When I first met my Doctor in 2000, I thought he was the attendant. I never had a doctor retrieve me from the waiting room before, and he was so young and fresh. He shook my hand and escorted me to the exam room. My visit yesterday for my annual check-up was another story. The waiting room was packed with people from all ages and ailments. It smelled sick in there and every time someone hacked out a cough or a sneeze, I felt like I was being exposed to the black plague. This time a frantic nurse retrieved me from the germ clouded waiting room and took me into exam room 4. I had never seen her before and she was spunky, yet haggard. “You are fasting, right?” she asked me since I am not supposed to eat before they take blood. I nodded yes. “You must be hungry.” She continued, “I am hungry and I ate!”
She asked me the usual health questions and I got to answer no to all: No nausea, swelling, bruising, soreness, etc. She left me with my paper dress and I dutifully stripped off my casual work wear for the not-so-good-looking, crinkly patient wear. I continued to wait, scantily clad, perched on the exam table for 20 minutes. As I gently kicked my bare feet back and forth, I cursed myself for not thinking to bring my book. Finally the doctor showed up & asked me the same questions the nurse just asked me. He also added his favorite questions: “Are you and Sasha monogamous?” “Do you want an AIDS test? Because you can get AIDS from a tattoo needle.” As much as he wanted to test me for a STD or worse, I declined. He then asked me to lie down for the exam: “Put your feet in the stirrups and scoot all the way down. Scoot down. All the way down. Scoot. Scoot. OK.” I was suddenly glad I made sure to shave my legs that morning.
I have pretty much always had a male Gynecologist and it has never bothered me. First he gave me a breast exam, talking me through it as he went. I forgot to check for any pesky stray boob hairs, but it was too late to worry about it. He says every time that I have “generous breasts”. I resist the urge to thank him. Then on to the pelvic exam, I think they are starting to heat up the speculum, because it was almost too warm this time. Scrape, scrape. My least favorite part is next, the checking of the ovaries. Now we are done.
He leaves like they all do and I get dressed. I cannot leave yet, because I have to wait for the nurse to draw blood for cholesterol and other tests. She also has to give me a Tetanus shot, since I cannot remember when the last time I had one. What is Tetanus, anyway? I think I will call it Tit-anus, from now on. I watch her put the needle in my arm and shoot in the stuff. Then she put a round, green Shrek band-aid over the tiny new hole in my arm. I also watch as she takes my blood. I am the opposite of afraid of needles; they fascinate me. Just like how I love heights, I guess. The taking of the blood process is kind of cool. They stick a needle in your arm, and then put a large tube at the end of the needle. As the tube fills with blood, you can actually see it spurt to the beat of your heart. Once that tube is full, she quickly trades it for a medium size tube and then fills a small tube and then you are done. I am not sure what each tube is for, but they will mail me a postcard with the outcome along with my Pap results.
A little woozy from no food and a sudden loss of blood, I stagger out into the rainy day.