Monthly Archives: June 2010

And, partial birth abortion

I am feeling better enough to post a rant!

A friend posted a link on his Facebook page to this ridiculous distortion of an article on National Review Online, which accuses Supreme Court of the United States nominee Elena Kagan of distorting medical fact and the positions of ACOG regarding the so called “partial birth abortion” ban, when solicitor general for the Clinton administration.

He wrote “This is the woman who may have a lifetime seat on the most powerful Court in the United States” and linked to the article. Here is what I wrote in reply:

Thank goodness if she is appointed, which seems very likely.

She did not contradict the language in the ACOG draft at all. They said it was never the case that there was “no other option”. There are inferior procedures that are actually more dangerous to the mother, and more difficult for the practitioner. Yes, they were options, and are now the only option. She suggested language that said an intact D & X may still be the best option, which was obviously indicated by the rest of ACOG’s position. As a member of ACOG, I am completely comfortable with that.

I think it is disgusting that this rare and difficult procedure that was only used in the already most difficult of cases has been politicized like this. And, now is unavailable to doctors. Physcians can still perform later term abortions where (and when) it is legal and indicated; they just can’t use this safer procedure. This ban had nothing to do with gestational age, just technique.

In fact, a D & X is a procedure that is psychologically much kinder to the mother in this difficult circumstance, because she can hold the intact fetus, (or baby, if you use the vernacular), which was most likely incompatible with life on its own or with her ability to survive until it could be viable, and have a proper mourning period. Physicians are now forced to dismember the fetus in utero before removing it, making this impossible. I hope you realize this is the implications of the ban.

I am assuming, considering what I know of your other political leanings, you are not generally a fan of government telling physicians what procedures they should use, based on politics. ACOG clearly was opposed to the ban, and her language in NO WAY misrepresented their position at all.

This is completely ironic considering that science and medical opinion was completely usurped in many cases in the Bush administration. Look into the history of trying to get emergency contraception approved for over the counter use, for example. I hope you were as adamant about respecting ACOG’s positions then.

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Today: shower head. Tomorrow: the gallbladder

I am still trudging along without Internet access at home. I am typing this post with one finger on my phone.

I am doing OK. Which is pretty great, considering it’s been a long time since I’ve been OK. I am pretty proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. I built a lingerie dresser. I built a five shelf bathroom unit without instructions. I installed a new shower head! I have also kept up with laundry and dishes, swiffered everything, and have even had guests over!

But, I went by my medical school today and got a wake up call that I need to refocus on that, too. It’s not hard to keep up when I’m a pseudo stay at home mom. I forgot to get my third Hep B shot. Whoops. I start my surgery rotation Thursday. I hope I can get it and all my immunizations paperwork tomorrow.

When I went by the school today to try to get a letter from them to bring to the school district to get my kids reassigned to new schools, I have never felt so out of step with the rest of my medical school class. They are stressed out because they just took their step 1 boards and are gearing up for rotations. I listened to them complain about how stressed and overwhelmed they felt with bemused, incredulous silence. I wish I had time to worry about my upcoming rotations.

Well, anyway, I will be a real medical student again soon. Cholecystectomy city. Wish me luck.

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The hardest thing I’ve ever done

Well, enough avoiding the subject. I have hinted at big things going on. I have griped about mysterious difficulties in my life. And, I have let this blog languish in silence as I have barely survived without internet access in my new home. *twitch twitch*

I have just done the hardest thing I have ever done. I have taken the MCAT, twice, once five years after taking organic chemistry, and Step 1 of COMLEX and the USMLE. I survived “hell week” at my midwifery school, which involved attending every delivery and clinic for a week. I was so tired by the end I was sleeping on the clinic floor as people stepped over me. I have made it through the first two years of medical school, during some of which I was also pursuing an MPH. I won one of two research fellowships for a full tuition scholarship for my medical school. I also gave birth to two children without any anesthesia, the first with Pitocin augmentation, strapped to a fetal monitor and flat on my back, with three hours of pushing through an inflamed cervical lip. I have quit smoking cigarettes after a pack a day habit.

(Trigger warnings)

None of these were the hardest thing I have ever done.

Last week, I moved out of my house.

