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We all need competent, compassionate doctors who listen and then give us thoughtful answers and next steps. Most doctors are great about writing down complicated medical terms or drawing diagrams of things like the hypothalamus, although we’ve all had doctors who, at the very least, were arrogant jerks.

Like the doctor who, before introducing himself, slipped my x-ray into the light box and said, “This will probably result in the amputation of your right foot.”

Mayo Galindo, an orthopedic surgeon in San Antonio, refused to hear my suggestion that the marble-sized ball in the arch of my foot might have been caused by new cowboy boots I’d worn, nonstop, for a week in Colorado. Instead he proceeded to tell me it was a tumor, and if it were benign, it would have been located on the other side of my arch, but because it wasn’t, it was most certainly malignant. A second and third opinion and $35K later, a blood clot—caused by ill-fitting, custom, cowboy boots—was removed from the arch of my right foot.

Thankfully I didn’t accept his diagnosis without getting other opinions!

When I was a more active breast cancer advocate, I spoke to women of all ages about healthcare. It wasn’t long before I realized many women, our mother’s age, were less proactive than Baby Boomer women. If my mother’d been told her foot might be amputated, I’m not sure she would have gotten a second opinion, much less discussed it in-depth with her doctor. She would have dutifully gone to the foot guillotine.

Mother always wanted to… pardon the pun… put her best foot forward. I took her to enough doctors’ appointments to know she didn’t tell them the truth. Once mother was nearly doubled up in pain from diverticulitis, but she told the doctor, “It was mildly uncomfortable.” When the doctor pressed on her abdomen and asked if that hurt, she winced, clearly ready to leap off the examining table, but said, “It’s not bad.” A few days later she complained the doctor wasn’t any good because he didn’t solve her problem.

Duh! Garbage in, garbage out!

I sometimes wondered if mother thought good doctors should intuit her problems. Then again she was from the generation where “nice girls” didn’t talk about sex, or problems “down there,” and doctors were Gods… not to be questioned. Even though most Baby Boomer women are better informed and more proactive than our mothers, we still need to be good advocates for ourselves and establish good doctor/patient relationships.

As we age we may develop embarrassing conditions like lack of bladder and bowel control, low libido and painful sex, issues many of us are hesitant to discuss with anyone. On the flip side, many doctors aren’t initiating these conversations with us. If doctors don’t ask, and patients don’t speak up, we may be suffering, needlessly, from manageable conditions.

Girlfriends! We are the generation who fought for equality, the destruction of the glass ceiling, the right to say “No” and the right to an abortion. Now is not the time to withdraw into our nearly empty estrogen tanks and silence our voices.

Speak up, and if your doctor is embarrassed to have these conversations…


Love, Brenda


  • Reply Michaele Hall March 10, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Excellent info Brenda, thank you.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee March 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

      You’re welcome, Michaele! Thanks for letting me know! Brenda

  • Reply Sandra Sallin - Apart from My Art March 10, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for the talking to. We need an advocate like you. More please!

    • Reply Brenda Coffee March 13, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Sandra, Perhaps I should start at the head and work my way down. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply BrendaY March 10, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Brenda, I always like reading your site.. Now I have a request.. Please, please do more conversations about “down there” for mature women.. I had to have, for me, an embarassing conversation with my doctor.. Now I have the uneasy feeling that he’s been discussing me with my previous doctor, who happens to live in my neighborhood.. Meanwhile, I still have the discharge altho I’ve been through the treatment meds several times.. I’m hesitant to see yet another doctor now, again.. I hope it doesn’t cause cancer “down there”…

    • Reply Brenda Coffee March 13, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Hi Brenday, I wrote a post about vaginal dryness and painful sex… something I know a lot about. But I hear you… I will take your suggestion to heart and write some things about problems we have “down there,” especially after a certain age. As far as your doctors go… Since I’m not sure what condition you’re alluding to, I would seek another opinion, especially if you fear it could be a sign of something bad. You know the phrase… “Knowledge is power.” Don’t be intimidated by doctors. Don’t live in fear. Be your own health advocate, because if you aren’t… no one else will be either. JUST DO IT! NOW!! Brenda

