I've met people who like Kaiser Permanente. They're real people out there in the world and they don't hate their healthcare. Weird, I know.
Backstory. I have yet to have a great experience with a doctor.
Wait. That's a lie. I have had one great experience with an ear, nose, throat specialist who, after my 6th sinus infection in a row, told me I have a deviated septum and changed my life with a little invention called saline. He also told me to not let any doctor bully me into surgery and that it was my choice and surgery doesn't always fix things and to do my research first. And then I asked him to marry me.
And it goes without saying that I have had nothing but wonderful experiences with Planned Parenthood, though you only see a nurse, but that nurse and the staff are all welcoming, wonderful people who listen to your needs and see you as a human being.
And then there was that time in Marseille when I got horrific food poisoning and a doctor came to my hotel room, examined me nicely, gave me magic pills that made me better, and never charged me a thing. Go France!
Other than that, doctors have been not great pour moi. I have friends and family in the medical field and I have to assume they're nice and talented and treat their patients well, but that just hasn't been my personal experience with my own doctors. If I tell you all my stories, this post would be a tome, so I won't.
Suffice to say, I hate going to the doctor and do so reluctantly and only when necessary. I am all about health, but have figured out the hard way that the only way to be healthy is to be my own advocate and, often, to treat myself.
Cut to this morning. No, wait, I should back up. I have had chronic UTIs, otherwise knowns as bladder infections, for the last year. I try to treat naturally with water and cranberry juice and good hygiene, but I keep getting them. Last October, I got a vicious one and had to go to a Kaiser clinic because my primary doc is always booked up and they did urinalysis, confirmed the infection, and treated me with antibiotics.
So, yesterday I came down with another infection. Not wanting to fuck around and, after talking to a friend in the medical field and learning that sometimes chronic UTIs can be a sign of a kidney infection, I got an appoint for this morning, but with a new Kaiser doc because, again, my doc is always booked up.
I got there early, peed in the little cup, and waited to meet this new doctor and find out what's the deal. This doctor, she, well, she was awful. She went into the room with all these preconceived notions of who I am and how I take care of myself and didn't listen to a word I said. She looked at me like I was making up my symptoms, which is especially insulting because my mother is a true hypochondriac, and told me that it probably wasn't a real infection all these times and I probably just don't eat well.
And then she went on a rant about how Americans eat and I just can't eat all that processed food and that's why I'm overweight (!) and that the bad food inflamed my bladder and made me think I had an infection.
All the while, I'm trying to explain to her that, while I'm not perfect, I do try to eat well and I always read ingredients because of my food allergies, and I gained weight this year because my exercise changed, etc etc etc.
And she didn't hear one word I said. I tried asking her about my kidneys but she wouldn't hear it. She looked at me like I was this fat slob who overate and didn't watch what I ate and I deserved to be getting this symptoms and I'm pretty dumb to think it's a real infection. She also told me that the doctor I'd seen in October overreacted and I didn't have much (!) of an infection and I probably didn't need antibiotics.
I explained that if that were true, I'd be upset because I try to not take antibiotics if I don't need them and why would a doctor say I had an infection when I didn't?
She said I didn't have an infection this time and I was fine. I told her I drank a ton of cranberry juice yesterday and maybe the infection has cleared up already. Again, she wouldn't hear it, just kept telling me how passionate she is about eating well and health and told me she just cares about me and wants me to be healthy.
I finally talked her into at least doing a blood panel to look for food allergens, because I've been trying to get a Kaiser doctor to do that for a year as well and because it was the only reason she'd concede to be why I keep having these symptoms. And I won't get the results for a week. And then I was sent on my merry way, still having symptoms, and feeling the most judged and the most unheard and unseen I've felt in a long time.
First of all, even if food can cause those symptoms, it's an awfully large assumption to make without talking to me and letting me explain my eating habits. She just assumed I didn't know what I eat when the exact opposite is true. I do a ton of research on what I eat because eating is so perilous for me already. Yes, sometimes I eat bad foods and, yes, I eat too much even of good foods. But I am not unaware of what I eat.
Second, even if food is the cause of my symptoms, looking at me like I'm a horrible, stupid, and naive person is not her job. It's her job to help me figure out the problem and solve it. Instead she basically told me I was too fat and couldn't take care of myself.
Never mind that I'm not fat. I gained 25 pounds this year, sure, but before that I was a good weight and I've already lost five pounds and I'm working hard to find my exercise routine as an adult that doesn't have 5 dance classes a week. I'm not unaware of my weight gain and I've never struggled with my weight before now. I'm just older and figuring things out and a little compassion would be great. But she just assumed she knew who I am and how I live.
Third, what if it isn't food? She just refused to entertain any other options. What if it is a kidney infection and what if it continues untreated? I don't know what it is and it isn't really my job to find out because I didn't go to medical school. And it is her job! But I don't think she ever planned on exploring what was my issue. She is obviously on a crusade for health food, which isn't inherently a bad thing, but if I came in with cancer warning signs, would she send me on my way and tell me to eat more tomatoes? At some point, a doctor who works in traditional medicine has to actually practice tradition medicine!
Yes, wellness is important. Of course it is. Yes, I need to lose weight. I'm working on it. Yes, we all need to know what we're eating, but I do! If all I needed was a nutritionist, why am I paying insurance premiums to get shuffled between doctors and get told I'm a stupid, fat, American and not worth listening to? Why ever see a doctor at all?
That said, I'm at this very moment trying to get into my primary doctor. Because I think I should get a second opinion. Also, because I still feel sick and she didn't give me any guidance whatsoever on how to feel better! And I feel like I spent my entire morning and paid $20 to have a highly paid professional tell me how bad a person I am.
If I don't get in today, I am canceling my insurance. What good is it? What the hell am I paying for? If I just wanted to be berated, I'd befriend Jillian Michaels.
I guess, at the end of the day, I just wanted to be heard. I am my own advocate. I do take my health seriously. I do know how to listen to my body. And I just wanted my doctor to give me the chance to explain that.
I just wanted to not be treated like I'm my mother, a drug addict hypochondriac who, by the way, is always able to bully doctors into whatever pills she wants and whatever diagnosis she has in mind. Hell, maybe my mom is on to something there.