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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Written in the Stars

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, " 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.


Jess said...

I'm sorry you had to have a gyn appt. Those suck. Esp if you have bad memories.

I myself have a case of the white-coats and can NEVER get my bp down when there. "Is your bloodpressure normally high?" they ask, and I say, well, when you take it, it is, but at home and after a surgery when I'm spacy, it's chill!

Although ironically, in pg, I had very good bp...probably because I was there.all.the.time. Or so it seemed. :)

Here's to a better day with no gyn tomorrow?

Cassandra said...

Big girl panties aren't the same as big panties, right?

Good job taking the plunge. Look on the bright side, no smear for a year!

loribeth said...

Good for you, Mel. I do understand the reluctance. My ob-gyn has moved offices since Katie's stillbirth, so I don't have to go to the exact same place as I did for my pregnancy visits anymore. But it's bad enough. :p My bp is often higher there than it normally is too. I said once, "No offense, doc, but the happiest hours of my life have NOT been spent in your office!" lol

I just made an appointment today that I've been constantly "forgetting" -- to have my family dr check out a mole on my arm. A scrapbooking blogger I read (who is currently pregnant) just announced she was diagnosed with stage one melanoma. That was the kick in the butt I needed!

Lori said...

You must have a new-fangled gynocologist. Mine makes me take OFF my big-girl panties.

Thanks for reminding me. It's time.

What did that book say about Sag'es?

battynurse said...

Hmm. Didn't know that whole hating doctors appointments was a gemini thing, I just figured it was a chubby girl thing. I'm actually ok if I know the doctor it's the whole new doctor thing I avoid like the plague. Yeah, I have to find a new doctor soon too. Glad the appointment is over for a year.

April said...

i don't know anyone who *likes* the speculum. :)

good job on going to the gyn! now you just have to do it again next year. are you on the dentist? should i do some prodding there as well? ;)

Tara said...

I am sorry you had to go to the gyn today and that its so dreadful. I totally lost all composure at my last GYN annual. It was super (sarcasm doesn't work as well being typed...).

Glad you don't have to go back for a year!

Meghan said...

Now I know why I am horrible with doctors! And dentists...I'm even worse about dentists.

sorry about your least you got some smooth legs out of it

Photogrl said...

Good for you to go to the're free now until next January.

At least you weren't like me at my last one, I started bawling on the table during the exam!

Oh, why do we feel we need to shave for them, either?

Carrie27 said...

I completely understand that completely understand the profound uncomfortable feeling. I am a horrible patient as well and get fussed at routinely for not going more often. It makes you have to face the reality of everything involved around it. Who wants to do that? Wouldn't we all rather just live in a utopia of everything is perfect?

Shelby said...

gulp. I've been avoiding going in for my annual too. I was supposed to go in November, and haven't made the appointment yet. I've also been lax on going back to see my GP, and having some bloodwork done. If you can do it, I can do it. I'll call tomorrow. Thanks for the push. I needed that!

And yeah- no one likes the speculum. Yuck! And ouch!

areyoukiddingme said...

I finally found the right doctor. I don't mind going to see my OB/GYN, because he's awesome. I'd see him all the time, if he wasn't obligated to check the undercarriage. In fact, he's the OB/GYN for almost all of my husband's family. But, I have to say, I never go to the doctor otherwise, unless I have to. I think I've had bronchitis every year for the past 10 years, but was never diagnosed with it (or treated for it) until last year. I went to the doctor that time only because I thought I might have strep throat and could give it to my toddler. And I'm a Cancer.

Good for you for getting it over with, though.

bleu said...

I am going to be a little bit harsh here Mel.

First off though as a fellow Gemini I can say I have never had trouble going to the doctor. It could be that having mine on the 19th of June and a sort of cusp makes a difference, I am not sure but just an FYI.

OK now to the tough love.
As a mother it is your responsibility to get over your doctor issue and go to all your yearly appointments. I mean this. I had cancer at 19 and it was caught early because I went to my doctors appointment. Early detection, especially with breast and ovarian cancer is soooo crucial. I feel very strongly about this, about early detection, and about being there as long as you possibly can for your kids.

Were I not a mom I am sure I would likely still smoke. It is what makes me so determined to get this weight thing in check after this pregnancy. And it is what helps drive me to make the yearly checks and take the vitamins and thyroid meds I have to take forever.

I love and adore you and hate to think of your struggles with this, but I also believe if you view it this way it becomes much much easier to overcome.

Much love I hope I didn't offend.

Karen said...

