Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Motherhood

Too Much Information

Am I the only one who loathes going to the gynecologist? There isn’t any veiled fear on my part. In fact, I’d rather know if something is wrong as soon as possible so that I can go about fixing it before it’s too late. It’s just one of the most uncomfortable experiences ever.

First of all, couldn’t these medical “professionals” start with a less demeaning initial activity? Why must you get my weight first? Marilyn, hop up on that industrial sized scale and let me see how many extra slices of cake your greedy behind has consumed since last year. Then, unless you’re brave enough to actually look at the scale yourself, you don’t know exactly how much you weigh because they don’t tell you. Instead, they avoid making eye contact with you and make a quick note on your chart. If you’re like me, you try to take off as much as possible before being escorted out for indecent exposure because, of course, the scale is in the public part of the office, not behind closed doors. The nurse is standing there with some snarky remark on the tip of her tongue, but you ignore her because if all this extra stuff is going to add 1.2 pounds to whatever they type into the computer later, it’s worth her having to wait a few extra moments for you to disrobe. Jeez, lady! Can I just take off my purse, coat, boots, bra, headband, watch, earrings, and belt? It’s like I’m going through a security check-point at the airport.

"How much do you weigh, lady?" (from poly-medical.com)

Then they take you to get your vitals. They shove a plastic strip into your mouth (I’m still not sure how this thing works). It feels like it’s cutting the underside of my tongue, so I start salivating more than usual. (Do you know how hard it is to swallow with something sitting under your tongue?) At the same time, the nurse decides to take your blood pressure. I’m always wearing way too much clothing, so I have to take one arm out of my sweatshirt so that the nurse can accurately read it. Of course, she doesn’t believe the first reading, so she has to do it again, so even more spit is pooling in my mouth because she hasn’t removed the thermometer.  Finally, this part is over. She removes the thermometer as if I have the plague (e.g., with the tips of her index finger and thumb lightly gripping it and holding it just close enough to read without straining).

The inquisition is next. Okay, in all fairness, you did know that you were supposed to have the answers to these questions, but real life prevented you from adequately preparing, so you’re doing the best you can trying to correctly remember the start date of your last period. Okay, today is the tenth, and my father-in-law’s birthday was the 26th, and I remember putting his card in the mail on the 19th, no the 20th because the 19th was the night my husband took the dog to the vet, which was exactly one week after my conference, and I remember feeling really tired sitting at the table listening to that woman drone on and on about student efficacy, so I went to the bathroom trying to get a break from her voice. and I saw that I had started my period, so 19 minus 7 is twelve, so the 12th. Yeah, the 12th was the first day of my last period. All of this you’ve done out loud like a criminal relaying his alibi in an interrogation room. Then the nurse says, “Are you sure?” You are sure, but you’re starting to get a little agitated, so you just nod approvingly. She asks you a few more questions about any “issues” you may be having, but you opt out of telling her about that crazy neighbor that keeps calling the police every time your dog barks or that comma rule that the kids still aren’t mastering so that you can complete this visit before your kids get out of school.

Am I the only one who finds this weird, even for kids? (from reddingmedical.com)

She finally takes you into an examination room and asks you to take off your clothes, putting the gown on (with the opening to the front). She gives you a paper blanket to cover yourself with and bids you a fond farewell after she lets you know that the “doctor will be with you shortly.” The doctor has never come in “shortly,” but you’re still optimistic about this time being different, so you take off your clothes quickly, fold them neatly, and place them on the faux leather seat. You hop up on the table as goose bumps form all over your flesh because (as you deduce) the engineering staff must be conspiring with the doctors to make people sick because they have the air conditioning on when it’s clearly only 49 degrees outside today. You grab your giant paper towel of a blanket and recline back to rest your eyes a bit. You’re actually snoring when the doctor gives the polite knock-before-I-enter-just-in-case-you’re-stealing-cotton-balls-and-purple-latex-gloves warning 20 minutes later.

Hi, Marilyn. She smiles, shaking my hand after I struggle trying get up from the table. Then, what does she do? She immediately washes her hands. Okay, I’m all for cleanliness, especially if you’re venturing into my nether regions, but let’s both wash our hands. I don’t know where you’ve been either! (I’m toying with the idea of having a bottle of hand sanitizer to use after the obligatory hand shake just to see how she feels when I start disinfecting myself.) She dons size medium gloves, tells me to put my feet into the stirrups, and beckons me to scoot down. Some more. Keep coming. A little more. Come on just a little more. That’s it! Now, with your behind hanging half off of the table, torture instruments are greased up and…(well, you know). It’s over quickly, but you feel a little violated anyway. You can sit up now. After all of the gynie visits you’ve had over the years, you still haven’t mastered sitting up when your feet are in stirrups and you’re dangling gracelessly off the edge of an exam table. (Here’s a tip: take one leg down, raise your torso as you use the elbow of one arm and the hand of the other as support, and scoot back before taking the other leg down. You should practice ahead of time so that you don’t look too ridiculous when the doctor comes in. You do have about 20 minutes between the nurse leaving and the doctor entering.)

