Friday, August 24, 2012

Doctors, When to Listen, When to Ignore, part two

Never concede the authority of your common sense to a doctor--especially if you are feeling fine.  They may be nice, they may have your best interests at heart, they may mean well--and then it's hard to say no.  It's easier when you don't like them.  But then of course--you wouldn't go to them for treatment, right?  Catch 22.
I really liked the obstetrician who cared for me during my second pregnancy.  She was young, a snappy dresser, had a Swedish-modern and Ikea waiting room well-equipped for children as well as mothers, and she was willing to listen.  But she also went by the book.  I was old, she said.  Indeed, older than any mother she'd ever seen in the small European city in which we lived.
"I'm from New York," I offered, "Lots of woman older than I am give birth daily there.  When my friend Nancy went to her obstetrician worrying--at 38--about her age, the doctor laughed and told Nancy she was her youngest patient."
"We have a different attitude toward age here in Europe!" she said, looking grim.  A little jealous?  She was forty, I learned, younger than I was, and sometime in the course of my pregnancy--and I was 45 at the time--she got pregnant too.
 At the end of this conversation she insisted that I take progesterone.  This was eleven years ago, and at that time intra-vaginal progesterone pills were believed to prevent a miscarriage by thickening the lining of the uterus.  
"You want to prevent a miscarriage," insisted my doctor.   Sometimes I  think that if she'd only had kitschy office furniture that I hated or if only I'd not liked her so much, especially after running into her at the local swimming pool where she played with my firstborn,  I'd have had the sense to say "forget it--I am healthy.  I don't need this."  But that kind of common sense comes with age and experience.  As George Bernard Shaw said, "Youth is wasted on the young," and indeed I was younger.   And I'd already had a painful and very saddening miscarriage, and wanted to avoid a second one.  So I went along with her progesterone prescription for the worst possible reason:  I felt scared.  I took the progesterone for several weeks, even though I felt fine and the baby looked fine on the ultrasound.  The immediate results--extreme fatigue, dizziness, and a compulsion to eat despite morning sickness--proved unbearable after a few weeks, and I went off the stuff and felt much better.  But I gained a great deal of weight, which I've never lost.  The baby was enormous and a second cesarean.  Who knows?  He might have been a normal birth without the progesterone.
P.S. Nobody prescribes progesterone to prevent miscarriages anymore.  Another medical fad gone with the wind.
The moral of the story:  Never go along with any prescription or treatment out of desperation.  Go for a second, a third, a fourth opinion until you feel like you know every possible option.

No comments:

Post a Comment