my depression sucks but its mine to choose

Part 2 of Many

From my last post, I might have made it sound like I’m totally standing up for my health and I have the perfect care providers and everything’s all honky dory. Sorry if I gave you that impression. This particular horror story (while small) happened just a couple months ago.

I’m at the doctor’s office to have my birth control removed. We’re going to have another child.

The precept breezes in and glances through my chart. They go through the standard questions about vices which I’ve already answered to the nurse and to my attending. No, I don’t smoke. Yes, I drink a little wine but that stops today.

I’ve never met the precept. She’s there to supervise the procedure. She says, “Because of your age, you’re also going off the anti-depressant. There’s a slightly higher risk of birth defects, a small risk, but you can’t take any chances.”

In the heat of the moment, I say, “Yeah, sure. Fine.” What else am I supposed to say?

Only after the precept is gone does my physician–who I’ve only just met today, too–talks about this choice that’s been made for me. “Is it really okay?” and “We’re mostly concerned about the first trimester. After that, you could go back on them if you really need to.”

Okay but first, why the hell would I be on medicine if I didn’t really need it?

I think of all the other medications in the world. I can’t for the life of me imagine this conversation happening with any other chronic condition. Period.

“Because you just turned 35 and want to be pregnant, you need to quit your blood pressure medication… your cholesterol pills… your thyroid hormones…”

It wouldn’t. That would be an in-depth conversation with statistics and back-and-forth and I do believe the decision would be left ultimately with the patient. At least, I hope it would.

But apparently, that’s just too much to ask when it comes to our mental health.

I’m just really, really lucky that I got pregnant within a few weeks. What if I hadn’t? What if I got stuck for a year or more with no baby in sight?

I’ve done my own research since. Like the precept said, the risks are there but they are pretty small. Had I received real information in the first place, I don’t know what decision I would have reached. But I do know this has been a rough-as-hell first trimester and most of that is because I had to fight depression on top of incubating a new life.

PS Because of this and another awful appointment, I switched to an experienced ob-gyn. She said, and I quote: “So you’re 35 now. Whatever! You’re healthy, you’ve done this before, you’re going to do fine.”

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