WTAF, my doctors?

Or, Why I am changing to a female doctor

See that image above? That’s a scene from Chicago Med, season 6.

If I had watched the show in spring of 2021, when it came out (instead of now, on DVDs from the library), I might have diagnosed myself sooner.

Do you know what interstitial cystitis (IC) is?

I did not.

I did not, until about year ago, when I got into a conversation about bladder pain with a woman in my Buy Nothing group.

In 2006, I went to my doctor for repeated UTIs. The doc shrugged, said they weren’t UTIs and he didn’t know what was going on, and gave me an RX for the antibiotic you take for UTIs. (Which – you aren’t supposed to take antibiotics for UTIs anyhow.)

He told me to take a pill every time I had sex, since that seemed to be a triggering event.

A few months later, Mr T and I were out of town. I had UTI pain so bad that I called my doc for a painkiller. To his credit, he called an RX in to a local Walgreen’s immediately, but it still took a few hours to be ready.

And nobody – not the doc, not the pharmacist – saw fit to mention that AZO is the UTI painkiller and it is available over the counter.

After I married Mr T, the problem persisted.

I asked my primary doc. He said there might be drugs I could take. I said I didn’t want to take a drug for the rest of my life – I wanted to understand and solve the problem.

He sent me to a urologist who put a wand up my hoo-ha and looked at my bladder, which had no problems that he could see.

“But I feel like I need to pee all the time and sometimes it hurts,” I told him.

He told me I needed to train my bladder – that my bladder had become the boss of me.

He was right about that – I had let my bladder become the boss. I trained it and I needed to pee less frequently, but I still got the bladder pain.

I did not return to the urologist because my insurance said it was a hospital visit and charged me a $700 hospital deductible and a $500 lab work deductible.

I argued that he was a specialist who happened to have an office in a teaching hospital and I should be charged only the $45 specialist co-pay, but Blue Cross of Michigan is the worst insurance company in the world and my rebuttals fell on deaf ears.

And the expert had not seen anything. Clearly, this was a problem I would just have to learn to live with.

It got worse and I couldn’t live with it.

Two years ago, after I had had several doctor visits/calls about the UTI pain that would not go away, my doc prescribed oxybutynin, which is used to treat bladder spasms and has the happy side effect of reducing hot flashes for some women.

My bladder did not get better and my hot flashes did not diminish.

Once I learned about IC, I tried different treatments, including aloe extract, which got very expensive during the pandemic and did not work for me.

It was not until last year that I saw that some foods trigger bladder pain.

Last year.

After years and years of gastrointestinal problems, including two bouts of c. diff and a fecal transplant, a very dear older friend has just learned – JUST NOW – that she might be gluten sensitive. My friend is not someone who spends hours online doing research. This is information she would trust her physician to give her.

And he didn’t give it to her until after she had serious GI problems.

My friend Shelly is a nurse practitioner who visits elderly people at home. When her patients have problems with discomfort, Shelly starts with diet.

“It’s so often what someone is eating,” she told me.

When I saw my about to be former doctor for my physical last fall, he asked if I was still taking the oxybutynin.

I told him I was not – that it had not helped me.

Then I told him I had figured out what my problem was.

“Have you ever heard of interstitial cystitis?” I asked him.

“Of course,” he answered.

“Even the writers of Chicago Med know what interstitial cystitis is!”

(He didn’t really say the part about Chicago Med. But he did say the first part.)

And I didn’t even know what to say.


Why didn’t my doctor in Memphis tell me that I might have this weird thing called interstitial cystitis? That I should keep a food diary to see if certain foods, like vinegar and lemon juice and hot peppers, might trigger symptoms?

Why didn’t my first doctor here tell me I might have this weird thing called interstitial cystitis?

Why didn’t the VERY EXPENSIVE urologist tell me I might have this weird thing called interstitial cystitis?

Why didn’t my about to be former doctor tell me I might have this weird thing called interstitial cystitis?

Why didn’t anyone offer me the possible solution years ago?

Instead, I have spent so many nights awake, waiting for the AZO to take effect so the pain will go away and I can sleep.

I have used thousands of dollars in medical resources.

I have spent hours and hours and hours in pain.

And all along, they knew.


