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The doctor's visit...

Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007, at 11:06 AM

Gathered around a table recently on a lovely fall day in the country that included friends, wonderful food and just as wonderful wine, the conversation drifted from notable grandchildren's quotes to diet and lack of diet, exercise and lack of exercise, the state of the union, and as is inevitable with any gathering of "meno" acquaintances, doctor's visits, prescriptions, etc., etc., etc., and of course, eventually, the ever-popular topic of mammograms and pap smears. It's a must in every gathering of women over 50. In the course of a meal, the topic of conversation is going to turn to mammograms and/or pap smears. You can bet money on it. It's a Minnie O' guarantee. And this lovely fall day was to be no exception.

I'm not quite sure why it is that women can discuss details of the most private aspects of their lives during these luncheons. I don't believe they're entirely wine-induced either. And the fewer women that are present, the more intimate of details are revealed. The number was less than half a dozen on this particular day and the conversation, as always, led to doctor's visits, in particular the visits that included the dreaded "pap." And I was reminded of a visit to my own physician, an internist, several years ago when the term "menopausal" was as foreign to me as the acronym, AARP.

I had an appointment at mid-day at my doctor's office some 25 miles from home. I was to work in the morning and leave before lunch to make my scheduled visit. My doctor was known to make women wait for hours in the waiting room, and as aggravating as that was, I almost looked forward to the time to devote to a good book, uninterrupted. The night prior to the scheduled visit, which I knew would include the ever-dreaded "pap," I prepared accordingly. There are certain rituals a woman performs in preparation for this annual event. I had done them all.

I had also, as I recall, not allotted the time during the previous evening to complete a writing project, and so I had utilized the needed time during a restroom visit. With Pilot pen in hand, I had jotted several notes on paper that were to be "webbed" the following day, as time allowed. The time allotted in the privacy and solitude of the "facilities" at hand provided me ample opportunity to work on my project. I closed my notebook and placed my Pilot fine point pen on the bathroom counter, alongside a full roll of toilet tissue, but unbeknownst to me…uncapped.

In the night, as many approaching 50 are in the habit of doing, (remember, this was several years ago), I arose in response to the bladder's beckoning. Without even turning on the bathroom light, I completed the task at hand, making use of the tissue roll on the counter, and returned to slumber.

I awoke the morning of my appointment, stumbled sleepily into the same bathroom and proceeded to execute the morning routine, and in mid-process I cited the strangest of objects resting upon my vanity…a roll of toilet tissue, but with a black oozing circle about the size of a golf ball imbedded into one side of the roll. The toilet paper roll appeared horribly diseased, with half the roll sunken in and seemingly the victim of a terrible fungus, gangrene maybe or an infestation of brown recluses.

It took a few moments for this mind, (which seemingly has no power of association), to deduce what had transpired while I slept. I had inadvertently placed my uncapped black ink pen in close proximity to the roll of Charmin and in doing so, had left the said Charmin subject to the black ink (very black and very inky), allowing the said ink to eject its way onto the TP, leaving the very black, very saturated toilet paper at my disposal to reach for and utilize during my nocturnal visit, for which as you will recall, I failed to illuminate the room.

Now, one can only imagine the result of utilizing toilet tissue for its intended purpose that has been soaking up black ink for hours beforehand. I had unrolled it in ample supply and returned to bed in the wee hours of the morning, unsuspecting and allowing for plenty of "drying" time.

The reality of the situation really hit when I remembered the pending day's doctor's appointment. To cancel wasn't an option. I'd waited four months for this appointment. Had to get busy and quickly, making use of every cleaning agent within reach, with none having notable impact on the black ink, which was evident in amply supply now since some cleaning agents only worked to smear the culprit. I did learn an important lesson that morning and one that I will always take with me. Comet doesn't remove ink stains. It works to remove skin cells if applied with enough pressure (and it was), but for ink, it's not what it's cracked up to be. Neither, for that matter, is 409 or makeup remover. After exhausting all possibilities at hand, the stain was found to be somewhat diminished, but by no means eradicated. It was time for work.

A few hours later I was in the examining room with my feet strategically placed in the cold stirrups extending upward like wings in flight, awaiting the young, handsome internist's entrance. At least the white sheet was draped for the moment, concealing any hint of the impending entree. I had made up my mind that I had to prepare him for what he was about to witness. I had serious doubts that he'd ever been presented with a similar scenario and I feared a fatal diagnosis of something very dreaded if I wasn't upfront.

And so when the door opened, I was ready. What I was not ready for was an accompanying intern, another handsome one who looked like he ought to be at home studying his fifth grade social studies lesson. So now I had to explain not to one, but to two doctors what they were about to unveil, plus the attending nurse. So after the formalities were out of the way, I told them, "OK, you're about to see something that I'll bet you've never seen before." And I told my tale, such as it was. They were not terribly amused and their reception didn't seem to lessen my burden as I'd hoped. As I recall all these years later, there was a lot of nodding as I explained my plight, as if to say, "OK, now I've heard it all, let's just get this over with." I believe what followed was something like, "Well, I'm glad you prepared me."

It was my last visit to the young, handsome internist's office. I found a local doctor. I'm quite sure my former one has entertained great minds at medical conferences with a tale that likely begins with, "Oh, I can top that..Wait till you hear this one…."

