Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Meat and Vegans

So, I should probably disclose to readers here that I am a vegetarian. I eat some animal products, I do try and remain conscious of what I am buying. I buy local eggs from local farms. I eat greek yogurt, but mostly I avoid dairy because I've never much cared for it. I use a soy-based margarine type of spread on most of my food and in my baking (except when butter is a necessary indulgence.)

Mostly, I try to eat more vegetarian and with those priorities because I think it is healthier. I've been keeping mostly vegetarian for years, and have noticed a dramatic reduction in the number of times that I've gotten heart burn over the course of a year.

I mean, also there was the years that my wife and I were fairly poor out of college. We ate a lot of chicken, and I just am totally burned out on that protein. I became interested in a vegan diet mostly because I was interested in trying new types of food. There may have been a brief moment where I wanted to do it for ethical reasons, but I certainly am not a proselytizer for vegan ethics. Some of the most interesting recipes to me have been vegan -- it can be a challenge but also a lot of fun. It also proved a way for me to learn about the foods of other cultures.

Meat is a thing I've been thinking a lot about lately. This isn't really a treatise on diets, ethics, and more. This is, actually, about parenting. A big facet of being a new parent in America is interfacing with the corporate medical establishment. I'm not bemoaning the loss of the "old time family doctor" making house calls with a black leather bag. I think that there are real benefits to the way we do things. I'm a pro-Science person. I have friends who work in medicine, and I trust their thoughts and knowledge on medical matters. But, the population of medical professionals is a huge one, and there is a lot of variance in personality and demeanor. I'm not sure we have this figured out at all, especially when it comes to the medical professionals who work with pregnant women.

The big issue is this: there are so many patients, and it seems, so many overworked medical professionals.

Being teachers, my wife and I have the benefit of the forced work stoppage that happens during the summer. I consider it beneficial, if not financially, then because we are able to get early appointments with doctors all summer. When you are the first person a doctor sees, or even early on in the day, there is a big difference from being the last person. Now that we've been back to work for a couple of months, the appointments have been later in the afternoon.

Since the fall season has begun, we've been forced to wait longer, testing our patience at the end of an already long work day. I want to say that we haven't been rude to any of the doctors. I don't think we have. But, I can tell you that we have had our share of doctors who clearly have not read my wife's chart. They are caught off guard when she tells them she has gestational diabetes, as if this is news. As if we didn't have several tests in their own labs.

That is unacceptable to me; more-so as a regular occurrence. If you are a father, and you've been through this situation then I imagine you felt a similar sense of  defensiveness over the well-being of your parenting-partner. You want to feel like they are receiving the absolute best medical care you can afford. But you are deceiving yourself when you tell yourself that while realizing that the doctor has no idea what you are talking about on an issue that is in your partner's chart. The word 'unacceptable' hardly placates the anger I feel about this. But it is unacceptable.

It is also unacceptable to let your first year med student (who we don't know) take my wife's measurements without her consent. It is unacceptable to allow a med student to do anything without first asking the patient. The idea that consent is somehow implied there is insanity to me.

I'm having a hard time abstaining from profanity in this post. Just thought you should know, dear reader.

Where I have to draw the line is when we're made to wait for a long time, and my wife is thrown into a panic because the doctor's bedside manner is so poor that it resembles more complete apathy. Pregnant people don't deserve apathy. I know of no people who are comforted by the lack of compassion or care provided by an overworked doctor. Coupled with an ignorance and persistent deafness when discussing work leave policies, I am placed into a rage where I really have to fight against losing my composure.

Again, the profanity.

I'm very protective of my wife. This is our first child. This is a big deal to me. I understand that to the doctor, we are really just 3:45pm-4:15pm.

But part of that job is also being a compassionate human being.

We aren't pieces of meat. On this stance I will not waiver.

So, what is the solution to that?  Unionizing doctors? I would think that would be the only way to ensure that they say fewer patients a day. I certainly think that they need fewer patients a day. I'm not under the impression that being a doctor is easy. I'm just saying, I don't appreciate the habitually lack of care that goes into these appointments. It is dehumanizing, and it is off-putting to feel like this person holds the health of your loved ones in their hands, and that they are somewhat indifferent about that fact.

Aside from the idea that doctors may be overworked, there is the fact that they wield an enormous amount of power, and they can leave patients feeling defenseless to argue. I'm sorry, but sometimes, Doctors are not right. That is a difficult thing for many of us who grew up with an idea of them as somehow infallible. I know a doctor isn't right when they don't ask my wife for consent to allow a medical student to do anything. I know a doctor isn't right when they assume they know what kind of stresses and rigors we face at work, without first asking, reading the file, or listening to what is said. That is just bad staff work, and we should expect more from medical professionals.

So my wife and I have been seeing other doctors since our uneasiness with our OB. We believe we have found one that we like, at least in so far as this doctor listens and seems supportive of doing what my wife needs. You wouldn't think that would be such a hard thing to get in a medical professional.

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