Friday, November 13, 2009

:: my soapbox

yesterday, i met my hero. please allow me to explain.

recently, i have been seriously struggling with my distaste for our medical system. and it's not just regarding insurance coverage. or access. it's the philosophy of medicine. it's the attitude of our physicians. and it's the regurgitated knowledge that is spewed to the public as fact.

in this day-and-age, available information is at an all time high. a person can sit down at the computer, pull up a search engine, list their symptoms and immediately receive "facts" that could diagnose them with anything from a minor vitamin deficiency, to severe cancer. the information, while seemingly empowering, is causing chaos. we've been programmed to believe what we read. what we're told. and the likelihood that anyone will take what their doctor tells them, and do research against it, is slim-to-none.

the frustrating thing is that doctors know this. there is little accountability. so many things are done unnecessarily--for the sake of saving the hospital/physician from a lawsuit, and no one questions it. we are a society of fear. a people who are conditioned to believe that without surgery, drugs, and procedures-- we'd surely be in a world of hurt.

now--i am not entirely against modern medicine. there are most definitely health problems, issues, and emergencies that require medical care---and thank God such advances have been made available. however, i believe we've advanced TOO far. we've completely disregarded our body's natural survival chip. along with all the natural, earth-given remedies that have been used for centuries--- and are still being used around the world. case-in point: when medication for a toe-nail fungus can lead to a long list of side-effects, including "sudden death"--i think i'll pass.

doctors are awfully quick to prescribe a drug that masks symptoms, instead of looking at the core of the problem-- possibly uncovering chemical, nutritional, or hormonal imbalances-- that are at the root of an issue. often--but not always-- things can be remedied a more natural way, with a little research and patience.

in my particular line of work, i see physician patience at the very rock-bottom of the priority list. if i had a nickel for every time someones water was artificially broke, or a poor young mother was whisked off to the OR for a cesarean section because the doctor (and i quote) just wanted to "get it over with"-- i could retire. Birthing has been yanked out of the mothers control to the point where, when introducing doctors/nurses to family, patients are opt to say "this is the dr/rn that delivered my baby". excuse me ma'am, but who was doing the pushing? YOU delivered this baby! take credit for the miraculous work you just did.

hospital labor and delivery is, so unfortunately, a conveyor belt. you arrive at the window. check in. get an IV. are placed on a monitor. and you lay in bed. where- more than likely- you'll stay till you deliver. of course, your contractions won't be fast enough, so you'll receive some pitocin (artificial hormone) through your IV to "help you along" /speed things up. then, when we REALLY need to "get things going" your water will be ruptured for you. an epidural or pain meds may be strongly suggested. which will relax you enough to rest. so your uterus rests too and contractions may decrease slightly. well we can't have that. more pitocin, please! should your baby get tired from all the stress and have a decreased heart rate-- you're being wheeled to the operating room for an emergency c/section-- a major abdominal surgery.

in the end- you have a beautiful baby, regardless. but how many birthing "crises" do we cause with our impatience and need for intervention. in most other countries in the world, 75% of births don't even occur in a standardized hospital, but at home--or at birthing centers. and they are no worse off because of it. america beats them all in infant and maternal death rates. something is SO wrong with this picture.

my frustrations have led me to research on becoming a certified midwife. doing so would enable me to work in a more natural environment-- and assist in safe, natural births. and yes-- i know--some women are at risk for complications. or their baby is coming too soon. or they're having multiple children at once. and they do require special observation and care. however, not every pregnant woman is an emergency. our bodies were made to do this.

so--i cannot begin to tell you the thrill i received when my patient last night was attempting to have a natural, vaginal birth after a c/section (VBAC). her attitude was phenomenal. she wanted to have a different birth experience than she had with her first baby---and she was entitled to it. there is an increased risk for having VBAC, so generally, labor is not allowed to go past 18 hours. this was carefully explained to the patient, and she understood the guidelines.

7 hours after admission, she was doing awesome. her contractions were strong and regular. her support system was amazing. her attitude remained great. and her baby's heart rate was textbook perfect. and now--it was 5:30 am. almost time for physician shift change. her doctor verbalized that he'd "like to see this done before he went home"--- so when he checked her progress and noted she hadn't changed "much", he brought her a consent form for another c/section, and told her that he didn't foresee her being able to pull off a natural birth. with tears streaming down her face, she looked at him and said "you told me i have 18 hours, and i want that time to do this". she refused to sign the consent form. now I was crying. i told her how proud i was that she stood up for herself. her and her baby were doing excellent, and there was no reason she couldn't let her body do its job.

i had to leave her at 7am, but when i called work to check on her, she had naturally delivered a 9 pound baby boy about 3 hours after i got home. from what i hear, Dr. Impatience ate a slice of humble pie, and congratulated the couple that evening.

i celebrated their victory over the system.

when doctors are necessary--they're REALLY necessary. but sometimes, they're just not. and i've made it my mission to educate myself, and others, on understanding the difference.

thanks for listening.


  1. Very very true! I definately share the frustration. I'm considering having a dula when I'm delivering, partly to be support for me but also to stand up for me when I'm at my weakest point, particularly should something unexpected happen.
    I really think midwifery would be such a rewarding career path & wonderful for you with the nursing experience that you already have! Definately put some deep thought into it!

  2. oh hooray! what a night/morning. am so happy for your lovely persevering patient. and i can only dream of having such a sweet support as you when i'm in the hospital bed someday (someday, Lord willing)!

  3. Am I overly emotional from experiencing too many traumatic episodes in my life or is everyone else crying too ?

    My word. You are an outstanding human being and a true inspiration in many different ways.

    Our medical system needs you. My biggest hopes are that people like you are not lost to it's madness.

  4. i'm so there with you! i was raised by a mother who stands with you on your soapbox. she had 2 kids in the hospital and 4 at home with a midwife! everything went great everytime! i hope i have some great nurses like you when it is my turn! :)