Monday, April 20, 2009

Medical Records

I just read my medical records from my pregnancy with Rachel. They use some pretty strange wordings. They described her delivery as normal and spontaneous.

It's like I woke up that morning thinking, "Today is a pretty normal day. Oh! I think I'll have a baby a little later on! That will shake things up!"

And I was happy to learn that all sponges/sharps were accounted for. Phew. Because the last time a scalpel was left inside me...ew, no.

I was admitted and examined at 3:31 PM. My "admittance history" was completed at 3:52 PM. Rachel was born at 5:22 PM. Yeah, that did go fast, for a "22 year old Para 1."

Wow. I think I know more about myself now than I ever really wanted to know. I'm going to stop reading now and just pass them on to Dr. Tarek. After all, I have no idea what my AFI or GA BPD are. These will prove much more useful in his hands, I'm sure.

Our plan for this pregnancy is to get to the hospital before we have the baby. Dr. Baxter chastized me for waiting so long to come in with Rachel and warned me that if I didn't get in sooner with the next one we'd probably have an accidental home birth on our hands.

Truthfully I'm a little worried about that. Or worse, having the baby on the way to the hospital. The hospital we're planning on having the baby at is in Roda, a little island in the middle of the Nile. It isn't that far away; it's only like 6 or 7 metro stops. The only upside I can think of is that we wouldn't have to battle traffic the whole way there if we rode the metro. And I'd probably be offered a seat if I really looked like I was about to spontaneously deliver a baby. And it only costs a pound to ride. We could save a ton of money.

Andrew is dreaming of catching the first taxi on the street, giving him like 50 pounds, and telling him to get us to the hospital as soon as possible.

That is not something I've ever dreamed of. What is he thinking? Has he even been in a cab here? They're nasty and uncomfortable and smell bad--no place to spontaneously give birth. And 50 pounds is way over-paying.

Obviously the method of getting to the hospital has yet to be established, but we're not really all that worried about it yet considering we only enter the second trimester tomorrow. 13 weeks down, 27 left to go. Or thereabouts. I'm definitely looking forward to having more energy and peeing less.

I'm totally rambling, but I just wanted to say that my friend Kristin had her baby on Saturday. [I caught Kristin's bouquet at her wedding and a few months later married Andrew. That's just a random fact that has nothing to do with this post. At all.] I guessed on the 16th that she would have the baby on her husband's birthday (the 18th) and she did. You might consider it cheating to guess the date she'd have her baby on after she was overdue, but I think it's completely legitimate. She wasn't going to be induced until tomorrow so I could have guessed wrong. And I'll bet she is very happy that she had the baby on the day I guessed and not later, otherwise she might still be pregnant.

Anyway...I kept a few notes about this pregnancy from before we were telling so that I wouldn't forget because some rather ironic and strange things happened.

I knew I was pregnant before we actually found out. Andrew didn't believe me, but I knew it. I knew it days before a pregnancy test would actually have worked. For some reason instead of buying a pregnancy test and holding onto it for when it would work, we waited. Maybe Andrew didn't think I had enough restraint to wait long enough and would waste the test in my futile attempts to prove to him that I was pregnant.

Finally, ye olde testing day came and I begged Andrew to buy a test for me at the pharmacy.

"Can't," he said simply.

"Why not?" I whined.

As luck would have it, the first day that we could viably test to see if I really was pregnant there was a national pharmacy strike and all pharmacies were, therefore, closed. For a week. I sat at home all day stewing over the fact that we'd have to wait a whole nother week. As if that would have killed me. I can be horribly impatient sometimes.

Andrew surprised me, though, when he came home from school with a pregnancy test in hand. He's always full of surprises. When he got off the bus he saw that a pharmacy near our house was open. Apparently the pharmacies were opening at random hours so that people could rush in and buy their necessities (like heart medication...and pregnancy tests).

I used it the very next morning. And it showed up negative. So I went back to bed.

Andrew woke up about an hour later and woke me up again.

"Are you going to take the test?" he asked, excitedly.

"I already did," I said.

"And...?" he asked.

"It was negative." I answered casually.

"And you're okay with that?" he asked.

I was upset, sure. I even cried a little. But I was still pretty confident that I was pregnant so mostly I was just a little baffled that the test was negative. I told him that we'd wait a week and try again. Oddly enough, the week-long pharmacy strike was called off that day. So it only ended up lasting one day--the one day that we wanted so desperately to find out whether or not I was pregnant. How ironic.

