September 05, 2007

My GynoCarnival

I sat in one of 14 lined-up gray chairs in a gray room, legs crossed, flipping boredly through Parenting magazine, steadily getting more pissed off as I watched the clock tick steadily past my appointment time. The irony of my reading material was not lost on me, as I was there to... um... not get pregnant.

About halfway through the article on how to potty train a stubborn child (and 20 minutes after my appointment for the single most horrifying day of any above-18 woman's year -- the pap smear), a stubby nurse in a horribly flowered set of scrubs opened a door and called my name.

"Oh, that's me," I said, scrambling to stand, shove my blackberry into my bag and stuff the magazine back in the rack with the other "YAAAAY! Babies are FUUUNNN!" magazines.

"Right this way," she said, predictably, gesturing down the hall to one of many doors with little numbers in pink on the outside. I was in room 3. "Now just get undressed, drape this over you," (here she hands me a blue cloth approximately the size of a hand towel) "And crack the door when you're undressed. The doctor will be with you shortly."

"Great," I said. "I thought for a minute he was standing me up!"

I always think it's a good idea to try to be funny at these things, which never goes well. The nurse grunted in my general direction while fiddling with a clipboard. "Oh," she said over her shoulder on her way out, "I've got an extern here shadowing me for the day, so if you don't mind, she'd like to observe your procedure."

Well, if that wasn't a loaded question, I thought. What am I going to do, say no to science? That's like not donating organs, which you simply can't not do, because what kind of person won't give their organs away if they're not using them? Jesus. "Uh huh," I nodded. "Sure."

The door firmly shut behind me, I disrobed, as instructed, piling my clothes under my purse on the chair across the room from the exam table, grabbed the tiny drape and strategically placed it so I could go to the other side of the room, crack the door, and sit down on the papered exam table without an incident of indecent exposure.

Once safely on the table, door partially open, I became aware again of the tiny size of the drape. Either I am a larger than normal-sized person, or this thing wasn't capable of properly draping over a female body and covering enough to keep the examination room rated PG-13.

As I tugged and considered my nakedness, the clock kept ticking. After 10 minutes went by, I started to anxiously look over to my purse, where I could hear the steady "buzzzzzz..... buzzzzzz" of my blackberry, indicating I had recieved email from work.

Now a full 40 minutes after my appointment had passed, the buzzing continued, and I was on the brink of a meltdown. I simply. couldn't. stand it. anymore. So, taking a deep breath, I strategically repositioned the drape, and barefoot and naked with the door half open, raced across the room to my bag where I dug frantically for the blackberry before sprinting back and leaping up onto the paper-covered table again, gasping and re-adjusting the useless piece of cloth while people talked in the hallway just outside the partially open door.

Back to safety, I distracted myself from the fact that my appointment was already technically over by sending 15 work emails (again, while effing naked at the effing gyno. Can you say workaholic?) And then, at last, the doctor entered, frumpy nurse and 12-year-old extern in tow.

"Get your emailing done?" he said sarcastically, noting the blackberry in my right hand; my only accessory. I nodded sheepishly. "Alright," he said, "This should go pretty quickly." I leaned back, feet in stirrups, and tried to relax.

And then, a few seconds into the exam, my phone rang, blaring out a Rufus Wainwright song titled "Rules and Regulations" for which the chorus includes "Theeese are just the rules and regulaaations/for the birds/and the bees...". And as I scrambled to silence it in the middle of my exam, it occurred to me that there was a huge mirror in the room, which reminded me of the many E.R. and Grey's Anatomy episodes where classes of snarky 20-somethings sat behind one-way mirrors to watch procedures, and I pictured myself being the subject of this observation, with my ineffective drape and my gay songwriter "birds and bees" ringtone and the nurse-extern-doctor medical triangle at my feet.

I just couldn't stop myself. I burst into a fit of giggles.

This thoroughly confused the doctor and the nurse, who exclaimed "It's okay, honey! It's like getting the hiccups in church!" to which I laughed harder. By the time the exam was over, I was teary eyed and heaving.

And then, I remembered that two of my work friends and I had recently been discussing all the new birth control methods and had vowed to ask our doctors for their opinions of all the options so we could compare notes, you know... just in case. And as the horrified nurse and extern stood there, I, half-naked and having just experienced the strangest pap of my life, asked my doc about birth control.

He ran through a couple types -- things I'd never heard before -- with names that I swear sounded like spaceships or military acronyms. (By the way, thanks a lot, public education system, for the stellar sex-ed). And then, he came to "The Ring".

"The Ring" I was familiar with, having actually remembered that from human sexuality in college. Doc ran through a couple little bits of information about that particular method, noting that the only possible inconvenience was that some people liked to remove it before... uh... intercourse.

"Oh, really?" I said, trying really hard to be all adult and stuff about this super-weird topic in front of my audience of three and still chilly and naked. "Why would you remove it if you don't have to?"

And here is where my appointment ended with a bang:

"Well," he said, "You don't have to, but sometimes if you leave it in... well... you might just ring yourself a penis!!"

I immediately snorted with laughter and the extern began to giggle, us both certainly picturing some sort of carnival game where if you "ring a penis", you get some huge, overstuffed pink elephant, a goldfish, or a bunch of stick-on tattoos. Unbelievably hamming it up, Doc continued, now gesturing as though plucking low-hanging fruit from a tree:

"...and then you'd have to say (here's where he uses his female falsetto)'whoops! i'm going to need that back!'"


I swear to God, sometimes my life is like an episode of Sex in the City gone wrong... way, way wrong, only with less sex, less money, and in distinctly more practical shoes.


Chuckles said...

I don't understand why you would need to be completely naked for one of these things. Why did they need you to take your top off? That seems sorta odd. The last physical I had where I had to turn and cough, I wasn't asked to take my shirt off. Women have it tough.

Trebuchet said...

Well, dear, they do this thing called a "breast exam" for which they have to "palpitate" your "breasts".

I know it's difficult to comprehend, being the gender with less horrible shit that happens to you. But thank you for your support.

And really, boobs are pretty cool, so it's worth it.

some say shay. said...

Hahahaha. I could relate so well to this post. The gyno is the worst - and I definitely need to make an appt. Hmph. Love your blog, by the way.

Trebuchet said...

Shay, thank you for being here and making me feel slightly less bizarre about my consistently kooky experiences with this particular "girls-only" brand of torture.

I like you already. I'm probably gonna give you a nickname. :)

Chuckles said...

Breast exams, right. I didn't know they did those at the same visit. Makes sense though, cram all that embarrassment into one day.

That must suck.

Ben said...

I am completely convinced that there have been studies done to see how long people are willing to wait in a doctors waiting room, before they go postal and start shooting the place up. Around the end of the fourth year of med school, by all of my accounts, they pull the soon to be doctors aside, and tell them how to maximize revenue by making patients wait around 23.5 min. 24 min would just be too long.