So, we’re officially 27 weeks now. We had our first non-IHS appointment with our new OB/GYN this week. Let me tell you, it was like night and day. Michael described it as the difference between being treated like human beings versus a couple of cattle. Totally true.
I got the referral for this particular doc from a co-worker who swore, “he’s so anal and controlling, you’ll love him.” The appointment was very inclusive which I felt good about. It was practical, logical and very informative. And, there was information. Not to mention he did an ultrasound and showed us everything he could about our little fetus. It was such a change from being told the ultrasound was an, “official procedure” and we couldn’t look at it until the very end (all 10 seconds) It was frustrating being shuffled off to be told they didn’t get any information when we had our other two appointments at the IHS.
I’m not an advocate of socialized medicine, people don’t get the services they need. It’s about quantity and not quality care. When I called my insurance company to get information about maternity services, they couldn’t even find a registered doctor for the clinic I was going to. That was pretty scary. The case worker I talked to was stunned that I didn’t have an OB/GYN, had not seen one or been told there was one at least managing the clinic we went to. Evidently, the standards for my insurance are higher than the standards of a multimillion dollar clinic that provides services to thousands of urban Native Americans.
As I’ve started to think about the IHS, I’ve come to a few conclusions: It’s not very functional and it takes the humanity out of medical care. I’m grateful to had have the option of going to the Indian Health Services and hell, it probably saved me growing up. My family was very poor. They still are. Medical insurance is a totally new concept to them and sometimes for me. I forget how different it is to go somewhere and even if you have to pony up some money for medication or co-pays, they listen and they actually offer treatment. At the IHS I’ve heard more times than not, “that’s just the way it is.” Or, “it’s a virus, just rest and drink some water.” Everywhere you go at the IHS there are posters and signs about culture and accomodations. Frankly, I got more accomodations at my new doctors office. Hell, the guy even asked if I wanted to keep my placenta! Cultural competency isn’t about the signs you hang or the color of the provider you hire, it’s about humanity, about treating someone like they matter.
Conclusion number two: you have to have failed either a medical licensing, psych eval or personality test in order to get a job as a medical professional at the IHS. Save for the one NP we saw that we liked, everyone else there treated us like a problem to be solved versus a couple transitioning into a family. There was no joy in the IHS services. And, we never got back any of our test results. When the new doc asked about that we said, “we know he’s a boy, but we don’t know anything else.” I know they ran tests and I know they billed my insurance for it, but we never got anything back that was concrete, just vague references to things being fine. He’s requesting my records and will do anything they missed or didn’t do right.
Maybe I’m being too hard on them. Maybe I’m just gloating. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to any Native women. If you have insurance, find an OB/GYN that you like. Even if you have to pay to have the kid, the experience is worth it. Pregnancy is a good thing, not something to be shoved into the basement and buried under 1950’s medicine.
Seeing our new OB/GYN he gave me the green flag to take safe allergy medication and was surprised anyone in their right mind would make me go cold turkey with my history of migraines. He also prescribed something for the heart burn and said, “you’re pregnant, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer.” That was another shocker after being told that it was part of pregnancy and I needed to take tums and just deal with it. However, the most inspiring thing about our new doctor is that he listened to me. The man was receptive, he even switched my prenatal vitamins-they’ve continually made me nauseated.
I was shocked. I’m 6 months pregnant. For the first 2/3 of my pregnancy I’ve been dealing with vagueness, random facts and getting information on my own through books, the internet and my friends. I had no idea that things could be so good.
We’re not going back to the IHS. I had considered delivering there, but after meeting with my new doctor and getting information from him, there’s nothing to consider. We’re going to pay the money to have our baby like everyone else does. And, when he’s born I’m finding him a pediatrician that has a license and won’t tell me to “just deal with it” when my kid needs something.
I think Michael’s happy with our new decision. He wasn’t included in a whole lot at the other place and aside from the one NP, he hated everyone who had run any tests on the kid and I.
The only tragic thing (ok, so not tragic) outcome of the apmt is that I’m not supposed to have any more juices, sodas or sugary drinks. The doc doesn’t want me to gain too much weight (this after being told at the IHS that I wasn’t gaining enough weight) and he’s concerned about the high rate of diabetes in my family and believes it’s a good practice for the kid and to have-to drop the sugar.
So, with that, we’re detoxing. And, I realized, I’m totally addicted to sugar. But, if it means I get back to my pre-pregnancy body quicker, my baby is healthier and neither of us is taking in extra sugar that we don’t need, it’s worth it.