When I was about 18 or 19, I went to the local clinic for a sore throat. Turns out my throat wasn’t red at all and I just had a regular old cold. Then the doctor launches into a speech about how I needed do something about my weight even tho I hadn’t asked him for weight loss advice. As he talks to me he’s getting more and more angry and annoyed. He goes on to tell me that for breakfast I should eat one dozen eggs instead of two dozen and one pound of bacon instead of two pounds and one loaf of bread instead of 3 loaves. And by the end of it he’s talking to me the way an angry adult talks to a naughty child. I’d never had a doctor talk to me in quite that way before. I asked him why he would think anyone could eat like that and he says, “How else could you get so fat?” I remember being shocked and outraged. The intern who was with him must have seen the look on my face and muttered a quick apology as he pulled the doctor out of the exam room. I just sat on the exam table dazed not knowing what just happened. The intern came back and tried to make me feel better, by apologizing again for the doctor, saying that he was sure I didn’t eat that much food at once, but still reminding me that it was important to watch what I eat, blah blah blah. As he spoke I just got angrier and angrier. I left the exam room and went straight to the front desk to demand my money back for services not rendered. The receptionist told me she couldn’t do that and pointed out the administrator’s office. So, I went to the office, filed a complaint and demanded my money back. Amazingly, the chief administrator tried to put the blame on me for being fat, and grudgingly acknowledged that the doctor may have been a bit harsh, but never-the-less it was his job to warn me about the dangers of “obesity,” and said I couldn’t get my money back because after all, he examined me. She seemed more annoyed with me than she did with that doctor’s ill treatment of me. I felt betrayed, dismayed, and angry. I never went back to that clinic again.
Another awkward situation arose when I went to get a gyn exam for a yeast infection. I knew I had one and I had to be examined to get the prescription only pill that cures it better than the otc stuff. The nurse midwife who examined me didn’t think I had one because she couldn’t tell if I was swollen. She took a swab and saw under the microscope that I had one but was puzzled by what she couldn’t see, so she tells me to wait there – half-naked with my legs in stirrups – while she gets a second opinion. I thought she would just ask another doctor and come right back, but in walks this gray haired male doctor, who I’d never seen before, who looks at me and starts to explain to her that I am indeed swollen because of this and that. So they’re both staring at me and talking about me like I’m not there. I was just embarrassed and I felt like a specimen or a case and not a person. I was mad at her for not knowing how to do her job, mad at whatever school she went to for not giving a class on how to treat fat patients, and mad at the fact that she put me in such an embarrassing situation.
I can think of other bad gyn moments (moments that taught me to never ever ever again in life have a male gyn), but those two stick out in my mind. There have also been times where the nurses didn’t have a cuff big enough to measure my blood pressure so they just assume it’s high and don’t believe me when I say it isn’t. Or having to endure the frustration and mild anger of nurses who can never seem to find a vein to draw blood for yearly check ups or who find a vein but can’t reach it because the needle isn’t long enough. I’ve had to explain how to find one so many times, I could do it myself. Or the fact that those stupid gowns never fit and you need to ask for two or three. Or how the equipment is never comfortable or ever fits right. Luckily I haven’t seriously misdiagnosed and I feel the anger and frustration for people who have been. It’s not right.