I had the pre-physical part of my “Well Woman Annual Exam” this morning. Here’s how it all went down:
8:00 a.m. – Pull into the parking lot, get out of the truck. Juggle keys and purse while checking to see if I have my cell phone. Drop purse. Bend to pick it up. Somehow miss the handle and stand up without it in my hand. Feel like a dork. Bend down and attempt to pick it up again. Succeed. Stand up. Drop keys. Huff. Stamp foot. Pick up keys, while simultaneously maintaining hold on purse. Feel triumphant. Enter doctor’s office.
8:05 a.m. – Sign in, see Marie’s friend Shannon at the desk (her uncle owns the practice), wave “hi”. Go to the waiting area, select a magazine (“Esquire”). Sit.
8:15 a.m. – Have finished an article on “The Real Ben Affleck”. Remain unimpressed, yet amused by the sheer amount of dick-sucking the author poured into the article (I mean, come ON. “He walks light on the depthless veneer of the world…”? EYES. ROLLING.). Hear my name called. Proceed to the exam area. Nurse tells me to stand on scale. I tell her I will, but I’m NOT looking down at the number. Instead, I look at the pretty picture straight in front of me, on the wall. Contemplate the thought that they probably put that picture there because there are a LOT of neurotic women like me who don’t want to know how much they weigh. Next, am seated next to the blood pressure cuff. Strap/inflate/throb/release. Normal. And kinda dirty. Then she asks me to look into the scope for my eye exam. I kind of read the last line (line 7) with both eyes, I doubt my accuracy toward the end of the line. I can read line 6 perfectly with the left eye, and again with the right eye. The nurse praises my efforts as if I were a child who’d just had her training wheels removed and made it all the way to the end of the driveway without dumping her bike.
8:20 a.m. – Go to exam room with nurse. She’s explaining the “list of fourteen things” that are going to be done to me today – but don’t worry! Don’t be intimidated! It’ll all be over before I know it! She reviews a couple of things with me, then prepares the pulmonary test (breathing test cuz of my limp lungs). I take a deep breath in, wrap my lips around the tube like a pro (hah), breathe out for as hard and long (HAH) as I can, breathe in deeply, and release the tube. Lather, rinse, repeat three times. Then she asks me to strip to the waist and put the paper gown on with the opening at the front (hubba!). She leaves the room, I remove shirt and bra, put on the more-paper-than-gown, and call to her to come back in.
8:25 a.m. – Am affixed with a dozen sticky tabs, which are attached to wires, and I’m having an EKG. Talk with the nurse about our respective childhood memories growing up in the country. She says she’ll print out the results of the EKG so I can prove to my co-workers that I actually DO have a heart. Chuckle obligatorily at her, as this is clearly her “line” and she wields it with pride. Reflect with gratitude on the fact that I don’t have chest hair, as the nurse removes the wires and sticky tabs.
8:35 a.m. – Nurse leaves the room, I get dressed again, leave the room, and sit in a small waiting area. Another lady is there ahead of me – she’s maybe 65 or 70. She’s flipping with little interest through a Better Homes and Gardens. I sit next to her, our eyes meet and I smile at her. She looks back down. I shrug, rummage through the stack of magazines, and come up with an early March issue of The New Yorker. Lady next to me lets loose a Silent Yet Deadly fart that causes my eyes to water. A nurse passes by us – I try to tell her with my eyes and facial expression that IT WASN’T ME. Nurse takes the lady into an exam room, I figure if she doesn’t realize who Fart Woman is, she will soon.
8:45 a.m. – Ultrasound technician calls me into her room. I lay down on the table on my back and turn my head to face the wall, she puts this FREEZING goop on the side of my neck and proceeds to do an ultrasound on my carotid artery (HAH, you guys thought I was going to sneak some kind of NEWS in here, didn’t you?). She moves, presses, clicks at her keyboard. My stomach grumbles audibly and I apologize – no breakfast, just coffee. At one point she listens to the pulse of blood and I’m reminded of all those movie and television scenes of women listening to the heartbeat of their baby. Sounds just like that, except my heartbeat is more ponderous. She wipes away the goop, asks me to turn my head the other way. Re-applies the goop, and this time I can see the screen, see my artery, watch the blood flow. It’s kind of cool, and kind of creepy. She wipes away the goop again and sends me back to the waiting area.
9:00 a.m. – This time there’s a guy sitting in the waiting area. I sit next to him and only barely pick up the magazine before my name is called again. The phlebotomist calls me into The Needle Room. He’s a young guy, flamboyant, chatty. Clearly trying to distract me. I ask him if he’d take the blood from my hand instead of my arm (I have NO veins in my arms), and he actually LISTENS to me. Usually they’re all, “Well, let’s just try the arm first, shall we?” And then they can’t find a vein, and they end up bruising me, and my triumph of being RIGHT is trumped by my injured arm. Anyway, this kid does as I ask, and I look up, around, away, anywhere but at my right hand where he’s drawing blood. Three vials, I feel him release the elastic, then he’s instructing me to keep pressure on the cotton ball while he wraps my hand in bright purple tape. He hands me a sterile specimen jar and asks me to donate a urine sample. I say, “Anything for the cause!” He escorts me to the ladies room, then instructs me to return to the waiting area when I’m done.
9:15 a.m. – I’ve done the necessary ignoble act of peeing in a cup, and return to the waiting area (yes, I washed my hands). The guy that was there before is still there, so when we make eye contact I say, “I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing on a Friday morning!” He half-smiles in return, then goes back to his glassy-eyed stare at the wall in front of us. Again, I don’t have time to open a magazine before the x-ray technician is asking me to accompany her to her room.
9:20 a.m. – X-ray tech asks if there’s a chance I might be pregnant, and I respond with a resounding, “No!” She grins, and asks me to remove my shirt and bra and put the paper gown on (opening at the BACK this time). She leaves, I strip, frock myself in glamour, and call to her to come back in. She instructs me to stand in front of the x-ray board thingy, facing the wall, and smash myself up against the board so she can take images of my chest (hubba). She attaches an x-ray deflecting bib around my waist. She steps away to her booth, calls to me to “Take a deep breath in, breathe all the way out, deep breath in… annnnd… hold your breath.” Mysterious things grunt and whirr mechanically. She comes back out from behind her booth, positions me with my side against the board and my hands on my head, elbows in front of my face. Another round of breathe in/breathe out/breathe in/grunt/whirr/breathe. I remain in front of the board, just kind of standing there and feeling silly in my gown, as she reviews the images to make sure they’re clear. Then she leaves the room, I divest myself of the gown for a final time, dress in my bra and shirt again, then head out to the front desk.
9:30 a.m. – I chat with Shannon as I’m finally checking out. She reminds me of my appointment with the Stirrups of Doom in two weeks’ time, at which point the doctor will review the results of all of my tests with me. I thank her with every ounce of sarcasm in my being.
So. For those of you keeping track at home, that was weight, blood pressure, eyes, pulmonary test, EKG, carotid ultrasound, blood test, peeinacup, chest x-rays. My doctor’s office does NOT fuck around with wellness exams. They even used to hand out t-shirts when you were done, that said “I survived my wellness exam at Your Family Practice!” I’m totally serious. They were turquoise. I never wore mine. Which is probably why they stopped handing them out. I mean, to what occasion would you wear a t-shirt like that? To your NEXT wellness exam, to prove you’re a veteran?
ANYdoodle (channelling Snackie), hope everyone is having as entertaining a Friday as I am! I mean that sincerely. I’ll be back later this weekend to regale you with photographs from the Tempe Festival of the Arts.
You know you can’t wait. Admit it.