Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bedside manner?

Yesterday Eggbert and I went to the doctor for flu shots. We have been going to the same International Clinic (nested within a major hospital) since we got here, so the nurses all have known me and Eggbert since before she was born. Eggbert's appointment went swimmingly. She was weighed and measured (15th percentile and 12th, respectively), had her temperature taken, and was pronounced cute, smart, and healthy by the doctor. She didn't like the shot much, but got over it quickly when offered a boob. (My doctor's office is great. They have a private place to nurse little ones right there.) All in all, a good visit.

Then it was my turn. I had to go to a different doc to get the vaccination prescribed. I didn't request my normal doc, since I wanted to get an appointment right after Eggbert's for the sake of convenience. They ushered me into an office, and there was the Asian version of Doogie Houser. I swear this kid was 12. He said that he was a resident and would be taking my medical history. I wasn't thrilled, since I knew this would take forever and Eggbert and Mystery were waiting outside, but I know that residents have to learn somehow, so I said OK. He asked a million questions in just about the worst English that I've heard since I've been here. (This isn't a criticism--my Korean is abysmal and I'm grateful that there is a clinic where I can get care in English--I'm just setting the stage here.) I answered them all to the best of my ability--3 or 4 times in some cases because his comprehension was about as good as his speech. Then he asked the question. "When was your last menstrual period?"

I laughed and said "it's been almost two years now--well, not quite, I think it was February 2007. I had a baby last November and am still breastfeeding."

He stared at me and said "two years?"

"Well, not quite," I said, "more like 20 months. 10 months since the baby was born."

"Is there something wrong with you?" (Remember, this is the DOCTOR!)

"No, I'm still breastfeeding and haven't had my period yet. I have a baby. I'm breastfeeding."

"Have you been diagnosed with menopause?" (Again, remember, this is the DOCTOR!)

At this point I was shouting. "It's called lactational amenorrhea. It's perfectly normal!"

He kept staring at me, lip trembling.

Finally the "real" doctor came in, and prescribed the damn shot.

I am still livid. I really don't feel that I should have to PAY for the privilege of explaining the facts of life to a so-called professional. I wish that I could attribute it to language problems, but he clearly understood the word "baby", and had my chart right in front of him, so the information was all there. And the bedside manner? Imagine if I hadn't been a neurotic infertile (which he obviously didn't know, because he clearly hadn't read my chart), and didn't know that lactational amenorrhea is, indeed, normal. I probably would have been terrified.

Actually, I am terrified. I'm terrified by the fact that someone could pass medical school without learning even the basic facts about female reproductive biology. Horrifying.


WaterBishop said...

It never ceases to amaze me how uneducated some medical professionals can be. In my experience most of them know nothing about any type of amenorrhea.

Sarah said...


Samantha said...

The menopause question was over the top!

Marie-Baguette said...

I am sorry. Did you complain to his boss?

Sara said...

M-B, I was planning to, and then I met his boss, and realized that my complaint would be falling on completely deaf ears. I think I'm going to complain to my OB/GYN at my next visit and ask her to tell management.