Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sexism at the Doctors

Who'd have thought it, in this enlightened age?

I've been off for a while, family stuff (which I'll post more on later), hence the lack of posting. However, I've been compelled to recount my visit to the doctors yesterday morning, because it fucked me off so much.

Since I was off work yesterday, I took Jack to get his 12-week injections (pneumonia and meningitis, various others). I don't usually get the chance to do this sort of stuff, so I was looking forward to checking out the attractive mothers in the waiting room having this time with my boy, seeing a little bit of his life that, ordinarily, I'd not get to see.

The stupid fucking doctor's surgery doesn't allow you to bring prams inside - you have to leave them out near the front door. I'll be fucked if I'm going to leave a £500 pram lying around for any cunt to nab, so instead I carried him in one of those...carrier things.

No, not a plastic bag, but a proper yoke for carrying babies that you strap to your chest, making carrying even the heaviest child an absolute doddle. Luckily, we just live ten minutes' walk from the docs, so I was only partially crippled by the time we arrived for his appointment.

Anyway, I got in, let them know we'd arrived, and took Jack out of his carrier and his little snowsuit thing. Cue Jack bawling his head off, and I can understand why; he'd been snoozing, warm and snug pressed up against me, then he was woken up by being jerked out of his cradle and disrobed without warning. I'd be pissed off too.

And fuck it, what can you do? Babies cry. There were half a dozen of the little shits* crying in there.

I spent the next few minutes doing my best to soothe him, trying not to look like a pathetic parent with no control over their child whatsoever, and then we were called in.

There were three of them in there - two nurses and a trainee. As soon as I walked into the room, I sensed a vibe. Something was not right here. They gazed at me pityingly as I sat down and bounced Jack gently on my knee, talking to him, telling him it's all ok, and so forth.

Then the questions started.

"Oh, is he ok?"

"Yeah, he's fine, he just woke up with a bit of a fright, I think."

"Awwww, poor baby! Has he been fed? He could be hungry."

"No, he just had a bottle before we left. He's not due for a couple of hours."

"Oh. Well, now, are you Jack's primary carer?"

"Well, normally I work through the week, so my wife is the primary carer. I'm off today though, so I figured I'd take him here."

"Right, right...well, are you looking after him all by yourself today?" (Do I even need to highlight the condescension in this sentence?)

"Uh, my wife's at home too."

"Oh good, well, your wife will be able to get Jack calmed down. He might just be hungry for a bottle."

FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING PATRONISING CUNT. Let's just get this shit over with, because you're starting to piss me the fuck off.

Naturally, after receiving two spikes into each thigh, Jack's state of mind was not improved, and the poor lad continued to cry as they advised what side-effects to expect (tiredness, fever,'s not fucking rocket science, is it?), which I patiently listened to, because I understand that there are alot of people out there who don't have any idea what to expect, and besides, I'm not a dick, they do have a job to do. So I accepted all their advice with grace and humility, but then the awful, horrible cunt had to go and spoil it all by saying

"And if he does have a fever, just give him some Calpol. Have you got any Calpol at home?"

"Yeah, we've got some alright."

"Well, your wife will know what to do. If he seems to be a bit feverish, just ask her how to give him some of the Calpol."


I ought to point out that, on the surface, my countenance belied how I felt. On the outside, I looked calm, sincere, expectant, as I listened to them treat me like a fucking idiot who wouldn't know how to change a fucking nappy**, never mind administer medicine to an infant.

Okay, moving on. I ignore her comment about asking my wife for help giving medicine, and, in an attempt at catharsis, to dissipate my rage, and also, probably unconsciously, to point to a possible reason for why Jack's crying, I casually ask:

"What's the earliest you think a baby could start teething at?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, he drools a lot and he chews his fist all the time."

"Well, it's usually between six months and a year, but they can be as young as three months, and let's see, Jack is-"

"Three months."

"Three months, yeah, so I'd say it's unlikely he'd be teething yet."

"Right, that's fine, just checking. Heh."

"Would you like us to make an appointment with you to help you understand how to wean your baby?"

"No, that's okay thanks, we've got one already, so we've been through it all before. We're going to start him on solids when he gets to four months,

"Oh good, well then, your wife will be able to keep you right, and if you need any more help, just give us a call."

My wife. She's going to love hearing about this.

I don't get it. Was it just because Jack was crying, that they assumed I was a shit parent who had no idea what to do, or is this simply how they treat all fathers, as if they are slightly mentally challenged, the classic lovable oaf-like fuckwit perpetuated on a thousand tv ads as examples of your "typical" father? Either way, they came across as looking like absolute, utter cunts. I'm not trying to stir this up into a battle of the sexes, but if three men treated a woman like I was treated in that setting, she'd (rightly) go fucking berserk about it.

I'm sure the three of them thought they were being incredibly helpful, in the same way as born-again Christians think they are doing you a huge favour by letting you know how you can let the Lord into your life, but I just could not get past the condescending tone, the patronising comments about seeking assistance from my wife, the pitying looks as I tried to soothe Jack. The looks of pity on their own I could understand - it's their job to empathise with stressed parents. It's just the combination with the other things that got to me.

Unfortunately, it seems that some stereotypes continue to thrive unchallenged. So tell me: does the fact that a man, rather than a woman, is looking after a child - does this influence your behaviour towards them? Is it a commonly-held view among women that men are helpless aw-shucks idiots who do hilarious and silly things to kids such as putting their nappy/clothes on backwards, feeding them nothing but sweets and ice-cream and Coke so that when good old mum comes home they're hyper, running riot around the house?

To top it all off, Jack stopped crying the moment we left the building. Little traitor.

