Back when I had Kiddo#1, I liked reading medical-type documents even though I’ve never worked in medicine. I’d learned from my mother not to just accept a doctor’s word for things and (unfortunately) my experience with doctors had borne out that most often they did what was best for the system rather than best for me or my baby.
My Patient Husband came with me to K1’s first checkup, and the doctor came into the room all smiles. As she examined the baby, she said out loud everything she was noting or not noting. I asked a couple of questions, and she gave some highly technical answers.
I was impressed. Very impressed. My experience with other doctors had led me to believe I’d get a pat on the hand and “Oh, sweetie, don’t you worry about that.”
The doctor left the room for a few minutes, and my Patient Husband looked through the chart she’d left behind.
Later, my Patient Husband said, “Do you know you have a PhD in molecular biology?”
I shot back, “Yeah, it goes really well with my doctorate in chemical engineering.”
He said, “In his chart, it says you have a PhD in molecular biology.”
All of a sudden it made sense: it made sense why the doctor had addressed all her technical explanations to me, why she’d narrated her examination, why she’d upped the complexity of the things she was talking about. Because I wasn’t a regular human: suddenly, I was a peer.
As to how that happened — it does sound like something I’d say, something I might shoot off if a nurse were treating me like an idiot (of which, I’m sad to report, there were many surrounding that birth.) “Yeah, well, having a PhD in molecular biology, I already kind of knew he needed to be fed.” If you’ve ever met me, you know I have a perfect deadpan.
In the defensive-medicine environment, the nurse dutifully wrote it down, and suddenly a doctor is treating a mom with respect, in direct opposition to how I’d been treated by every other medical professional to that point. (“Oh, you’re just a first time mom. Don’t worry yourself.” Followed a few hours later by, “Oh, you know, he DOES have a problem, and he’s going to have to be in the NICU for a few days.”) And eventually we did have to leave that medical practice because the culture of treating the mother like an inconvenient accessory to the child was just too pervasive, even if you have a PhD in molecular biology.
This isn’t really a funny story, not in the overall. I’ve since then made it a point to research things ahead of time and talk the doctors’ language. I’ve discovered that if you set the bar of the conversation very high, often they’ll meet you where they think you are. That’s the most important thing I learned from getting my PhD.