I did it! FINALLY got my Airman’s Medical Certificate. Now I have a shiny new, First Class Medical, again. WAHOO!!!
But just like most things in life, it was not without it’s little dramas. I was lucky enough to come across an Aeromedical Examiner (AME) who was running a special of the first medical done with him is free. The only catch was that it needed to be a First or Second class medical. Not a problem. I had always intended to get at least a Second this time around, but found myself opting for the “adult” examination. Team 40, baby!
So after filling out the paperwork, a nurse with a student intern “shadow” called me into the back of the office for the basic exam: blood pressure, weight, height, near vision, far vision, etc. Apparently, I did well in all those categories. Then came the “adult” portion of the test. The EKG. For some bizarre reason, I had thought this was an invasive x-ray procedure. Imagine my surprise when the nurse said it was just measuring electric impulses to my heart. So after having probes taped to my body, I easily passed.
But then came the “drama.” Finally, I was ushered into a little room to wait patiently for the AME to arrive. Of course, I had a book, but luckily didn’t have to wait long. He came in as friendly and happy as any doctor, I’ve seen. He had me do tests of balance, flexibility and coordination. Then he got into my medical history. He was VERY concerned about the fact that I had a child. He said new FAA regulations have brought about changes in “acceptable medical conditions.” If you have a hospital visit that extends past 24 hours, then you need to have a doctor’s approval to return to flight. Okay… I kind of understand that. But at the same time, I know very few women who have a child nowadays as an “Out Patient” event. 😉
Then the next bomb dropped. “I see you had a C-Section. Was that by choice or a medical necessity?” The doctor determined it was a medical necessity to save both the lives of my daughter and myself. Oh boy, did that open up a can of worms. He launched a battery of questions: Why was it necessary? Clampsia? Which organs shut down? How many seizures? How long was the hospital stay? Why didn’t I leave within 72 hours? Why didn’t I return to work sooner? Did my doctor give me a clearance to return to work? How long was my post operation therapy? Were there any complications not directly associated with the pregnancy? Have I had any pregnancies since the one requiring the hospital stay? 😮
Whiskey Tango FOXTROT?!
Yeah, that’s when I asked him, if these are the same questions he asks fathers regarding the birth of their children. That stunned him for a moment. Then he realized he was being kind of an ass. He admitted it wasn’t any of his business about why I haven’t been pregnant since and that as long as the doctor cleared me to work, over three years ago, it is highly unlikely the pregnancy or surgery would result in my inability to fly. Especially, considering my flexibility and balance that he had previously tested.
In the end, I walked out with a shiny new First Class Medical and a bit of a crumb on my shoulder regarding the possibility that something like child birth is now on the FAA’s list of possible reasons NOT to grant a medical certificate. It may have just been the manner in which he asked questions, but it put me off.
Anyway, just sharing. Most of the pilot’s I know will never be asked questions about child birth so they’ll never know of this little double standard. The new FAA regulations are silly if they really do force women to choose between flying and becoming moms. If they do, people who understand the legalese should really take a look. Just my two cents anyway.