and offered to put in a word if scheduling was tough. It’s high time for change of all kinds. 

~ by luna on June 26, 2008.

22 Responses to “bye bye OB”

  1. I’m so sorry, Luna. Sorry that going back to that particular clinic led you to relive so many painful memories, but even more sorry that you had to deal with so many insensitive comments and questions from the nurse.

    I think that you’re absolutely right to look for another clinic.

  2. that is just ridiculous. I would call and complain, there is no reason not to take 30 seconds to flip through someone’s chart. But then to continue to make those insensitive comments. I’m so sorry you not only had to waste your time there, but also had to put up with all that

  3. :-0

    I agree with everything above–and you should also call your OB (or her office manager) and tell them exactly WHY they won’t be seeing another dime of your business or any of your friends’. That ignorant girl shouldn’t even be putting a blood pressure cuff on a chimp. and for her to be working at a flipping OB’s office–I am appalled.

  4. I think I am usually most appalled by insensitivity when it comes from members of the medical profession. It’s clear that she’s not the least bit concerned with treating the “whole” patient. She probably wouldn’t even remember your face if you walked in today.

    It’s so good that you’ve made the decision to move on. There’s nothing but bad memories and all the wrong answers there.

  5. I agree — you need to send them a letter or e-mail telling them, politely but clearly, WHY you won’t be coming back. So sorry you had to go through all that!! Visits to the ob-gyn are generally bad enough without all the extra cr@p you went through thrown in for good measure.

  6. As everyone has already said, I’m glad you are going to another office, and hopefully the nurses will read your chart before asking idiotic questions.

  7. Oh, I’m so with you on the bad obgyn experience (I’ve had plenty).

    And I can imagine the trauma that comes from reentering the belly of the beast, as it were. Especially when an idiotic cow meets you there and gives you the useless 3rd degree and doesn’t even bother to treat you for your discomfort. I mean, I know they have to cover all their bases (why I didn’t flip out when at a recent visit the nurse delicately suggested my dh might be cheating on me), but tact is vital in the exam room, and compassion.

    Doctors need to know that bad clinic management equals departing patients.

    My dear, I hope you get some relief from the UTI soon and find a more appropriate caregiver.

  8. Print this out and mail it (snail mail) to your OB. Thank her for her caring and explain why she won’t be seeing you again. I am horrified at the total insensitivity–not to mention the callousness of the nurse.


  9. That nurse sounds like what nursing students watch on WHAT NOT TO DO WITH A PATIENT training video. Holy cow, she was so insensitive! I think she may be unintentionally RE-TRAUMATIZED you. Actually I agree with Journeywoman, your old OB should get a copy of this, if for no other reason it would serve as a public service announcement that not every woman who goes into their practise has a fairtytale ending.

  10. oh wow, I just re-read this with fresh eyes in the morning. I’m so glad you’re all not too offended by my profuse dropping of the f-bomb, which I tend to do a lot when I’m venting anger. thanks so much for your feedback!

  11. Unbelievable. Simply outrageous.

    I’m glad you’re going somewhere new. Bye-bye is right.

  12. Geez Louise. Is that nurse for freaking real?

    Ah, well. When you’re a writer, at least you get a story out of outrageously idiotic moments.

    Shed all that no longer serves you. Make room for what is to come. Good for you, Luna!

  13. These are some of the reasons I switched my ob/gyn too. Overbooking, waiting for 45 minutes in the freezing paper robe…
    But your experience takes the cake Luna!

  14. Glad you wont be going back there. Sorry you had such an awful experience.

    Hope whatever you got clears up soon.

  15. My eyes were opening wider and wider with each sentence I read in your entry. By halfway through I thought they were going to pop out of my head.

    Unbephuckingly unbelievable. I am so F’in angry for you right now.

  16. Ugh Luna, what a nightmare! I think that this terrible experience merits a letter to your former doctor. Maybe leave out the f-bombs, but they were MORE than appropriate here!!! 😉

    It is so strange that you wrote this the day after I spent about 20 minutes going through the yellow pages looking for a new GYN – who is not OB at all, which is tough to find!

  17. Oh my god, Luna! I was breathless reading this. Just breathless. You handled the experience with such grace.

    I continue to be grateful that my famous, fancy RE still somehow fits time in to give his patients annual paps/exams. I think he understands how traumatic it is for us gals to hit the OB’s office. But I do definitely wonder where I’ll go when all of this is over — an OBGYN that “gets it” and won’t say stupid stuff. Not to mention humor me when I demand yearly ultrasounds to check on my traumatized ovaries to make sure nothing crazy’s going on.

    Thanks, by the way, for your awesome comment the other day on my blog. I feel like I’ve been out of the loop this week, but reading anything you write always makes me feel so good, so not alone.

  18. OMG Luna, I’m sitting here screaming in rage for you. That’s the most Unacceptable Medical Experience I’ve heard about in a long long time. I can’t believe you didn’t drop the f-bomb right in the nurse’s face at 500 decibles. Just think how good that would’ve felt…

  19. That sounds like such a sucky appointment. I think they should put a red star or something on patients’ files who have lost a baby so the staff know they should be a leeetle more tactful than usual. I hate getting the well-meaning-but-bloody-irritating nurse who tells you, “Miracle pregnancies happen all the time, don’t rule out a spontaneous pregnancy”, it just seems to rub salt in the wound yet again. So sorry, Luna, that sounds awful.

  20. It’s like a scene out of an educational film on everything *never* to say to someone dealing with IF. Unreal. Glad it’s over.

  21. […] and looking to begin building our family after finishing grad school and healing from surgery. My ob/gyn — who I had adored though have since come to question her judgment — knowing I had […]

  22. […] left my old ob/gyn who I think, despite her experience, compassion, our long relationship, and her insistence […]

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