The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Touch

There's a joke going around the clinic where I'm working right now. If you're looking to get knocked up, make an appointment with Dr. Couz.

I've somehow managed to run the most bizarre streak of test results. In the month I have been working at the family practice clinic in town, I have done 6 urine pregnancy tests on various women for various reasons. Some to rule it out, some to rule it in. In every single case, two lines have shown up on the dipstick. Whether it was an expected result or not. It's gotten to the point that I'm even wondering if I'd recognize a negative result if I saw one.

Complicating matters is the fact that all but one of these pregnancies was unwanted. The most recent positive test belonged to a patient that was 'undecided' about whether or not the pregnancy was wanted, in that it was a result of an extramarital affair that had ended a month ago. Her husband was already aware of the affair, and had told her to come into the doctor to get tested for STD's. That morning he told he that if she was pregnant, he'd kill the baby. Lovely. She isn't sure if she wants to terminate or not. She's coming back in a week once she's had a chance to think about things. She wasn't expecting a positive pregnancy test.

Sometimes I find it really hard not to judge my patients. Last week one of the positive pregnancy tests belonged to a 39-year-old woman. She suspected she was pregnant-- although her cycles had always been irregular, she had been feeling a lot of nausea over the past couple of weeks and hadn't had a period in nearly two months. When I informed her of the result, she said without hesitation "I want an abortion".

Now I'm pro-choice. Always have been. I think that a woman needs to have the ultimate say in what happens in her own body. But this woman knew what she was doing. She had two kids. She had terminated a pregnancy in the past. She had a regular partner with whom she was living, and they weren't using birth control. No IUD, no condoms, no pull-n-pray, nothing. What the hell was she thinking? She's an intelligent woman, with a college diploma and a respectable job. Does she not know how this works? I asked her why they weren't using protection (thinking there might have been a good reason), and got a carefree shrug. Nice.


I don't know why these situations anger me. I'm pro-choice. She's pregnant. She doesn't want to be pregnant. It should be as simple as that. But when people start coming in and acting as though abortion were just another method of birth control, it bothers me. And it's something that's always bothered me, not just from the perspective of a woman actively trying to get pregnant. But I have to admit that also adds insult to injury. It's hard not to have a fleeting thought about all the women out there struggling with infertility when other women treat pregnancy as a disposable inconvenience.

So, of course, I bite my tongue. And I counsel accordingly, provide options, and offer the phone number to the women's clinic in town. And I try not to judge.

Sigh. Just call me the fertility goddess.


Blogger MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

Fertility goddess,

I had a woman who had received 7 abortions, all elective, and all due to the fact she refused to use birth control. She was scared of side effects.

Of course she came to us because she couldn't stop bleeding from her last baby she'd killed. I just wanted to smack that woman hard. Abortion is a right, but it should never be used as a contraceptive method. Absurd.

10:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

medstudentgod - might want to be careful when using the phrase "last baby she'd killed" and then saying abortion is a right.

I can totally understand why women do not want to use hormonal methods of birth control, because that's messing with the body's natural processes and who really knows what the long-term consequences of that are? But I don't understand the resistance to barrier methods (unless it's her partner that's resisting), or the UID, or sterilization. There has to be something out there that they find acceptable...sheesh.

12:04 PM

Blogger medstudentitis said...

It's interesting. I'm pro-choice and I went to a talk by a provider and we talked about people having multiple abortions and doing nothing to protect themselves from becoming pregnant. His stance on it was "If you think the 3rd abortion is wrong, you must have had a problem with the first". I'm not sure I agree with that, but it's an interesting point of view. I don't think the third abortion is wrong, but I do thing that since an abortion is a surgical procedure that comes with much higher risks that using a condom, perhaps a better choice would be the condom...

6:39 PM

Anonymous patientanonymous said...

Funny, I just read a post about abortion on another blog--not a medical one though but just bizarre coincidence.

Anyway, another "Pro-Choicer" here. Absolutely. But yes, something just doesn't make sense to me at least about not using birth control and then having repeated abortions. I mean, I is a surgical procedure and you're putting your body through something that could be avoided...ugh.

And I also think about the responsibility of it all. I mean, we all(?) understand how a woman becomes pregnant. If you do not wish to become pregnant in the first place, exercise some form of birth control. If that fails and you need to terminate, well, that's a no brainer. Something about having repeated abortions and not using contraception just does not compute.

Of course there are other circumstances where a woman may wish to have an abortion. I won't litter Couz' comment section with as many of them as I can think and why. Again, it's a personal choice issue for the woman/individual involved.

10:34 PM

Blogger Charity Doc said...

I don't know about "the touch" but there are a few patients who comes into the ED very frequently, almost every weekend with various Gynie complaints. I swear these women must like getting pelvic exams. Being in the south it's not uncommon to hear patients referring to you as "baby." But when you start hearing them moan "Oh, baby..." during a pelvic exam, it's disturbingly scary.

11:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abortion is not right point blank. Every women is responsible for the things that she does. Why should the baby pay the consenquences for the mother? It isn't right. Instead of using the word abortion we should all use the word adoption. The reason why so many women take advantage is because they get away with it. How are they suppose to learn how to be responsible. I love the way how some believe that abortion isn't murder. It's quite pathetic if you ask me. Before you say that abortion is murder or not do some background research first. One abortion method is called Caesarean. The umbilical cord is cut while the baby is still in the womb which thus cuts off his oxygen supply which then leads him to suffocate.In some cases the baby is then born alive and left to DIE of neglect or exposure. Not murder, yes... the word torture is better if you asked me. Abortion is so pathetic just like George W. Bush saying that there's no Global Warming (yet, an Arctic Seal was found swimming in Floridian waters). You are reading something written by a 17 year old. Take it from me who has been taking Advanced Placement Classes since the 10th grade, abortion is wrong. A baby is not a burden it's a gift that everyone should treasure! Like my mom says, "Never take LIFE for granted."

7:12 PM


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