Why I became a doctor
People who know me think I became a doctor so I could help people.
That’s not why. I was working as a temp worker, cleaning lady and medical assistant, and I was a MOM, so I was already helping people. I didn’t need to go to medical school for that.
No, the real reason is because I am a hypochondriac. And I didn’t like the way the medical profession treated me. If you want to witness the racial disparities in healthcare up close, try navigating the medical world as a BROWN hypochondriac.
28 years ago when I had my first OB, I didn’t have words like systematic racism and intersectionality. All I had was feminism which to me meant don’t be barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen. Just days into my second trimester, I thought I was bleeding and I went screaming to the nearest emergency room. Absolutely nothing was wrong. My ultrasound showed my daughter dancing gracefully. A week later, while on my morning brisk walk through Central Park, I suddenly felt stabbing pains in my feet, traveling up my legs into my glutes, up my back then my neck and shooting out of my eyes. I ran to my OB’s office and sat hyperventilating in the waiting room.
The moment I was in his exam room, he said, take your shoes off and walk barefoot for me.
What?! Barefoot and pregnant! Already someone is telling me to be barefoot and pregnant!
My OB sat watching with a small smile.
Mamacita, he said.
Mamacita! That was me! I was a mamacita! I could literally feel my daughter dancing in her amniotic fluid.
Yes, Dr. Fernandez?
Your shoes are too tight. You’re pregnant now, so your feet are swelling. Let’s see what happens when you take them off and walk barefoot.
The pain instantly went away. I knew I was in good hands with Dr. Fernandez. I knew he would take good care of me. I knew he had the power to cure my hypochondriasis.
A month later I was forced to move across the country to Los Angeles. My hypochondriasis became chronic. Which led to my inevitable entrance into medicine in search of a cure.
And now, 16 years after graduating from medical school, I’m still searching for a cure.
Why I became a doctor