Back in the day when I toiled for the privilege of having good health insurance, I made it my mission to have a female physician or nurse practitioner for myself and then later for my daughter. And it was a completely sexist thing on my part born out of years of experience. If I wanted to be heard and be considered a partner in maintaining my own health, female medical personnel had proven themselves superior.
My last health care provider was aces. A Physician’s assistant with a family medical practice, Collette was probably the best doctor I have ever had. Thorough. Abreast of the latest research. An excellent listener who trusted me to know my own body. She saw me through infertility, pregnancy, nursing, care-taking, widowhood, re-entry to the dating scene and remarriage.
Now I live in Canada. And yes, everyone has health care. What everyone does not have is a a primary care physician because doctors are in short supply. Especially family and general practitioners. Our little town provides few options, so many people trek into the city. Eventually I may do that myself, but for now I share my husband’s doctor, a sweet old man on the brink of retirement named Dr. Fu.
I had to see Dr. Fu the other day. Going to the doctor is a calendar clearing event. A person must be prepared to wait a couple of hours at the very least before being seen. Curiously however, I have yet to spend more than 5 minutes or so with an actual doctor. The doctors at the Walk-In clinic stare at their computer screens the entire time, and I end up talking to their backs as quickly as possible before they write a script and move on. Dr. Fu cozies up to the examination table with his chair and scribbles long-hand, interrupting often and sharing his take on everything from global climate change to the need for my husband to get more cardio-vascular exercise.
During my last visit, in an attempt to clarify a few things, the topic of oral sex came up. Dr. Fu barely batted an eye, but I was reminded again of how much I miss Collette because even though I am not embarrassed to discuss sex and my plumbing issues, I got the distinct feeling that Dr.Fu really doesn’t think much about the things that are most important to me and that his take on a woman’s journey from fecund to fallow is that stuff happens.
Collette was the one who sent me to the reproductive endocrinologist when getting pregnant proved less simple than the nuns in Catholic school had led me to believe when I was sixteen. She was the one who reassured me when my school district insisted I still have my mandatory TB test despite being in my first trimester of pregnancy, and she was the one who got me through the morning sickness that lasted 7 and a half months.
Collette kept me upright through my late husband’s illness and after his death. She reassured me when I was certain that Kat was showing signs of her dad’s disease despite the minuscule odds for carriers to be affected. She was encouraging when I decided to begin dating again. I remember telling her about Rob. She was as excited as I was and then she insisted I have a complete exam and that we discuss birth control options.
Somehow I can’t see me having the same sort of relationship with Dr. Fu.
To be fair, I was not as close to the doctor who preceded Collette, but they shared many of the same qualities and they both trusted me to know a mountain from a molehill. And there are probably empathetic male doctors out there who are willing to have discussions about personal lubrication and are willing to accept the fact that having an average body temperature of 97.2 means I am indeed running a low grade fever when it hits 98.6, but I doubt they exist in great numbers.
This was an original 50 Something Moms piece.