Medical Choices We Shouldn’t Have to Make

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

January 11th, 2011 • Patient AdvocacyPrint Print

I’ve been having all kinds of pain in my vagina. I went for a gyno test and urine culture. The urine culture was at my behest, because a dear friend went through all kinds of horrific pain and trauma, as a result of doctors not giving her a culture or even informing her it was an option. (For those of you who don’t know, a culture revelas all kinds of stuff that a urinalysis doesn’t reveal.) 

As it turned out, I had over 100,000 strep bacteria floating around in both my vagina and urine –  apparently a super-duper high dose. So I was put on antibiotics. Not only was I already on my vegan-plus, super-restrictive diet, but on top of it, I had to take the antibiotic on an empty stomach. Which made my eating not only seriously limited but also severely regimented.

Then I had a bad reaction to the antibiotic – intense chest pain and stomach pain, plus the sensation that I was about to faint. So that antibiotic seriously struck out in my world. My doctor took me off that antibiotic and prescribed me a new one.

But I have not gone on it, because while I was recovering from the side effects of the previous antibiotic, I took another urinary culture – on the day I was getting seen at the doctor’s office for said side effects. That culture was negative. Was it simply because the two days on the antibiotics killed off the bacteria? My doctor was not sure what to make of the situation or what to tell me to do. I suggested that I wait a week, see how I felt, then go in for a gyno test and urinary culture if I was still in pain.

Well, I have been in pain, let me tell you. Exponentially more pain than before. I wonder if I have developed an antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria — kind of scary. I haven’t been able to get an appointment, however. My gyno is out of town, the other gyno can’t get me in until the day before my gyno is back (end of next week), and the central scheduling unit for the gynecology departments in my medical group are not letting me get ushered in on “urgent” status, despite the fact that my primary care physician wrote “urgent” on the request. I was on the phone most of last week trying to get seen. No luck.

Then my doctor called me on Friday afternoon, but I didn’t know, because Comcast was busy not working. I didn’t call today, because I was busy catching up on work that I missed because of said phone/internet failure, and honestly, I spaced on the medical stuff. Only so much I can stay on top of at once.

Meanwhile, I’m hesitant to go to a gyno I don’t know. I am very careful which doctors I see. I have had too many bad experiences being seen by doctors who did me more harm than good. I have learned to abide by my rule that if I don’t get to suss out a doctor ahead of time, either by getting a recommendation from the nurses who work with the doctors, or by having direct contact, then I don’t go.

In addition, when I went to my primary care doctor for an exam a couple of weeks ago, when I had symptoms from the antibiotic, the nurse slammed the lower, pull-out part of the examining table into my right heel (seriously, who could have seen that one coming, no matter how many precautions I take?) – causing me to stay at home for three days and to have minimal walking and biking activities since. Although between my mom’s healing energy and my move-as-much-as-I-can approach, I’m almost back to normal now and ready to bike past the seven miles I’ve been able to pull off since the incident.

Anyhow, the point is this:

  • Why does it take so freakin’ long to get seen, when there is an urgent situation?
  • Why can’t doctors be trusted – ie, why do we go in with one thing and out with another?

I want to live in a world where doctors receive the highest level of training in everything – including not rushing around their patients, who are there because they are not well and therefore need to be handled with care.

I am now left with the choice between just going on a new antibiotic, without seeing anyone – thus avoiding the risk of a bad OBGYN experience, but risking another bad antibiotic experience, not to mention killing off healthy bacteria when I’m busy shrinking this mofo nodule – OR to go to an OBGYN when they finally feel like seeing me OR to yell and scream and drain all my energy and use all my spoons demanding to be seen right away, and then having anxiety about whether that person is safe or not.

Medical stuff is seriously a part-time job with all these land mines to avoid. Totally not OK.

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