Confessions from the Doctor’s Office

doctor, stethoscope, thermometer, laptop, doula, toronto, healthcare











As the daughter of Naturopathic doctor, my perception of the healthcare system has been very skewed. I’ve never had to rely on a doctor to support me in my wellness, and I’ve mostly been able to avoid hospitals and doctors (except when I’m at a birth!). Today, I went to my first ever real doctor’s appointment, hoping to gain access to prescriptions, doctor’s notes, vaccinations, etc. I was so excited to talk about my body and health, thinking the initial appointment had to be at least an hour. My heart sank when an older fellow walked into the waiting room and signed in for his 11:45am appointment, 15 minutes after my scheduled 11:30am start.

After watching numerous people shuffle in and out of little offices for an hour, my name was finally called. I was welcomed into the office of a lovely, young doctor. She asked me basic intake questions, and I explained that the primary reason for my visit was a referral to an osteopath and pelvic floor physio. She gladly obliged, even taking down the names of the practitioners I wished to see.

We talked about our shared love of reproductive and sexual health, and she told me about her passion for obstetrics.

I shared with her my hopes and fears about eventually getting pregnant as a queer person. Our fifteen minute visit wrapped up and I left the building feeling satisfied. I’m thrilled to have a doctor that I can comfortably talk to (or at least, I got that impression after our short appointment) and who can help me access different elements of the healthcare system.

Grateful, but…

I am immensely thankful to live in a country where my health care is covered. I’m grateful, but I think we can do better. The number of people I saw enter and exit that office within my short hour-long visit was representative of the healthcare system as a whole. Too many people needing care, not enough care professionals, not enough resources. The stress that my doctor expressed when she was finally able to see me demonstrated how overworked she is.

In an ideal world (or maybe another country), I can imagine that we would have hour long doctors’ visits where we could thoroughly explore our concerns and health troubles. Where we didn’t have to pay for alternative health care practitioners to talk about holistic solutions to solving our acute and chronic illnesses. Where we didn’t have to pay out of pocket to be listened to.

My doctor seemed surprised that when I told her I wasn’t interested in the birth control pill or an IUD to regulate my periods, and that I had never taken daily medications. Her intentions were good, but how often are we prescribed pills and treatments without getting to explain what we feel like the problem is.

Our society is not sick – we simply need better preventative care and support systems.

The fact that my profession even exists demonstrates the lack of emotional support that individuals receive from the healthcare system. I get hired to provide continuous care and support – neither of which the healthcare system has the resources to offer.

I think that there are amazing doctors out there, trapped inside the bureaucracy of a flawed system. I am so grateful for the young people I know studying to be doctors, and the people in my community that are working in the healthcare field and instigating conversations about accessibility and inclusivity. I’m so grateful for the nurses and the rad doctors, working hard from the inside out to provide thorough care. I’m concerned about the state of our healthcare system, but hopeful that there are enough incredible individuals working hard to make change.

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  • Yes, many are disappointed with a medical system that is not holistic or preventive in its outlook. But until that is a perspective that society, as opposed to a relatively small percentage of the population, embraces and is willing to invest the time and focus in health, not disease, care, it is us ‘other professions’ who provide this essential work. No one profession is able to provide it all, but the greatest paradigm shift for medicine would be acknowledging that health care is a team effort that expands beyond the narrow enclave of medically managed care. To date, there is a ‘them-us’ mentality that does not embrace the wholism of health needs. That is why I was happy about your new GP in her openness to refer you to non-medically traditional care, but then she tried to ‘fix’ you in a pharmaceutical manner without really exploring or opening the door to other forms of care. In ND circles we talk in terms of medicine as a ‘reactionary’ approach to things being wrong, as opposed to a ‘proactive’ approach to supporting health and the body’s ability to heal itself.

    Health care is always a dialogue, but you have opened a door that will reach a number of people and perhaps create changes in those you encounter.