Home » In Which Reluctant Mother Writes a Scathing Post Regarding Her Pre-PreNatal Care

In Which Reluctant Mother Writes a Scathing Post Regarding Her Pre-PreNatal Care

Full disclosure:  If I ever wore a shirt with a collar anymore, I’d be hot under there. . .

But more than angry, I’m supremely disappointed. . .So I’m going to be mature and NAME NAMES and everything!

Ready?

Let’s get a little background out-of-the-way:  I’m about six weeks pregnant.  I’ll be 37 years old in about two months.  Because I have a pre-existing medical condition, my pregnancies are high risk.  We have one perfectly healthy toddler (whew!).

Every pregnancy is different and I fully acknowledge that.  However, after being pregnant just a mere 22 months ago, the whole thing is still pretty fresh in my mind, and sometimes comparisons cannot be helped.

This pregnancy is different.  I’m sicker.  I’m more tired.  I have a few other issues that I won’t disgust you with, which I didn’t experience last time.  However, I didn’t find anything too alarming about any of it until a few days ago when I started to encounter a nagging pain in my lower right abdomen.  It’s intermittent.  It varies in degree. . .but it persists, despite my attempts to completely ignore it.

Now, I joke all the time about what a terrible hypochondriac I am.  And that’s true.  However, despite my obsessive worrying, I will almost NEVER see a doctor.  I have an extreme dislike for doctors.  I have to be nearly on death’s door before I will willingly seek medical attention.

Last night after a bird walk, I finally had to admit that perhaps the variety of symptoms were pointing to the slight chance I could have an ectopic pregnancy, and I agreed with Chris that  I had to bite the bullet and call the Doctor and have them have a look-see just to be sure I wasn’t about to rupture something and well, as would be my usual course, stubbornly ignore the symptoms to the point where I required a serious medical intervention.

So this morning, fingers trembling, I called the Doctor. . .(yes, even calling the doctor causes me to shake uncontrollably with fear).

Let me also make mention, this is the same Maternal-Fetal Medicine practice at JOHNS HOPKINS where I doctored for the first pregnancy.  And because I’m high risk, they know me pretty well – lots of visits, lots of ultrasounds, lots of NSTs.  And even though I am indeed insane, I believe I did an excellent job hiding it from them.  I didn’t needlessly call.  I was polite and gracious.  I never panicked or complained. . .because hello?  I HATE doctors and the last thing I want is to see any more of them than necessary.

Anyway, this morning I called.   I calmly and pleasantly explained to the receptionist the symptoms, the fact that my first appointment was in a couple of weeks, and while it’s possible this pain was nothing, I had, what I believed to be reasonable concerns.  I requested that perhaps they could bump up my appointment for later this week, just for preventative purposes because the last thing I wanted was to end up in the ER in the dead of night with a toddler and a serious problem.

Can you imagine my dismay when she said “Because I had not “established care with them”, my only option was to go to the ER.”???!!!!

Once I got my jaw off the damned floor, I calmly explained to her I had indeed established care with them, in fact they had delivered my first baby a mere 22 months ago.

To which she replied, “You have not established care for this pregnancy.  And we absolutely can’t see you until your first appointment in a few weeks.  You should go to the ER or an Urgent Care Facility if you have concerns.”

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

YOU ARE MY DOCTOR!  ISN’T IT YOUR JOB TO SEE ME IF I HAVE CONCERNS!?  IF I WANTED TO VISIT THE ER, I WOULDN’T HAVE BOTHERED TO ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU AT ALL.

“Look,” I pleaded.  “I’m not some overly concerned  insane pregnant lady.  I wouldn’t be calling you unless I had a legitimate concern.  I’m not in danger of dying yet.  I can’t drag my kid into an ER – nor do I believe that’s at all necessary at this point.  I just need someone to make sure things are ok.  This is my second pregnancy.  I KNOW my body, and I’m telling you, I’m concerned enough to call you, please, help me out?”

“I’m sorry, no.  You’ll need to go to the ER, if you continue experiencing problems.”

Look, I understand for liability reasons, they HAVE to tell you go seek immediate medical care if you believe you have a life-threatening condition.  I GET that.  I’m an attorney for chrissakes.  But I wasn’t calling to complain about a life-threatening condition.  I was calling to be pro-active.

IS BEING PROACTIVE NOT A PRUDENT AND REASONABLE COURSE OF ACTION UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES?!  WHAT THE HELL, JOHNS HOPKINS?

PS  We’re insured.  We’re insured out the wah-zoo, so payment isn’t an issue – even though, as far as I’m concerned, that shouldn’t be a factor anyway.

