Thoughtful Thursday: Know

December 3, 2009

Thoughtful ThursdayHappy December! Time for the Intelligentsia (people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of November).

Wiseguy from Woman Anyone? comes through yet again with an unprecedented 11 Intelligentsia appearances.

Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy, and author of the upcoming book 32 Candles, is back for the 9th time.

Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair is back for #8.

Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose returns for lucky #7.

Jill from All Aboard the Pity Boat makes her sixth appearance.

Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV is back for #5.

Mel from Stirrup Queens three-peats.

A from Are You Kidding Me? makes her first Intelligentsia appearance.

Thoughtful Thursday(Note: Birth and children mentioned. The question is couched within the context of my birth experience, but it could apply to all sorts of situations.)

People who have read my birth story know that it ended well, but that it got pretty dodgy for a while. Until recently, I thought I knew everything there was to know about that dodginess.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a close friend of DH’s, who is also my close friend, about the whole birth experience. He said something about the babies having been in danger.

Me: They were never in danger. I was the only one in danger. They were always fine.
Friend: That’s not what DH said.
Me: Huh?!?
Friend: He said the doctors pulled him aside and said that he could lose you and the babies. They didn’t want to upset you so they only told him.
Me: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t think that’s true.
Friend: Oh. I guess you weren’t supposed to know. Don’t tell him I said anything.

What?!?

When I finally asked DH about it, he said the friend was totally mistaken, and that nothing like that happened. My memory accurately reflected the events of the birth. Phew.

This game of broken telephone raised a question in my mind. If we had all been in danger, would I have wanted to know?

I’ve had general anesthesia three times in my life: when my wisdom teeth were removed, IVF #1, and IVF #2. When you’re unconscious, you have no idea what is going on until everything is over. Good or bad, you are oblivious.

With the spinal anesthesia during my C-section, I was completely awake and alert. I couldn’t see what they were doing, but I could hear — and feel! — plenty. Before the “we need to talk” conversation, I could sense that something was going on. But, never having had a C-section before, who was I to say what was normal. Anyway, I was quite distracted trying to catch glimpses of my babies. By the time I sensed a shift in the tone of the room, Burrito and Tamale were out of my body and reportedly doing fine.

Until I saw the babies and was told they were healthy, I didn’t fully believe that I’d end up with two real live babies. I was prepared for all sorts of contingencies, but I never anticipated a scenario in which information could be withheld from me.

Given how I dealt with the “we need to do a hysterectomy to stop your hemorrhaging” talk, I think I would have handled any negative information about the babies reasonably well. I am certainly the kind of person who wants to know everything that’s going on. Presumably there are times when it seems medically indicated to withhold information: for example, if raising your blood pressure would compromise your health at that moment. Otherwise, personally I’d rather know everything that’s going on. False alarm? No problem. True alarm? I certainly don’t want to be the last to know.

What about you?

Would you rather know that something bad might possibly happen, or would you rather get information only when there’s certainty of a good or bad outcome?

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15 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Know”


  1. This must mean that you’re nearing a full year of Thoughtful Thursdays. Wow!

    I would definitely want to know. I am a knowing kind of person.

    In fact, this is the primary reason why we chose open adoption. Because I WOULD WANT TO KNOW as much as I could about it all.

    As an aside, I wish I could have general for my upcoming LASIK. Such a wuss.

  2. Elana Kahn Says:

    Did I miss one??? I thought I commented on all of your November posts. :-(

    I would want to know when something is certainly wrong, not if something *could* go wrong. There are a zillion things that could go wrong in any circumstance, so I’d rather just know when something is for sure happening. It’s too much overload for my brain, and I’ll worry too much if there’s a “could” attached.

  3. Ana Says:

    Definitely I would want to know. If there was a definite reason for anyone to believe that things may not turn out OK, I’d want to be told that. Because if something bad happened, and nobody told me, I would be FURIOUS. Obviously there is always a small chance something unexpected could go wrong, but I mean a situation in which the doctor(s) are aware of something that could result in a bad outcome. What if—and this is a scary thought, but I’m trying to prove my point–what if the baby was not going to survive and you wanted to see the baby for a second or bless him or touch her or even say a prayer or any special ritual? I would not want my feelings or sensibilities to be spared. If it was bad enough that my husband needed to be told, it is just wrong & paternalistic to withhold the information from the mother.

    In fact, as a healthcare provider myself, I would say there are very very few situations in which the patient or parent should not know about a possible serious medical event. The AMOUNT of information you give may vary—you don’t go into long-winded detailed discussions with a woman while she is having a c-section, for example—but she should be told if her life or her babies lives are in danger. The whole “we shouldn’t tell her because she might get upset” idea is no longer considered OK in medicine.

    (some of your thoughtful thursdays take me a while to consider…clearly I feel strongly about this one)

  4. Mel Says:

    I’d want to know. When there is information to be known, I always want to know it, even when I know that it emotionally isn’t in my best interests.

    A year or two ago, I needed to request the birth records because we had another medical issue to check out. It was about 50 pages long and I ended up sitting there all night reading about the birth as if it were someone else’s story. It was a very strange, very emotional experience to see all the nurse’s notes.

  5. a Says:

    I want to know everything. I read my chart when I can get a hold of it. I check out my xrays at the dentist. Information is power, and I don’t like when it is withheld from me. Also, I’m nosy.

