Are they gone?
Last week I took a visit to the doctor. That doctor. The gynecologist. Actually not the doctor. Another nurse practitioner.
The reason I went was to make sure I was healthy. According to Chapter 3, line 28 in the ownership manual for having a vagina (and fear not – I will only use the word once), you must visit the gynecologist at least once a year. If you miss your routine check up you might one day find your vagina at 45,000 miles requiring a front end alignment, new spark plugs and a battery recharge.
None of which are very cheap.
Folks, this is not a simple piece of equipment to have. It takes care. I am telling you. I have often thought if I was faced with the decision of do you want a penis or do you want a vagina (sorry, I used it again) I am not sure I could choose. True the penis has a mind of its own but have you met vagina? It is not exactly nice. If you ask my friend Chris S., he will say that anything the woman does that is crazy, nuts, neurotic, bitchy, aloof, sinister, pure evil, over the top, otherwise inexplicable can be traced back to one thing and one thing only…
That is the last time I will use the word because honestly it is starting to scare even me. So I am at the doctor’s and had to fill out a long story of the life history of my private parts and private practices and it left me face to face with the nurse I met with before the nurse practitioner who asked me a series of questions.
The first thing she asked was my height then my weight then she told me why she didn’t just weigh me in the first place because I’m not pregnant and because most women know their weight anyways and at this point I think it really would have been easier if she had just put me on the scale.
Next up she confirmed everything I filled out in the packet they sent to me 3 days before the visit was indeed true. In case I lied. In case I do not have a vagina after all.
Then she asked me if my family really was as healthy as I made them out to be and if I was healthy too. Your mother? Yes. Your father? Yes. Your brother? Yes! For crying out loud we are relatively healthy and sassy Italian folk. Next question. To confirm alleged healthiness she took my pulse, my blood pressure (90 over 62 thank you and yes at this point in the conversation I felt dead too) and then gave me a sheet, a paper gown and said the nurse practitioner would be right in.
I am looking at the gown and thinking to myself – why. Why must woman go through this? Has a man every been tossed a paper gown and a sheet, told to strip of everything and sit in a cold doctor’s room waiting to be touched somewhat inappropriately? Turn and cough is nothing compared to this. In fact, I am convinced that if man had a vagina by now he would have called the whole world off. A few weeks ago I asked Chris what he would do if he got cramps and felt like poo on a stick for at least 2 weeks out of the month.
His reply: “I would probably spend those weeks drinking.”
So, if man had a vagina it is safe to say that he would spend half of his time drunk in a bar drowning out his pain and commiserating with his other menstruating friends. Nothing would get done. And woman would probably be the historically dominant gender celebrating her strength and virility at happy hour while complaining about her husband’s moodiness.
But back to the table. You go to enough of these yearly exams and by the time you are 33 you realize one thing – you are totally over the “I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman doctor phase”. I want a woman and I want it done short, sweet with as little talk as possible. And would it kill them to give me a gown that actually closes in front?
I am in the paper gown which is a lovely look if I may add. How can I get one of these for home when I am feeling risky I will run around held together only by the string – that little string. Is that string a joke? You cannot close the gown with the string. The string is just there for looks. I forget about the string and hold the gown closed instead. I may be in a safe place but I have some humility.
The NP comes into the room. She apologizes that it is cold and doubly apologizes because she also has cold hands. I tell her it’s ok. She says “wait until the breast exam.”
Ok. Please. Stop. Right. There.
She reviews my medical charts, history and then asks me the purpose of my visit today.
I want to be sure I am healthy. Just a check up please. Kind of like getting my oil changed. Also you should know that I have vowed to my husband and family that at the end of this year I will try to start producing babies. I will try. Give it my best. I want to be sure I am fully functional and all of the necessary parts are there in working order.
