Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Doctor Appointment: The Uncomfortable Sort - Thanks to God for Relative Anonymity in Blogging

I HATE doctor's appointments. I don't have to visit doctors for really routine matters, because either my dad treats me for whatever the problem is, or my Uncle Steve, who's cfficially my pediatrician, comes by our house before or after his office hours. I don't often visit his office.

The appointment I'll have tomorrow, which at least happens right in the middle of my school day, forcing something vaguely positive to come of the ordeal, is the sort that involves at least some disrobing and uncomfortable poking and prodding. I'm not yet physcially mature enough for the all-out gynecological exam, THANK GOD!!!, but this one will be entirely too close to the real thing. My parents will both be there. I don't know that their presence will make it any better, but my mom says I'm young enough that no exam involving even partial nudity should take place without the presence of at least one parent or a stand-in guardian. Hell, why don't they just invite in the press corps as was done in the middle ages in cases of royal births in order to prove the lines of secession? My parents have read a little too much about the LaVar Withers cases in Rexburg, Idaho, I suppose. The parental accompaniment thing will probably change either when I hit forty-one or when my parents' old-folks' homes will no longer grant them leave for the privilege of attending my medical appointments.

I eagerly anticipate the day I am old enough to decide, if, when, why, where, or anything else related to my doctor's office visits. I'm sixteen now, and, without intending to boast, I possess at least the average level of intelligence for a sixteen-year-old. Why, then, do I not have the final say as to whether or not a doctor, male or female (it hardly matters) gazes at and occasionally even touches parts of my body that I prefer to keep clothed and untouched?

My exams haven't, for the most part, reached that horrible "penetration" stage, although there was one time when a doctor thought I might have appendicitis. I won't burden you with the gruesome details. Let us merely stipulate that the process was not anything resembling one of those formerly termed "E Ticket" rides at Disneyland. (For the record, since I've been old enough to visit the Disney parks, tickets were a relic, but I've heard of the olden days when one only got so many opportunities on the really good rides and had to spend the rest of their rides on "It's a Small World" or the "Monorail."

By the way, I was intensely disappointed when I learned that the "Monorail" did not travel at the speed of a roller coaster but was, instead, merely an elevated if futuristic-appearing train. This revelation regarding the speed at which the Monorail travels ranks right up there as one of life's greatest disappointments for me. [I'm deliberately omitting prom no-shows, sexual and physical assaults, and bricks being thrown trhough my window, as in my opinion they transcend the level of life's disappointments into a whole other realm.] The other monumental disappointment occurred on an Easter morning when I was five at my paternal grandparents' home. My mom was receiving a cancer treatment and Dad was with her, and the Easter Bunny did a complete no-show: no chocolate eggs, no jelly beans, not even a card. Stupid as it sounds, I had believed up to that point. From then on, I ceased to believe in anything, including leprechauns (my mom, being Irish, had gone to great lengths in maintaining the illusion that the little creatures showed up and created mischief in our house in the wee hours of St. Patrick' Day), Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy (although I did greedily hold on to the money my parents slipped and continue to slip under my pillow, as I'm a physcial late-bloomer and still lose a tooth on occasion). Even my faith in God was shaken, but following several lengthy conversations with a priest during my confirmation year, I've come to terms with that. I still haven't come to terms with my grandparents' miserly refusal to spring for even a ninety-nine cent bag bag of jelly beans for their grandchildren whose parents were too sick or preoccupied to think if it themselves. I don't think it even bothered anyone on that side of the family when other grandchildren showed up for the after-church dinner that day carrying huge candy-and-toy-laden baskets. This, I hope, gives my few readers one more glimpse into our relationship, if one could even call the connection between myself and my paternal grandparents a relationship.

Anyway, Monorail and Easter Bunny disappointments notwithstanding, I'm most uncomfortable when doctors look at and touch my body. My mom told me to get ued to it, because when I have babies, what's happened to me up to this point during the course of medical appointments will seem like one of those "E Ticket" rides by comparison. My answer to this is that I will not have any children. I'll adopt or do without. There's plenty of time between now and then to decide. (If I do adopt one or more children, I'll NEVER leave them in the care of anyone who would refuse to go along with the Easter Bunny charade while the children were still young enough to be in kindergarten.)

