My uterus is fine, thanks America. One of my ovaries gives me notice when it ovulates. The other quietly goes about its business. My vagina is fine, as well, works okay, seems healthy and warm.
Um, yeah, well I don’t really have the hang of this whole “Give America a Say in my Private Parts” thing, so forgive me if I’m not sure what information total strangers think they should have about me in order to make important decisions for me.
I wish I was surprised that we’re talking about pharmacists who do not know me having a “right” to decide that they don’t have to give me medicine that’s prescribed to me because it offends their delicate sensibilities, as if birth control was just invented yesterday and all these pseudo-religious jackasses were blindsided by its advent.
I wish I were surprised that on my television, commentators who don’t know me feel free to assume that, just because there’s a Walgreens or an Eckerds on every corner of their urban refuge–and thus women can just “go to another pharmacist” if one refuses to fill their prescriptions (unless, as has happened, the pharmacist refuses to give you back your prescription)–it’s that way out in the sticks.
Really, America, how long is reasonable for me to drive? If there’s one pharmacist in my county is it reasonable for me to have to go two counties over? Three counties? What if I don’t have a car?
I wish this shit surprised me, but it doesn’t. And, ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to tell you why.
Because, I’ve been to a crazy Christian gynecologist, who refused to prescribe me birth control because he “doesn’t prescribe birth control to unmarried women.”
The best part was when he told me how God has made it so fat women can’t get pregnant because they can’t outrun the angry elephants and keep their kids safe. As it turns out, God has also made it so women with anorexia and bulemia also can’t get pregnant, because, they would be too weak to outrun the angry elephants.
Now, I can see that the two obvious questions to ask at that point were 1. Has he never been to Walmart? Because anyone who’s ever been to Walmart knows that fat women can have themselves plenty of kids. 2. Why are these elephants so pissed off at new mothers, chasing them around and trying to kill their kids? and, maybe, 3. Why did God make angry elephants in the first place?
But, at the time, I was laying on an exam table and he had his hand inside me, and all I could do was lay there and hope that this was a joke, and not that I was trapped in a small room with a crazy man who thought I was an idiot. I wish I’d been a big smart-ass, but the truth was that I was really scared.
I’d been in the midst of this mystery illness that caused me to unpredictably and occasionally gush blood from random orifices and develop pain so severe in various body parts that I couldn’t use them* and my general practitioner was out of ideas and the oncologist was flummoxed and the general consensus among all the doctors that I’d seen was that this guy was some kind of genius about “woman problems” and I should see what he said.
So, there I was, being lectured about God’s plan for fat girls by the guy who my other doctors trusted to figure out what was wrong with me. So, it wasn’t just that he was a nut; it was that these other doctors, who I thought were sane, apparently thought this guy was fine. So, you see, I was in triple trouble. I’d put my life in the hands of three doctors who apparently thought this guy’s worldview was okay.
Plus, I was confused as to why we were even talking about babies and birth control because I was there about the hideous random blood gushing, but clearly, he had a lecture to deliver and his need to deliver the lecture to me was more important than my medical needs.
It was the worst medical experience I’ve ever had. I was embarrassed, confused, and not helped. And, honestly, I haven’t been back to any gynecologist since then.
I’m an educated woman with a good job with good benefits. I know the importance of regular checkups. But that jackass patronized me and felt the need to blame me for a problem I didn’t have and had no answers for the problem I did have and I’d rather eat my own ass than go through that again.
Plus, I’ve stopped going to my general practitioner. I’ve lost confidence in him.
I mention that to say that, when it comes to health issues, people feel incredibly vulnerable and uncertain. Most folks I know would rather do anything else than deal with doctors and their ilk.
If a woman only has one pharmacist and that pharmacist refuses to fill her prescription for birth control, especially if that pharmacist delivers her some lecture instead, it’s not just affecting her ability to get birth control. It’s affecting the likelihood that she’ll seek any medical help, because she’s not going to feel great about any process that might mean she ends up back at that pharmacist for any reason.
Maybe, America, you don’t think that’s much of a problem; if a rural woman isn’t willing to get lectured or drive all over tarnation or really work at getting the healthcare other folks in this country take for granted, that’s just her own damn fault.
Ha, that’s just like you, America. Whatever I do, it’s your business, but my fault.
* In case you’re wondering, here’s what came of this. Sometimes, while this was going on, I’d hallucinate. Like, one time, I was laying on the couch and my dad came in the front door, waved at me, and walked upstairs. I was startled to see him, but figured that, if he’d driven the whole six hours straight, he might run to the bathroom before talking to me.
Then, the phone rang, and it was my dad and I was like “Why are you calling me? Can’t it wait until you’re out of the bathroom?” and my dad was like “What are you talking about?” and I said, “Aren’t you upstairs?” and he said, “No, I’m in the kitchen.” and I said, “No, you aren’t. I can see the kitchen from here, first of all, and second of all, I watched you go upstairs not five minutes ago.”
Obviously, he was still in Illinois.
This was the other hallucination I had. The room faded away from me and I was in the presence of some enormous, ancient, churning red something, that looked like a giant liver. This thing was Life–not a god or anything, but the driving force of the universe. It wasn’t conscious or anything, because it was everything. And some part of me, some basic animal part of me, was striving to live.
I was there for a while and the ancient, churning thing moved and I was lucky in that it moved in a way that I knew meant that I would live. It didn’t move in response to me. That’s the important thing. I was just there to see which way it would move. One way and I would live. The other way and I would die.
So, I had that hallucination and, though I didn’t get better immediately, I knew I’d get better and, after a couple of weeks, I did.
I hope it doesn’t happen again, because I don’t have a doctor at the moment. Ha.
Hey, I just want to say that if you find yourself here and it’s a little too familiar, Rachel over at Women’s Health News (see link on right) points out that Vanderbilt has Nurse Midwives who do the GYN as well as the OB.
It’s slim pickin’s all around for women when it comes to healthcare and decent practioners.
Your post drives that fact home in a most poignant way.
The hallucinations–or perhaps they were revelations–were really cool. Pain and illness has a way of focusing our attention to that pinpoint of just being. I don’t think you imagined it–you were there, B.
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He failed to mention that our ancestors had to run away from angry dinosaurs too. At least that’s what the Bible says.