Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Have a nice day~


I stand in the exam room with my Johnnie tied tightly in back. My clothes hang on a hook, underpants and bra rolled and hidden in the pocket of my jeans. I look down at my brown knee-hi socks, trying to decide if I should leave them on. Of course I should, but they look weird, the way socks on a naked man making love look. I pulled them off.

Perched on the exam table, feet dangling, I wait for the doctor, flipping through People Magazine and wondering how the heck the two women on the cover managed to loose over 200 pounds each, when I can't even manage to lose ten.

The doctor, a slim forty-ish woman enters, and trips over the shoes I'd placed carefully out of the way to make sure she wouldn't trip. We laugh about that as she sits on the little stool on wheels that let her skitter from counter to exam table and back, without standing.

She skims the notes the nurse had entered in my chart, commenting to herself: takes multivitamins, occasional glass of wine, doesn't smoke, breast lump removed . . . hmmmm.

She spun to face me and said, "I see you had a period after going more than a year without one. Sixteen months."

"Christmas Eve," I said. "Not the present I was hoping for."

"That shouldn't happen after a year. Any abnormal bleeding needs to be checked," she said. "I'm going to set you up for a pelvic scan."

I remain surprisingly calm. No visceral reactions of the type I'm prone to when faced with an awful disease. Is there any disease we fear more than cancer when it comes to our reproductive systems?

But I ask anyway. "What would a scan show?"

"We want to see if the lining of the uterus is thickened," she says.

Drop it, I tell myself, but I'm not capable of that. "If it is thickened, what does that indicate?"

She pauses. "It's an indication of endometrial cancer."

Still I pursue information. "Well, it felt exactly like a period to me," I tell her. "I felt it coming on; I'm sure it was just one last hormonal hurrah."

"Maybe," she allows. "We're not all built like cars."

"Cars?"

"Well, everybody's body is different. It's not unheard of to have a period after more than a year, but it is unlikely."

A few more questions. Some more answers. Best to check it out she says.

She swivels back to my health records. "So, any concerns?"

"Well, just that I might have endometrial cancer." I laugh, but nervously.

"No, no," she says reassuringly. "It's just a precaution."

She stands and conducts a routine exam: eyes, ears, thyroid gland, heart lungs, breasts, belly, and them she tells me to lay back. I hear her pulling out the stirrups at the end of the table.

"Scoot down," she says. I know the drill: feet in the stirrups, knees bent, and butt at the end of the table. She sits at that end on her little rolling stool. I'm under the spotlight. I feel the warmth.

No matter how prepared I am--even when she warns, "I'm going to touch you now."--I jump. Always.

She says, "I'm sorry. It much easier to be on this side, I know."

Yeah, but I have a better view, I think.

I stare at the ceiling and the high window, listening to the clink of the speculum as she readies it, lubricates it. She doesn't warm it at the sink the way my former doctor, a male, used to do. It's cold, but quickly warms. I feel the strange internal pinch as she scrapes about, gathering cells that might also reveal disease.

When she's done, she wheels off to write in my chart. "Have a nice day," she says when she's finished.

I dress, and leave with instructions to schedule a pelvic scan, a mammogram, a bone scan, and a lab appointment for a cholesterol profile."

Have a nice day (part 2)

Have a nice day (part 3)

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