Sheer torture


Answer the questions, dammit!

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started or if it’s related to one particular event or a combination of them over time, but I have a deep mistrust and downright dread of most medical professionals – especially the upper echelon known as “specialists”.  Knowing this, you would understand how much I enjoyed yesterday’s little foray to the obstetrician at the hospital antenatal clinic.

In NZ, your LMC (lead maternity carer) during pregnancy and childbirth is your midwife. In my case, I have two women who job-share. It’s a great system and the part I like the most is that, in most cases, these women have had children of their own.  No offence, fellows, but until you’ve hefted around a growing creature in your innards then pushed the damn thing out, pregnancy and childbirth is all just theory to you.  And theory and practice can be two vastly different experiences.

The specialist visit is a mere formality due to my *cough* maturity, as everything has been trucking along like a normal pregnancy.  And I’m fine with that. Let’s be cautious, by all means. We’ve waited too long for this little miracle – if a specialist visit or two is necessary for safe delivery, I’ll do it.

But what I hate the most with every visit to a new specialist is THE GRILLING.

Or, as they like to call it, “documenting your medical history”.

To add insult to injury, it was done by a nervy yet nice final year medical student, before sending me forth to see the doctor.

I technically could have been the poor guy’s mum.

With these medical history interviews, I always feel like the innocent victim in one of those film noir movies, accused of a crime I didn’t commit.

You know the ones. Black and white. Gritty scenes of victim sweating under bright spotlight as they insist their innocence. Slamming of fists on desks. Declarations of … well, you get the picture.

The interview kinda went like this:

Dr: [looking down at folder] “So, how many pregnancies have you had?”

Me: “Ahhhh…” [Shit. I hate this question. I can never remember.]

Dr: “17? Is that right? Is that what I read? Because that’s a lot. Is it really that many?”

Me: [Trying desperately to remember] “Um … I think it was closer to 11 or 12?”

Dr: “Hmmm … that’s still a lot.” [pause to glance at records]

Me: [nervous sweat starting to trickle in certain places] Does he not believe me? How many was it again?  “Umm…”

Dr: “How many living children do you have?”

Me: [relieved] Phew. A question I can answer confidently. “Oh – three.”

Dr: “So how many miscarriages then?”

Me: Dear Jesus, is my maths being tested now? And why does maths seem so hard when I’m stressed? “Ummm .. so that would be …”

Dr: [interrupting] “And when were they?”

Me: [gaping at him] Are you serious?  “Errrrr…”

It’s a test I should know all the answers to but for some reason, my brain just goes on holiday and I end up looking and sounding like a gormless idiot.

Perhaps what I should do is write it all down and just present the list of whats and whens to each new practitioner I visit. There may be eyebrows raised regarding my perceived OCD levels but at least it might prevent the grilling!

Memory Loss

Still-Alice-coverI forgot my mother’s birthday.

Well, technically, I didn’t forget it – I was just a whole month early for it. And when the mistake was pointed out to me (by my mother), it actually freaked me out.

I blame February’s 28 days for the mix-up but it should have registered that her birthday is just 8 days before my youngest son’s, not a whole month before.  It’s a semi-long and complicated story but the general idea is that I had two meetings in my calendar for the 16th of February and March and figured I could kill two birds with one stone by traveling to Brisbane early and spending time with Mum on the weekend for her birthday. Only thing is, the meeting is March is a teleconference and the one in Feb an onsite one. So in between all of that, I got a little mixed up.

But still …

It was a shocking moment when I realised my mistake. I was absolutely gobsmacked at my own stupidity. How could this happen? I’ve known my mum’s birth date for almost as long as I’ve known her! Am I losing my marbles? What is going on here?

There’s a movie out at the moment called “Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore. I haven’t seen it yet but I read the book by Lisa Genova a few years ago. It’s a brilliant yet terrifying read from the first person viewpoint of Dr Alice Howland, a noted linguistics professor at Columbia University who makes the devastating discovery that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  Everyone gets forgetful; loses keys; can’t remember someone telling them they were going somewhere etc. But it’s when she’s doing the same morning jog through the same streets she’s followed for years then suddenly coming to a stop in the middle of campus and not recognising anything that she realises there’s something more than simple forgetfulness going on.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to slowly lose yourself – but I think I had a taste of it the other day and I can safely say it is not a pleasant sensation.

I made jokes about it with the kids, asking for assurances that when I get to the point where I start forgetting to put my pants on and go wandering the neighbourhood, they’ll come and drag me back home and dress me.  Their response was along the lines of believing I should be free to do what I want and why stop me from entertaining everyone?

Little bastards …