One reason I'm poked and prodded more than that with which I am comfortable is that my growth and development has been slower than the slow limit of normal. Last year at about this time, I was measured and was given a rating of being no longer growth-deficient, and was told I wouldn't need to return to the pediatric endocrimologist. Not long afterward, my parents received a letter explaining that because much of the data was obtained by a new employee, who apparently lacked the skills to weigh and measure a chocolate Easter Bunny, much less a human. The point of that letter was that, despite earlier proclamations to the contrary, I'm not yet out of the growth-deficient rage. I have serious hopes of reaching that milestone at this tear's visit, although my hopes are not so strong that it causes me not to dread the appointment.

So tomorrow I'll once again remove my clothing and don a flimsy examination gown so that I can be weighed, measured in all sorts of capacities, and again have my lack of "breast budding" noted. Why must anyone look at my nude chest to know this? I could tell the endocrinologist, his assistants, or anyone who is remotely interested that not a G#%-damned thing is yet happening to me in that department. This particular measure of development seems to be all-encompassing. The pundits on the topic aeem convinced that menstruation typically occurs eighteeb months practically to the day that "breast budding" first begins. To save them time and to save me humiliation, why can't I just dropt them a postcard when my breasts start to bud? Hell. I'd even be willing to provide photographic evidence, and even to toss another card into the mail on the day that the crimson tide makes its initial appearance into my life. I could spare us all a lot of trouble by using either the U. S. mail or email to keep them informed of my slow-but-still-apparently-moving-along primary and secondary sexual characteristic development.

My mom is not without sympathy. She was an Air Force brat, and Air Force doctors were and presumably still are typically more concerned with sewing a patient's intestines inside his abdominal cavity following a bombing or helicopter crash than with obsessing over an adolescent girl's breast budding or lack thereof. Still, it was enough a a topic of dicussion among the adults in my mom's life, including school nurses, that Mom can somewhat relate to my agony, although not so much that she fails to go along with my dad and Uncle Steve in their endeavor to leave no medical stone unturned.

Some readers -- relatives in particular, including the various cousins who showed up at my grandparents' home on that infamous Easter bearing elaborate Easter baskets filled to the brim with mouth-watering confections and who did not offer to share with me as much as a Peep (nor did their parents require them to do so) -- will say I'm being the typically ungrateful brat that I am. Perhaps they're right on some counts, but at this point I'm either going to grow a bit more, am going to develop physically as my mother did even having been in a boat very similar to the one I'm presently rowing, and will eventually reach that landmark achievement of breast budding, or I am going to remain tiny, thin, and with a chest roughly as flat as the surface of a snare drum. I fail to understand how humiliating medical appointments will change anytihng in this regard.

Postscript: I have a 5:00 a.m. diving practice in the morning and a track meet this afternoon. I really need to be sleeping right now, but the thought of having my body peered at and prodded is rendering sleep an impossibiity for me.


  1. Good luck at your appointment today. I don't think I know anyone who is entirely thrilled with the prospects of being viewed nude by their doctor. When Jason was around 4, Nana took him to the doctor for his physical, which included some private checking. I guess on the way home Nana and he were talking about the appointment and he proclaimed "I don't like anyone touching my balls, Nana!"

    I wish I had better advice for you. My surgeon, Dr. M was talking with me pre op about these kinds of things. Mostly because I was drugged, and didn’t realize that I was having a conversation about my missing underwear from my last surgery. I had made a comment about how the idea of lying on a table naked for the entire OR to see was the worst part of surgery for me. He assured me that they take care of everything in a very respectful way, and that most of the time, unless they are directly involved with disrobing, they don’t notice. I try to take Dr. M’s advice that it’s best not to think about it. Easy for him to say of course. Maybe for them, it’s like when you’re in art or history class and you start that unit on Italian Renaissance art. David, The Birth of Venus and other naked clad people in statues and paintings fail to provoke reaction after the 2nd or 3rd time they are viewed. It becomes, normal.

    Good luck, with your diving and running meets too! :)

  2. Alexis, it could be worse. MUCH worse.

    Imagine, if you will, a visit to the doctor and when you arrive, they insist that you keep your clothing on, but that all of the staff -from the receptionist at the front desk to the doctor him or herself are all stark naked!

    See? Didn't I just make your day? ;o))

  3. You're an asshole.

  4. Anonymous is an are just fine.