*Other people's kids are little shits, of course. Mine are perfect.

** diaper


Conan Drumm blathered this crap:

Send them a letter... uber polite, thanking them so much for their care, attention and advice, but letting them know that their training is incomplete... cc it to their immediate superiors in the NHS.
If Missus Kav had brought junior there would have been no mention of the husband/father at all... unless to ask if husband/father had fucked off yet...

Ruth blathered this crap:

Ah the NHS..... I moaned like hell about the shit you put up with in Ireland, but the NHS takes the cake a lot of time.
The annoying thing is that you should have gotten someone reasonably enlightened at this time of year - they change over in February and August, so your wan/s should have had time to grow a compassionate attitude halfway through their trainee-ship rather than just be a pack of bitches.

I wouldn't know which end of a child was up myself , but I would never presume that I'd know better than a child's father (unless he was obviously a mad depraved fella). In which case I would just have said nothing anyway because it's just best to keep your head down in such instances. They could have knives you know.

freshairlover blathered this crap:

That is the biggest amount of shit I've ever read. I'm so impressed you didn't yell at them. I would have.

Conan Drumm blathered this crap:

ps put all your academic qualifications after your name when you sign the letter, it's the only thing they understand...

The Swearing Lady blathered this crap:

O RLY? Coz I bet you were carrying him upside down the whole time.

DrM2B blathered this crap:

LOL...OMGoddess! ....U're right in that if three men had treated a mother in such a way ....heads wouldve rolled by the end of that appt......I can not believe you held your cool thru it all .....not one snide comment?!?....hell, since they were being that way ...U shouldve commented on their tits ....or scratched least!

jali blathered this crap:

What asswipes! I'm pissed off on your behalf.

Please write a letter to their superiors so that the madness ends - you may be saving a life someday - a lesser man might have shot all three of the stupid wenches just for being so stupid.

(My son's name is Jack too. He's another perfect child. I'd better mention them all: Brooke, Dalerie, Charles and Jack (the baby)

Summer blathered this crap:

Where I live there is an amazing amount of stay-at-home dads. It's hard for me to imagine not thinking that it's acceptable.
Having been in the 'nurses' shoes before, doing many well baby visits w/ immunizations, I can say it's not normal behavior. I never brought up a wife in a conversation with a man. What if he didn't have a wife? What if he had custody of the child? What if he lost his wife in an accident? What if he was gay and there was no wife? So many reasons not to bring up another partner.
If I were you, I would write a kind letter. Maybe state a few reasons above. That's what the last hospital I worked at taught us to think like.
Fuckheads aside, I'm glad your back.

Old Knudsen blathered this crap:

Did you walk into the room carrying your babie under one arm and your head under the other? that would not inspire confidence in me.

Fat Sparrow blathered this crap:

Cheer up, Kav. Maybe they weren't disparaging you for being a man, but simply because you're Irish. Hahahaha! Sorry, I really couldn't resist that one.

No, really, Spouse Sparrow gets that all the time. He's the primary caregiver for our almost-3-year-old Nestling Sparrow, and when we go to the doctor's, the doctor and nurses spend all their time talking to me, even though they know better. Spouse Sparrow sits in a corner, with steam coming out of his ears. Then, when we get out of the doctor's, Spouse Sparrow starts in:

"When was the last time you fed the baby?!"

"Erm, May? June?"

"EXACTLY! Why are they talking to you?!"

"Um, I have a uterus? Ovaries? Big tits?"

It takes days for the Spouse Sparrow to calm down. He is definitely sympathizing with you.

Kav blathered this crap:

conan: Sounds like a lot of effort. Far easier just to blog about it. But yeah, that's what annoyed me - I'm never mentioned when she brings him to the docs, it's only when the roles are reversed.

ruth: Remind me to bring a weapon the next time I go to the doctor.

debbie: To tell the truth I was almost awestuck at what they were saying. It took me a while to compute that yeah, they were actually saying that shit to me. I'm slow like that.

conan: I'll just type the alphabet and see if they notice.

TSL: They probably got suspicious when I started slamming him off the wall to calm him down.

drm2b: I ascertained the quality of their tits as soon as I entered the room. Of the three, only one was in any way attractive, and I couldn't see her breasts under the coat she wore, so it wouldn't have been appropriate to comment.

jali: Good names. And you never know, I might write that letter.

Wait a second. No I won't. I should, but I'm a lazy fucker.

summer: Thanks. I tend to be far too apathetic about these things. How about this: I'll write a letter if five more people say I should do it. Good old peer pressure to the rescue.

old knudsen: You've got me laughing here. That would be cool.

Kav blathered this crap:

fat sparrow: Roffle. Good to see I'm not the only one then. I feel Spouse Sparrow's pain. Next time it happens he should go on a rant about it - he'll feel way better afterwards.

Oh, and I reckon it's the tits. I know that's what always gets my attention.

Devin blathered this crap:

Kav,they will never learn unless they are educated.Get cracking on the letter and definitley cc it to the next level up.
I've had to deal with quite a few gender issues of my own lately but one of the few areas I've not had to worry about was in my dealings with the medical profession here.
They're total pros and while it is a bit *ahem* clinical and v.different from Ireland they'd rather swallow a foreskin full of stale Smithwicks than allow the kind of shit that you had to put up with.
Alternatively you could try and grow some tits of your own (that's what I did)

Kav blathered this crap:

devin: Part of me agrees with you, but I also know that should not underestimate the power that the petulant may hold over my future dealings with the doctor...I don't wnat to have to deal with all that shit in the future just because I complained about this.

As for growing tits, well, that may have worked for you, but I'm doing my best to not grow them at the moment. They just don't suit me.