    My mother, on the other hand, should not know anything. When informed of the risks of a procedure, she immediately convinces herself that the worst possible scenario will happen to her. She’s had cartoidectomy (? – where they take the roto-rooter approach to clean your carotid arteries) twice on each side. Every time, we hear for weeks about how she’s sure she’s going to have a stroke. Hasn’t happened yet. I know it could happen, but what’s the point in focusing on it?

  6. Jules Says:

    I missed a week too…….

    In general I like to know all plausible scenarios – I don’t need to hear every possible outcome in great detail but the basic points and what the doctors feel are the more probable ones. If that includes a “worst case” or possibly upsetting news, so be it. Your point about if negative news might cause physical changes that could impact said situation is one to think about.

    During my delivery, I sensed there might be a problem(doctor and intern in low voices) and asked several times if there was. Baby B had to come out using the vacuum with her heartrate dropping and I’m pretty sure that’s what they were noticing.

    While it turned out for the better, after a bike wreck the doctor told me as he felt I should be ready for whatever news that with the facial swelling I had, he felt for sure my cheekbone was shattered. Glad he was wrong, but appreciate him at least giving me a heads up for the possibility.

    If, moreso for bad outcomes, news needs to be given, I don’t go for any sugarcoating or delay tactics. Hubby injured his eye and based on what he told the first doctor, the doctor started asking him questions that instantly clued me (just knowing eye stuff) that he had done major damage. The doctor wasn’t saying it though right away and that kind of annoyed me.

  7. BB Says:

    I “need” to know! Knowledge is power and whether good or bad (info), it is easier to link things together and make educated decisions. I have always asked for my results, my reports… I am a kind of a person who has a plan B normally chalked out (ofcourse it doesn’t always work), I prefer to be mentally prepared than be startled! I agree to what you mentioned though, that if it is going to harm you (shoot up your blood pressure etc)… I would rather that they wait to tell me… but that is a medical reason.

  8. Kristin Says:

    I would absolutely want to know any possible outcome. I know I would be incredibly pissed off if info had been withheld from me.


  9. I always want to know the worst case scenario. Always. I don’t feel truly prepared unless I’ve prepared for the worst case scenario. My husband knows better than to try to keep anything from me re: his health or mine. Also, I would be infuriated if a doctor told my husband something about my or Betty’s health but didn’t tell me. What is this? Mad Men? I’m not sure what your husband’s friend was suggesting is even legal.

    However, when I asked about whether they still thought I would need a c-section before I started pushing, my nurse said, “Let’s just concentrate on pushing and get the C-section out of your mind.” And later she admitted that they didn’t have much hope of vaginal birth, but they wanted to let me try and were pleasantly surprised.

  10. staciet Says:

    I need to know. Knowledge is power. You can not make a responsible decision about a person’s care unless you are presented with all information, including the various scenarios and possibilities.

    In my experience, though, doctors are not always ready to deal with this kind of attitude. Some hospitals and doctors are better understanding the importance of full knowledge than others, but I have dealt with far too many in the medical field who minimize situations (I am only a irrational mother, you know, so I can’t handle the information) or brush aside what ifs because they most likely will not happen–that is unless you are in my family, of course.

    If something ever again happens that was a possibility but I didn’t know about…well, let’s just say that this momma bear has a ferocious bite and she’s not afraid to use it!

  11. WiseGuy Says:

    Happy December, BabySmiling!

    Uh, that has been one of the issues with my mother – my mother as my mother and my mother as my doctor. She peers through reports, and says ‘Nothing much’, and then prescribes me medicines on the go. That is when I get pissed off. Coz nobody gets medicines for ‘nothing’. That was her reaction when I began my post-Mantoux medication, and that is when I told her that she better start telling me things the way they were or I would never really be able to put a finger on what was happening to me.

    But there are times, when withholding information has actually helped me. Several years back, I developed fever, and had a horrid time stuck on my bed for about five-six days. When I asked my mother what my temperature was, she told me that it was 101-102 degrees Celsius. The truth is I was climbing the 104 beanpole. Because I believed the false data I had got, I had convinced myself that my fever was moderate, I actually felt not-that-bad, and recovered better. It was only after I was fully recovered that I came to know what temperatures I had been running.

    I will not like to apply however, the same corollary to the current afflication I am in. IF is not life-threatening, but it is a long-drawn battle, and I will feel more ‘empowered’ to know and feel everything on an as-is basis.

  12. jill Says:

    I don’t think I’m much of a worrier so I think I’d want to know. If something bad were going to happen I’d want that extra time to process and be prepared.

  13. Lynn Says:

    I’d definitely want to know whatever the outcome. I hate being in the dark on anything and, particularly something as serious as a health issue, I’d feel I needed to know. I don’t want to be kept in the dark and, if I were going to die or lose an integral part of what makes me me, I’d want to be able to say goodbye to my loved ones or goodbye to that part of me. Information is important.

  14. Photogrl Says:

    I’m WAY late on this, but I’ve got to weigh in.

    I’ve always been of the camp that knowledge is power. The more I know, the better I can deal with it.

    When my mom was diagnoised with ovarian cancer in 2002, I read everything I could get my hands on about the disease. When I started to struggle concieving #2 (and #3, I guess ;)) again, I turned to any information I could find on secondary IF.

    That being said, if it’s bad, it still sucks.


  15. I would want to know, even though I might freak out and start wondering about worst case scenarios. But still, I’d rather know and try to deal with it, then thinking everything is fine when it isn’t.


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