This week has been rather trying, medically speaking. The worst part of the mastitis was not the pain or the fever, but the fact that it required antibiotics, which required going to the doctor, which required another lecture on why my choice of midwife care is just about the most irresponsible thing next to delivering a child into a vat of snakes and sharp objects.
To complicate matters, I recently changed primary care physicians, as a result of a particularly annoying incident three weeks ago. You see, a week after the birth I wanted to come in to the office for a cortisone shot which the midwife recommended but could not administer. So I called my PCP's office, and spoke with the receptionist who after consulting with the doctor told me which that they didn't keep cortisone on hand, but nevertheless wanted me to come into the office for triage appointment because they did not trust the diagnostic skills of my midwife. The conversation went something like this:
*Doctor's receptionist: The doctor says that swelling in that area could mean a lot of things, so she want's to see you to make sure it's not more than just swelling.
Me: I know. That's why I got checked out by my midwife yesterday.
Receptionist: The doctor would still like you to come in today so she can see you.
Me: But you can't treat me in the office because you don't have the cortisone.
Receptionist: Yes but we can triage you here and refer you somewhere else for treatment.
Me: Somewhere else in the building?
Me: Thanks, but I don't want to spend the afternoon driving around the city with a week-old baby.
Receptionist: Yes but the doctor wants to see you because swelling in that area could mean a lot of things.
Me: I understand that. That's why I was seen by a midwife yesterday. She determined I need a cortisone shot, which you can't do. Thanks for your help, but I'm going to try to find somewhere that can do it.
Receptionist: The doctor would really like to see you today. Swelling in that area can be a lot of different things. Can you come in at 2:00?*
Repeat *to* 4 times until conversation exceeds 20 minutes or your brain explodes.
The receptionist actually refused to let me get off the phone without making an appointment. In the end, I had to end with a sentence like "Thanks for all your help but I'm really not going to come in for a triage appointment if you can't do anything there" and immediately hung up the phone. The office called me back five minutes later. "We've moved around some patients; can you come in at 11?"
Needless to say I quit that doctor. I signed up with a new PCP, registered the change with Blue Cross, and made my first appointment for this coming Wednesday. Unfortunately, my health didn't fall in line with my appointment timetable, and I called them on Monday with a need for antibiotics. After answering the same five questions to three separate people (Who's Your OB? What hospital did you deliver at? and other similar questions to which the answers exploded their brains!) I was told the nurse would phone me back. My new doctor's office is so elite that you can't even make an appointment; you have to wait for them to call you!
A nurse did call me back half an hour later, and the specifics of the conversation are too disturbing and un-humorous to repeat verbatim. Suffice it to say that she was very angry I was calling her office for this sort of thing, since they don't ever see women until after 6 weeks postpartum, and what on earth was I doing with some sort of charlatan midwife who can't write a prescription. (Note: no home birth midwives can write prescriptions. If you have a prescription-writing midwife, she's a nurse midwife and you deliver in the hospital.) The verbal dressing-down was so severe that I found myself saying things like: "Im sorry I called, I just thought that because you guys are my primary care office..." and "I understand if you don't feel comfortable treating me."
Now I'm no doctor, but isn't that somewhat f-ed up?
In the end, the nurse just wanted to feel like Mother Theresa for scheduling an appointment ("I wouldn't want you to go without care!") and I got my antibiotics after all. Although the whole incident made me want to stockpile drugs ordered off the internet. Did you know you can get a full bottle of erythromycin from India for twenty bucks? I do now.
I never wanted to be this sort of... what's the right metaphor... lightening rod? poster child? whipping boy? I just wanted a better birth for my family, and now I would also sometimes like prescription drugs for legitimate medical issues. I don't want to seem greedy, but can't I have both?