In a few days, you’ll get the phone call letting you know the results of your exam, and you’ll forget all of this until the reminder call for your visit next year.

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11 thoughts on “Too Much Information

  1. Oh the dreaded annual exam!!! You nailed it… love it. No matter how many times I go through this, it feels just the way you described it, like a violation, but we do what we gotta do because how else will the world run without us around!!!

  2. Deni Lyn on said:

    I am cracking up! Every single word of it, sick truth! They should give out a glass of champagne or wine in the waiting area – like they do at bridal shops or hair salons. That would make things much more enjoyable. Or would that just guarantee I fall off the table? Seriously, in a world where we put a man on the moon, microchips in dogs, and enjoy the damned Snuggie being sold on TV for a reasonable price (well, reasonable for essentially a bathrobe you wear backwards), they can’t come up with a better way to see what my cervix has been doing lately?! I hear a lot of docs now rely on a blood test rather than a physical exam to check a man’s prostate. Where’s my stupid uterus blood test, modern medicine?!

  3. That!

  4. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of my doctor stretching me open while I try to think happy thoughts, I have had my own embarassing moments at the doctor. When I was in High School, I had to get a physical and at the time, I had a woman doctor. So, when she gently cupped my testicles in her hand (which was extremely soft and well moisturized) all of the blood in my body rushed without
    any hesitation to the one place I did not want it to go. Yup, I got hard in her face. I dont know how she took it, but for me, I needed a cigarrette afterwards. What a physical!! I’m pretty sure it does not compare to the annual intrusion that you have to deal with. Just know that your husband loves you, and next year, I’ll do the exam myself.

  5. Reminds me of the ol’ prostate ram . . . errr, EXAM. Why is it that they always use the thickest finger?? Glad they got a blood test on that one . . . but even still, my doctor keeps asking me if I ‘want him to check’ going digital. (and no, I don’t mean a machine, LOL!) I’m starting to wonder if he likes it. I’m starting to wonder if I should.

    Also brought up some old memories:
    In the Marines: 120 guys getting hernia exams. One effeminate kid with a coat and one glove. Just one. For us all. “Turn your head and cough” (gentle touch-touch) . . . “turn the other way and do it again” (okay, those touches are getting kinda personal). All ALWAYS some effeminate man doing it. (Where did they find them? This was back in the day when there were no gays in the military. Officially speaking, that is.)

    And then the sight – and stench – of eighty nude guys bending over and spreading their butts wide so the doctor can come by and inspect each one’s anal pore (looking for hemorrhoids was their excuse). Holding it there for five minutes while he made his rounds. (hearing him pause, knowing he’s studying . . . and wondering what in the hell you got back there).

    Always wondered what it was like for you girls. But then – you left out all the good parts! (LOL – that ‘too much information’ thing again, I reckon!)

    • You know, I’ve heard about the prostate exam, and a very good male friend of mine told me about the dreaded thickest finger action down below. All I can say is this: at least that’s when you get older. Every year from the time you are sixteen (or more if there is some sort of issue) is brutal. As far as the marine doc, would you have preferred the manliest soldier in your unit? To me, that sounds worse (LOL). “Yeah, I’m Dr. Brutus Beefcake. Spread ’em, a’ight?”
      By the way…there is no “good part” at the OB-GYN, unless you count the feeling you get when you reach the car because it’s finally over.

      • Fortunately – or unfortunately – I had 3 daughters – 2 steps and 1 biological. I’ve learned to cringe, LOL. When my daughter came to me (about 20, I reckon) to ask me how she should tell her boyfriend about her yeast infection . . . well, sad to say I’m a good dad. I took it without flinching, and after running through some common phrases to say (and that us so often blind and clueless men can understand, such as “Baking bread ‘down there” ad infinitum (rejected because they were “too obvious”), we settled on the phrase “Angry Beaver” . . . (evil grin: I thought of that one). Some times, like, ya know: Too Much Information, LOL!

  6. Pingback: An Anniversary List « Memos from the Middle

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