Any of you who know me are undoubtedly well acquainted with my various medical maladies—diverticulitis, kidney stones, squamous cells, pinched nerves, jittery endocrine reflux kinetics (better known as j.e.r.k. syndrome). If you’re keeping track, you can now add gallbladder polyps to your scorecard with an asterisk; if it continues at its current pace, you can look forward to reading about my gallbladder removal surgery. . . .
Yay. for. me.
Some of the readers of my old blog may recall that I bravely documented my first colonoscopy; the “good news” is that I recently received a postcard from my gastroenterologist’s office informing me that I should contact them because it’s time to go back for my second colonoscopy. Again, yay.
I call the office and am told by the secretary that my regular gastroenterologist, who is a highly regarded, award-winning physician, is now pretty much just teaching at a certain local Ivy League medical school, and not really seeing patients any more. As such, he’s recommended that I be turned over to one of his associates. Fine, I say, figuring if he is recommending an associate who he’s in practice with, that’s good enough for me. I make an appointment to see my new gastroenterologist.
A short time later, it occurs to me to check the practice’s website to see if I can find anything out about the person who will now be shoving medical equipment—and who knows what else—up my rectum. I mean, we all accept that doctors are allowed to examine our bodies, but objectively, there’s something innately odd about letting a complete (or even an incomplete) stranger poke and probe your orifices. I don’t think it’s crazy to want to know something before I show up at the office.
I start looking through the practice website and quickly realize that I’ve made some very narrow-minded assumptions about my new doctor, including sex, appearance and age.
Yes, my new gastroenterologist is an attractive young woman.
I guess I didn’t think much about her name when it was mentioned—it’s an Indian name, and shame on me, I’m not familiar enough with that culture to immediately recognize what apparently is a common girl’s name. After years of being in and out of medical facilities, I’m also not used to seeing a doctor who is . . . well, pretty. And finally, in her picture on the website, she looks younger than I’m used to a doctor being—I suppose I always think that after the years of college, medical school, residencies, fellowships and other programs, most doctors are well into their 30s before they are in a regular practice.
So yeah, I’m a little surprised at all this, but it really shouldn’t matter—all I care about is getting good treatment, and if she’s recommended by my old doctor, then that’s still good enough for me. Granted, I’ve never really had a female doctor before, especially one who is going to be delving into areas I’m not real comfortable with a male doctor (or anyone, for that matter) exploring. I know that many of you ladies out there are very used to having physicians of the opposite sex examine you, but for me, it’s a bit of a new experience. Yes, I’ve had a few from time to time, and I’ve certainly had woman do everything from working on my teeth to draining my veins to stitching up my cuts, so it’s not like I’ve never been handled medically by a female. Just not my butt, I guess.
I quickly put away my ignorance and prejudices, and don’t think much about it until my pre-colonoscopy consultation comes around. I go to the office, fill out the necessary paperwork—there’s always paperwork, isn’t there?—and wait to meet my new doctor.
After a few minutes, a 15-year-old girl appears in the office, holding a chart and calling my name. She introduces herself as my gastroenterologist …
Okay, let me say right here, I get the fact that I’m old and thus, pretty much everyone else out there looks younger than me. I really and truly get that. But in the flesh, this physician really and truly looks like only about a few years older than my 13-year-old son—she’s certainly not any bigger than him, maybe at best 98 pounds dripping wet—7 stone, if you’re following along in the British imperial system. For the record, I’ve shown a picture of my new doctor to my wife, who says that she looks “about 25,” so you know I’m not overly exaggerating here.
It also doesn’t help that throughout my visit, she keeps referring to me as “Sir,” with a light Indian accent that already has wisps of formality to it. Again, I get that I’m old, but this is not helping any. She really appears as if she could be in high school—Doogie Gupta, anyone?
Anyway, all that aside, it becomes apparent very quickly that she is a more-than-competent physician, the one part of the equation that I actually expected, and is the bottom line, after all. We go through my medical history, she asks lots of pertinent questions and all my internal immaturity and ignorance is put aside … until she asks me to get on the examination table.
I have a quick flash to the time my general practitioner “examined” me during my first bout of diverticulitis, making me scream out in pain while he rammed his sausage fingers up inside my body cavity, and quickly think, “Well, at least she’s got little girl hands, so if anything, it won’t be too uncomfortable …” Fortunately though, she only wants me to pull up my shirt so she can examine my abdomen.
I pull up my shirt, and as she puts her hands all over my stomach, I immediately expect Chris Hansen and the FBI to kick the door open in some sort of underage-pedo sting. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit ticklish, and I giggle at one point when she grazes a vulnerable spot. Awk-ward!
But of course, she’s a total professional and all business, and the exam is over quickly. She thanks me, and escorts me to her secretary, who sets up an appointment for the colonoscopy.
My doctor—and now, she is officially my doctor—then says, “I’ll see you at the procedure!” And although I think, “Well, if you skip fourth period and can get a ride to the medical center, you will see more of me than most care to see,” I simply say, “Yes, yes you will”—I figure we both might as well be grown up.