The delusions of middle-aged men

Why do they think young women would want them?

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

My friend’s flight was cancelled and the airline put her up in a hotel overnight. This was about 40 years ago, back when airlines did such a thing and when my friend was a very petite, very young woman.

She and the other affected passengers commiserated on the bus from the airport to the hotel, then ate together in the hotel restaurant.

She chatted, as one does.

She chatted with people trapped in the same situation she was in, as one does.

And she chatted with the older married man with children as they both walked to their rooms, which happened to be adjacent to each other, as one does.

She said goodnight and entered her room, as one does.

And then, she heard a knock.

As one does not.

She opened the door. (As one would not do today, with experience and wisdom.)

It was the Older Married Man With Children.

“Would you like to borrow my toothbrush?” he asked.

As nobody – NOBODY – does.

Raise your hand if you have ever accidentally used your spouse’s toothbrush.

Raise your hand if both you and your spouse – who share bodily fluids on the most intimate levels – were grossed out.

Now raise your hand if you would ever voluntarily use a stranger’s toothbrush.


That’s what I thought.

Now think to yourself: When I was 19, what kind of man did I want?

I bet that the answer is not “Someone my dad’s age, married, with children.”

Yes, yes, yes – of course there are the rich and famous exceptions, but this guy probably had the western Kentucky territory for a shower ring company.

(And I just had a thought – what if he were a toothbrush salesman? And he had a clean toothbrush? But he should have led with that – and offered them to all the other travelers who were separated from their luggage. So no, he was not a toothbrush salesman, I am sure of it.)

What 19 year old woman wants a married man with children?

They don’t.

Nineteen year old women do not want

  1. Old
  2. Married
  3. With Children
  4. Men

But what a woman wants does not matter.

We all know that.

All that matters to the Delusional Middle-Aged Man is what he wants.

Society has supported him in every way.

When my friend and I were 19, there was no such thing as sexual harassment. There was no such thing as going to HR to complain. There was no such thing as men raping their wives.

What men wanted, men got.


What men wanted, men took.

Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.

Harvard Business Review

My friend and I kept wondering why any man would think a line like “Would you like to borrow my toothbrush?” would work.

And then we realized it wasn’t about that at all.

He didn’t even think to himself, “I need to be charming and attractive to overcome my obvious shortcomings that would not appeal to a beautiful young woman.”

Of course he didn’t think, “I’m a married man. I made a vow to my wife.”

He just thought – with the confidence of the average middle-aged white guy – that the world is his oyster and what woman wouldn’t want him?

(She didn’t want him.)

(Would anyone want him?)

(Thank goodness she was able to close and lock the door, because if he had wanted to, he could have overpowered my petite friend.)

(How can we women get that kind of confidence but with the asshole component?)

(WTAF, men?)

A doctor listened

If a woman talks, does anyone hear?

Y’all, a doctor listened to me and believed me and told me I was right.

It was so weird.

It’s not that I am used to doctors not believing me, but I have never – that I remember – had one look at me and say “Oh yes I can see the problem you are absolutely right we must fix that.”

Part of the issue is that the complaints that have taken me for my rare doctor visits have been for pain, which is hard to pinpoint, see, and measure.

My family was never a go to the doctor family. I remember having to go to the ER when the mouse bit me and I needed rabies shots and when my parents thought I had broken my arm. (I had not. It was a sprain. But the doc asked if I wanted a cast anyhow, WHICH I DID, but I said no. Why didn’t I get that cast? I regret it.) I also had to go several times for strep throat.

But for pain?

Who goes to the doc for pain?

My pain must have been awful for my mom to take me to the doc for cramps when I was 15, but my problem was not resolved. The doctor suggested birth control pills and I was horrified at the idea because birth control pills not only were Against My Religion but also were for Bad Girls and there was no way I was going to become one of those girls discussed in hushed whispers at school: “She’s on THE PILL.”

And the doc (who was also female, which makes me even angrier about this) didn’t talk to my mom (who also had very painful periods), either, to try to get her to understand so my mom could convince me.

I hope things are different today. I hope a doc whose 15 year old patient declines birth control pills when BCP are the only solution to the problem probes and tries to understand. Because I suffered from cramps for years and years after that.

