The doctor's usual nurse, Rachel, wasn't in that day - the first time ever that I've been in the office and NOT seen her. Her replacement, whose name I never caught, was competent, but I was disappointed. If I was going to have to have a female witness on hand for my exam, it would have been nice if I at least knew her name. I mean, I'm open to meeting new people, but I do have standards. She could have at least bought me a drink first....
It also happened to be my doctor's week in the "let's have medical students shadow our practicing doctors" rota, and the Nameless Nurse asked if I would mind if a medical student sat in on my visit. No problem, I said, remembering that 3/4 of the visit was just going to be me answering only mildly uncomfortable questions. My doctor brought in Eric, who was blandly handsome and looked like he was still wet behind the ears. He shook my hand with just the right amount of respect and geniality - good training on handshakes at Case, apparently. Nothing creepy there, no vibe of, "Boy, am I excited I get to look up your hoo-hah today!" so that was okay.
Endless questions. Who died when, of what? What do I eat, drink, do for fun? How often? Seriously, every time I get a physical - which isn't that often, maybe once every five years? - the number of questions doubles. Meanwhile, I'm sitting there, hunger and a caffeine headache gnawing away at my insides because I haven't eaten in more than 12 hours.
Dr: "How much caffeine do you drink every day?"
"Not enough today, let me tell you."
Dr: "Okay, on a normal day when I'm not torturing you, how many caffeinated beverages do you drink?"
My doctor isn't much older than I am, and one of my main goals when I visit him (aside from getting my prescriptions re-authorized at the pharmacy) is to crack him up. It's usually not that hard ... or that intentional, actually. Can I help it if strong knee reflexes and a pair of slip-on shoes are not a good combination? Anyway, he's rattling through his standard list, I'm watching him type the answers into his laptop and waiting, because I've got a good answer prepared for one of the questions. And, sure enough, it came:
Dr: "What type of birth control do you use?"
"Condoms. Well, condoms and excessive irritability, if you want to know the truth."
Dr: "Nice," he said with a grin.
"Bet your questionnaire doesn't have a code for that one."
Dr: "Nope, but it probably should."
Questions answered, he shined a funky light in my eyes, looked in my ears and up my nose, and explained a few things to Eric the Med Student about how the software was set up to track when various vaccinations were due in the future, so you don't have to calculate them yourself. Apparently, in 2020 I can look forward to my tetanus booster - awesome!
Dr: "Okay, so we're going to step out for a minute while you get out of your clothes, and we'll do the pelvic exam when we get back."
"So can I leave my top half dressed, or do you need the full monty?"
Dr: "Full monty, including socks. Gotta do a full skin exam, too."
"Yay. So, do I at least get a drape?"
Dr: "Oh, right. Here you go," the doctor said, and he rummaged around in the exam table drawer and got a gown and drape for me. "I thought she had already gotten one laid out. Be back in a minute."
Well, maybe a few minutes. It's a good thing I asked for the gown, because I was in there forever. First, the Nameless Nurse came back to give me my flu shot, while my doctor went in to see another patient. Then, the doctor was ready, but the nurse was filling in paperwork. Then they all were ready, but the nurse hadn't laid out the exam equipment that my doctor preferred, so they had to get that set up.
Meanwhile, I'm starving and rapidly approaching being late for work. I was stuck naked in The Most Boring and Chilly Exam Room Ever, texting a friend to set up a play date for Liza and sending messages to Jason to jokingly complain about the physical.
- "Rachel the nurse has the day off so there's a sub, and it's medical student following day. There's going to be a parade of strangers looking at my privates in the next few minutes. Yay!"
---"I always say no to that."
-"That's because you hate learning and don't want the next generation of doctors to know what they're doing. Loser."
Honestly, I thought, I don't care who all is down there, as long as I don't have to see them around town on a regular basis. I'd much rather have a dozen med students down there taking notes and drawing diagrams, rather than walk around naked in the women's locker room at the gym. At least the med students I can justify as being for the greater good, whereas walking around in the locker room is just icky. Then again, maybe I was just a little lightheaded from the hunger and lack of Diet Coke.
The Pelvic Exam Parade eventually was ready to start, and it was even more fun than normal, since my doctor was taking his time and explaining everything he was doing to the student. I distracted myself by trying to figure out how old I would have been when I gave birth to him if the student was my kid, and the answer was "not that much younger than some of my friends started having kids." Those medical students are getting younger all the time (insert obligatory old woman cackle here). This somewhat distressing thought was effective as a distraction, though, because I managed to ignore most of the exam, other than one strangely off-putting comment from my doctor to the student: "Sorry you can't see what I'm doing here, but it's all up on the top floor. I think you'd have to stand on your head." Okaaaaaay .... Time for the patient to ask about something that's been bothering her for a while:
"Oh, I meant to ask you,
Dr: "Huh. Well, that's unusual."
"Yeah, I kind of figured that. Heck, if I could get a camera up there, I could probably make some money from the video on YouTube."
Dr: "I am so glad you said that, because I was totally thinking it, and I'm not allowed to say stuff like that."
"It's like a party trick."
Dr: "I do not get invited to those kinds of parties."
"Yeah, me neither, so it's kind of a waste."
The doctor filled in some paperwork while I sat on the table and tried to not look like I was ready to gnaw off my own leg.
Dr: "Okay, so here's the order for the lab work, and another for a mammogram. You get to start having those, now, too, by the way."
"Yeah, I know, all of my high school friends were complaining about it on Facebook in the past year."
"Yeah, well, it came up a lot. It's not like they were posting pictures or anything."
Dr: "I hope not."
"Dude, knowing my friends, I'm lucky they weren't posting live video feeds of the procedures."
"Again, I could totally make money with that on YouTube."
Dr: "Again, I'm glad you said that, not me. Go get the lab work done down the hall, and I'll see you in three months."
A few minutes later I was sitting there, trying not to watch the technician fishing around for a vein (mine are dainty) and I looked up when another patient entered the waiting area ... with Eric the Med Student trailing behind him. I gave him a faint smile and tried very hard not to concentrate on the fact that he'd been trying to check out my top floor just a few minutes before. I said thanks to the technician, grabbed my coat, and headed for my car. With any luck, the Pelvic Exam Parade would not follow me all the way to Subway, because while Eric may know all about my party trick, that didn't mean I wanted him to know what I order on my sandwiches. Some things are just too personal to share.