Monday, November 19, 2007

That Time of the Year

Don’t most women dread that yearly GYN exam? You know the one that pokes and probes and palpates all those parts of your body that most people never see.

I actually look forward to seeing one of my favorite doctors. He is about my age, with a pony tail and clogs. Instead of alarming me, he is always reassuring, even if he finds something questionnable.

I remember once when he found a growth that had to be surgically removed, he made a wager that it was benign. If so, I owed him a batch of home-made chocolate chip cookies. I was never so happy as to bake those cookies.

Today as he came in my exam room, he took a call. After hanging up, he explained that it was one of their new doctor partners asking him to dress up as Santa Claus for a Christmas party at her house for her kids. He said, “Can you imagine a good Jewish boy like me as Santa Claus?”

Today’s conversation as he went through that checklist of the exam included the following:
– This will be the first Thanksgiving he will not have any children at home. Same for us. And a little sad.
– He gets to learn about Christmas this year because his new wife (of a year) is not Jewish. She has considered converting, but still celebrates Christmas.
– Two of his children no longer speak to him since he and their mother divorced. He misses them terribly, but after psychotherapy for the first year determined that he simply must go on without them in his life any longer.
– He grew up in a “Conservadox” household – almost Orthodox. His parents refused to let him go to dances at the local YMCA. When his baseball team (sponsored by the Y) won the championship, his parents declined to go to the awards ceremony. He went home and admitted, “I did something really bad tonight. I ate HAM.” His mother smiled. His father was furious.

At this point I realized the exam was over. I had been so engrossed in our conversation that I hadn’t even thought about all the poking and probing and palpating.

Before he left the room, he told me yet one more story about how his grandfather had changed the separate seating policy in his Orthodox synagogue by refusing to support it any longer unless he could sit with his wife. Then he was gone to write my yearly mammogram order while I got dressed.

I was sorry to be the reason he had slipped even further behind schedule, but as always I went away thinking more about what we had talked about than the procedures necessary to give me a clean bill of health.


Blogger GEWELS said...

Oh! i have to go on tuesday. Can I visit your doctor instead?
And where in the hell did you get that picture?

10:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

If you want to drive 30 miles, you are welcome to visit my doctor. He is loved by all of his patients! He probably has a life-time supply of choc chip cookies.

Google Image has pictures of EVERYTHING! I always love the little socks over those cold stirrups. If you think about it very hard, this could be one of the most demeaning exams possible. At least with a colonoscopy you are sedated and don't know what's going on.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

Be glad you aren't single and going to an OB/GYN now! They diagnose EVERYONE with HPV. They told me I had it, then the following year said, "Gee, I don't know why they told you that, there's no evidence of it at all. We'll retest." Retest they did and found nada. 2006 will always be the year I thought I had HPV.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Velvet -- This is great news that you don't have HPV. It's unclear how you can have it one day and then not have it the next, but I like the second set of test results!

BTW, my doctor is an OB/GYN. Fortunately I no longer need the OB part!

11:37 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I love coming here to read - your posts are always so down home and down to earth. I dread that exam - wish I had a doctor as compassionate and approachable as yours!

7:17 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I go to a male gyno as well. I adore him. He spends just enough time with me to make me feel comfortable, doesn't rush me, explains everything in detailed laymen's terms, but is in and out so fast I don't have time to feel cold.

Also, HPV is a skin disease that can only be validated if there is an irregular pap smear (followed by a validating biopsy) or visible signs of it on the skin. It might be misdiagnosed if the irregular pap turns out to be something else. But it's not overdiagnosed. People don't understand just how common it is (something like 1/3 college students will contract it by the time they graduate).

7:53 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- When my good friend and doctor Deborah asked whether I would like to include the GYN exam in my yearly physical, I couldn't imagine giving up my long-time relationship with Dr. R even though it would undoubtedly save me money to do "one-stop" shopping. He really is a gem of a doctor. I am so fortunate!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jessica -- I find it so interesting that the female GYNs I saw previously to finding Dr. R were often alarmist. I felt no more comfortable having a woman do the exam. It's so important to find a doctor of whatever sex whom you trust and who treats you as a person, not just a specimen needing to be checked.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Velvet said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

Actually, not exactly on the HPV. There is high risk and low risk. Low risk is the kind which causes warts and you cannot test for it at all, just make an evaluation on the skin. The high risk kind is present in the skin and you can test for it, by doing a swab of the cervix. I didn't have an abnormal pap, nor a wart, just asked for routine tests. And that's what they came back with. The doctor who saw me the following year had no explanation other than a misdiagnosis.

10:43 PM  
Blogger steve said...

I'm slackjawed here....but thanks for that report Barb!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

As you know, I go to tons of doctors and I always love the ones who relate to you in a way that shows you they are real just like you as this one surely does with you.

10:46 AM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

I'm a bit of an ostrich when it comes to these medical tests.

Thanks for the reminder. MUST do it THIS year.

6:01 PM  

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