Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A trip to the perinatologist, obstetrician, gynecologist while pregnant is usually uneventful, save for the whimsical little photograph you get to take home and stick on the fridge. This blurry snapshot will live there with distinct purpose to be admired by intermittent friends and/or remind you what you're in for every time you fetch your morning orange juice. But there are pieces of these stories which are conveniently left out by most women where they float and fester in the mysterious world of "nobody every told me THAT before." This world is so full of delicious charms and anecdotes which have been left out of stories by women of all ages but also which, had embarrassment not superceded the need for expression, would color the realm of "pre-natal and well woman care" quite vividly indeed. So it is understandable why a story like this one might be told. Humor me.
It's tuesday afternoon in Beverly Hills, a town esteemed for its solid gold doorknobs, teased hair, and pink hotels. It's actually just a run-down beat up area with ONE street which makes it appealing, next to the scores of lovely rich homes--Rodeo Drive. Anyway, I'm on my way to see Dr. Silverman, a short little mid-fifty year old with a boyish smile that wraps around a cute little bulbous nose. This nose undeniably looks out at people with pride as it shrugs like Atlas to hold up his tortoise shell 'Buddy Holly' glasses. Dr. Silverman jokes that the salt and pepper which has accumulated in his hair is just but one more thing with which being a doctor has blessed him. He uses phrases like, "Let's take a look at the kid" or "you've definitely got a good-looking kid here." Nonetheless, he is a down-to-earth treat who is nothing short of entertaining and, at the very least, extremely endearing. Equipped with ultrasound probe in hand, all he does all day long is take sneak peak snapshots of unborn babies, guesstimating their size, weight, gender, all of which he has become extremely skilled at performing but, being a perinatologist, his real job is to look for anomolies that may pose a risk to mother or baby. All in all he has an important job and we, as patients, do respect his expertise. The reason I was seeing him instead of Dr. Chin had to do with a little blood, a short jaunt to the hospital a few days before, and a considerate midwife who wanted to make doubly sure that my diagnosis of 'cervical changes' was indeed correct. This doc had already performed my 20 week structural ultrasound so I knew what to expect. Maybe. One key difference during the first ultrasound was that, during the procedure, I was graciously allowed to leave my pants on. Oh the little treats in life we so take for granted. During this visit, though, the requests were a bit different as I was instructed to "undress from the waist down and put this (a flimsy piece of paper) on." I was then instructed to sit on the table on another flimsy piece of paper while I waited for the doctor. This wait, statistically and commonly, lasted around 10 minutes. All the while, my bare bottom was slowly sweating a sweet little obnoxious ocean into that thin thin paper which "protected" me from the table below which has kissed the bottoms of thousands of naked women with goodness knows what living between the crevasses of their skin. A good solid mind would expect these tables to be wiped down with disinfectant between every patient, would be convinced that organisms can't live on vinyl, or at least live for very long, would trust the establishment who used this 'paper' and the company which manufactured it. Even with all of that, I was beginning to get nervous that the paper was eluding me, disintegrating right beneath my very bum and exposing me to the throes of diseases living on that table. And then the first doctor came in. Her name was Dr. McCarthy, a young British gal with gentle hands and a calm smile and a 15 minute long ultrasound. She did not find anything wrong with anything. She took a 4D snapshot of our baby's face for our enjoyment, blubbering herself how cute a babe we have in there. Yeah, whatever. I know she's cute. Get the hell out of here so Silverman can come in and get things moving. I'm sweating sweating! She leaves. Another 10 minutes slides in and out of time. Dr. Silverman enters, talks to me for a bit, and then starts his own procedure. At this point, I'm sure the paper is no longer there. I can feel it crumpling up and ripping with every movement. Because my diagnosis was cervical, he had to check my cervix. So I was famously instructed to lie down and "scootch forward. Just a little more forward. Just another scootch. Good." Well, this scootch resulted in the thin wet paper lifting off the table and ripping to stick to my leg like an insecure child. My bottom was now completely bare on the table. So what, as a distraught patient, do you do? What do you say? You can't keep your mouth shut. YOU know what's happened. HE certainly knows what's happened. So do you break the ice? Well, I did. I thought about a joke, but then realized that he has heard many a joke break forth from the mouths of exposed and vulnerable women and how much funnier could something be coming out of my mouth than the sight before his very eyes? Really. So I calmly apologized (??!!) for sweating and ripping the paper and having my bare, but very clean mind you, ass resting on the table. "Perfectly fine," he stated. "Perfectly fine." Is this what he says to everyone? If so, then why even HAVE the paper there?!?!? Why even squirt the Purel on the hands before the dressing of the latex gloves? Why even put on a white coat?? I pondered this for a few moments until he broke my train of thought with, "I can't find anything wrong with anything here. You just have a vascular cervix. Nothing is wrong." He then proceeded to 'predict' when my labor would begin, "in the next few days." Yeah, that was 2 weeks ago. Thanks doc. Lovingly, of course. :)
So basically, if you are a woman over the age of 18 you have had this experience in some way at these doctors offices. Unless you don't ever sweat 'down there.' But who doesn't when you have some guy or gal RIGHT IN THERE with your legs spread eagle, that obnoxious light that does not flatter any fold, flap, or dimple, and that one helpful little nurse who painfully tries not to look, but does because she must so she knows when precisely to administer the KY onto the speculum she hands to the doctor. A word of advice? Bring a towel, ladies. It's YOUR vagina. :)