this is ladies’ night

The Grand Rounds blog topic is a bit ambiguous, but here goes:

So, yea, Ladylike.

I have only ever had male rheumatologists, except for one. In fact, the Worst Doctor I Have Ever Had (yes, he was so bad he deserves the caps) was male. I don’t think the male-ness had much to do with it, though; I think it had more to do with the fact that he was (is? he may still be practicing for all I know) a jerk who didn’t like to listen to patients, including on the types of drugs we did or didn’t want to take.

But.

Even though my doctors now are still male, the clinic I go to is much larger than any I have ever been to before, so I have The Most Amazing Nurse Practitioner EVER. And I really mean ever. I rarely see the male doctors, who come in when Michele and I decide to try a different medication to get the OK, but I really think of her as the one in charge of the medical side of my treatment.

Having a woman NP is really great, and I don’t think I would go back to having only men handling my treatment. She picks up on small things no one else has ever noticed. For example, when I’m in remission, I wear high heels every day. My pumps were so stylish, a source at my last paper would call me Shoes, a nickname that stuck. When I started spiraling down into a flare again, Michele noticed immediately that I was wearing flats.

“Not doing so well?” she said.

“Not so much,” I said.

Now, an indicator of how well — or not well — I feel is what shoes I’m wearing. And, really, it’s become a symbol of my treatment: My goal is to get me well enough to wear heels again. I think I would even be OK with it being just a few times per week. For now, seeing my pump collection looking sad and neglected just reminds me of how poorly I am doing. I don’t think a male doctor — no matter how competent or compassionate or any of the other wonderful qualities that make up a good medical practitioner or NP — would have honed in on that. Maybe most or some female MDs/NPs wouldn’t have noticed either.

I think I just got really lucky with Michele. She cares, and so she goes the extra mile. I’ve noticed that with a lot of nurses — that perhaps because they actually spend time with their patients, they just care more or are able to care more; they don’t have to rush the patient out the door before moving on to the next one. But I think I’ve been just really blessed by having Michele on my team. Maybe I just had to go through the Worst Doctor I Ever Had before getting an amazing one.

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