Monday, December 12, 2011
Met a very pregnant 14-year-old today. It's weird, we see all sorts of people in the hospital who, I don't know, I started to write "who have made poor choices in their lives," but that's not entirely fair, and I know some situations are out of people's control, at least in part, or thrust upon them through no fault of their own-- but there are drug addicts, criminals in and out of prison, alcoholics, people mistreating their bodies in all sorts of ways, morbidly obese patients who won't change their diets, people who won't take necessary medication, people who can't seem to follow up and get the tests they need, etc. It's hard to keep from judging, but, in most cases, I don't think most judgments are necessarily obvious to the patients. I don't see people outwardly rude to their patients, for the most part. The goal is to help. But a pregnant 14-year-old, somehow-- and I wouldn't have guessed this-- seems to be far harder for a lot of people to deal professionally with than, say, a drug dealer, or an unreformable alcoholic. The tone, the looks, the attitude. Maybe it's because in medicine we don't generally see OB patients, this was an unusual circumstance, and so we're not sensitized to it. But I don't think that's it. I don't know quite how to put my finger on it. Yes, birth control is pretty accessible in today's society, but is getting pregnant at 14 objectively worse than a lot of other unfortunate situations seen in the hospital? I don't know. Maybe it would be different if I were female. Maybe it would feel like something more terrible, not that it makes any sense to be ranking terriblenesses. And, frankly, for me it tends to be the people-- especially the parents-- who won't quit smoking who I sympathize with the least. If I were a sociologist, this feels like an interesting research project-- what do people feel deserves the most stigma, off a list of unfortunate circumstances that are on at least some level within someone's control to prevent. By the end of the consult, I felt really bad for the patient and the attitudes she was surely dealing with to a much greater extent than just the 20 minutes I was with her. Yes, maybe she made some bad choices, and maybe it's going to seriously impact her chances of what the people who work in a hospital would call a successful life. But it is better than being a crack addict, no?
Posted by Anon MD at 8:32 PM