      • Reply BrendaY March 18, 2018 at 1:17 am

        Okay, I’m over the fear for now.. and I have decided that the next time I see my doctor I’m going to talk to him about my privacy concerns, too! The reason I left the previous doc was he was such a wimp, not willing to listen to my reason for even coming to see him. With him, it was my damaged spine, neuroptic feet, and hoping something could be done to keep me from eventually becoming incontinent. Those concerns are gradually coming home to roost now too!!
        But my present doctor went ahead and gave me the full range of tests, to rule out everything it might possibly be.. Yep, even those the WWII GI’s in foreign climes sometimes got.. Of course, I knew it couldn’t possibly be any of those! And of course, it isn’t!! It’s something that mostly promiscuous younger women get, take the pills for, and get over.. I don’t remember the name of it, but it’s not a “yeast” infection.. I have never even had that one either. This next statement will definitely give my age away, but it either begins with a T or maybe a C… I tried to look it up online, but just got more confused. You’re a smart woman, you or someone you know will know exactly what it is, I’m sure!

        Blessings on you forever!!

        • Reply Brenda Coffee March 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

          Brenday, They’re all confusing. I sometimes feel like I should take my iPad into my appointments and record what the doctor says. At least I have one who’s really great about writing the terms down and diagraming what he’s talking about. Sooo helpful. Okay… I did look up “vaginal problems in women” online and came up with a “T” and a “C.” You may be referring to the “T” and it’s very treatable. Although I loved both of your comments… so great and a bit like a scavenger hunt, I know it’s not funny. Good for you for finding a doctor you have faith in and who listens to you!!! Too many people don’t do that. They let themselves be intimidated by white coats. I hope the meds are helping! Brenda

  • Reply Mamavalveeta03 March 10, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Hallelujah! These are normal body parts we’re talking about….or SHOULD be talking about. I made sure my daughters knew that they didn’t have “wee wees” but vaginas. I never wanted them to be ashamed to talk about something so wonderfully natural or to be ashamed of their own bodies.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee March 13, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Hallelujah is right, Val. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve taught your daughters well. “Wee wees” are holdovers from our mothers and grandmothers. I have a girlfriend who says, “I have to pee pee.” I say, “I have to pee,” and that creeps her out. We’ve been friends since we were 15, so don’t think I go around being that blunt with everyone. When she tells me she doesn’t like the term, “pee” and I should say “pee pee,” (We’ve been having this same conversation most of our lives… ) my response is “If you don’t like the word ‘pee,’ then why do you say it twice? Pee pee? Never have figured that one out. xoxox, Brenda

      • Reply Mamavalveeta03 March 19, 2018 at 12:24 pm
  • Reply TJ March 14, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I only ever go to a female doctor, it’s less embarrassing and they know what you’re talking about. However, I still apologise to her when I go in for my annual pap-smear. She said there’s no need to apologise, to her it’s the same as looking in someone’s throat. And the way they do the test now is SO much better and quicker than 20 years ago – you’re hardly undressed and it’s over – no metal speculum and no poking/palpating. I said to her, ‘my that was quick’ and she said ‘yes, the AMA revised the technique and this is how we do it now’. Wow. It was over in a flash. I won’t be apologising next time. We must make the most of these lifesaving tests that are on offer, and triumph over any embarrassment to stay alive.

    • Reply Brenda Coffee March 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      I love this information, TJ! No metal speculum and no poking/palpating? Sign me up!! I will check into this! I’ve never been to a female doctor. The first gynecologist I saw in my early 20’s asked me to spend the weekend with him at a tennis resort. When I came home and told my first husband that, his response was, “He sees “those” everyday. You should be flattered.” I wasn’t… and I changed doctors. My next doctor was droll and boring, but thorough and confidence inspiring. Broke my heart when he was diagnosed with ALS and quit practicing. Thanks for the great update, Brenda

  • Reply LA CONTESSA March 19, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    DON’t talk to me about DOCTORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m on year TWO OF NO ANSWERS and NO CONCERN!!!!!!!
    Before 50 they could FIX THINGS……….NOW they say “SORRY Hope you feel better!”

    • Reply Brenda Coffee March 19, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      LOL! That’s not funny, I know, but if they’re over 50 and male… They can fix most of their problems with the little blue pill. Not sure they have much empathy. xoxox, Brenda

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