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October 12, 2011 / missmarymax

Today’s Way To Be Awesome: Update Find-A-Doc

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Some things I know:

It is terrifying to be in medical crisis.  It is especially terrifying when that crisis is not something you can speak about openly, when it’s connected to something considered taboo or shameful.  For instance– when the crisis has to do with sexuality, or gender, or the disconnect between the life you’re living and the one you’re expected to lead.  It is terrifying to need interventional care, particularly when you are too young or too poor or too sick to seek that care privately.  It’s terrifying to seek help when you haven’t had the opportunity to develop trusting relationships with quality professionals, when seeking help means revealing very personal parts of yourself to someone you have every reason to believe might make your experience worse.  Someone who feels — nevertheless — like your last hope.

I did not grow up with consistent medical care.  Until high school, until I was in crisis, I did not see a doctor — let alone the same doctor — with any sort of regularity.  Even in Teh Crisis days, my medical care was a bit scattershot — today a villain, tomorrow a superhero.  In that context, the fact that the first person I saw was recommended to me by a dear friend made an indescribable degree of difference.  The tiny, petrified bit of trust I placed in that first doctor came directly from her association with my friend.  To this day, when I need to see someone new, I solicit recommendations from friends, take comfort in the knowledge that This Person comes with That Person’s stamp of approval.  Because of my history, — (I like to joke that I’ve seen every mental health professional in the tri-state area) — I’ve been able to offer similar recommendations to others, to guide them toward providers worth their trust. In those moments, I see my old relief reflected on their faces.  There is something undeniably comforting about hearing the words, “have you considered seeking help?” followed by the words “Because I know this person…”

“I personally know this person who is really, truly good.”  That recommendation can make such a difference.

Which is why, when you can’t ask someone — or when you have no one to ask — things like the Find-A-Doc service developing over at Scarleteen are vital.  What’s Find-A-Doc, you ask? Essentially, it’s a searchable database of good professionals.  You — right here, reading this, thinking I don’t mean you — can, in just a few minutes, add a healthcare provider to the service.  Scarleteen carefully vets recommendations, so each submission will be verified by a staff member or volunteer, prior to posting.  You don’t need to worry, in other words, about the service getting hijacked by CPCs or reparative therapy quacks.  It won’t.  But it also won’t grow and won’t be there for the young person who desperately — or simply genuinely — needs it, if you don’t take those few minutes now.

I’ve spoken before (and will probably speak again) about the myriad ways that the Internet — that bastion of anti-Luddite terror — has saved my life.  The Web has saved my life in concrete ways and in ephemeral ones.  It has done similar service to friends of mine, in more ways than I can list.  I see Find-A-Doc managing to do that for others.  To meet needs that are very big (and very small), for many people over many years.

So- I’m asking.  Can you vouch for an in-person provider (or organization), who offers any of the following services?

  • sexual/reproductive healthcare
  • STI/STD testing and treatment
  • contraception (birth control) and emergency contraception
  • pregnancy testing
  • pregnancy all-options counseling
  • abortion services
  • pre-natal care/obstetrics and/or midwife/doula services
  • counseling/therapy or support groups
  • trans gender/gender-variant services
  • LGBQ services (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning)
  • teen-specific services
  • rape/abuse crisis services
  • shelter/crisis housing

If you can, then please, please, please-I-will-color-you-a-picture… take a minute to search Find-A-Doc for them.  If they’re there, take another few minutes to review them.  If they aren’t, take those minutes to add them in.  You lose a little time, it’s true…

But think of what someone else might gain because of that.

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