Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What happened next

Well, I am going to start off this post with actual good news. I did finally get to see a doctor on Thursday, (more on this later) and there is a heartbeat. She also informed me that the little one is right on target in terms of size.

That is very good news, I know. But in going there, I learned and realized a few things. My relief at seeing a heartbeat lasted long enough to almost get me to my car back in the parking lot. Before I even reached my car, I could feel the pull of 2 emotions. One was just disconnect. Yes, I saw the baby, but I could feel the urge to retreat into denial about this pregnancy calling me again. It still seems much too overwhelming to truly face. The other, which is in conflict with my need to be in denial, was worry. I guess it was the sense and realization that the ultrasound guarantees nothing except for that exact moment in time. Even tomorrow, the baby could be gone.

On Friday, the day after seeing the doctor, I experienced some things that I guess I can call flashbacks consisting of reliving some moments of my son's birth. They were very intense. Has anyone else experienced this? I also felt a low level depression all day, like a gray cloud hanging over my head. Halfway through the day it finally dawned on me. I think I was having an intense reaction to going back THERE, the place where I found out M (my son) had died and then given birth to him, where I had left so empty handed and broken hearted.

Which leads me to this. Even though I am extremely nervous about changing doctors during a pregnancy, I think I have to. After writing my post Thursday morning, I tried to call the doctor. I say tried because it took several calls. Different people kept sending me to call another person, saying they were not the ones to talk to. Ironically, where I ended up, was where I called originally at 7 am. On top of that, the final nurse I spoke too, spent no less than 20 minutes trying to talk me out of my determination to come in and get seen. She spoke to me in a very patronizing manner. At one point after I told her my previous miscarriage had started with only spotting of brown blood, she gave me the rundown on what they look for when it's really a miscarriage. (bright red blood, lots of it, with cramping-just in case you were wondering) I think she said twice "Well it seems you are just decided you are coming in" I honestly believe she was trying to guilt trip me into saying Well, nevermind...... The whole experience left an awful taste in my mouth. They won't even let me leave a message or see the doctor I will be seeing this pregnancy since, 1. I have not officially had my first prenatal and 2. I am not yet over 10 weeks. I finally gave up, sat silently on the phone until she huffily told me to drive down as quickly as possible. She was annoyed, I could tell.

I started a complaint letter the same day, which I planned to send to their customer care center, the head of ob/gyn, and the general head of the hospital. However, the letter turned three pages long. Does a three page long complaint letter get truly read or just written off as the ramblings of a crazy patient? It turned that long because I felt it important to give the details of the hoops I jumped through, including all the calls and being sent to call elsewhere. Now, though, I am doubting the efficiency of such a long letter.

For me to get different care, I actually have to switch health plans when my re-enrollments comes in June at work. This is because I belong to one of those health plans that is one tight knit group. Everthing, the hospital, doctors, labs, etc. work for the health plan. I can't visit a different office. The policies are the same. In my case this is especially true because I am to see a high risk doctor during my pregnancy, (the one I apparently am not allowed to speak to yet). My plan employs 3 high risk ob/gyns, and they are all in the same office, sharing the space of their rooms. I visited one during my pregnancy with M, and did not care for her, I chose another that I liked, but who did inform me that I could see any of them, I wasn't necessarily her patient. She said that after knowing I specifically requested someone else besides the first doctor. So, it is on to another health plan. I am nervous. Not only do I have to learn how a new health plan works, but find a doctor that will actual hand hold a bit. Any tips? Should I just interview them, including the question, can you handle a pregnant lady like me?


niobe said...

If you know what you want (being able to come in for ultrasounds frequently, doctors who are sympathetic, being assured you can get in touch with the doctors when you need to), I think you should just ask straight out if those things are available in the practice. It's such a stressful situation anyway. Your medical practice should be trying to help make it better, not worse.

Sara said...

Well first thing, congratulations! I understand so well, though, how the fear immediately returns. But for now I can be happy for you.

I wrote a 3-page letter after leaving my old doctor - don't know if it got read but it felt darn good to write and send. I got so angry reading about how you were treated. Niobe's right. I don't know how I would be surviving if I didn't have a doctor's practice that understands my fears.

Your reaction to the doctor's office makes sense, especially especially given how poorly they've been treating you. They haven't been making the slightest effort to help you get through this emotionally.

I hope that after you change your medical plan, you are able to quickly find a more sympathetic doctor.

Catherine said...

First, let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your son. I wish I did not have reason to understand any of what you are talking about, but I do. Yes, "flashbacks" happen to me too. I liken it to what a post-traumatic stress patient must go through. In fact, I have even had one doctor tell me that he thinks it IS a form of PTSD. Luckily, the episodes haven't been too intense or frequent (they have not interfered with my life in any substantive way). If they ever do, you can bet I will be in therapy. I've seen what PTSD can do to people and I don't want to end up like that.

Now, let me rant...

Yes, you should get a new doctor. I had an uneasy feeling like you describe with my pregnancy with my second son (my first stillbirth) in 2005. I truly believe that if I had listened to myself and gotten a new doctor that my son would have had a fighting chance. There is absolutely NO reason your medical treatment professionals should talk to you in anything other than a professional manner. If you say something isn't right, they should give it proper attention. Only YOU know your body (and your mind)...and to even TRY to diagnose over the telephone is...in a word...malpractice.

Yes, you should write a letter. If your doctor is affiliated with a bigger hospital/medical organization, send the letter to the patient care ombudsman. You may be shocked how quickly they will respond.

It is absolutely essential that you find a doctor's office who is willing to work WITH you...to make YOU comfortable. I can tell you from personal experience that it makes a world of difference.

Good luck! I look forward to reading more about your journey toward a happy and healthy baby. :o)