Please be forewarned that this post is a rant. A rant of epic proportions.
I live in the north of Israel. Much like in Canada (my motherland) in Israel universal health care is in place, and the level of treatment is generally quite high. This I glean from hearing about other people’s experiences. Thankfully I am healthy and only have to navigate the hell that is the health care “service” here infrequently.
Today I was supposed to have my first prenatal appointment with my new ob/gyn. My first women’s doctor for my last pregnancy is featured in the dicktionary next to the definition for “Asshole.” Never want to see that slimball again. Second doctor mysteriously went on sick leave never to return. Pity. She was great. Hope she’s ok. Third time’s a charm?
I am 17 weeks pregnant. I booked this appointment with lucky number three one month ago. I am not one for the medicalization of pregnancy and birth, but am also not out there on the frontiers of crunchy momdome, I felt like it was about time to see someone, and make sure everything is ticking away as it should. Two hours before my appointment, the doctors office called and cancelled. Bummer. Had to book this appointment a month in advance, and was really beginning to feel a bit anxious to check in and see that everything is alright, and they cancel. Awesome.
A little background on the lumbering dysfunctional mechanisms that comprise Clalit medical care. One has a health card and number, a user code and a password with which to book appointments online or through a central booking agency. There is little to no personal culpability. There is no calling the receptionist at your doctors office. Your doctor doesn’t even necessarily have an office. He/she travels from location to location, but you are encouraged not to visit them at more than one location for although all of your personal information and medical history is entered into the computer system, it is not centralized. So if you have your blood taken at one clinic but see your prenatal nurse at another location, she can’t access your results. How efficient. If you book an appointment online for, oh say a month from now because that’s the earliest appointment that exists, you can’t log back in and check for earlier appointments/cancellations until canceling your existing appointment. Getting Radiohead tickets is easier.
So back to the matter at hand.
Nearly in tears at having my long-awaited appointment cancelled, I ask the woman calling me what I am to do, explaining that I am in my second trimester and haven’t seen a doctor yet, and that through the system I can only book another appointment another moth in the future. Without. Word, she transfers me to someone else. “Shalom?” “Hello?” “Yes, I can hear you what can I do for you?” I don’t know?! No idea who I have been transferred to, what the story is here, I explain, from the beginning once again what my issue is, and she semi-resolves it by booking me an appointment for a week from now. Ok. Not bad. But there is the nagging concern that has been occupying a small corner of the back of my mind that even though I felt tons of movement previously, I have felt nothing for the past week and a half. Knowing that stress is one of the greatest problem makers in pregnancies and in life, I had kept this concern at bay with the resolution that I would be seeing he doctor. Today. But now I’m not. Now I have to wait another week. 18 weeks and no prenatal care. No movement. Starting to freak out a bit.
Decide to go and see another doctor closer to our home just to be sure that there is a heartbeat and movement. This little process involves it own lovely little set of acrobatics. If you don’t have an appointment (which I couldn’t have, not without canceling my re-appointment from above) you need to show up, ask the receptionist to see the nurse, wait for a long-ass time until the nurse shows up, decide by asking various strangers in the waiting room who happen to be in the vicinity of the nurses room if they are there to see the nurse too, so you know who you are to succeed, talk to the nurse, explain why you want to see the doctor, have her decide if your reason is valid, and then get referred back to the receptionist who will swipe your card, book you a same day appointment and then direct you to a machine where you use your card to access your appointment number. Then you wait until the doctor calls your number. Which doctor? Why Dr. Asshole of course! Which other doctor wouldn’t have ANY other appointments because he’s effectively made a name for himself as a prenatal terrorist?!
Ok. It’s ok. Deep breath. Just need to be sure baby has a pulse and I can leave. Enter. “Hello” “Didn’t you hear me call your number?” “Yes. Yes, I did.” Swipes card.
card across table. (Asshole!) Looks at me expectantly. Gulp. I explain why I have come. Who is my doctor? Where do I live? Have I moved? Why am I going to a doctor in a different region and not to him? Because I decided to?! “Yes.” “Fine, on the bed. There, you see?” Son screaming because he is old enough to know what happens at the doctors office, and he is afraid for himself, or for me, or for both. Thanks honey. I see a little blinking something on the fuzzy grey screen. “So, everything is ok?” “Well!” He is about to launch into a dramatic speech about how only rigorous prenatal testing, (which of course I have don’t none of because I am a bad person of faulty character) could possibly determine such a thing. I stop him before he get too excited about shutting my little plea for reassurance down. “There is a pulse?” I rephrase through clenched jaw. “You don’t see?!” Like its the most obvious fucking thing in the world. Like it would hurt to give someone a little sliver of calm or peace. He roughly pushes the monitor back, bumping the bed in the meantime. “Oh! I didn’t hit you, did I?” This creep clearly knows the difference between passive aggressive and just plain aggressive and on which side of that line the lawsuits begin to fall. “I’m fine.” Goes back to his desk. Look at him as he sits down. “Good luck” he says, completely deadpan. Thanks. Thanks a lot asshole.
I went in to seek a little bit of care and reassurance from a medical professional that my unborn baby is not in distress, and while I left with the information that he/she has a heartbeat, I also left in tears and in a state if heightened anxiety and very real anger.
Would it really hurt to build a little bit of personal responsibility and personal care into the health monolith? I am seriously considering suspending all prenatal care and just ‘going with God’ on this one because I cannot, will not, subject myself to that kind of inefficient, impersonal, impractical, rude, unprofessional and highly stressful “care” just because that is what is available. Fuck it.
Seriously longing for a state in which midwife prenatal care was even an option. Already have my beloved goddess of a mama midwife booked for the birth, but their care is private and only starts from week 36. What’s a woman to do?!
Comments, commiseration, and comfort most wholeheartedly welcomed.