I think everyone would agree that I’m a very healthy person. Not just with fitness and physical exercise, but with overall health. My mom died in 1997, after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer, so I’ve been having my ovaries checked ever since. Yeah, that long. I also get what’s called a CA125 blood draw annually, (to see if there’s any change from year to year), I’ve had the BRCA1 testing done (to check if I have the genetic markers for ovarian cancer and I don’t!), get yearly ultrasounds (to see those puppies directly), and I’ve had several breast exams well before the age of 40 since I’m not yet 40! I make every possible effort to be healthy, and let me tell you, it’s a pain in the ass.
Now that I’m fairly positive none of my male cousins are continuing to read this, or any male for that matter, I can get down to brass tacks with just us women.
Last week I went in for a regularly scheduled gynecologist appointment. I think we can all agree they’re not pleasant, but if you have the right doctor, they’re not bad. I had an amazing doctor for years and then, just before I became pregnant with the twins, she got very sick and left the practice. Since then, I’ve been on a revolving doctor schedule (within the same practice) with varying degrees of satisfaction. It was this office I was going to, to see the doctor who delivered my boys five years ago, and who I’ve seen ever since.
Of course, I waited in the lobby. You always have to wait. After about 10 minutes I was called in for the nurse to take my vitals and run down the usual list of questions — do you smoke? No. Do you drink? Hell yes. Do any of these 110 diseases run in your family? No, except my “family history” (that’s what they call it) of my mother dying from cancer, if you want to count that?
However, on this day, as the nurse started to ask me the usual questions, I noticed she was whispering. I looked at her like “why the hell are you whispering?” and she actually told me that she was trying to overhear the phone conversation my doctor was having in his office. Say what?
So yeah, she carried on in a whisper and without paying much attention to anything I was saying or doing, intent on listening in on the doctor. I could have told her I thought I was growing a penis, and she probably would have just politely nodded.
After 10 minutes of that ridiculousness, I was swooped into the exam room to start what I refer to as “the great wait.” You strip naked, put on a gown that has a lovely opening in the back, and plant yourself on the exam table with those stirrups staring you down as if to say “you know what’s coming!” Ugh. It’s so awful.
So I waited. And waited. And waited. I sat there like a moron for 45 minutes! I was *this close* to walking out into the hall, ass out, and yelling “Is there a doctor available to look at my vagina?” The only thing stopping me was, I was pretty sure if I pulled that stunt, I would have to then find another doctor and I don’t have time for that, which was why I was so frustrated in the first place.
I was hoping, at this point, that the nurse had the goods on the doctor, his phone conversation was over, and he would find 10 minutes in his schedule to stick some metal objects in me and poke around.
He opened the door and started with…
“So, why are you here?” I honestly haven’t a clue.
That was followed by five solid minutes on his computer “inputting data,” only to ask me how old my youngest child is. You delivered my TWINS 5 years ago you asshole! Is there any actual data on that screen about me? I’ve only been coming here since I was 17.
And it went on like that for pretty much the whole visit, which lasted a whopping 8 minutes.
And no, I did not scream obscenities at him with my mouth, just my eyes. I think he heard me.
As I went to the desk to check out and schedule all my various appointments, I was told they were using a new blood lab, as I was handed a list of all the locations of this new lab. Now, I live several towns away from where the doctor’s office is. None of the locations of this new lab were convenient to where I live, so I said I would continue to use the old one. Upon hearing this, Sally Spy-A-Lot (the nurse) whipped around to go ask the doctor if this was allowed. She returned to say the doctor wanted to know if there was a location of the new lab near the old one! My response? That is a stupid question.
And I left.
I was there for an hour and fifteen minutes. I spent eight minutes with an actual doctor, who acted as though he didn’t even know me.
Every single day of my life I worry that I’m going to leave my kids without a mom. I’m terrified of becoming sick because I saw how my mother deteriorated, became a different person because of cancer, and ultimately left a huge gaping hole in our entire family that we grieve over and over again.
I do everything in my control to avoid getting sick – way beyond all that I do in doctor’s offices, blood labs and boob clinics. All I ask is for some professionalism. Some compassion. Some respect. And at the very least, knowing who the hell I am when I’ve been a patient for over 20 years.
Shame on you doctor and Sally Spy-A-Lot. People are coming to you, trying to do the right thing, trying to be healthy. What are you doing for them?
What’s your doctor like? Am I the only one with these issues?
What do you do to stay healthy, beyond exercising?