I left an abusive relationship.

I stopped blogging about my personal life a long time ago. On the surface, I told myself it was because I wanted to protect the privacy of my family. But really, it was because I didn’t have anything positive to say. My first husband, and the father of my first child, left me for one of my closest friends. That was hard. I started dating the brother of a friend a mere six weeks after my devastating separation. There may have been red flags, but since I had no experience with abuse, I didn’t see them. And, the real abuse didn’t start until we were living together, and I found out I was pregnant.

He never hit me. Other than a “dope slap” and some brief rough handling of my older son early in our relationship that I said I would leave him over if I ever saw it again, he never hit the kids.

But, the emotional and verbal abuse was almost constant. At first, I was completely bewildered and horrified. I still remember the first time it really happened – I had just found out I was pregnant, and I was sitting next to him at the computer. I was talking to him about something really inconsequential: Michael Jackson was under suspicion, again, for molestation, and I was musing how the song “Man in the Mirror” may be about him literally begging himself to stop molesting. My then fiance turned to me, and laid into me. Asked me why I never shut the fuck up, told me how irritating I was, and how sick of my constant babbling he was. I was about 45 seconds into the conversation. Not that it would have been OK if I was half an hour or three hours into the conversation, but I remember how shocked I was because it didn’t even make any sense.

I ran out of the house, jumped on my bike, and rode away, blinded by tears. I called my best friend, who was living in Toronto at the time. “I am marrying a monster,” I said. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know what happened. No one had ever talked to me like that, much less someone I was supposed to marry in a month. She told me to come to Toronto. I was in Miami. It wasn’t really a practical solution.

My fiance found me, apologized, and promised it would never happen again.

When he cursed me out on the steps of the chapel before my father’s funeral, I told him to sit in a separate pew, and that we would be getting a divorce when we got home.

That was five years ago.

We have been through five therapists. He has been on two medications. But, excuse my language, there is no cure for asshole. There is no pill for a bully that has been indoctrinated by generations of abusive bullies.

I have been in the Vagina Monologues for three years. One year I co-produced the performance, and have contributed in raising more than $10,000 for our local domestic violence charity. I blog about feminist issues. At school, I was afraid people would see through me, know I was a fake. They would know that my husband screamed at me about the way I prepared dinner as my five year old hid under the dining room table. They would know that I was staying when I knew I should go. At the same time, people in my life, including my mother, told me that I couldn’t leave him. I had rotations and residency ahead. I already had one divorce and one custody arrangement with one ex-husband. My husband and his family (who also took turns abusing me when we were together) told me that they were normal. My standards were too high. And I better not break his heart. In fact, the chance I might break his heart is why his father supposedly treated me with such naked hostility and hatred. Or, it was because I didn’t clean up enough. Or, because I didn’t have a job on top of going to medical school. Or, I was just too big for my britches.

I told myself if I got the research fellowship, I would use that year to transition into a separation and divorce. He begged me to stay. His new therapist begged me to give him a few more months. The research fellowship ticked away, and his addiction and abuse problems did not improve. I told him it was really over this time, and he asked for one more, one hundredth last chance. I left for the ACOG Annual Clinical Meeting. I came home. He told me he owed $400 to his dealer. I wrote him a check to pay him back, on the condition he didn’t get any more. He got more. He got red in the face and shook visibly with rage the next evening when I asked him to write his medical insurance number on a form his insurance company had been sending once a week for a month.

I told him it was over. He begged me to take him back until one in the morning. I sobbed, my entire insides screaming “Just take him back” with terror. Against every afraid cell in my body, I reached down into the depths of courage I never knew I had. I said no.

I packed the entire house myself, often with him snarling and cursing at me. I had to call my mother to pick the kids up twice because he was screaming at me and manipulating the kids. He and his mother stood in my driveway and yelled together and called me a liar in front of the children.

I have been in my new house since Thursday.

I am facing rotations, residency and a medical career as a single mother of two boys, and it will still not be the hardest thing I have ever done.

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News update

I hate packing.

That is all.

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Invasive abortion law is vetoed!

