Before you hear about the doctor's appointment that earned my smooth legginess, I need to ask you: have you voted today? Well, have ya? You do know that voting goes for the Weblog Awards goes from now until the 13th (next Tuesday) and you can vote daily by clicking here and then clicking on Stirrup Queens (two clicks; that's all I'm asking of you). It would make me happier than Pippi Longstockings (she was happy, right?) if you took one minute out of your night/day and voted and then came back here to read this excellent tale o' the stirrups. Oh, and Twittered it. Or Facebooked it. Twittering is very Pippi. Peppy. Pippi.
Back in graduate school, one of my roommates had a horoscope book that we would drag out during parties. This is where I learned that Geminis are not good at going to the doctor. I held this as proof that my irresponsibility was out of my hands. It was as good as written in the stars.
I am actually terrible at making it to the doctor. I've had one or two physicals in my adult life. I go more than a year between pap smears. I have been eating my way through a bottle of Tums and commenting nightly to Josh that "it would seem as if I have an ulcer." And yet I haven't made an appointment to get this checked out.
I didn't even go to the hospital when I went into labour. I was at the movie theater watching Fahrenheit 911 and I went to pee midway through the movie. I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor, holding my belly as it tightened. A woman came into the bathroom to pee (for DCites, I'm talking about those lovely, tiny restrooms inside the main theater at the Avalon--just to give you the mise en scene) and I remember her voice quavering with uncertainty, "um...do you want me to get someone?" And I debated for a moment--I was in a lot of pain, but this certainly couldn't be labour because I thought I'd be sweating like a chazar when it was actually time to push the twins out and beyond that, I just flat out didn't want to go to the hospital--and then told her that I was going to take a few more minutes on the bathroom floor. And could she tell me what I missed so far?
A day later, I went to the hospital to be induced because it was determined the twins were IUGR and the doctor on call told me that I didn't need induction because I was already four centimeters dilated. "This is labour?" I asked. "But I'm not sweating. I thought I was supposed to come in when my hair was plastered to my face and scalp and I was grunting and panting."
Turns out you're supposed to pay more attention to the spacing of the contractions and not the sweat factor. See, not great with getting to the doctor. But, again, it's not my fault. It's just my birth date.
I received a card to return to the doctor for my yearly pap smear about ten months ago. For a long time, it was next to the coffeemaker, collecting the coffee grounds that spilled onto it whenever Josh made the morning pot. Sometimes I would look at it and think about making the appointment. Then I would think about how much I don't want to go to his office and I would forget about it again.
A few weeks ago, I read In Search of Biscuit 2.0's post about her visit for her yearly pap and I realized that I was nearing on two years since my last one. So I put on my big girl panties and made the call. The nurse asked if I was positive that I'm an existing patient. I kept promising her that I had seen the doctor before. She finally set down the phone and went to search through another database and returned to inform me that they did have my file but they had removed me from the main system since I hadn't been back in almost two years. I apologized and promised that I was going to get better about my gynecological health--my health in general--and could I please be let back in the main system because if you leave me to wander the streets searching for a new gynecologist, I will never get my cervix swabbed.
I was given an official pardon.
My brother is several years younger than I am so I was in graduate school when he was still in high school. This meant that I often went back to shows or award ceremonies at the high school and walked through the same halls that I had walked through as a student and saw my old locker and the bathroom where I liked to hide when I was having a bad day. And every time I did so, I had the same anxious reaction as if I was stuck in a nightmare where I was forced to repeat high school for all eternity. Maybe it was Post Traumatic High School Stress Syndome, but I literally got the same queasy feeling I got every single day I had to attend school from 14 to 17.
And walking up the stairs to his office (since I knew he was already going to point out the obvious weight gain and I wanted the nurse to observe me through the glass door coming up the steps rather than taking the elevator because I truly believe this is the type of information she's going to pass along to him after she takes my weight. "Yes, doctor, she has gotten a bit tubby, but she did take the stairs"), I had that same feeling of dread I used to feel during high school or visiting the high school. It is that feeling you get where you are so profoundly emotionally uncomfortable. I was profoundly uncomfortable walking into that office.
And not just because I was the only non-pregnant woman in the waiting room. Not just because I'm a delinquent patient or because I hate the speculum with a passion. Not just because we are going to have to have a conversation about my fertility history or treatments. But because no one wants to visit a place they hated, even if they're beyond the original experience and you don't need to navigate it daily anymore.
I sat in my paper robe, my paper sheet across my lap, my head cocked to the side as I stared at the air freshener.
I told you that I'm a terrible patient.
I found myself crying as I walked to the car in the rain. I don't even know why. Relief that the appointment was over? Sadness remembering everything else about that space? I made a promise that I'd do better, come back next January, take my baby aspirin for the rest of my life. But the entire time he was speaking, I was thinking about the cover of the horoscope book. And how much fun it had seemed every time we dragged it out to the crowd in the living room.