Monday, July 09, 2007

Medical Assistants are Little Wenches

Last week I had to run a son to an urgent care for a splinter in his foot-- don't laugh, tweezers weren't working and I needed someone with bigger tools to remove it. I don't know what it is with medical assistants and dental assistants. The doctors, nurses and dentists are never an issue-- it's the people who are lowest on the totem pole in these places who seem to be the boldest. Is it a class thing?

Anyway, the med. ass. came to take me to the back with my son. She saw a few of the kids who were with us and asked how many I had. I said I had five with me (I was going to leave it at that) and my son piped up and said there were nine total. She asked where the others were and I said they were taken care of, refusing to answer that question. (Well, one was in Anaheim visiting my ex husband's ex sister in law who lived near Disneyland, another was going to 4-H camp and was probably stopping by K-Mart to pick up some stuff, my husband's brother was borrowing the youngest when he went shopping and was going to "accidentally" bump into a woman he likes, and my eight year old was helping an autistic boy about his age in a summer school class where he is a peer helper. It's none of anyone's business.) She said that she'd seen me at the college-- how did I do it with so many children? How does anyone do it? You make it happen or you fail. I said it was funny that no one ever asked my husband how he worked with so many children. She was thick skinned though and this didn't seem to get to her that I was getting annoyed and she asked it again so I said that like anyone else, I used my resources wisely and preferred to not go into detail. I'd have gotten sick had a I told her the truth-- that my husband takes care of them because then she'd tell me how lucky I am that my husband takes responsibility for his children so that I can complete my degree to earn more money to pay back student loans and have a better retirement than if I stay a housewife.

She said, "Are you Mormon or Catholic?" Normally I try to be bright and sunny and say something positive but that day I looked askance and got dramatic, "Goodness! We are just here for a splinter! Do you think we will need to call the clergy?"

She stopped walking and explained, "No-- I asked because you have so many kids."

"What's 'so many kids'?"

She tried to explain herself and I rolled my eyes at her. Whatever.

We resumed walking and she asked what my husband did. Trifecta complete and she was in for a second hat trick! I said it was on my paperwork.

She turned around, "I'm so sorry. Are you having a bad day?"

I told her I was not but she seemed to be on her way to asking every stereotype she could about large families and that while I didn't mind answering legitimate medical questions, her comments were out of line. At this point the doctor overheard us and he is a nice man and was like, "Come into the exam room-- what's happening?"

I told the ass. to tell him and of course she glossed over everything and I said, it wasn't quite like that and she was not just making conversation. I told him that I am not obligated to justify my large family, that I am sick of being asked where my kids are as if I'd leave them someplace unattended, how I can do college when no one asks my husband how he works with such a big family, if I am Mormon, Catholic or implied as just too stupid to use a condom, what my husband does for a living to establish what we own and how hard our lives must be-- when I was just there to get a splinter removed and that I never wanted to see this nosey, homely little creature again. She said she was sorry for offending me but that no one had ever complained before and I told her that if the questions would be inappropriate in a job interview, they are not acceptable when I was going into the doctor's office unless, in the case of the kids being taken care of, that there was a concern that I wasn't caring for them properly. I also told her that her little, "I'm so sorry. Are you having a bad day?" was passive aggressive and that whatever they told her in medical assistant training, it was not OK to say because I was not treating her badly by keeping private-- for all I knew she was dating a child molester or abused children, herself. I elucidated that when I am paying for my visit that if I don't feel like explaining my life then it's my business-- not an obligation to satisfy her curiosity. Then I told the doctor, "Again: I really do not want to see this unprofessional whatever she calls herself again while I am here today." She left the room.

The doctor got a nurse in there and she was smiling and said that I was a hero to her sister even though her sister hadn't heard of me. (Yet!) Her sister lives 2,000 miles away and "only" has five children but got all those questions all the time and always wanted to say something but hadn't worked up the nerve.

Pah! I have nerve. I have verve with my nerve!

I've been planning to say this for years-- since #5 was little. As of late the med asses have been getting attitudes and doing the, "Are you having a bad day?" when I side-step their remarks. I wear a suit to the appointments to look professional and I act professional. If they ask what I do I lie and say I am a private accountant-- over dressed but I look together, and they still try to treat me like a mousy housewife be I in a suit or sweats. But the thing is-- what I do and why I even dress nicely shouldn't be an issue. Who is paying the damned bill? I'll warn you-- you will feel like shrinking when you are first confronted-- I have a few times and backed down. I realized that when I do that I only make them think it's OK to do that. I love my children dearly but if I don't bring them up, they are a non issue and if I don't like someone or feel comfortable with them, I don't like to talk to them about my kids. "I don't know you and I do not feel like discussing my children with you and your questions make me uncomfortable. I'm here about a medical issue that my kids have nothing to do with having caused as far as I know. . ."

I am not going in to pay to be asked stupid questions. I really feel like people are masochistic-- like they want to hear that we struggle or have a difficult time. They sure as hell don't seem like they are asking questions to hear good answers. I don't understand it-- I like hearing that people are doing well, but then they try to contrast it or something.

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