We bought two tests a few days later and used those a little less than a week later. They both showed up positive. Getting those two lines on the pregnancy test is always a little surreal. With Rachel I was excited and terrified at the same time and I expected to feel similarly this time around. Instead I felt vindicated. It was a wonderful I-told-you-so moment.

Our hunt for an OB/GYN started right then. Dr. Tarek has been haranguing us to get his hands on my medical records since the first time we stepped foot in his office, which was a different experience...

I hate having pelvic examinations, as I imagine most women do. But I suppose they're a necessary evil.

In America I was always shown to a room, handed a sheet, and a nurse would tell me to undress. And then she'd leave the room and let me get ready. Dr. Baxter would knock before he'd come in with the nurse and it was all very modest and comfortable. At least as comfortable as something like that can be.

Here, a little less comfortable but equally modest, I suppose. There was a dressing screen dividing the room. I stepped behind the screen with the nurse and she held up a sheet.

"Take off." She said, nodding her head toward my lower half.

She sounded brusque, but I don't think she was meaning to. She just doesn't have a strong enough grasp on English to be more prolific. Still, it didn't sound like I should argue with her, so take off I did.

While I was doing so she began wrapping the sheet around me. Modesty is highly valued here, even in the gynecologist's office. I would have felt more modest, though, being alone behind the curtain and not having her cover me up while I was trying to strip down. After she had sufficiently covered every inch of skin, she helped me up onto the examination table and proceeded to strap the sphygmomanometer to my upper arm. I thought for sure she would be taking my blood pressure herself, but she didn't. Nurses here don't really do much of anything. I'm fully convinced they have no medical training.

Even I know how to use a sphygmomanometer. We all learned how to in the Community Health class I took in grade nine. I took Community Health instead of a regular health class because I'm a socialist and I was raised in a social democracy and we do things socially. Truthfully it was really just a regular health class but I couldn't convince my counselor of that when we moved down to the States so I had to take health again in grade 10.

"Community health," she informed me, "Is vastly different from personal health."

Heaven forbid I be trained in First Aid in addition to knowing how the reproductive cycle works. Those scary socialists! Training their teenagers in CPR!

Anyway, instead of the nurse or myself taking my blood pressure, Dr. Tarek joined us behind the curtain. He was the one who took my blood pressure, which he announced as perfect. Not that I'm bragging or anything but I'm perfect. I have perfect blood pressure.

And it's written down on my "pregnancy card." That's right. I already have a copy of all my medical records here. I'm supposed to "keep it with me at all times." I thought those instructions were a little strange, but they completely explain why Dr. Tarek thought it was odd that I had never seen my charts from my previous pregnancy.

But now I have. And I had perfect blood pressure back then, too. I know I said that I wasn't keen on reading my own medical records, but at least all I have are the records of the tests that I took. I'm sure you're not interested in knowing that I have in my possession the actual slide from my most recent Pap smear. Seriously. I don't know what the clinic expects me to do with it. I think it's part of my "pregnancy card" or something but I certainly don't plan on keeping it with me at all times, no sir. I don't know anyone who carries that around.


  1. :) Nobody carries that around with GOOD reason. I'm so excited for you to be right in line with me, although you should know I've started peeing MORE instead of less. I've replaced all of my puking trips with peeing trips. I hope it's better for you!

  2. How interesting. I never got a pelvic exam in Syria when I was pregnant, not even once. That was fine with me, really.

    But I didn't get a pregnancy card, either. I'm jealous! :)

  3. Actually, don't you think it is a little bit more "free" to have your own medical records rather than having them held hostage by a doctor, and then when you request to change doctors, you have to ask for your records, but you never really see seems kind of really democratic, maybe uber-democratic, for people to have their own records. Kind of cool, I think.

  4. Are you talking about Dr. Jae Baxter? If so, that's who delivered Jessica. Weird.

  5. @ Amy -- That's because you're actually hydrated now that you've stopped puking your guts out. You're not peeing more, you're peeing the normal amount. And, I'm rather glad that you've stopped throwing up all the time because reading your blog was making me feel so sad for you!

    @ Bridget -- Lucky!

    @ Mom -- I think so. I mean there were some things that I was never told that I wondered about. Like my degree of tear and the circumference of Rachel's head. It would have just been nice to know. And I think that we should have access to our records whenever we want. It would make switching doctors so much easier. I personally think they should all be electronic...

    @ Sara -- I am talking about Dr. Jae Baxter. How funny. :) Good to know he's still in business after 11 years...