But yeah – going to the doctor was not A Thing in my house. Certainly not for pain! What’s pain? It’s just something people have, right?

And to be fair, I don’t even know if I ever complained to my mom about my headaches when I was a kid. Even if I had, I might have discovered – as I didn’t discover until I was well into adulthood – that my mom, my brother, and my sister all had headaches.

That is, we all have migraine.

But – we probably would have thought – *I* would have thought, “Oh. Headaches are just a thing that happens. They happen to almost everyone else in my family. I guess that’s just how life is.”

My friend Susan and I went to a party. We talked to a few guys, one of whom Susan decided she liked.

“Maybe he’ll call me!” she said.

“Susan!” I laughed. “He’s GAY!”

She shook her head. “What? He didn’t say that! How do you know?”

I answered. “Because he said he wanted to spank Al Gore, which should have been your biggest clue, but also, he asked you a question. And then he listened to your answer.”

She fell silent.

I fell silent.

We both thought about this phenomenon.

A man had asked a woman a question.

And then stopped talking.

So he could hear her answer.

“Oh yeah,” she said, shoulders slumping. “You’re right. There’s no way he’s straight.”

It’s not that I don’t feel like doctors haven’t believed me – they have treated or tried to treat the conditions I presented to them.


(And to be fair, even though I just gave an example of how rare it is for a man to listen, I have also had female docs who have left me feeling a little bit unheard. This might be more of a doctor thing than a man/woman thing.)

And yet – it happened this week.

And it was about a tooth.

Which is something that can be evaluated objectively.

And this is a story about a dentist and so it’s still not really about my issues with medical doctors, but dang has it stuck with me.

I told my student dentist at the dental school that the tooth next to the one she had repaired felt odd.

“Maybe I’m imagining it,” I apologized. “I mean – it’s the tooth next to the one you’ve been working on. That’s weird, isn’t it?”

She took a look and then asked her male professor to take a look.

“Oh yes!” he said.

“I can see that your bite is off. We need to take care of that or you could crack your tooth!”

After he told my student what to do, he left her with these words: “Always believe your patients. They know when something is wrong.”

“This old white man thinks he’s better than me because he has a different accent”

“Does anyone really care where the rain falls on the Iberian peninsula?”

My friend Danielle saw My Fair Lady last night and spent most of the play fuming in rage.

“Now that I know what I know,” she said, “I see it in a completely different way.”

There are so many stories – so many romantic comedies and teen comedies that I thought were great when I saw them decades ago and now I watch and wonder, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Take Sixteen Candles, which is about the overlooked teenage girl finally getting the attention she wants.


But – the purloined underwear? And the unconscious girlfriend and the jokes about her and her possible rape?

And Grease. The way to get the guy is to completely change yourself? Even though he liked you as you were and the issue was that he was too embarrassed to be public with you?

Plus the line “Did she put up a fight?”

And General Hospital, when Luke rapes the underage Laura – and then marries her. That wedding was a huge deal. It was so romantic – except – he was a rapist.

And the character was already married to Scotty when Luke raped her! They had her married – she was 17 in real life, and, as it turns out, in the show as well – as Laura’s probation for murder (I did not know this plotline – thank you internet for this info) would end when she turned 18 or when she got married, which is why Scotty marries her.

To make things worse (although how can I, with this awful storyline?), the show made Genie Francis defend the plot.

In the documentary ‘The Story of Soaps’, Genie spoke about how despite finding the falling in love with your rapist premise problematic, she had to defend it. She said, “It was such a big deal in the media and it took the country by storm. I’ve had to justify it for so many years and I have to say, it feels good to sit here and say I won’t justify it. It’s awful. They shouldn’t have done it.” The producer of the show, Gloria Monte, and the writers tried to deal with the situation by calling it “rape-seduction”, and explaining that Luke did it for love. Despite the rape scene, Laura and Luke remain television’s golden couple.


The story changes depending on who tells it.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre commissioned Eleanor Burgess to write a play – the wife’s and the mistress’s version of Death of a Salesman.

Turns out that Willy Loman is kind of a jerk who is cheating on his wife and expects her to do everything.

Which – are we surprised?

Are we surprised that when the women tell the story, they aren’t happy?

What would My Fair Lady look like from Eliza’s point of view?