Miss Manners vs. the Washington Post

Here’s some sage advice:

Miss Manners realizes that people say these things [disaster stories] to mothers because they don’t know what else to say. She recommends dropping the category of potential mother, saying “Congratulations” to expectant mothers, “How adorable!” to new mothers and, to the rest, “So — how are the kids?”

Now if only the medical establishment, and especially the Washington Post’s coverage of same, would take heed! Doctors are allowed to flout some social conventions in the service of their patients’ health, but telling your “pre-pregnant” patient that folic acid supplements will reduce the risk of birth defects when you have just discussed her plans for avoiding pregnancy and written her a just-in-case prescription for emergency contraception is still an utterly absurd bedside mannerism (thanks, student health!). And this is fucking malpractice:

I was diagnosed with epilepsy in October 2003. My first neurologist put me on Lamictal, which caused some pretty untenable side effects, including the first 2/3 of what became a catastrophic weight loss – 50 pounds in total, to a low of 85 pounds.

She tried me on Keppra, which was worse – then gave up for the sake of the potential fetus. I switched neurologists and medications, trying Topomax and Trileptal, the latter of which (plus Zonegran) I’m still on. The weight loss continued. Uncontrollably.

There are medications that have, as their side effects, weight gain. I have begged for these medications, but been refused. Direct quote from my neurologist: “You’re a newlywed. You’ll want a baby.” I’m a newlywed with an 11-year-old daughter and a body that’s falling apart. Trust me. I do not want a baby. But my stated desires are irrelevant – I cannot get prescribed a medication that will keep me from losing weight and may control my seizures better than the one I’m on now, due entirely to increased risk of birth defects.


  1. Lab Lemming wrote:

    You must remember that in California, students are not individual people capable of making their own health decisions. Rather, they are the summation of their risk factors, a malpractice-suit-waiting-to-happen that threatens the foundation of the health services budget. Even if you were a 90 year-old hysterectomized nun living in isolation, it wouldn’t cost them anything to recommend folic acid. But if they didn’t, and you were somehow able to borrow a uterus, get knocked up, and then have a baby with spinal bifida, they’d be looking at a whole lotta lawyers. Respecting the patient is not a statistically sensible scenario.

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