So after I hung up the phone with the possibly too-rigid-with-the-rules-gatekeeper, who no doubt gets ding-donged by panicked expectant mothers all day long, I plotted my next move.

I noticed in the menu of phone options, there was an option to “speak to someone in the clinic.”  I have no idea what the clinic is, but I figured there was a good chance I might actually get to a nurse this way.

So I called back.

And I got Lauren on the phone.  I admitted I had already called Dr. Gurewitsch’s receptionist, tried to use a little humor, and again calmly explained my concerns.

AND while she certainly had a better bedside manner, the answer remained unchanged:  “If you experience any more pain, go to the ER.  We cannot see you until your appointment in a couple of weeks.”

THIS IS NOT NEARLY THE LEVEL OF SERVICE I EXPECT FROM A PRACTICE ASSOCIATED WITH A HOSPITAL THAT TOUTS THEMSELVES AS “THE BEST OF THE BEST.”

How PATHETIC is it that I have the personal phone numbers for BOTH of our VETS and yet, DESPITE MY CONCERNS, I CANNOT GET AN APPOINTMENT WITH MY OWN DOCTOR UNTIL AFTER A NURSE’S VISIT SCHEDULED FOR TWO WEEKS FROM NOW?  I CALL BULLSHIT, JOHNS HOPKINS MATERNAL-FETAL MEDICINE DEPARTMENT, BULLSHIT.

So what’s my next move?

Besides firing off an angry Tweet and this post, I’m not sure?

I have the name (and I hope) the contact info (somewhere), for one REALLY awesome Fetal Assessment Nurse at Hopkins, whom I might reach out to tomorrow if the pain persists. . .

Or you know, I could opt to waste everyone’s time in the SUPER BUSY John’s Hopkins ER sometime in the next few days.  I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to see me there for a non-urgent matter, taking their time and attention away from all the other poor victims of inner-city violence and other extremely life-threatening conditions they deal with non-stop 24/7.

And, as disappointing as this seems, I think we probably need to seriously consider a different hospital and practice.  I’m not sure I can continue a relationship with a medical practice that doesn’t trust me enough to make reasonable decisions about when and how I should be seeking medical advice or treatment. . .

Of course, Dr. Gurewitsch and Hopkins WILL hear about my reasons for choosing another physician in a very well written, unemotional letter should that be the course of action I choose. . .

What would you do?

GAWD, I HATE DOCTORS.  GAWD, I HATE THE STATE OF HEALTHCARE IN THIS COUNTRY.  AND I’M PERFECTLY HEALTHY AND INSURED.  I CANNOT IMAGINE WHAT PEOPLE LESS FORTUNATE THAN ME GO THROUGH ON A ROUTINE BASIS.  

 

 

10 Responses to “In Which Reluctant Mother Writes a Scathing Post Regarding Her Pre-PreNatal Care”

  1. That sucks! And I have an insane fear of doctors and a way with letters myself.

    And by the way, when I was bleeding and hadn’t yet had my first appointment with my doctor for my last pregnancy, they got me in that day. I had never had a baby there, though I’d have GYN services, I was in no way established with that pregnancy. (Note: all was well and my crazy three year old is proof).

    I’m so sorry! I don’t think an urgent care would be the right place and the ER… sheesh. I’d be trying to get in to a new OB.

    Good luck!

    ~Anita
    @ http://losingaustin.blogspot.com
    Anita @ Losing Austin recently posted…Stop the StigmaMy Profile

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your thoughts! I was really floored by the whole thing. It never once occurred to me before yesterday that I actually had no way to access my own Doctor easily. And, because I hate Doctors and am thankfully, very healthy, I don’t even have a general practitioner at the moment so I couldn’t even reach out to them. (I should probably get one of those huh?) Of course, I’m hoping everything will be fine but when I finally DO get to see my OB/GYN, it’s definitely something we should discuss so I at least understand all their policies. . .Probably something we should have discussed before even Mac was born. . .but I had no idea. Just figured, if you needed your Doctor, you’d see your Doctor in a reasonable time-frame.

  2. Dani Ryan says:

    I am at a loss for words. If a doctor delivered your child not 22 months ago, I cannot fathom that he/she would not still consider you a patient. And I find it disconcerting they would refer patients to the ER like that. Not only does it take away from the emergencies in the ER, it also exposes pregnant you to other sicknesses. You never know what the hell is lurking around those waiting rooms (*gasps for air at the thought*).

    You know I’m really OCD about germs and stuff, but like you, I avoid doctors like the plague. But sometimes you have to bite the bullet. I would listen to your gut. If you feel something is wrong, go and get it checked. But for the love of god, take a mask with you!

