July 17th, 2003

Women's health at SJAFB - Summer 2003

Girly parts update, or how hard is it just to get a Pap smear?

I showed up a half hour before my scheduled appointment time as instructed, although I have no idea why they bothered. At the scheduled appointment time, I was finally called in to do vitals, which consisted of having my weight checked (I'm three pounds heavier than I was at the beginning of the month, which is unusual for me since I usually have to fight to stay over 100 and I've been eating less because when I'm not nauseous I don't have any appetite), being asked yet again if I smoke, drink or have unsafe sex, and when I was a good patient and told the nurse, Dianne Bailey-Holland [called Mean Women's Health Nurse when I initially made this post] what vitamins and dosages I was taking in response to the current medication question, was sternly lectured I'm going to damage my liver with the vitamin A.

(Background on the vitamins: after wasting two days in the clinic earlier this month without help and barely able to function, I dug into our collection of medical and alternative/complementary therapy texts. Calculating a single dose of hormones to get me back on track would have been my first choice, but in lieu of that I've chosen to use vitamins to ease the hot flashes and bleeding. Since 3 July, I've been taking 8000 IU of vitamin A, a "high potency" B complex, 1g vitamin C, and 400 IU vitamin E daily.)

After vitals, I was called up by a provider whose name I didn't catch (it wasn't the primary women's health provider but she had a plain white labcoat on over civvies so I couldn't see her rank or last name) and taken into an office, not an exam room, where I was told my pelvic ultrasound was clear aside from a 1x2cm cyst on my left ovary and since I wasn't complaining of pain I was free to go. No Pap or exam (I was there for a full gyno exam), nothing when I asked except for an offer to put me on the Pill if I wanted it.

I'm trying to get ahold of the patient advocate (base locator gave me the base information number when I called, base information didn't have a number for anything with "advocate" in the name except for Family Advocacy, which is a different service entirely -- told you everything takes six times as long around here) and Himself will be bending the ear of his First Sergeant as soon as he can get ahold of him.

Needless to say, I am damnably pissed off at the joke that passes for women's healthcare at the base clinic. If I can get my hands on my test results and so on from earlier this month, I'll post them for everyone's edification.
Women's health at SJAFB - Summer 2003

I may finally be getting a Pap smear.

More calls to the base locator and information *still* haven't yielded any phone number for the elusive patient advocate (maybe they cut that job, the clinic's so understaffed), so I called Tricare to see if my PCM could do a pelvic exam. In order to get it, I got to explain my symptoms once again but succeeded in at least getting an appointment for a Pap (I was told she can't do a pelvic exam per se, but can do a physical and a Pap, which is better than I got from women's health) on 1 August.

Feel free to start placing bets on whether I'll find out what's causing my medical problems before I give up, go home, and see a REAL provider. (I can't recommend Denver/Evergreen OB-GYN enough to any woman in the Denver area. I never knew medical care wasn't supposed to leave me angry and confused until I saw them.)

EDIT 1320: an Apologetic Airman from the base clinic called to tell me the base clinic won't be open on 1 August due to an event on base (they weren't sure what it was, but think it's a parade) and I had to reschedule with the Tricare appointment line. Another ten minutes listening to craptastic hold music and I have an appointment for 4 August. If it wouldn't lessen my chances of ever getting any care from the base clinic, I'd go to the civilian hospital for a Pap smear since I've already been waiting for a couple of weeks.

I'd like to kick a lot of people in the c_nt, but it'd ruin the shine on my shoes.