Wow do I ever identify with this. I had to go for my annual (I *had* to because I had an abnormal pap once so I don't mess around), anyhow I had to go to my annual exactly two weeks after our first adoption fell through and my GYN office is/was also the birth mom's OB office. I had met her there for ultrasounds and such and had to sit in the same waiting room with all the preggos, thinking that she could (for whatever reason) walk in with the baby at any time). I was terrified. Not to mention that one floor above me was the delivery ward where the whole painful thing went down. It sucked big time. You'd think I'd just change GYNs, right? Except the next closes GYNs on my insurance are a 30-minute drive away and the office in question is 5 minutes away. Anyhow, I'm glad you sucked it up and went to your appointment, it's very adult of you :)

luna said...

I was WAY overdue for mine, so I can relate. eventually I had to switch to a new ob/gyn. couldn't handle it anymore. ironically I ended up in the same bldg as my RE, but somehow that was easier. go figure.

glad you're all up to date! and have smooth legs, too!

Kara said...

I am a deliquent patient as well... this has reminded me/inspired me to make a phone call tomorrow.

I swear. I am really going to do it tomorrow.


luna said...

hey, you're WINNING!

Kristin said...

I'm glad you went in and got things checked but I'm sorry it was so rough.

'Murgdan' said...

I'm glad you got the pap over with--though I'm sorry it brought up some bad feelings for you...

"Yes, doctor, she has gotten a bit tubby, but she did take the stairs"<---this is something I think every day of my life. I'm always seen taking the if that somehow makes it ok.

calliope said...

oh man, that sounds like a total stressed out day. Hate those. on a total side note (well not really) I have found the best place for paps in planned parenthood. They are SO fast and they give you free stuff. Plus the waiting rooms are much more entertaining.

Mrs. Higrens said...

Good for you for putting on your big girl panties and doing something "good" for your self health! I put calling to schedule mine off for about 6 months under the delusion that I was going to get pregnant so I'd be there anyway. Hasn't happened yet, and seeing those pregnant bellies while I was there didn't magically bring sunshine and roses to my life.

Strangely enough, I don't always worry about shaving my legs before one of THOSE appointments. I figure either he's seen worse, or I am the worse, so he appreciates the shaves more. Whatever.

Now if I could just find a dermatologist who doesn't require a referral from another doctor, even with my family history of melanoma.

JuliaS said...

Okay - in between laughing hysterically and breaking out into a profuse fit of sweaty palms just thinking about making that yearly trek myself - I still got a few months before I need to - I am already starting to hyperventilate.

I'm sure it is no surprise being that I am a Scorpio, that I am completely irate at the fact that I gave them my uterus, my tubes AND my super freaky long cervix after letting them open and close me several times and they STILL want me to come back for a yearly. Miss Julia say huh? I mean, whassup with that?! What are they gonna do - check the echo?

Oh gosh - I just have to add my word verification for today is "hawalla" which is precisely the noise I was making reading your post! :0)

Emily said...

I think it is so very interesting that us IF girls avoid the gyn like the plague.

I am a Gemini but I defy my horoscope - I run to the doctor for every little thing.

Glad your appt is over and behind you for another year or so!

LJ said...

I'm pretty bad with doctors myself - for various reasons. look at it this way - your legs are all super soft now.

Leah said...

You're in first place!

Deathstar said...

oh, god I missed my pap smear in 2008. Oh, great. And yes, I'm a Gemini and normally I don't have a problem with going to the doctor - as long as it doesn't involve my poom-poom. Cause that would mean I would have to go get a bikini wax and then I have to think about what time in my cycle should I schedule it and thinking about the speculum and the swabbing which is really a scraping and .... agghhh!

Deathstar said...

Why don't they just come to your house? Or maybe a mobile pap smear centre in a mall or something? So I can go have a crackaccino or go buy something right after to make it all better?

Billy said...

Sorry you had such an appointment.

And geminis and not liking to go to doctors - never knew about that one. I am a gemini and I really really don't like going to the doctor. So you say there's a reason? LOL

Peeveme said...

Fellow Gemini and Dr slacker here! A few years ago I passed some test (for the virus that causes some types of genital warts or something) and I passed so now I don't have to go but once every three years!

Glad you went and got it taken care of.

Silver said...

Yuck to gyn appts!

P.S. I voted! I don't always comment but I love your blog!

Geohde said...

They do paps two to three yearly here, but I hate em too.

I also hate doing them, but that's because it;s hard to guess speculum size correctly.


littleangelkisses said...

Well, you know I get it. It had been a while since I had been to my Gyn too. They even had to check to make sure they had my stuff in order too.

I'm glad you made it through though.
I have to go BACK next tuesday for a colposcopy...what fun (not!)

Bea said...

I enjoyed reading this post, for some reason. I think it had a flow going in there somewhere. But mainly I'm glad you got that appointment behind you.