tC On Dr Mary D MD

Mary-d-art-trans This is a Photo-chopped version of the gift I made for Dr Mary D, my soon-to-be-retired GP. You wouldn't know by looking at this version that it's actually a shadowbox (hence the photo-chopping), and you wouldn't know by looking at me that I have as many health problems as I do. My appearance of good health is a testament to the excellent health care that I have received from Dr Mary D. She has been a great influence, helping me to learn how to take care of myself and helping me to take care of my mother.

Before Dr Mary D, my mother's GP was Dr AC, a golfing buddy of my uncle Art. I was of the opinion that Dr AC was a mediocre doctor at best because of my experience with him. I was taking allergy shots and needed my shot and was in the area near his office so went there. After he gave me the shot he asked if there was anything else, and I happened to have started taking the new low-dose pill a few months earlier, and was almost completely constipated and had gained a lot of weight (20 lbs). What he said? "You should go at least once a day, whenever you have cramps…All the Hollywood starlets are on the pill and they don't gain weight, they just don't eat anything but salad…If you don't want to gain weight, eat nothing but salad."

What kind of doctor would say such a thing to anybody, let along a twenty-something young woman who might or might not be suffering from anorexia? Not a good one, I thought, and resolved to never see him again. I stopped taking the pill, and within thirty hours I had excreted (both types) about fifty times and lost about twelve lbs, likely all that water and stuff. Needless to say, I never tried to take the pill again, and I never went to see him again.

My mother's problems with him were bigger: she had, from about 1977, had quite bad digestion problems, and almost everything she ate gave her diarrhoea. He never thought to give her tests or investigate the causes, and in 1997, when she had the emergency bowel resection (accompanied by the multiple organ failure), we found out why she'd had the digestive problems: in 1969 or so she'd had radiation therapy for a cancer of the uterus, and the radiation had burned a ot of the tissue in her abdomen. Her intestines had perforated then sealed themselves up then perforated again, several times, each time leaking a bit of digestive fluid into her abdominal cavity, but not enough to give her full-fledged peritonitis. In 1997 the poisons had built up enough to give her full-fledged peritonitis, and she almost died. She spent 9 and a half weeks (no, Mickey Rourke wasn't there) in the hospital, and when they discharged her, they thought they were sending her home to die.

Quite frankly, I also expected her to die – she was so frail and tiny, and noody seemed to care for her (not even I her only child) – so I did the only thing I could figure would help her, and got her to start going to Dr Mary D, my wonderful doctor, rather than continuing with Dr AC.

I had found Dr Mary D in 1993, quite by accident soon after I had had the appendectomy. At that time I didn't have a GP, I had been attending walk-in clinics for all my health needs, but this walk-in medical care wasn't really helping me. I had a nasty yeast infection from the post-op antibiotics, so I was desperately seeking a doctor in my neighbourhood who was taking new patients to prescribe the ointment. I found Dr Mary D in the yellow pages and made an appointment for that afternoon. 

Dr Mary D was away, and the locum was Dr Allison P, a pleasant young woman (who turned out to be a graduate from the department I work in). She checked me out and gave me the prescription for the ointment, and I thought that was that. Six weeks later there was a phone call from Dr Mary D, she was looking over my file and she thought that I should make a follow-up appointment so she and I could meet one another, and she could help me with my messy health. I was impressed that she was so pro-active, following up on my appointment with Dr Allison P when I might have let it slide, so I made an appointment, we met, and our relationship blossomed from there. 

When I found Dr Mary D, my diabetes had been diagnosed two years earlier. I had a good endocrinologist, Dr Don S, to whose care I had been refered by one of the GPs at the Student Health Clinic at UBC. Everytime I saw Dr. Don S he asked me if I had found a GP yet, and when I told him I had found Dr Mary D, he looked pleased and said, "If my mother or wife were looking for a GP, I'd send them to her. She took on the boys at the College (of Physicians and Surgeons) and won."  Pretty impressive for a GP to be so highly recommended by a highly regarded specialist.

Once I asked Dr Mary D about her background and she told me that she was a nurse before she became a doctor. It shows in the way she deals with her patients. Dr Mary D has always been kind and helpful when helping me to deal with my problems, physical and emotional, small and large. I have responded well to her patience.

My mother responds well to Dr Mary D too, listening to her voice of authority when my voice of authority doesn't work. I have been able to get messages to my mother when she is obstinately not listening by getting Dr. Mary D to talk with her. For that small thing I am grateful.

So I started making what I thought would be a lovely good-bye card, but the card ended up being a full fledged work of art, matted and framed. I did it all myself, it took many hours to make all the parts and to put them together (not to mention the several times I took it apart and put it together again because it wasn't perfect). I like it a lot, and it's probably the crush of the day, but I'm still a bit hesitant to give a piece of my gritty downtown eastside art (as yet untitled) to someone who has Anne Geddes posters in the exam rooms. I understand that Dr Mary D's practice was dominated by expectant mothers and mothers of young children, so the milky art of Anne Geddes, and the like, is easy and obvious. That said, I am hopeful that the apparent love of Dr Mary D for Anne Geddes' milky work is a work-related affliction, and that in her life she likes her art a little stronger.

I'm going to miss Dr Mary D. I hope she likes the art.

~ by thiscassandra on Sunday 8 June 2008.

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