Aaron, who is in P5, started learning about the reproductive system. Last week, he asked me, what is menopause period? I explained to him in a neutral tone that females get period when the womb sheds its lining which had thickened during the past month in preparation for a fertilized egg and the lining is no longer required if no fertilisation had taken place. Menopause occurs when the female is no longer productive and hence the period stops permanently. Our discussion included his amazement that I bleed every month and his knowledge that menopause occurs between 40-60 years old, so I’m technically almost ‘there’.
That discussion reminded me that I needed to look for a new gynae, since my last gynae retired four years ago.
I had been going around asking my friends about it. I wanted somewhere closeby, preferably in Clementi or Bukit Batok, and someone not so old he’s also due for retirement. Apparently most women no longer visit their gynae after their last child births, preferring the cheaper option of going to a GP or SATA for pap smear if nothing is wrong. My yoga mate, Ling, who works in a gynae clinic declined to introduce me her boss. You won’t like him, she said. Anyway, her clinic at CCK is too far.
With no reference in sight, I decided to take my chance and booked an appointment with the only woman’s clinic at Clementi. Worse comes to worst, if I don’t like the doctors there, I’ll just look for another one.
Going to a clinic in the heartlands is quite different from visiting one at a hospital, which was where my last one was situated. For one thing, there were more Chinese nationals there. And the conversations were so loud the patients’ privacy were all invaded.
A young couple from China was already there when I arrived. Looking at their young age (early twenties), I guessed immediately that they were there for an abortion. There was no remorse or sadness in their expression during their wait for the doctor’s arrival. After their short consultation with the doctor, I heard the nurse advised her that the fee was $500 and that as she would be undergoing GA, so no food and drinks 12 hours before. I also learned the Chinese word for abortion is 止产. I had thought all couples must undergo the mendatory counselling before an abortion? How come their consultation is so fast?
The next woman who came after me but went in before me wanted to try for a baby but had not taken the hormon pills as prescribed by the doctor two weeks ago. The nurse chided her, you are lacking in this hormon and if you don’t take it, how to have a baby? I tried not to look at her with sympathy.
Another Chinese national family of husband, wife and wife’s mother came in. She’s in her early-mid trimester. Luckily she is going after me.
The gynae i saw was a part-timer, who comes in only on Wednesday morning to relieve his brother. (wow, two gynaes in the family, lucky mother!) He’s about my age (the nurse doesn’t even know his age, but calculated that he should be about 50, since the clinic was opened in 1993). For the first time too, my legs were in stirrups in the clinic. (Dr Han doesn’t have that). The doctor decided to do an internal scan after a pap smear. I must say he was much gentler than Dr Han. There was a monitor overhead and I could see as he clicked and took measurements of shadows here and there. Then he told me I had three problems. Two minutes into the discussion, he realised I was still in the awkward position and suggested I get dress and then talk. Some questions he asked I have no answer for. How do I know if my period is heavier than others? or that I have heavier discharge? By the number of pads I use per day? I told him to the best of my knowledge it’s normal.
Apparently I have a fibroid in my womb (common, said he), an unusually thick lining for this time of the month, and two cysts on my one ovary(forgot which one), an area to be concerned. I need another scan immediately after my next period to see if everything disappear. If not, I need to do a D&C (eeks!).
Thank goodness I found out all this now. Isn’t it hard being a woman?