PLANNED PARENTHOOD - A LOVE STORY

To begin with, let me establish my current repulsion for politics.  Although throughout the years of my secondary education I was quite the Young Republican who baked and decorated cut-out cookies in the shape of elephants for our club's fundraisers, I have long since sold both my elephant and donkey cookie-cutters at a neighborhood garage sale.  I currently am "Not-Affiliated" with any political party and have adopted the "Bobby Olm-Shipman Political Philosophy" which basically establishes that the best idea wins.  I believe that government should serve a limited role in our lives as Americans, but that personal responsibility and individual values should lie within the hearts and minds of each citizen and not be sacrificed for the benefit of others.  Bottom line, I think our government shouldn't have a say about our bodies or what we do in our bedrooms.

Over the past month there has been huge debate over federal budget cuts in spending and Planned Parenthood has been cast as a very sexy victim in the argument.  In my opinion the abortion debate is being used as a red herring to stir up the very core of women's wrath (both pro-life & pro-choice) - in order to divert our attention from the radical makeover so desperately needed in our current governing system.  Settling the debate over federal funding for any service helping women and children will certainly not even begin to dig us out of the financial abyss we are currently lost in.


Now that I have established my desire to not get caught up in the right and wrong of the abortion debate, I will tell you about my love affair with Planned Parenthood.

I was raised in such a die-hard right winged home during the Reagan/Thatcher years, that I even wrote my 8th grade essay on "Whom I Most Admire" with Pat Buchanan as my topic.  Being a member of "Teens For Life" in high school, afforded me a day off of school for the club's field trip where we visited various pregnancy support centers, Operation Rescue headquarters, and a home for unwed mothers.  Throughout my informative speech on "Safe Sex" in my Speech 101 course in college, I repeatedly said, "UNplanned Parenthood" when referencing the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider.  Needless to say no one at my Jesuit Catholic University corrected me. 

Then the spring of my 20th year rolled around and the symptoms of "vulvovaginitis" showed up for the first time in my life.  After I took the suggestion of a friend and used an over the counter Monistat treatment I began to feel better, but as soon as the treatment ended - the symptoms returned.  Cosmic Charlie had been my only sexual partner for the past year, and although I had been completely confident in his fidelity - I was beginning to re-think everything I thought I knew about him.  My Catholic guilt crept in and somehow I convinced myself that I acquired a horrible life-threatening disease because I was a horrible sinner engaging in pre-marital sex.  While guilt sang the melody, the constant voice telling me that I was stupid, fat, and ugly chimed in harmony throughout the background of my consciousness.

Although I had fabulous health insurance I was actually too embarrassed to go see my regular Internal Medicine physician for this particular ailment.  I must not have fully understood the patient/doctor confidentiality concept because I was certain Dr. Johnson would promptly call my mother and tell her what a little slut she had raised.  I decided to take my sinful body where the rest of the "bad girls" went - my local Planned Parenthood.

As I approached the two-story brick building surrounded by an eight foot high wrought-iron fence, a swarm of protesters outside of the perimeter began to approach my two-door economy car.  Holding signs with horrifying photographs and screaming, "DON'T KILL YOUR BABY!!!" to me, the angry mom banged on the hood of my car and tried to block my left turn into the parking lot.  It was such a surreal two minutes.  Don't kill my baby?  For goodness sakes people - I have an itch!  Please let me through to face my own judgement on this one. 

The second my car entered the parking lot, the protesters backed off physically but continued to scream in my direction.  Two health care workers emerged from the entrance to Planned Parenthood dressed in scrubs and ran towards my car offering to park for me while taking me by the hand and asking if I was okay.  A sweet young woman put her arm around me and led me to the lobby offering to help me check in and handing me a cup of chamomile tea.  I haven't had reception this good at any of the dozens of five star hotels I stayed at over my lifetime.

I barely spent thirty seconds in the waiting room before a nurse called me back to an exam room where she took my vital signs as I explained to her about my life threatening STD which my drug dealing philanderer of a boyfriend must have given me.  She gave me a soft cotton gown (not those horrible paper ones my own doctor uses which makes me feel like I am at the butcher), and she left the room while I changed clothes and assumed the ever so modest position on the exam table with my bare feet in the stir-ups and a blanket for cover.

As my health care provider entered the room, I shuddered for a split second as this woman was definitely NOT the Jacqueline Bisset look alike that I had in my own Dr. Johnson.  Tammy introduced herself and all 450 pounds of her topped off with a very short, gray buzzcut hairstyle sat down and gently put her hand on my leg and began softly patting it for reassurance.  My fear of being treated by a lesbian, quickly vanished as Tammy's bedside manner and sweet disposition calmed a deep fear in me which had never quite been stood up to before despite eight years of therapy.

Although my feet were firmly settled in the stir-ups, my knees were rigidly locked together and I didn't think I would be able to relax my inner thigh muscles long enough to conform to the examination.  Tammy took the time to talk to me some more about non-clinical issues and without even realizing it, I naturally relaxed in order for her to take a good look.

"Oh Honey!  You have a HORRIBLE yeast infection!" Tammy exclaimed within the first split second of examining me.  She hadn't even put her hands on me yet and I burst into tears.

"Are you sure?" I said, "I used the over-the-counter cream and since it didn't go completely away, I was certain I had some type of exotic HIV/Hepatitis/Herpes/Syphilis infection only known in circles of Grateful Dead following hippies like my boyfriend."

Tammy assured me that not all yeast infections can be cured with over-the-counter agents and how I needed a prescription for this one.  Instead of just writing me a script where I would then need to take it to a pharmacy and wait for it to be filled, delaying my treatment by several hours - Tammy immediately handed me a tube of cream and told me to administer it immediately, get dressed, and meet her out front.  The feeling of relief was greater than any absolution I had ever received by my priest during Saturday confession. 

I met Tammy at check out where she handed me a paper bag with my treatment and she gave me the hugest, warmest, most healing hug I have ever felt.  When I asked the receptionist what I owed, she just smiled and said whatever I could pay would be great.  Whatever I could pay?  I didn't get it.  I pressed her for a detailed account of the charges which amounted to $65 including the prescription.  I had more than that amount in my purse in the form of cash.  So I paid the entire bill and confidently (and now quite more comfortably) walked to my car and drove past the protesters thinking of how they have NO IDEA what they are missing.

For more stories from Carrie Valium visit:  carrievalium.blogspot.com

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