What Every Ob-gyn Clinic Visitor Should Prepare Themselves For
As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, I need a visit to the doctor and affirmation about the state of my body from a certified professional once in a little while to keep my sanity. ‘Early Identification’ is the mantra I was told repeatedly, working on community health projects. I tend to identify lots of things in my body, very early in the morning. By the time I’ve fixed up an appointment with the clinic, I’m a nervous wreck thanks to WebMD. After I’ve spent hours dedicatedly working my way through each finger nail at the waiting room, and a few minutes talking to the doctor, I leave contently – either I got appreciated for looking into the concern quickly or dismissed for being concerned in the first place. But from a gynecologist’s clinic, I always leave angrily. If I were certain that kicking the desk at the reception wouldn’t leave me with a swollen foot, I would go for it. But that’s unlikely to be the case, so I spend my time seething over notes I’d like to leave behind to those at the clinic. These are a few samples:
To the receptionists, cashier, lab technician:
You probably deal with over a hundred clients a day, but ask me before you casually note down, tick off, or address me as ‘Mrs.’ I don’t have to be married to visit the clinic. Even if I were to flash a band, ask don’t assume that I want to be called Mrs, but that’s another subject altogether. Finally, I hope that someday you’ll learn from an English teacher like mine, that it’s not Mrs. Anita, rather Mrs. Rajendran, and that would be my mom, not me in this case.
To the first nurse, second nurse, third nurse, and the doctor’s assistant:
Don’t ask me what the problem is, or why I am here. I’m here to meet the doctor, and I’ll gladly let him/her onto my worries. If you hadn’t just screamed ‘UTI’ loud enough for the waiting hall to come to a standstill, so that the nurse across the long corridor can hear you right and hadn’t shamed the woman in question to walk as fast as she possibly could while everyone’s gaze rested on her, I would tell you. If I had the slightest hint that you’d be able to address my concern and prescribe a treatment, I would tell you. That’ll save me on my wallet and my watch. But you can’t, so I’ll wait for the doctor.
To the Mothers, Mothers-in-law accompanying pregnant women:
If you believe that pregnancy is solely a women’s issue and men should be kept comfortably away from the clinic (I don’t agree) or if you want quality mother/mother-in-law time with your pregnant ward, so be it. But don’t judge my partner or me for sitting next to each other, for holding hands, or for sharing a joke. Don’t point, don’t stare, don’t ask us to go sit elsewhere. He is my partner. That means half of everything, including accompanying me to the clinic. Moreover, he has some questions for the doctor, and most importantly, this involves both of us. So he will be with me. Maybe your daughter wants her partner next to her too, instead of you.
The clinic is not an exclusive women’s space, so I don’t get why all the fathers and the husbands are missing from the equation. If they do come, I must ask why they try to merge with the half-blue half-pink wallpaper (unquestionably the favourite colours of the new born boys and girls respectively) or wait a safe distance away from the ‘women of the family’ or even worse, huddle at the car park. Surely, don’t you need men to make the babies?
To the friends mom, very distant aunt, and the school teacher from long ago:
I’m on high alert at the clinic because of you. To your credit, I’ve not glanced at my phone for over an hour. I’ve spent my time watching the door to the clinic so I can spot you before you spot me. No, I didn’t forget to invite you to my wedding. I’m not married yet. I don’t know if I want to be. I’m here to meet the doctor, because I have a few concerns. Actually, stop convincing yourself that I’m here because I’m wayward and need an abortion. Even if that’s true, I’m not going to tell you about it. I didn’t bring my mother along because she doesn’t know I am having sex, and was afraid that the doctor would ask me in front of her. No, I’m not alone, but I got my partner to make a dash to the car so you don’t get the piece of gossip you’re looking for.
To the doctor:
Thank you for taking my concerns seriously, and patiently answering my questions. It’s rare to find a non-judgmental ob-gyn doctor who will also maintain confidentiality. But please, talk to my partner. He’s sitting right next to me. He’s not invisible, so look at him while answering his questions. Not at me, and definitely not at the file. Please help bring men into the conversation, because you can.
To all the women, men, girls and boys:
Better safe (sex) than sorry. Don’t shy away from a clinic for any reason. If you want to be there, you should – it’s your right to safe healthcare. You don’t have to be married to visit an ob-gyn clinic; you just need to be sexually active, have a vagina or both. Pregnancy and abortions are only two of the many things a gynecologist consults on. It’s as difficult to find a great gynecologist, as it is to find a supportive partner. You know you’ve got both when your partner goes along to the clinic, and the gynecologist converses with your partner!
(The writer has been to an Ob-gyn clinic for reasons ranging from itching of the ‘intimate’ area to a MTP, and has taken friends, sometimes forcibly, on multiple occasions. She chose to write anonymously because her parents read the newspaper and lives with the irony of it all.)