Thursday, April 7, 2011

My New Favorite Place

I suppose in the world of blogs there are people who reveal too much and those that reveal too little. Maybe some writers go insane by bouncing in between. For those of you who get freaked out about personal information, this entry isn't for you. Feel free to skip today and come back tomorrow.

For everyone else, I want to tell you about my first trip to Planned Parenthood in 14 years. 

Today's visit was uplifting, and it made me think that the world of health care isn't turned upside down everywhere. 

I arrived for my appointment at the Champaign office of Planned Parenthood of Illinois at 1:35 p.m. I handed over my ID and insurance card for my 1:45 p.m. appointment. As a new patient, I had to fill out a plethora of paperwork. Some of it was the usual insurance items and emergency contact numbers. I also filled out some health history and read over the information on the Mirena IUD that the clinician was going to insert that day.

If you're new to my blog, I've been living with (suffering through) low iron since last August. Even on supplements, my blood work has gotten worse. Now I have low ferritin, low protein and low platelets. In January, I had an ultrasound. It took 60 days for my ob/gyn to have an open appointment time to tell me what was in the ultrasound (a benign tumor called a fibroid) and to give me advice on how best to proceed. Then it was going to take another 30 days to get another appointment to actually proceed. And two days before that appointment, my doctor had to cancel for another more emergent case. I asked the nurse for anyone else in the office that could do it, but she never called back. So, I went around big brother Carle and called up Planned Parenthood. They got me in 7 days later. And if you know me, efficiency wins every time. The IUD is supposed to lessen the blood flow of my periods, so that I (keep your fingers crossed) am able to retain iron stores. 

After I finished my paperwork and turned it into the medical assistant at the Planned Parenthood desk, I looked up and saw this poster. 

Underneath the Food, Sleep, Sex, it talks about how those are the three basic biological instincts of a human. Then it says, "If your sex life is good, Planned Parenthood is here to help you celebrate it. If your sex life could be better, Planned Parenthood is here to help you improve it."

I fell in love at that moment, and wanted the poster on a t-shirt so I could wear it everywhere. 

When they called my name about 30 minutes later as I was flipping through a Pregnancy magazine. (There were a lot of different types of parent-focused magazines and, of course, Oprah). My name was called by a smiling, welcoming employee. She weighed me (the sweet woman was nice to start the weighing at 100 lbs. I laughed and told her to bump it up a notch). Then she had me give her a urine sample. Afterwards she went over some medical information and then explained that a clinician would come in to do the insertion. 

While I waited another 10 minutes in my lovely paper drape. I checked out the small exam room. In it was a sign that listed the patient's rights and responsibilities. The second line was a welcoming statement that said: "Welcome to Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Regardless of race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or economic standing..." All inclusive and efficient. This keeps getting better. Don't have any money -- no problem. 

Now, I know that most people hear Planned Parenthood and immediately draw a line from it to abortion. Abortion is a topic that gets everyone hot and bothered. So bothered, that it appears our country may well be headed to a government shutdown because of it. People paint PP as a place that encourages abortion. But I took a photo of the most prominent poster in the room.

And I don't get how anyone can get angry about a place that teaches those ABC values. The other largest informational piece in the room (I forgot to take a photo of it) were pamphlets about adoption tucked away near the "desk area." PP is a full service sexual health organization. Do they provide abortions? Yes, they do, but that is not at all the primary use of that organization. While I was there, several women came in to obtain birth control. One guy was there for testing. We all had different services and contraceptives to choose from. And although I'm not using my IUD as a way to prevent pregnancy (MacTroll took care of that six months after X-man was born). It was nice to have a choice. I'm also sure no one in that building as making more than $30,000. They were there to take care of patients in need. There's something heroic about that. 

When the clinician came in, she smiled just as warmly as the woman who weighed me. She asked me to tell her what I knew about the Mirena, so I went over what I'd read on the paper they gave me, as well as the take care after insertion instructions and what my friends had told me about their experiences. She seemed pleased with the amount of information I'd retained and then she filled in any holes and answered my questions. The IUD is a plastic T-shape device. Mirena has a small amount of progesterone that is released in adequate amounts over the next 5 years. That's a long time. The hormone is what should help my monthly periods lessen or possibly even stop all together. And for anyone wondering, you can have the device removed and have no problem getting pregnant within 12 months of its removal (I don't have the desire to birth another child, but in case someone else did... I thought you should know.)

Then we went through the insertion. I'm not going to lie to you. It was somewhat uncomfortable, but anything that involves a clamp and a cervix can't be all that much of a party, right? If you thought a speculum was bad though, it pales to the clamp. Fifteen minutes later, it was in. She gave me some time to make sure I wasn't lightheaded and then left the room while I got dressed. That's when I noticed the calendar on the wall from some agricultural group that deals in sheep reproduction. It gives the "Next Heat date" and a "Due date" for the flock to make it easier on farmers. I thought that was quite funny for a Planned Parenthood.

When the clinician came back we went over the discharge instructions again, and then she walked me out where I paid a $20 co-pay for the device. Then I left. I got in my RAV-4 and I noticed a mother and a young woman standing on the sidewalk by the parking lot. I thought, "Isn't that nice? A family just hanging out in front of a family planning facility." Another patient was coming out of the clinic and getting on her bike to ride away. I was driving slowly behind her. As we passed the family, I noticed the two women suddenly had rosary in hand and were reading from a small bible. 

And I thought to myself: "Awwww, isn't that nice? They're blessing my new IUD." ;-)

I have to tell you, if Planned Parenthood offered full service GP needs and radiology... I'd go there for every medical need I had in an instant. Plus, their facility is about to get a much needed physical rehab. So when I go back in six weeks for my recheck, they should be working on the parking lot entry way, and the clinic is supposedly moving up to the second floor. 

Anyway, it was the most positive medical experience outside of weight management that I'd had in a long while. So, I thought I'd talk it up. :-) 


T said...

I had a very similar experience when *I* had my IUD put in at the Quad Cities Planned Parenthood. Completely pleasant!

Charles said...

I was trying to come up with a good way to start this comment, but kept deleting. This is the one I kept. :)

For the record, I used to be one of those people that really did not like Planned Parenthood. At all. Like you said, Dana, we draw a line directly to abortion, and we have been inundated with grisly pictures of aborted fetuses and dogmatism that throws logic and reason out the window. Not unlike fanatic, Muslim extremists - the Qur'an does not condone such outright violence.

Thank you for sharing your story and your pictures - it sounds like you had a most excellent experience. The ABC poster and the "Food, Sleep, Sex" are great.

You talked about abortion shutting down our government. This is the same universal problem we have in our society - people are hung up on ideas and forget how to work together. If one is going to stand on the platform of Absolutes and decry abortion (which I do, although I am willing to talk/listen about cases like rape and incest), one must also look at the entire package of those Absolutes. Like, love your neighbor. Too often people take an idealogical stand on just one slice of the pie, and we end up fighting over our pie slices. This happens at the national level and the local level. Probably even at the international level, although I am not as aware what goes on around the world.