Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gah, doctors

One particularly irritating thing about the egg donation I have decided to do* is the amount of contact I have to have with doctors. I am yet to meet a doctor who doesn't have some serious personality flaw that s/he lets out to play during patient-doctor interactions.

I used to go to the university clinic, until the doctors there made me cry one too many times.

Then I picked a random doctor out of the phone book, and turned up to find that he made me fill out a form that included such information as "marital status" and "religion". His receptionist, one of my students, told me she has to hide her feminist studies homework from him because he gives her such a hard time about it. Needless to say, I wasn't about to go to him for the egg-donation-related tests I have to have.

So I went back to the university clinic, hoping I had just been unlucky in the past.

When I made the appointment, I handed over the list of tests the IVF clinic had given us for me to have done, and specifically asked (1) if there was further information they would need, and (2) if I could have an appointment long enough to do them all.

These are actual things the doctor said to me during my visit:

"What, you want a pap smear AS WELL? You'd better realise you are going to be charged for an extra long visit today."

"This list of tests says, 'cystic fibrosis'. Do you want the Delta F test or the 33 mutagens? [...] How can you not know? If you come in here wanting medical tests, you need to find out which ones you need."

"How do I do a chromosome test?" (Um, I thought YOU were the doctor. Don't you have ways of finding this sort of thing out?)

"This is all going to cost you. I hope you're well off." And when I explained that my friend is covering the costs. "Hrmph. Then I hope your 'friend' doesn't mind that you don't know which test it is you need. If we do the wrong one she'll be paying for useless results. In fact, why don't you phone the clinic now and ask which cystic fibrosis test I should do?"
"Sorry," I said, "I don't have a mobile phone."
"Why not?"
"Um. Well. I never seem to need one."
"You need one NOW, don't you?"
Yeah. Because the doctor's phone, sitting right there on her desk, must have been mysteriously out of action.

And then she took six different blood samples for the tests, which, as a phone call from the pathology lab told me later, were taken in the wrong type of tube, and so can I please go across to the other side of the city to have them redone at the hospital, please?

The next installment in this exciting adventure is Thursday, when I have an ultrasound scheduled. My instructions are to drink a liter of water an hour beforehand, and not to pee until after the appointment. I can't wait.


* I was planning a post on the reasons for my decision, but really, it's kind of boring, so suffice it to say that I looked thoroughly at all the literature I could find on the topic, including medical journals, and it seems to me that (a) the risk of known side effects is acceptably low and (b) the unproven risks, which may be of more concern (e.g. increased risk of cancer later down the track) have less evidence supporting them than e.g. the dangers of storing food in plastic, or using mobile phones, or various other modern conveniences which I'm not about to give up. I was pretty comfortable with the non-medical side of things already, and added to that it's not often you get a chance to change someone else's life so much for the better, or to "try before you buy" with something like having kids. So I feel pretty certain that I've made the right choice.


WellyGirl said...

Doctors Suck. I say neevr go to a university doctor. Ever. Unless you are 18 and can't afford anything better and even then they are crud.

I am lucky I found a good one when I moved home to Wellington, btu apparently since I left NZ they have started this scheme where you have to REGISTER with a doctor and then keep them. If you are sick and feel like crap, this results in calling 5 doctors to only find out they are 'full and not taking anymore patients' (cue the receptionist hanging up on you) or they can take you in a week, maybe? Luckily once you actually have a doctor the new system means things are better. Pity about the first ocntact though!

Good luck, and your post reminded me of this one I read also this morning: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-lafsky/selling-your-eggs-no-big_b_114691.html

Weekend_Viking said...

Mind you, having a sibling who's a doctor has adequately explained to me why they all have abberant behaviours - they've all been warped by the brutal hours and post traumatic stress syndrome of working as interns in generally under staffed, under funded hospitals. So if they were average people at start, they end up a bit wierd, if they were a bit wierd, they end up a bit deranged, and if they were deranged, they end up downright psychotic. My sister was a bit wierd, and is now quite deranged...

liz said...

Write a nasty gram to the head of the clinic. That is thoroughly unacceptable.

Jana said...

That is appalling treatment, and you certainly don't have to accept it.

I saw a doctor for the first time yesterday and wouldn't let him even start taking a medical history until he had given me an account of his training, work history and experience with my specific illness.

Why don't you use the same doctor as the one the friend you're donating the eggs to uses?

StyleyGeek said...

Wow, I had no idea about that system, WellyGirl. I liked the Danish system when I lived there. Upon registering your address (as everyone must do when moving there), you are provided with a list of all the local doctors still accepting new patients, along with their age, gender, languages they speak, and location of their clinic. You choose the one you like the sound of, and you are then registered as their patient.

I chose the youngest female English-speaking doctor on the list, and she turned out to be a punk with spiky pink hair, huge numbers of piercings and all. It was awesome.

Weekend_Viking - are you sure your sister's derangement is work-induced and not, say, genetic? :)

Liz - now you mention it, I think I might.

Jana - I would have liked to go to the same GP, but he isn't taking new patients.

StyleyGeek said...

Oh, and Wellygirl, that article you linked to showcases a bunch of the reasons why I don't think I could sell my eggs. Especially not to strangers. And not if I were never to have any contact with the child.

Sarah said...

Wow. I would be complaining about the one who demanded information on marital status and religion, and possibly also making a complaint about the one you saw today, too, just for being so damn rude.

Our uni medical service is hit and miss, but there are a couple of *really* good doctors there, so it's ok once you figure out which ones are the good ones.

And what kind of doctor wouldn't just pick up the phone and make the call themselves? I can't believe they even suggested that you do it.

I've heard a few horror stories about doctors lately, mostly from non-english-speaking patients who wouldn't have the first idea how to make a complaint. It's hard to believe how many dodgy doctors seem to be out there.

I'm sure you know how to make a complaint, but here's a link anyway:


I hope you're able to find a better doctor for everything else that needs to be done.