Posted by: emjb | January 27, 2007

Still afraid

Several weeks ago, I visited a dr. for the first time in almost a year. My first non-pregnancy-related doctor visit since Nathan was born, really.

It was very mundane, I was there to make sure my cough wasn’t pneumonia after it had been hanging around for over a month. She listened to my lungs, took my history, height, weight, etc. (it was just a regular cough, it turns out).

But when it came time to take my blood pressure, it was high. Really high. They took it three times, and it was higher each time. So after a brief lecture on getting my cholesterol down (though we hadn’t checked it yet, but there was heart disease in my family), she told me to go to several different drugstores on different days and use their blood pressure machines, and write down the readings, if I didn’t think the bp result was reliable.

So I did that…and each time, the readings were lower than normal, as my blood pressure always has been. And maybe it’s medical (and that will get checked out) though weird…and maybe my white coat hypertension has a cause. The last time I was under regular care by a medical professional I ended up screaming at a surgeon who was cutting my abdomen before I was numb.

That kind of memory tends to color your reactions, I think.

And even though this doctor was very nice, and not nasty or judgemental or anything towards me, not male or bigger than me….maybe I’m scared of her. I don’t want to go back and see her again. I need to go to an OB to do the well-woman checkup too, and I honestly don’t know how I’ll get through that.

The last two OBs I saw were after Nathan’s birth, and I was bleeding profusely and more than a little scared that I was going to die. The emergency room OB in Queens was crossly telling me that no, they didn’t know why I was bleeding so much two weeks plus after birth, but it was probably because I’d been overexerting myself. The different emergency room OB I’d seen five days before that in Texas, by the way, told me I was bleeding so much because I had been lying down too much. Either way, mystery bleeding=my fault, somehow.

So that’s one traumatic surgery plus two clueless exams that failed to diagnose a problem that might have been (thankfully wasn’t) life threatening.

I may have some issues.

What made me think about all this was an entry at Niki’s Blog about the uses of bad birth stories–about what they mean in terms of the ways women are treated in the medical culture, and how they shape how women see themselves.

I have to get past my body’s panic response to doctors, because I still need them, much as I wish I didn’t. Just like I have to not mind taking Nathan to the hospital for his surgery, and letting him be handled by people very like the ones who mishandled me. At least he’ll have me there to watch out for him.

It’s hard to figure out, though, how to be unafraid and not deny that I still don’t really trust them. I can’t, knowing what I do. Though I suppose I could trust an individual doctor if I knew them well. The easiness I once felt about going in, getting tested, being examined, though, I don’t think that will come back quickly, if ever.

Even after they’ve been rescued and loved for years and years, dogs that were beaten once still cringe now and then. I think I understand how they feel.



  1. I found your blog by accident because I was looking for a statistic about c-sections and Googling random strings of words. Now I can’t remember what I was looking for but here I am. Anyway, I thought it was funny that I found you because
    1) my husband is a cartoonist (
    2) we are planning a big move from CO to NYC later this year
    3) I am training to be a childbirth educator and am extremely passionate about birth issues
    4) we are friends with Matt and Jessica and you link to her site (do you know her too, or are you just a fan?)
    5) I was a regular on the Hissyfit forums years ago (what was it – 1997?98?) and you link to Glark’s site too

    It just seemed like a lot of weird six-degrees-of-separation coincidences or something, so I thought I’d actually pop in and say hello instead of lurking, as I usually do. So, hello! I’m enjoying your writing.

  2. I am just a fan of Matt and Jessica’s. I was on Hissyfit forums too years ago (as boiseNBerry, I think) and miss them still!

    Glad you posted! email me anytime.

  3. And if you’re moving to NYC, I humbly recommend a certain guide penned by certain people who’ve done the whole blasted thing before:

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