This is a true story…how could I concoct such as tale? I came away from the episode learning several lessons, the most important of which was this…if I MUST jot down a thought or two while making use of the facilities, there is a lead pencil at arm's length. It's the only writing tool allowed in the room.

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Back in the old days, teachers were required to get physicals every year. In this rural area, the "exam" was a formality: The doctor said, "Do you feel okay? Okay, here's your form."

One year I switched states, so I had to go to a new doctor. I knew I was in trouble, when the receptionist asked me if I had insurance (I didn't). I was horrified to learn that they were going to do a full physical, which would run upwards of $200 (unheard of in the early 60's).

I was even further horrified when the doctor kept me sitting on the examining table in that paper robe, with sweat running down my sides, while he expounded on what was wrong with education "these days.."

Needless to say, I never went back to him - and I did not have all those tests!

We can label that one "Things You Don't Want to Hear While Wearing a Paper Robe."

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 9:29 AM

Bringwine-I never heard of this test,but I will ask for it next time. You are so right,by the time it's discovered,it is so fatal. My aunt(by marriage)died from it when she was 40,her symptoms were misdiagnosed as peri-menopausal,and then just a terrible death. I feel so bad for my cousins and my uncle,and I sure will ask others if they have had this test too!

We don't live in such a rural area that we cannot take our business elsewhere,and healthcare is just that,a business. The doctor-patient relationship has to be a good fit,you have to have confidence in them and they have to trust you will tell them as much as you can for a proper diagnosis.

If you lose your confidence in them,or feel uncomfortable or intimidated by them,then it's time to switch docs.Most docs have such a large practice,they won't even know you are gone,and as for "hurting their feelings",if they are so offended by your leaving,they would have done more to keep your business,so it's a poor relationship anyway.

After all,if you didn't trust a car dealer,or even just didn't like them,you sure wouldn't do business with them,so we should take at least as much effort into finding a good doc as we do into buying a car.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 7:41 AM

Yellow Rose,

Can't speak for a man, but something comes to mind having read these recent comments. I have changed from my doctor of many years recently over two issues that I consider to be of utmost importance. One is the need for every woman to have a blood test for ovarian cancer. It's called the CA-100 test and is a simple indicator of ovarian cancer, which in most cases when diagnosed is so far gone that it is almost always fatal. The test is an earlier indicator and is relatively cheap (around $65) and insurance usually picks up the cost. My doctor refused to perform the test, stating that it often offered a false-positive. The same doctor also recommended that a woman in her 50's only needed a pap smear every 3-4 years! I've had such high regard for this internist, but I will take my "business" elsewhere based on these two issues. Has anyone else dealt with these..especially the CA-100 option?

-- Posted by bringwine on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 11:33 PM

mrsdolphin-yewww! It is a weird setting for "small talk".

I think because there is always such a wait,they should give us a form for questions we will forget to ask the dr.,and then just put that on the front of the clipboard,to cut down on the chit-chat.

I prefer the dr. ask/answer all the questions,the nurse write down my answers,and we all forget any of it ever happened until next year.

I did learn something at my last pap,it's okay if I leave my socks and shirt on,just the pants and undies need be removed.

The designer of those little paper gowns must have also worked on Rubik's Cube-I never know which way to leave them open or tie in the back,etc.It's a Third World country peep show!

Since the men are reading this,does your doctors/nurse practioners/yourselves feel the need to make chit chat during a procto exam?

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Tue, Nov 13, 2007, at 7:01 PM

When I went in for my very first prenatal visit to my new ob/gyn, his nurse practitioner is who performed my "exam", and while she was "down there" she said that she just loved looking at the female anatomy. WEIRD! But when explained further, she was only referring to how we are built on the inside...PHEW! That was a rough first visit...

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 6:21 PM

I once had a doctor flirt with me during one such exam. Yuck!

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 6:09 PM

Ooops! "No Men O'llowed"! Hahahaha!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 7:40 AM

My sister says that "IO" fits this situation, too! ("Information overload"!)

I think NMO fits, too. "No Men Allowed!"

(Yes, I made that up...)

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Nov 12, 2007, at 7:38 AM

Only if you're a man.

-- Posted by bringwine on Sun, Nov 11, 2007, at 10:24 PM


-- Posted by LUFER on Sun, Nov 11, 2007, at 10:04 PM

Well, Minnie Dear, as much as I admire your lovely prose and riotous humor, that is something I do not wish to see!!!

Since I can't tell a story that comes even one tiny bit close to this one, I'll just have to let you have the award!

This all reminds me that I need to make a phone call to my gynocologist! I shall make sure that there are no ink pens within a 30 yard radius!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Nov 11, 2007, at 9:12 PM
Minne O'Pausal's response:

Just remember, if you should happen to have a run-in with a black Pilot pen, I know the name of a great internist who would probably take pity. I understand he has an opening.

Minnie, Minnie...you really make be laugh! Do you ever wonder if they have books and books in medical school lounges packed full of "You REALLY Wouldn't Believe THIS One" stories? Hopefully without accompanying photos!

-- Posted by qglenellyn on Sun, Nov 11, 2007, at 12:43 PM

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