The following post is part of the on-going “I went to the Doctor” series, which details first hand experiences of Christian Scientists and former-Christian Scientists who sought medical care or treatment outside of Christian Science.
Today’s post is by former Christian Scientist Bacon.
Having health insurance is still a very new thing for me (thanks, ACA!) and having only been to the doctor twice previously (with no insurance), I was more intimidated about the paperwork than anything else… especially when I showed up at my primary doctor’s office and found out the address on the insurance card was wrong and had to call and change it to their primary location. That was about a 15 minute hassle, but I was able to go in for what I guess, for most people, is a routine checkup. And, for the ladies, the pap smear.
I had a pap smear done in 2009 by a remarkably gentle, matronly sort of doctor whose bedside manner was fantastic. I barely felt anything. This round was by a younger general practitioner whose specialty was something other than easing the nerves of patients. The pap smear itself was an odd sort of prodding feeling, but on a scale from pleasant to unpleasant, it wasn’t much worse than unpleasant and at least, thankfully, very fleeting sensations.
At the time of the appointment, I also had a horrible cold. And, regrettably, I downplayed it. The doctor offered to prescribe antibiotics and I had foolishly declined, thinking that 3-4 nights of
constant nose-blowing and coughing was improvement… on the bright side, in order to have blood work done, I was required to fast overnight (12 hrs of no solids, then only water until a few hrs before the sample is drawn) and return in the morning. The morning visit was when I piped up and said “I should have taken your advice about the antibiotics” and they obliged. Three weeks of medication later, the sinus infection finally let up – but I had needlessly gone an extra day, prolonging the situation which hurt only myself.
One thing I have noticed about having been raised in CS is not only downplaying problems that I myself have, but also those of others. There’s the gut feeling that if you acknowledge your problem and verbalize it, others will affirm, confirm, and make the problem that much more real. And I never wanted to hear of anyone else’s problems lest I internalize, personalize, and manifest those issues myself. Yet CS doesn’t believe in contagion…… (unless it’s mental?)
Being my own advocate was something I was not prepared to do – not knowing how much of what kind of pain would require medical attention, and not knowing how to admit that I didn’t know how to handle symptoms, much less the doctor’s instructions (“what do you mean by take an over the counter antihistamine?”) …but with enough questions and patience, it’s possible to muddle through. And it’s ok to call back and say that you really should have emphasized your sinus infection instead of ignoring it. But these are the things that will be a steep learning curve, long after leaving CS, but hopefully things will get better.