Oh, my. It was a visit nightmares are made of.
No, really. I had multiple nightmares last night and they most certainly stemmed from this whole experience!
I woke up tired and a little cranky yesterday. I don't look forward to new situations and I especially don't look forward to blood work. I can't stand needles and I have small veins that like to dance. I tried to look up the clinic and the doctor and the nurse practitioner to somewhat familiarize myself and make myself more comfortable, but I came up with nothing except a few obscure ratings sites that anybody can contribute to, and no true reviews on those. I couldn't even find a clinic name, let alone a website. It was No-Name Clinic in downtown Richmond. Yikes. That was my first clue things were fishy, but I thought surely the midwife couldn't have steered me that wrong, she's worked with the doctor there for 30 years! So what if it was a little hole in the wall? I often like little hole in the wall places. I was in such denial.
We left early, knowing what fun we'd had in the past trying to find our way in downtown Richmond. As it is, we only got lost once and Lee quickly figured out what the roads were doing so we were actually early. I stalled at the car for as long as possible, but Lee was aching to get in there so I could get it over with and I finally either had to get out or sit in the car by myself, haha.
We walked up to the building, it looked like a very old house with nothing to make it stand out as a business among the houses along the street. It was dark, quiet, and had no. signage. whatsoever. Weird. The door was left cracked open, in "welcome", I suppose. As we walked up I told Lee I wasn't liking this, "Don't worry", he said, "I see files and stuff, it's definitely an office. ". I answered, "Ya? Well even the mafia keep files on people.".
I walked up to the counter and told the lady I had an appointment with Bonnie. She responded by making a dive over the terribly messy desk for the clipboard, knocking off papers and barely catching a plate of food before it could fall to the floor. There were plates of food everywhere, lining the front desk. Classy.
I sat down to fill out the paperwork while Lee and I worked very hard to stifle our laughter. The paperwork said "New Patient Encounter" at the top, sounded scary to me. The clinic name was no where on the paperwork either...hmmm. After a little while the Nurse Practitioner comes in to the office area and gets excited about the free chicken meal. "Ooo! They even have the boneless kind!". "Those are biscuits.", responded the lady at the counter. Yikes! Lee and I were *dying* trying not to laugh at this point. The lady who is about to assess my health can't tell a piece of chicken from a biscuit!
Remember, we got there early. I had my paperwork done before my scheduled appointment time and they had no other patients in the office. We still waited almost 20 minutes past my appointment time, listening to the lady at the counter gagging on something. Her food, I would guess.
At this point I'm peeking at the church across the road mentally planning my escape in case I ended up needing to run for sanctuary!
The nurse finally calls me back from nowhere, I had to follow the sound of her voice to where I needed to go. Now, here is where it gets really fun in a Really Irritating sort of way. I had read on a forum I'm a part of, from a woman who doesn't let the doctor's office take her weight, she just tells them what she's gained. Reading it I thought to myself that it would be a great way to "test" just how much a particular doctor/clinic would allow me to control my care. I mean really, all they need to know is how much I gain between visits. They don't need to personally see it unless they don't trust me, and if they don't trust me, I don't trust them! I am sure that my old doctor would have been perfectly fine with it, even if his nurses had initially balked at the idea. It was also something that would be one of the first things they did and something I couldn't care less one way or the other whether they did it. If they refused my request, whatever. If they went with it, I wasn't losing any information I didn't have myself. I knew I needed to know my heart rate and blood pressure (which were GREAT by the way!) so I couldn't refuse those.
We walked into the hall and the nurse motioned to me to step on the scale. "No thank you. ", I told her, "You can just put down that I've gained 2.5 pounds since the beginning of the pregnancy. She looked at me in disbelief and told me, "No, I *need* to take your weight.". "Alright", I told her, smiling as sweetly as I could, "It was just a test.".
She was pretty quiet until we got to the room, then I must give her credit for being very kind. Even though from her point of view it appeared I could end up being the patient from hell, she did her best to be warm and friendly. I think she may have even realized that she really didn't need to take my weight so badly because her attitude became, "We need to take your blood pressure, is that all right?" and "Can we talk about....". She is also the one who got my blood work done in just 2.5 sticks. I really liked her.
Now, When I had talked to the midwife she had told me I could refuse whatever I didn't want, all I specifically needed was the prenatal panel. I had stressed to the lady I made the appointment with that *all I wanted* was the prenatal panel. I did go in assuming a basic exam was going to be part of it anyway, but as the nurse and I were leaving the room so I could go get her a "sample" she asked, with her nose wrinkled and motioning to the gown on the table, "They did tell you about the exam you were going to need today, right?. I gently but firmly told her that I do not do internal exams in the first trimester, and she didn't push it, win for her!
Even if I was in the habit of allowing exams in the first trimester I Absolutely Would Not have acquiesced in this place. Oh, friends. It was disgusting. Out in the front you had filthy desks covered in food...that was downright clean compared to what we found in the back rooms. I was afraid to touch anything. The used gowns were just thrown in a hamper, like the sort you find at Wal-Mart, behind the door, without even a lid. There was an unidentified fluid in a bio hazard jar sitting right in the middle of the counter in the exam room, and there was crusted pee...I Kid You Not...on the sink in the bathroom where you had to set your cup. I have never seen such filth in my life in a public place and this was a doctor's office! If I had known about the condition of the bathroom first, instead of well into the visit, I think I would have begged to leave! At this point though, I was just so ready be done for good!
Next, I got to meet the Nurse Practitioner I had the appointment with. She was rather quiet and brisk, I think she'd heard about me. She checked my arms and legs for swelling, felt my abdomen and asked if she could do another exam, which I politely refused. I was really trying to go out of my way to smile and be nice. I truly didn't want them to remember me as a...well...you know what! But at the same time I was there paying them to do certain things, there were unnecessary things I didn't want for Very Good Reasons, like the internal exam. I didn't bother to explain my reasons because I didn't want to start an argument about them. I've done my research and my mind is made up.
"All done!", the nurse practitioner said, making no move to help me up like every other doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse and midwife I've ever had has at least made a move to do. Lee moved forward to help me, as he always does, and Bonnie points to the chair against the wall, telling him very rudely, "I need you to sit.", and then brushed by to get out of the room. I forgot to mention that the exam room was at least half the size of a regular *small* exam room. It was no bigger than our children's bathroom! Tiny!
I went down for my blood work and the nurse practitioner struck up a conversation with Lee, wanting to know "What in the world brought you to Virginia?!" from SC.
When the nurse was ready to take my blood, Lee was my hero and told her I needed him so he needed by, in the new, equally small, room. At that point I was in such disbelief at the experience that I was just too emotionally exhausted to demand anything more, not to mention I was kind of nervous of getting blood work done in such a dirty place! Thankfully Lee stepped up for me. She stuck me once, it didn't work, twice...not quite...so she dug around with the needle for a minute that second time and blessedly got what she needed. And I Was Done!!! Yay!!!
We paid our bill and left the building. I declared to never darken it's doors again and Lee said he wouldn't let me if I wanted to. And that was before we learned the whole truth later that evening.
I called Bri to tell her it was over, and that my physician didn't know chicken from a biscuit.
And this is nothing, stay tuned for Part 2...