Flea (RIP) used to talk about the medicalization of childhood–that kids don’t just run the spectrum of normal variation, that everything nowadays has to be a diagnosis or a pathology that requires treatment. I’ve started to come across the same thing in pregnancy.
There’s this strange phenomenon that several of the docs, nurses, and assistants have commented on–that women will come in, having missed their periods, taken several at-home pregnancy tests, all positive, and still want or need the doctor to “deem them” pregnant. (Plus often a number of the pregnancy changes: nausea, vomitting, breast tenderness, bleeding gums, etc.) Just seems strange that in some ways we’re so out of touch with our bodies–or at least the “natural” changes of them–that we need some “authority on bodies” (doctors) to concur with our own diagnosis.
I guess you can take this a step further and apply it to a lot of common complaints: a weird twitch somewhere, a strange sensation. In some ways it makes sense–you see plenty of patients who wait too long before they see a doctor for what turns out to be a heart attack, or cancer, or stroke, or out of control diabetes–and you wonder how they could possibly have waited so long. And on the other hand, you have people coming in for weird aches and feelings that are just typical, natural weirdness of our bodies.
Sometimes I wonder if a lot of the extremes are due to the break up of the extended family, and the more migratory lives of people. Had a newly-pregnant woman been living with her parents or grandparents, the mothers would just immediately recognize, “Duh, you’re pregnant.” Likewise, the guy who looks green and is clutching is chest might be convinced to seek medical care if his family members urge him to.