Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Archive for the tag “medical”

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

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

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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