I have often thought that had I had my act together 30 years ago when I was going to college I’d have gone to medical school and become a doctor. But I didn’t have my act together and I’m not a doctor. I have my heart set on EMT training during the next decade of my life but for now I am happy to read a lot of non-fiction medical books, research and answer friend’s medical questions, and watch House reruns.
I’ve been fortunate in my life though to have amazing doctors at important cross-roads. There was my first real therapist when I was 23, fresh out of college and struggling with paralyzing anxiety and panic. There was my primary care doctor who never made me feel bad about being newly sober and consequently certain that now that I’d tackled my alcoholism I was going to die of some other deadly disease. The number of times I visited him with various medical issues I was certain would seal my aforementioned fate would be embarrassing to admit. But his kindness and care when he told me to come as many times as I needed until I felt more secure in my life has lasted me a life time. A second therapist, helped me cross the divide from childhood into adulthood and saw me find a career I loved and a life I wanted.
These experiences distilled and have nurtured my commitment to the importance of being an informed patient and medical advocate while sustaining my anger at the inadequacies of our healthcare system and the growing number of uninsured people. Why? Because without health insurance I’d not have had these amazing doctors, and everyone deserves to have good doctors and quality medical care.
Throughout all of this time, however, there has been one doctor who has been a bright light, a kind guide and a principled educator – he is my OB/GYN. He has twice helped me prepare for childbirth, and if you read the last paragraph, you can understand how challenging an endeavor that might have been. While sadly he wasn’t on call for either of my daughter’s births, he nurtured me through two C-section recoveries. He even sat through my post-partum panic attacks about breastfeeding assuring me that my daughter would be okay if I decided I couldn’t breastfeed – he helped me understand that doing what was best for me would ultimately be what was best for her – and he was right.
He once said to me that he believed women are the more evolved of the species – smarter, sturdier and stronger. I remember at the time I didn’t know how to respond but I realize today that he was offering me his worldview as a doctor for women and their children – a worldview driven by a lifetime of interaction and experience with both.
While he no longer delivers babies, he remains in practice with a focus on women’s health and I continue to see him and it is always a meaningful connection. As a working mother, there are few places you can go or people you can find that give you peace of mind and strength of heart. I am lucky to find both in my doctor – especially as I solidly approach middle age, menopause and all that comes with those next stages in my life.