One of the most valuable lessons I am learning during this pregnancy is how to take control of my healthcare. Doctors are often so admired and so trusted that we, as patients, do whatever they tell us to do without really researching or concerning ourselves with what they tell us. I have learned through a variety of resources that I need to be an educated, strong-willed person in order to get the medical assistance that I really want.
Today I had my bi-weekly check-up. I went in knowing that I was going to ask to switch obstetricians. Dirk and I, through a series of events, have decided that my obstetrician is not the right match for us. Typically Dirk does this kind of stuff because I'm too nice and too concerned about putting others out. This time it was all on me. I kept rehearsing in my mind all of the things I might need to say and how I would say them. I have learned from Dirk that you get your way most frequently when you are firm but very kind.
As I signed in at the front desk I kindly said to the young girl signing me in, "I would like to switch obstetricians. What do I need to do, or who do I need to talk to in order to do this?" The girl looked at me and asked, "Do you want to leave our office or switch doctors within our office?" I told her I'd like to stay with the office but with a different obstetrician. She turned to her co-worker and said, "What does she need to do to switch obstetricians?" The co-worker, who's standing maybe 3 feet from me says, she (referring to me), would need to get it cleared with the department head. She would need to state her reasons and the department head will have to determine if it is a good enough reason to switch." This whole time I'm thinking, "HELLO! I'm right here, you can talk directly to me instead of referring to me in third person." So then the young girl looks at me and says, "Did you want to do that?" I'm thinking, "Um, yeah, isn't that what I just said?" but instead I politely say, "Yes, please." The co-worker pulls out some phone message sheet and hands it to me. I fill it out and give it back to them. It really wasn't that bad but now I have to await the call from the department head and supposedly "state my case" to her.
I still don't understand why a department head has the right to confirm or deny me a transfer to another obstetrician. I have good health insurance and I am a "paying customer." I should be able to be in control of my medical choices, she shouldn't have the right to make decisions for me, especially when I was just randomly assigned to this doctor in the first place. It's not like I'm being fickle.
Anyway, now that I'm done ranting I want to encourage any of you who are pregnant or trying to conceive to read the book Pushed by Jennifer Block and to watch The Business of Being Born with Ricki Lake. Both of these resources share how messed up the American birthing process is and what you can do to take charge of your birth, whether you're planning on going all natural or not you should be aware of how the system works in order to protect yourself and your baby. Now more than ever I am learning the great importance of becoming my own healthcare advocate.