There is certainly something magical about being a black woman surrounded by other black women. I'm usually reminded when a couple of friends and I watch Beyonce's iconic turn as the star of Carmen: a hip hopera . But sometimes I can enjoy the beauty of being with other black women on a much larger scale.
In April, I ventured to OMNoire Glow West to the Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson at the OM Wellness Summit showcased by Tropicana Essentials Probiotics. OmNoire is a wellness community for colorful women, and founder Christina Rice holds retreats to give attendees the opportunity to relax in a room full of solidarity. Rice invited me to attend the final summit in the dry, dreamy southwestern heat to interview ob / gyn Kiarra King MD, who practices in the southern suburbs of Chicago.
In a Breakout Session During the retreat Dr. King and I the realities of health and wellbeing for black women. Getting to know her has only made my dream of becoming a gynecologist one day stronger. (Then I try to split the bill when I go out to dinner and remember that STEM is my nemesis.)
I wanted more from Dr. King hear about her life as ob / gyn, mother and avid blogger. Here's Dr. King drop a few gems.
SELF: First, how did you come to medicine?
Dr. King: When I was little, when I had a cold or sore throat – I'm about to make an appointment, not to laugh – I went to the encyclopedia and searched for my symptoms. There was no Google at the time! That has aroused my interest in medicine. I knew that I wanted to go to medical school and wanted to have something to do first with athletics. My main subject in basic education was actually sports training, because I always loved that. When I came to the medical school, I said, "Oh, I can be in orthopedics." Then I turned my Ortho and felt like in a mechanic workshop with all the tools and instruments and hammered and hammered. I said, "Mmm, no, I do not think I want to do that." Do not get me wrong, it was interesting and I'm glad people are replacing joints and things like that, but it did not work out feel for me not right.
My next choice was physical medicine and rehab, which still suited my interests in athletics. At the end of my third year, I switched to obstetrics and gynecology. I loved that it was quite varied. I performed outpatient treatment, childbirth and performed operations. But I had decided to do physical medicine and rehab. Most people know what they want to do in their second year, and I was almost done with my third. I said, "Ob / gyn is great, but I'm not doing it." After a day or two in my physical medicine and rehab rotation, I thought, "I'd rather make a C section at the moment , "
SELF: What motivated you to be a gynecologist?
Dr. King: I love to work with women of all ages at different stages of their lives. I can work with someone who is 14 years old and comes in because his periods are really painful and she and her mother want to know what we can do. I can have someone who is 65 years old and has bleeding after the menopause, someone who has his third child and cares for prenatal care, someone with fibroids and terrible bleeding, who wants to know his possibilities. I love the variety of patients I see. No medical specialty is an isolated case, but especially as a gynecologist we can do a lot. [SEL]: You mentioned that you work mainly with people in underserved populations. Can you explain what that means and why it is so important to you?
Dr. King: Yes, I work mainly with a largely underserved population and it is probably one of my favorite subgroups of patients. They may be under-served for many reasons, such as their level of education or their socio-economic status.
In general, this means that I often see patients operating from a place where they were not really cared for or encouraged. So I do not just come in and take their life points and go. I talk to people. I am not a robot and they are not robots. I like being this bridge, resource or a smiling, friendly face if you have not seen one yet. Just to give people a sense of hope.
Months ago I saw a pregnant young lady who was about 19 years old. She did not work or at school. I thought, "What are you going to do when the baby comes?" And she said nobody in her life ever talked to her about setting goals. I like to engage with my patients and have these deeper conversations. So I said, 'I want you to go home and just dream. Get yourself in the mood to think about your goals. "I've seen her recently, she has since had her baby, and now has a job, we had a good conversation.
SELF: Seeing between patients, being a mom, blogging, traveling – how do you juggle everything on your plate? [King: I always say people I do not know, but then I usually say, "God." He allowed me to keep everything running.
I have the privilege of being flexible I say that I work part-time because I only work three days a week, technically it's 30 hours, but it's usually more than what my job requires.
That means I My daughter Kai can drop off at school on Mondays mornings and be able to take her swimming classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I can take her to gymnastics on Wednesday afternoon, and we can run to the library.
I do not work on weekends either So I can do it on Saturday to the Ballet go to church Plan a photo shoot for my blog on Sunday. I have the flexibility that allows me to accommodate things.
SELF-CARE: Self-care is a bit of an overused buzzword right now, but it's important. What does self-care look like for you?
Dr. King: When I wake up in the morning, I first read my bible app on my phone. People always advise against using the phone the first time they wake up, and I ask myself, "Man, I want to do that." But it is so convenient! And it helps me to center my day and put my thoughts on the right track.
I also enjoy being with my family. We are really connected and we love to hang out. Just knowing that we share the inheritance of our older family members – that flows into my soul.
I spend a lot of time working on my blog, but I like doing photo shoots. I like to dress up and make-up. I worked with an eyelash extension brand and was allowed to rest there for two hours. When it's in my blog world, it's usually something that fills me spiritually and emotionally. I know that I do not meditate alone, but self-care is not a one-hit miracle. It is not a monolith. We have to get out of this way of thinking.
EVEN: Many people find it difficult to report concerns about their health to their doctor. Why is it so important to stand up for yourself – and sometimes so hard?
Dr. King: Coming in for yourself can be easier said than done. People are afraid to comment, or you hope that you have found a solution and do not want to push for it further. And black women can be difficult because so many of us are used to taking care of other people.
But to stand up for yourself is vital. It can make a difference. It is definitely a form of self-care.
One way to simplify this is to create a list of questions, if you can. If you know you have fibroids and want to discuss your options, look no further than what treatments they have. That way, if your doctor says you need a hysterectomy but you believe you're a candidate for a IUD or other treatment, you can say, "Hey I read about it. Would they work for me? "That opens up at least the conversation.
If your doctor says, "Do you know what? I did not mention these other things because, for medical reasons, they are not good options for these reasons. "They know they were thinking about it. But if your doctor says, "Oh, I did not think you wanted that, but you're really a candidate." You may want to seek a second opinion. Consult with a doctor to help you build that relationship and meaningful relationship so that your connection creates a sense of trust. If you have questions then you know they are really listening. If you have that confidence and know that you are on the same page, this relationship can flourish, even if that doctor is not the one to look after a particular health condition for you.
I tell people all the time: this is your body. This is your health. You get a life. It's so important to know when something is wrong and to say, "Hey, I've never experienced that, what can we do?" If you really feel something is going on and your doctor is not listening, it is Absolutely okay So you say, "Can you pass me on to someone?" or "Thank you for your time, I think I'll go to another provider." Or you do not even have to do anything – you can go and try find another doctor that suits you better. That's fine. You know your body.
This conversation has been edited and summarized for the sake of clarity.