(Trigger warning, description of forced medical procedures)

Governor Charlie Crist of Florida vetoed Florida HB 1143, which would require transvaginal ultrasound (also known as the affectionately as the “dildocam”) for women seeking abortion in Florida, above and beyond what was medically necessary (which would be more likely a much less invasive transabdominal ultrasound if needed for dating purposes). In fact, many women consider being forced to have a vaginal procedure against their will as medical rape.

Gov. Crist said:

“This bill places an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. Individuals hold strong personal views on the issue of life, as do I. However, personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary. In this case, such action would violate a woman’s right to privacy.”

I was one of the many Florida voters who emailed and called to urge for this bill to be vetoed.

Charlie Crist was elected to governor as a Republican. I have been a fan of his since his election. He has continuously been a moderate who is highly practical and responsive to the state’s will and needs. He is running for Senate now, but will be running as an Independent, due to a far right tea party challenger.

I hope this veto helps him with the moderate and liberal vote. I will be voting for him. Sorry, Kendrick Meek, but Crist continues to deliver.

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Magic dust

I don’t usually do the mommy blogging thing (not that there’s anything wrong with it!), but I wanted to share a sweet story from last night.

Five year old Z came into my room in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, because he had a bad dream about werewolves. I gave him hugs, reassured him it was just a dream, talked him into going pee, and tucked him back into bed safely.

So, last night, as I was putting him to bed, I said “I have something for you. Here is some magic dust,” and I dumped some imaginary magic dust into his hand. “Keep it in your magic pocket. It makes any dream monsters explode into a firework.”

He looked at me doubtfully. “That’s not real magic dust.”

If I’m one thing, I am quick on my feet. “That’s right!” I said brightly. “Of course it isn’t. It only works against monsters that aren’t real.”

He bought it. Whew!

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Stay tuned

The tinfoil hat kids are getting out of school. Today is S’s last day of elementary school, and Z’s last day of preschool. Big transitions! *sniff*

And, we will be moving during the next week. Please wish us all good luck with the changes! I will be ranting full force again, soon.

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Excellent article on female sexual dysfunction

Please go check out part one of a series on female sexual dysfunction on K’s Feminists with FSD site. Like me, stay tuned for part 2. This post covers the history of statistics on female (and male) sexual dysfunction, as defined and discussed in a landmark article in JAMA, Sexual Dysfunction in the United States.

One of the good points she makes is:

According to Sexual Dysfunction in America, there are seven symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Keep in mind though, the authors did not factor in the degree of symptom severity, and did not factor in how individuals felt about their sexual problems. (Some people have difficulty maintaining an erection or researching orgasm, and are comfortable with that.)

Go read the whole thing!

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My first death threat!

I have gotten my share of hostile comments, but I think I have gotten my first death threat. I considered not letting it through the spam filter, but I decided to let it stand in all its hostile, angry glory.

Funny, I thought my first comment wishing death to me and my children would come from an anti-choice troll. Ironically, this seems to be from a childfree, also anti-choice but anti-choice in a different way, troll. I have always thought it was B.S. when people say being attacked from both sides means you must be doing something right. I am still not sure if it’s the case that I am doing something right, but at least I look better than these balls of hate.

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Physicians’ attitudes and knowledge influence their practices – who knew?

My data from the KALI questionnaire is shaping up nicely. I guess it isn’t a big surprise, but, at least in the group I have interviewed, their knowledge about and attitudes toward labor and delivery interventions do seem to influence their reported practice patterns. And, as recent research indicates, practice patterns don’t necessarily follow the current body of evidence, expert opinion, or professional organizational guidelines, although many do. As of right now, I will most likely be looking at the associations between obstetricians and gynecologists’ knowledge, attitude, practice, professional guidelines and existing evidence on four interventions: episiotomy, elective cesarean, doulas, and upright positioning in the second stage.

I have more data on more aspects and more interventions, but I think this will make for the cleanest, most easily explained and supported outputs (e.g. poster and paper). I may use some of the other data on barriers, autonomy, VBAC, litigation, demographics, etc., in the future in other projects.

And, since I promised more poop jokes, I’ll have you know I was wandering around the house today singing Surfin’ Bird by the The Trashmen with the word “turd” substituted for bird. Yeah, I’m mature. At least the kids weren’t home, so I won’t be getting that phone call from school.

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