One of the more frustrating aspects of moving to a new place, let alone a new province, is trying to find a family doctor. There are none in our area that are currently taking new clients, none. Believe me, I’ve called all of them. With my history it’s important for me to have access to health care and my oldest girl has a health issue that she has been trying to deal with for over three years. She had a GYN in Ontario who she was working with and they had done testing of blood, ultrasounds, and were about to discuss a laparoscopy to really investigate what’s going on with her system when he died and her care with him ceased. Now, as much as I love living in a country with free (okay, tax paid) medical care, one of the drawbacks is wait lists for specialists. She was put on one and by the time we moved had not seen a new specialist in over a year and our family doctor was the one still trying to manage her concern.
So, we moved and have no doctor but were told (eventually) that there was a women’s clinic on the top floor of the hospital so yesterday we drove out to make an appointment. Once there we were told that because she is 18, she would have to go to the sexual health clinic as they deal with all women under the age of 19. There she would have an intake appointment, then meet a nurse practitioner who would then directly refer her to a GYN. Wonderful. We made the intake appointment for that day and were even able to secure her nurse appointment for later this week.
Now, this being a sexual health clinic, their intake questionnaire was about a whole range of things, not just the specific cycle issues were we coming in for. So, my amazing daughter asked if I could sit in on the initial meeting with her as I knew more of the family history than she did. The worker looked surprised, as most teen girls don’t want their moms coming in to these types of appointments (and who could blame them, I sure wouldn’t have, no offense mom) but Keisha and I have a great relationship. We are very open in our house when it comes to discussing anything and that includes sexuality, relationships with partners and personal health issues.
Anyway, the meeting went fine at first. The woman conducting it though reminded me of the type of health worker we had back in my own high school days and some of her information was just as timely. Keisha and myself were more up on some of the issues than she was and we shared a few private smiles. Until…she asked, no, stated to my daughter that of course she would have had the HPV vaccine. No, my daughter said. No?! But, all girls get this in grade eight, so of course she would have. And she looked at me for confirmation, perhaps assuming that my daughter wasn’t remembering correctly. Nope, I told her, none of my girls had received this vaccination and none of them would.
Well, her whole body language shifted. She immediately and quite tersely asked me why on earth I wouldn’t want to protect my girls. Especially with our family history. I calmly replied that I had, especially with my family and personal history conducted a lot of research on it at the time and made the decision that I felt best for my daughters. I stand by it. Especially now that there have been some…confessions…by some of the creators of the drug. She was visibly mad. Which confused me as we weren’t talking about her kids, we were talking about mine, and my right as a parent to choose which vaccinations I felt were necessary for them and which I didn’t.
Fortunately Keisha and I truly do have a great relationship. We left that office buoyed by the appreciation that the ball was once again rolling in terms of handling her health and enjoying the irony that she and I were better informed and better educated on some of the things this woman handled for a living. We would also never be judgmental of someone’s personal choices like that and were extremely surprised that someone in her specific profession would be. We wound up the conversation with me assuring my daughter that her next appointment, with an actual health care professional and not a sexual health intake counselor, would indeed be focused entirely on the issue at hand.
I’m proud to say that this spawned about an hours worth of conversation that evening in the house with my three girls and my son. Talking about health, sexual health is important and keeping that conversation going with teenagers even more so. I’m glad that at 11, 13, 15 and 18 they still feel comfortable asking me questions. They are informed kids and as such, I don’t really worry about them acting out in sexually dangerous ways.
It’s important to be your own advocate when it comes to your health. You are your body’s own best expert and it’s important, even for the kids, to know that it’s okay to question those in the field if you know deep down that something is not right with you or for you.
I guess it’s just another way in which I am a proud mom. Conversations dudes. Informed choices and decisions. Knowing yourself. Best thing you can do for and with your teens. And my kids, after we talked? They thanked me.