(Advance warning - there may be some TMI here, so if you don't like talk about periods and blood and lady-parts, you might want to skip this one.)
My husband's employer changed our insurance last year from Blue Cross to Aetna, and, as a result, we can't use any of our old doctors anymore. In that time, my anemia has been a recurring problem (one that was diagnosed by my old doctor, but the insurance changed soon thereafter and I was never able to do follow-up with her) and my blood pressure has been steadily climbing. I know I need to get treated for these things, but that means breaking in a new doctor.
I once had a doctor look over my paperwork and see that I had attended a local liberal arts college and was also employed as an optician. He said, and I quote, "I've always said a degree from that place wasn't worth anything," insulting both my education and my career in one shot!
I had another who was a great doctor but was also totally nuts. She and a friend of mine travelled in the same social circles and I got to hear all about her insane love affairs, which were all dramatic and soap opera-y. Finally she lured her own receptionist away from her husband and children, and then suddenly decided to quit private practice, and the general wisdom was that she was growing tired of trying to keep her sexual orientation a secret from her patients. She always liked to chat after my exams, during which she had ripped apart the paper garment that was only covering my top half, talking about this and that as I sat there shivering and attempting to wrap the shreds of paper around my bare chest.
Now, in the last 6 to 8 months, I have been having irregular periods. Like, sometimes every two weeks, and never longer than 23 days - when I used to be like clockwork. Then Saturday I woke up with a sharp, stabbing pain in my lower left side, generally where I think of my ovary as being. I ignored it - as I always do with any kind of pain - and we took the kids to the mall. I was sore and very, very tired while we were there, and I took a long nap as soon as we got home. When I got up, the pain had increased and I was too uncomfortable to do anything but sit perfectly still.
The next day I was still sore, but it wasn't as bad, and today is much better. My period started last night as well.
So, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and call a gynecologist this morning, picking an office out of the list from the Aetna website. By some miracle, someone had just cancelled, so I was able to get an appointment for just an hour later. I kissed the kids, waved bye to the sitter, and off I went.
Of course I waited forever, lightheaded and sweating from another heavy period. When I finally got in, it turned out I was seeing a nurse practitioner instead of an M.D., but, okay, whatever. I began telling her about my irregular periods and she dismissed that with the immediate diagnosis that I am getting older (39!) and I'm probably "peri-menopausal." Okay. Then I explained about the pain, but she interrupted me with a condescending talk about "mittelschmerz" and what happens when you ovulate. Then she said, "And since you just ovulated, you should expect to see your period now in about 14 days." I told her she needed to check the chart because I clearly stated that my period arrived THE NEXT DAY. Then, without missing a beat or acknowledging that perhaps her initial certainty may have been a bit hasty, she ordered a sonogram while trying to sell me on the Mirena I.U.D.
My husband wanted me to find another doctor right away, but I'm going to go ahead and get the sonogram and wait for her to call me with the results. And though I really hope I just had a particularly painful ovulation and that my crazy periods are just age-related, there is a part of me that hopes something shows up on the sonogram so that when she calls to tell me about it, I can go, "But you said I was just ovulating! Mittelschmerz! MITTELSCHMERZ!"