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The Gynecologist's Office May Be The Most Unwelcoming Place On Earth, Lacking Any Compassion Whatsoever

Natali_Mis. Getty Images.

SHOCK GASP Gynecologist?? Vaginas?? I thought those were only for sex!

A little over a month ago, I had the pleasure of hosting Chicks in the Office alongside Ria for an episode, and the topic of the gynecologist came up. We had a long conversation about how for some reason, one of the most sensitive and honestly, scary, appointments you can go to as a woman is the gynecologist. It's an almost universal experience - you're uncomfortable, you're having cold, metal instruments inserted into your body (yes they have actual medical purposes, not just for porn), you're getting your boobs felt by essentially a stranger, and you're likely worried about the outcome. So much can be wrong - cysts, endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, CANCER, it's a lot to think about. Especially for someone like me, who has been taking birth control since they were 15 years old (like most women my age have been for one reason or another.)

We talked about how the major issue with the gyno, is that they completely lack bedside manner or compassion. If you call up your doctor and try to make an appointment, and you are NOT pregnant, you're lucky if you can get one within the next two months. Gynecologists will always, and forever, prioritize pregnant women over anyone else which feels…a little ridiculous to me honestly. I understand there needs to be more attention on a pregnancy, but does that mean my health is secondary? 

It's always the same - they ask you the typical "doctor" questions, how often do you work out, what is your diet like, do you smoke/drink, and have you noticed anything wrong lately. Once you arrive at "tell me what's wrong," you would assume, the doctor would approach the situation as a professional, ready to take your physical feelings seriously and without judgement. In my life, I have only ever been to see female gynos. I would assume AS WOMEN, they would understand how much this all sucks, and as I'm in a cold, sterile room, naked, I'm putting a lot of trust and vulnerability out there. For some reason, in my life experience, this has never once been the case.

On the podcast I explained how my last trip to the doctor, which was a very long time ago (too long), I had an awful experience. While my examination was taking place, the doctor was asking me about my family history with cancer, which I then explained to her I did in fact have a history. As I explained what exactly that history was, she stopped the exam, and began to argue with me over the "type of cancer" I said was in my family. She became angry with me, continuously insisting I was incorrect. I ended up asking for the appointment to end (mind you, all of this happened while I had a freezing speculum inside of me) and I left and called my mom crying. I haven't been back to the gynecologist since then. 

After our long convo on CITO, we asked the listeners to suggest any gynecologists they may know who are kind, understanding, and erred on the side of treating you with "kid gloves." I've had a lot of hormonal issues for the past year or so, throwing me into unexpected mood swings and a LOT of tears. I cry at a lot of things, but this is another level. I've had a lot more pain during my period and migraines that will take me out for 3 days at a time. I've come to find out this has been happening to a lot of women my age, and I've been seeing endless reports on the extended use of birth control, etc. It's high time I get it taken care of, because I know it's not normal at all. 

I was flooded with recommendations from the CITO listeners, and I started to feel hopeful. I found a doctor with rave reviews, and I called to make the appointment. Maybe she would even give me a lollipop at the end! 

While making the appointment, which did seem a bit hurried and inconvenient to the receptionist at first, we discussed for about 10 minutes what my concerns were. She then asked me how I had heard of them, and I told her about my traumatic gyno experience and how I had been referred to their practice because of their reputation of being kind and helpful. The receptionist loved this, assured me that was true of the doctor I chose, and that I would be really happy to meet with her. She then asked if I was pregnant, to which I said no, and then I asked for the next available date. This was February 10th, and the earliest available appointment for me was today, March 23rd at 230pm. "Wow, barely more than a month out! I really got lucky!" 

So, for the last 41 days I have been hyping myself up for this appointment. It won't be like last time, they will help you figure out what could be wrong, they'll help fix it, it'll all go great. I checked the calendar appointment nearly every single day to make sure I knew where I was going, how long it would take to get there, everything to make certain I wasn't going to miss this or bail on it because I couldn't handle going. I took notes over the past month and a half about everything I wanted to address so we could go through it quickly, I filled out all of the paperwork ahead of time online. Today was the day, I didn't even go into the Barstool office for fear of not being able to leave on time. Normally you'd try and get to the doctor a few minutes early. Of course it's raining, my train was moving slow, and it looked like I was going to walk in at exactly 2:30. At 2:25, I called the office to let them know I was 4 blocks away and would be walking in right at 2:30. The (now annoyed) receptionist said "Okay, but you have a 15 minute grace period." I said no problem, I was literally right around the corner. 

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As I arrived, at exactly 2:30, I was told "oh, your grace period has ended. Your appointment was at 2:15. You'll have to reschedule." I checked my calendar invite, it said 2:30. I told her this, and she basically just shrugged. "I can't push the doctor's day, she has back to back appointments and needs to leave early." So, 15 minutes in the middle of the afternoon will mess up an entire day. Noted. 

I did what any mature, rational adult would do - started crying, refused to reschedule with them, and left. 

I understand that people need to stick to a schedule. Doctors have lives too. Appointments are hard to make. But after everything I told them, all of the mental preparation I did, and just the general anxiety of it all - where is the compassion? What about the rest of my appointment? If I had arrived at 2:15, which I would have if that had been my appointment time, does that mean that my time is already going to be cut short by this woman needing to leave early? What about the other 45 minutes in the 1 hour appointment? I could've rattled of EVERYTHING in 5 minutes. Get some quick advice, take some bloodwork, disassociate through the vaginal exam and swabbing, and out the door. If they can do that in an Emergency Room in 15 minutes, why can't it be done in 45 at the gynecologist? 

Now I'm back home, pouting on the couch and writing this blog to make myself feel better, trying to work up the courage to start this entire fucking process over again.  Maybe if I had been pregnant, they could find a way to "squeeze me in." Maybe if I stood there and demanded to be seen, I would have been. But no, my horrible perception of this entire branch of medicine continues to run rampant through my brain, and will continue to do so. 

Do I give the office another try? To be fair, the doctor herself didn't blow me off like this. She really does have a great reputation. But do I want to be somewhere that feels like I'm not important enough to make time for, when you had SCREWED UP THE APPOINTMENT TIME IN THE FIRST PLACE? I'm at a loss.