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    The Alarming Status Quo {Part I}

    August 14, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    Yesterday was a very productive day for me. Part of what was done had to do with phone calls, which I generally avoid. I don’t like making calls, waiting on hold, or talking to strangers. But sometimes, a person has to do the things that are uncomfortable. Yesterday was like that.

    So I called the pediatrician about post-delivery visits at the hospital and circumcision. And I called the hospital about getting the vaccine and eye ointment waivers.

    And the hospital, quite frankly, ticked me off.

    Beginning at the Beginning

    Before I go on, I think there is a story in my past that might illuminate why I have a knee-jerk, slightly adversarial approach whenever I discuss what I want with hospital staff. It is all about what happened to me on a Saturday morning in May of 2002. You see, I was a young wife, in labor with my very first child. I didn’t know much about birthing babies or taking care of them. I was very nervous. But I stood my ground on one sole issue: no drugs.

    No matter how bad the pain got, I wanted to tough it out.

    I don’t remember why it was so important to me as I didn’t know much about anything at the time. But that was the way I wanted it.

    And on that Saturday morning, a nurse, to whom I had repeatedly refused drugs, took advantage of my husband’s momentary absence and injected some sort of narcotic into my IV without my permission.

    The impact was instantaneous. My tongue felt thick and fuzzy. My head felt dizzy. My stomach felt nauseous. I couldn’t concentrate.

    Si came back into the room and I remember feeling like a stroke victim. My brain was aware of everything, but I could hardly get my motor skills to cooperate. Somehow, I was able to mutter that the nurse had given me something and I didn’t know what it was.

    The next few hours of being under the influence were almost unbearable. This drug did not ease the pain. It simply limited my ability to respond or make myself comfortable {because I didn’t have full control of my limbs}. The drug made me tired {and I had valued the idea of being aware and fully engaged as I experienced the birthing of my first child} and so I fell asleep in between contractions, only to be rudely awakened by pain that almost seemed heightened by the narcotic.

    The story gets better, I suppose. After all, we all survived. I ended up requiring a shot in the back due to the necessity of a C-section. And the shot was welcome because who in their right mind would want to feel a surgery? So, you see, I was competent to accept help when really necessary.

    What I learned in that morning was the complete arrogance on the part of the medical establishment. This nurse truly believed that because she had medical training and experience, she could overrule the fact that I had a soul, that I was the one given this child by God, that I had the right to make decisions. She proved to me that I could not trust a smiling face and pleasant bedside manner. In the end, she believed herself to be more competent that me, my husband, or any other family members to make decisions concerning my welfare.

    So if I sound slightly alarmist when I write this series, please understand that experience has taught me to think this way.

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