Gynecological Origami: or, the art of humiliation
May 19, 2011 § 7 Comments
This post is Tori’s fault. You see, a few months ago, she bravely recounted her trip to the gynecologist for her annual exam. So you know what? Inspired by her womanly courage, I’m giving you my own recap today, you lucky, lucky people. (You can direct your generous gratitude HERE.)
In preparation for my annual embarrassment, I took a thirty minute shower. I soaped up and rinsed off my body three times. I shaved my armpits and legs with the care reserved for first dates…and gynecological visits. I washed my face and scrubbed behind my ears. No way in hell was I going to be the “stinky” patient today. No strange smells were going to emanate from my body. No funny-looking hairs would peek out from shredded paper gowns. No siree bob. Everything I could control was going to be freaking controlled.
I pottied before taking my shower–no stray toilet paper fuzz in embarrassing places. Definitely no smells. I would be clean as a whistle!
The nurse weighs me (since I already know the answer, I look away) and invites me to provide a “sample, if [I] don’t mind.” Mind? Me? Shucks no! Just point me to the cup and laundry marker, and I’m revved and raring to go!
Except I wasn’t. Because I had already pottied. And I had forgotten that I’d give a urine sample.
“Sure….” I say, because there’s no other choice than to say “sure.” She sends me to the bathroom and I sit. And sit. And sit. And sit. And sigh. And sit. And wonder if she’s standing outside the door waiting to hear the tell-tale sounds of peeing in a cup. I take a deep breath, envision drinking all the water my bladder can hold…and squeeze. I’m utterly empty, but what I’ve produced should serve enough for the test strip. I put my labeled cup on the shelf with all the other labeled cups. Mine is the least full.
First Instance of Humiliation: Inadequate urine sample.
Next, as my gynecologist’s nurse administers the super-comfortable and enjoyable blood pressure test, she begins to tell my fat ass about the new weight loss clinic our women’s clinic has opened specifically for its female clientele. I take deep breaths and smile at her as she explains how useful it will be for me to sign up. “It’s only $150 for the consultation,” she begins. When she looks up and sees my panicked expression, she stops talking.
My blood pressure registers as “pre-high.” 130/80 is no longer an average blood pressure. I’m now apparently prehypertensive. Fabulous. I wonder if I should get points off because the nurse was talking about my big fat ass?
Second Instance of Humiliation: Prehypertension brought on by discussion of weight.
The nurse takes me to the exam room and hands me two stacks of paper towels that look identical to one another. “This one’s the top, which opens to the front. That one’s the bottom. She’ll be right in.” The nurse draws closed the curtain around the exam table and walks out of the door. I toss a furtive glance to the handle for a lock. No such luck. Even though it is extraordinarily common for doctors to politely tap once on the door as they are walking in the room, it is not extraordinarily common to see a lock on this door handle.
In my gynecological experience, one of two things can happen: 1. the doctor walks in while I am in the middle of undressing/figuring out the paper gown or 2. I hurriedly change only to wait for half an hour to hear the tap.
Today was a second scenario day.
I gently unfold (and manage to tear in two places) the top paper towel stack. No sleeves. That must be the blanket for the bottom half. Sure I am running out of time, I fumble with the other paper towel stack. Tearing this in a key location (right in the middle of the left breast), I finally manage to get into the front-opening paper vest. I sit on the edge of the table (recalling that I’m always encouraged to scoot down), spread the paper blanket over my lap, cover every last instance of flesh, and wait.
I am reminiscent of a toilet paper bride from one of those bridal shower games. Minus the veil, paper flowers, and huge smile. Every time I breathe, my paper configuration falls open in one way or another. I fold it, pull it, tuck it, and hold onto it until my paper gown origami is nothing more than a wrinkled reminder of what it once was.
Third Instance of Humiliation: Required inadequate paper apparel.
And then I am left waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
I hear voices outside the door, and, like a pound puppy, I am just certain that one of those voices belongs to my girl. She’s going to swing open that door and rescue me from this hellish experience. The voices dissipate down the hall. Other doors get knocked on. Other patients come and go. A.Hab. is left in her pile of paper towels, behind an un-tapped-on door, trembling from anxiety, embarrassment, and a slight chill.
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, I beg in an endless cycle.
I swing my feet, admiring my super-clean soles as they ascend and descend rhythmically. I’m glad I washed my feet so well, I congratulate myself.
My thoughts turn dark. What if my urine sample is showing something bad? What if she’s gathering armloads of materials for her super fat patients? What if she’s working up the nerve to tell me that I have to lose 100 pounds before I should conceive? At this last thought, I feel a prickling behind my eyes.
Okay, A.Hab! I straighten my sore spine (of course today of all days, I have a sore back). You have got to stop thinking like this.
I return to my “c’mon c’mon c’mon” chant.
Half an hour later, as though purposefully summoned by my meditation, my new gynecologist taps once on the door as she enters the room.
Fourth Instance of Humiliation: Infinite waiting in the nude.
She introduces herself to me without shaking my hand. I’m actually relieved at this because my hands are sopping wet from wringing the ever-living life out of the paper towel spread across my lap for half an hour. She encourages me to scoot down. “And once more,” she tells me. “And…again.” I never scoot down far enough on the first try.
As I lay back and put my heels in the stirrups, my knees instinctively meet.
Dr. Gynecologist smiles warmly and says gently, “I’m going to ask you to relax your knees, just a little bit.”
I know what “just a little bit” means. I slowly let my knees fall to the sides. I can feel my heartbeat in my throat.
“Lots of cold and lots of pressure,” she warns soothingly.
A chill shoots through my core. “Whew,” I titter nervously. “That is cold.”
“And lots of pressure.” She sees me gulp. “Are you okay? Does that hurt?”
“N-no,” I respond, trying to sound convincing. I concentrate on picturing myself in the car driving home. And it doesn’t hurt, not really. But it doesn’t feel particularly good either.
Three sharp swipes and she’s out.
Hovering over my shoulders, she presses on my breasts, searching for lumps. We chit-chat about my husband, about how our anniversary is next Monday, about how he is an amazing man. How I’m lucky to have him. I relax immediately. And the exam is over.
She tells me that everything looks good, that I’m all clear.
She was in and out in under ten minutes. Yet, I climb into my driver’s seat an hour after I parked there.
Fifth Instance of Humiliation: Realizing that I was so utterly worked up for nearly an hour over nothing.
It’s a damn good thing these visits come so infrequently. Of course…I do realize that if I intend to squeeze out a human being from my nether regions, I’m just going to have to get the hell over this anxiety.
In the meantime, Robert’s my safe word. Plain and simple.
Uh-oh, do I see a trend happening, with everyone writing all things to do with gynecology? Did you read this post today http://lifeintheboomerlane.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/labor-days/?
Ah well, it’s good to know that we all suffer the same humiliations and torture, no matter who or where. 😉
I think this is the standard for all GYN visits! It’s never fun, you do have to wait forever in the nude, and you’re never relaxed enough for anyone’s liking. Even the nicest docs and nurses cannot totally alleviate the anxiety. Drink a liter of water before next year’s annual!
Fabulous post, Amanda! Brilliant title! You may have out-Toried Tori! (See you when we get back from southern Georgia————-)
Haha. Having to wait half-nude is the cruelest part. You did out me, me.
Haha. Having to wait half-nude is the cruelest part. You did out me, me.
This was strangely beautiful. Also: the best title ever.
[…] Remember way back in May, when I had my embarrassing gynecological exam? […]