For the past few days I have been on a mission. I have been trying to find a new gynecologist and have discovered that, in New York, the perfect female gynecologist is as difficult to procure as the perfect New York apartment. Also, the process feels hauntingly similar. I have been sending desperate emails to friends asking if they have any tips and I have spent way too much time scouring the recesses of the internet Yelping, reading HealthGrades.com, and as a last resort, Googling various combinations of terms like “gynecologist, holistic, NYC.”
This search has led me to discover that most of the amazing gynecologists don’t take my insurance (I can now say with confidence that the top 5 Yelp rated gynecologists sure don’t). Today in a moment of sheer desperation I found myself seconds away from ordering that kind of terrifying and also totally amazing at home cervix self-examination kit (complete with speculum!) because I was running short on patience and I figured at least that way I could get some sort of overview of what’s going on.
But, at home speculums aside, this search has caused me to think back on my previous healthcare providers and has brought me on a rather interesting trip down memory lane, a reproductive version of “This Is Your Life” if you will. And as I look back on all the lovely healthcare specialists I have known over the years; out of all the Planned Parenthoods I have visited and all the OB/GYNs I have seen, I realize that my most important reproductive healthcare professional, the one who truly made me understand and love my insides, was an ultrasound tech.
About four years ago my gynecologist (a certified MD and holistic practitioner, the gynecological dream until she moved out of state) sent me for an ultrasound when she suspected I may have an ovarian cyst. It turns out she was right (she was a genius) and so began my year and a half of bi-monthly ultrasounds and my best medical relationship to date.
During this period of “watchful waiting,” I got to know my ultrasound tech and, since there wasn’t too much change in my condition and none of the typical baby stuff to discuss, we usually talked about her week. Over time I asked her more and more questions about her work, and the pros and cons of looking inside so many ladies.
She told me about all of the amazing connections she had made. She explained the joy she got from dealing with repeat patients, people she knew by name and parents who had been with her for two or more children. She said she loved watching their eyes light up when they first discovered the gender of their child, or heard its heartbeat. She spoke passionately about all of the life she had the privilege of watching develop and how many years (it was up to fifteen when I knew her) she had happily spent on the job.
She also told me about the not so great parts of her job. She explained what it felt like to discover that a child no longer had a heartbeat. She said while she dealt with miscarriages often, she was still often affected by the loss. She then told me the story of a patient she had, a woman who had been trying to get pregnant for several years. This woman miscarried ten times before she stopped trying. On her last attempt, it was my tech who delivered the bad news. The two of them had grown close and this woman didn’t want to have to wait for the doctor to tell her what she already suspected. My ultrasound tech explained how she took this woman’s hands in her own and the two of them cried together, for the last time (as she relayed this to me, I was basically doing everything I could not to sob during its telling).
After the removal of my cyst, I saw my tech two more times. My post-surgical ultrasound was a bit of a reunion for the two of us and after some general pleasantries and a quick medical catch up, she began my scan. I grew tense, worried that more cysts had appeared, and after what felt like a very long time, she delivered the news.
She smiled and told me I was the owner of two healthy, cyst-free ovaries, both of which were fully functional. But the best was yet to come. She asked me if I would like to look at my ovaries and, for the first time, she turned the screen. She showed me my ovaries one-by-one and explained what I was seeing. I was (once again) in tears. They were gorgeous.
Healthcare providers like this make the difference. Thinking back on this experience reminded me of how vitally important it is to be able to have a doctor you trust with your body and, as I continue my search for the right OB/GYN, I remain grateful to have been looked after by someone who truly loved what they did.