About 3 weeks after I had my 3rd baby last summer, I made a followup appointment. I had just had my 3rd c-section. Although I was recovering fairly well, it was my 3rd c-section, I had a mass removed from my ovary and a lot of scar tissue cut out. I was honestly still in a lot of pain and was having a hard time sleeping because of the pain. If you have a newborn, you know how important it is to sleep while they are sleeping. I also had two other kids to take of during the day.
My OB was unavailable due to a family emergency so I made an appointment with a nurse practitioner. I had seen her one other time during my pregnancy and I found her to be somewhat abrasive, but everyone deserves a second chance, right? After waiting for 40 minutes in the waiting room and then another 30 minutes in the exam room, she came in.
She inspected my incision site and said it looked good. I proceeded to tell her I was still having a lot of pain at 3 weeks out. I was out of my stronger pain meds and told her I was having a hard time sleeping because of the pain. I asked if there was anything I could take besides ibuprofen and tylenol. She cut me off before I got the last part in. She proceeded to tell me that I was a mom, basically to tough it out and that she wasn’t going to give me a sleeping pill because I needed to get up with my baby at night. She told me being a mom was tough and I needed to work through the pain. Obviously I know that being a mom is tough, I have two other kids, but this pain was unlike the pain after my other c-sections. I wasn’t asking for a sleeping pill, I just asked if there was anything stronger I could take than ibuprofen, which I reiterated to her. She looked at me again and eluded to the fact that I could be drug seeking to get more narcotics. At this point, my hormones took over. I could have handled the situation with more grace, but I didn’t. I began to sob and told her she doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my home situation and that I wasn’t asking for a sleeping pills or even narcotics. I just needed some encouragement and a solution! She had been in the room with me for 3 minutes and had made assumptions about me and questioned my integrity which was insulting. She lashed back telling me she was just trying to get through her day. I was surprised she turned it to make it about her? She then left the room to find me another provider. I left, a sobbing mess and ran out. At this point I called my husband and told him I was going to switch Dr.’s. I was determined not to go back.
A few days later, I received a phone call from my OB. The man that I had seen my entire pregnancy. The one who knew my history and knew me as a person. He apologized profusely for her behavior and talked to me for over 15 minutes on the phone. He then called in a prescription to help with the pain and offered to see me the next week. He listened and was kind. It made all of the difference. I will never forget that act of kindness and going above and beyond.
I’d put this experience on the back burner and tried to forget about it, until heard from a friend today. She’d gone in for an IUD removal so that she and her husband can try for another baby. She’s had previous c-sections and a few complications with one of them. She’d talked this spring with her provider about having another baby and got the go ahead to get her IUD out. The provider she saw today was a nurse practitioner who she had never seen before. She started to tell my friend what a huge mistake it was to get her IUD out, made her feel awful and that it wasn’t wise to have another baby because she had previous c-sections. Of course this was conflicting what my friend’s OB had told her a few months earlier. She had never seen her, never delivered her babies and yet she made assumptions. Obviously my friend will not be seeing this provider again because of how she made her feel.
I’m a health care provider, I deal with patients on a regular basis so I get it. Most of the time when I see a patient, I don’t see them again. I’ve taken this experience and it’s made me more in tune to the fact that I may not know what someone is going through and that I can’t pass judgements based on 5-10 minutes with them. I’ve learned that you should be kind. Always.
To the health care provider that doesn’t know me – Please don’t make assumptions. Don’t label me or cut me off when I’m talking. Don’t make me feel dumb or inferior if there’s something that I don’t understand. Respect my views and ideas. Come in with an open mind and listen. That’s not too much to ask, right?