I realize I have said the wrong thing. Because she then launches into a missive about how to make babies. Please check my chart. My DOB is 7-28-75. I am 33. I know how to make the babies thank you. I know when to make them as my body tells me at day 14 every month WHY AREN’T YOU MAKING THE BABY YET. It’s like one of my eggs wakes up in the middle of night 14 like the man on the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial (circa late 80’s) and says wearily “time to make the baby”. But it never happens. To my eggs, an apology. To my family, please wait a few more months. To this Nurse Practitioner, please stop talking.
She tells me that I should plan to naturally have fun with my husband on days 10 through 18 of the month. That’s right - at least 3 times she reminds me to “have fun” when trying. Don’t make it a chore. Let it happen naturally. I feel like I’m in the 5th grade watching the “what’s happening to my body” movie except it’s being narrated live in front of me. If I wasn’t wearing a paper gown I would have gotten up and just run west. I’m not sure what is located west but it seems like a safer bet.
Then she tells me to be sure to eat my fruits, vegetables and protein. And to keep my heart rate below 140 during exercise.
Whoa. Whooooa. Wait a minute. What are you talking about here? Are you trying to tell me that when having fun and making the baby I cannot exceed zone negative one?
We have a problem here.
She then tells me that she is “super conservative” about exercise when trying to get pregnant. In my mind I am crossing her off my list of possible medical staff that will be given the honor of helping me to deliver the world’s most perfect child with a supremely high V02 max and a power to weight ratio that will rival Lance Armstrong.
Don’t think I don’t have big dreams for this not yet made baby.
Because listen, I am not like the other 20980293840298340923 women that come in here living on a diet of splenda and skipping breakfast every day thinking that the fruit in their Yoplait counts as an actual fruit serving. True that for them getting their heart rate to 140 is probably like my heart rate at 180. Is there not some type of special chart or chapter you can refer to for when dealing with athletes?
Noted. (note to self: find new OB/GYN)
Then she listens to my lungs. My heart. She takes off her stethoscope and looks at me solemnly.
I wonder to myself: Am I dead?
“So, what kind of exercise do you do?”
I tell her lots. She then says “so all of that stuff I just told you about eating right and not smoking and keeping your heart rate low - you probably didn’t need to hear that?” No. Not really. I don’t plan on following up my mile repeats with a cigarette any time soon.
“And you probably wear a heart rate monitor every day?”
Sometimes it is part of my wardrobe.
“How high can you get your heart rate?”
Is this is a trick question? Are we talking swim, bike or run? Because it is different. I tell her 180s. 190s on a really hot day. Over 200 on the track about 10 years ago. I’m thinking she might readjust based on those numbers – give me some extra credit, at least an upper limit of 150.
“You would have to keep it in the 140s.”
*Every time you say that I want to never come back here that much more*
She then starts examining while trying to make conversation. Let’s pretend this isn’t awkward but then again she chose this career path. This is her job. And you thought your job was bad. She is asking me more questions and I keep giving her healthy answers and I want to say to her, listen if you are trying to uncover the one unhealthy thing about me it is coffee so let’s just get it out there right now but other than that…I am CLEAN.
Do you feel this way: as an athlete it is like you are not even part of the real world? Like the rest of the world exists in this maelstrom of fast food and sloth while you are – gasp – actually taking care of yourself and the medical staff of the world is besides themselves with what to do with you. You are the anomaly.
We live in a very wrong world – don’t we? There should be lots of people out there like us, healthy with their only real hazard before baby making being a husband that likes hot tubs (starting this fall, he’s out of the hot tub and might have to remove his bicycle seat). But alas – the hot tub is the least of most people’s concerns. It is their indolence, their conveniently fast diet devoid of anything real and nutritious and their otherwise bad habits of smoking or drinking in excess.
I’m not saying that everyone does that. But it sure does seem like in the past two weeks in visiting two doctors that I – mostly healthy – am the strangest thing they have seen in a long, long time.
The visit wraps up with her saying that I am….pretty healthy. Of course if something is wrong they will call me. And so she wishes me well until I see her again later this fall. Until then “have fun”.
If she says it one more time I’m going to stuff my paper gown into her mouth and run west, really fast with my heart rate around 180.
190 if she gets anywhere near me with a plastic glove again.