    Oh, and I had weird cramping during my first trimester. I’m telling you, you are having a girl. They complicate pregnancies more than boys do!

    Keep us posted and take care of yourself!

    xo
    Dani Ryan recently posted…10 things that bothered me about Downton AbbeyMy Profile

    • admin says:

      THANK YOU! Crazy right? I thought the same thing too about going to the ER. It’s a wonderful place to get even MORE sick than you already are. I KNOW they probably have reasons for their policies. I completely respect policies. . .Still, something feels wrong and impersonal and wretched about the entire situation.

      Meanwhile, I’m better today. Yesterday, I didn’t take Mac to the playground, barely picked him up, and hardly pushed the stroller so maybe I WAS worried about nothing. BUT just in case, I was sure to shower and trim the hedges. . .You know, in case I do have to go to the ER! LOL!

      Girl, huh?

      That sounds about right since I have a bunch of baby boy gear and toys! 🙂

      Thank you again for your comments and encouragement. You’re like one of my best friends these days! I really appreciate it!

  3. Jennifer says:

    We deal with a lot of specialists for my daughter’s medical needs. Last year she developed a serious, BONE EATING infection in her finger. We discover this alarming diagnosis with her family pediatrician who immediately got in contact with her orthopedic doctor. Guess what they told him? Send her to the Children’s Hospital ER. That is the only way they could pull her doctor out of his rotation of surgery/scheduled patients. We had to go and sit in the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital ER for 4 hours while they processed us and paged her ortho doctor to do an emergency consult. And all the while my daughter’s finger is dissolving!!!
    Could it possibly be that these doctors (as wonderful as they are) are just a wee bit over booked? Not sure if it is their personal greed or the greed of the hospitals/insurance companies, but it pretty well sucks for the patients.
    Go to the ER and have them page your doctor. That really is the only way to see them without an appointment these days.
    My daughter’s finger did heal after having a intravenous antibiotics through a PIC line for 12 weeks. Talk about making this mom a hypochondriac!
    Jennifer recently posted…Planting PassionMy Profile

    • admin says:

      1. I’m so, so glad your daughter is fine.
      2. It absolutely stinks that you all (her especially) had to go through all of that.
      3. Now, I’m terrified of bone eating bacteria/virus/germs. (How? What?! Oh my word!)
      4. Thank you for taking the time to tell your daughter’s story. When I was writing my post, I kept thinking in the back of my head, there had to be a REASON for their policy but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what? Your comments do offer a plausible reason. There is little doubt in my mind they are WAY over-booked. I think the practice has about 20 doctors and they offer a slew of services from the basics to Reproductive Endocrinology. PLUS, it’s a teaching hospital so they are always working with Residents, which I’m sure adds responsibilities and takes time.
      5. Don’t you wish the entire system – from the Doctor’s policies to the way the insurance is handled was WAY more transparent? I’m no dummy, but I feel completely clueless when it comes to advocating for myself medically.

  4. Lindsay says:

    I started out with a large practice with my pregnancy and experienced some of the concerns that you had. I was just a number. My first appointment the nurse used the phrase “If your babay has a heartbeat”. It completely scared the crap out of me as a yound first time mom. It really didn’t get any better as my pregnancy progressed and one of my friends convinced me to switch to her doctor, a sole practitioner. It was really night and day. In fact, when I had my records switched to the new doctor I looked over them and they had wrong information in them!

    My daughter ended up being premature due to preclampsia, and I really think that if I had not switched doctors she would not be here. My doctor did all he could to help her and I, and I’m not sure that the larger practice with its 20 doctors would have done that.
    Lindsay recently posted…MOMA here we come…My Profile

    • admin says:

      I hear ya! I’m using this practice because I need a fetal-maternal specialist. And this practice/hospital is one of the best (if not THE best) places for this sort of thing in our area.

      HOWEVER, with my first pregnancy, they too had a ton of my medical information wrong – and never seemed to bother to correct it. . .It became comical. My Husband and I would crack up every time a new member of the medical staff would come in our labor and delivery room and start asking me about my vascular disease and my tumors (neither of which I had). No one was ever able to give us a straight answer about ANYTHING.

      If this is one of THE BEST hospitals in the WORLD, can you imagine what the worst must be like? It’s a miracle more people don’t suffer from horrific medical mistakes.

      I’m so, so glad things worked out for you and your daughter. I still haven’t decided if we’re switching practices. I feel like for all prenatal monitoring I need, I’m probably just going to end up in a similar situation – large practice with multiple “specialists” at another local teaching hospital.

      Sigh. Why can’t babies just come from the stork? 😉