Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Having Fun

WARNING: Men, you might just want to stop reading right now. Mom, you too. Anyone easily offended or convinced that we come from a stork, please tune out. This is not the blog for you today.

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…

The vagina.

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?

Thank you.

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?

“Very conservative.”

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.


D said...

Guys sometimes have to have a q-tip shoved up their pee hole. What we go through is better than that. Just sayin.

Last year I had a doctor tell me, "maybe you're just not cut out for athletics" because I was having some breathing problems. Thanks. I'll go back to my life of couch, fast food and sugar now. That was easy.

BreeWee said...

whatever you do PLEASE stuff that gown in her mouth FOR ME! Honestly, 140? I was training all over the zone 5-6 when Kainoa was made, in fact he was made the night of a race (maybe too much details, sorry). SHE is so wrong!

The next most dumb thing you will hear (after you get pregnant) is that you have to keep you HR sub 140 while the baby is in the belly, that is all lies too. Kainoa survived Xterra Maui with a 170 HR and he got my a PR in the 5k at 6mos pregnant, we even did flip turns in the pool till 8 mos...

Just have fun Liz, that is good advice! This is actually hilarious hearing you talk about making babies, I hope you post fotos at least when your preggo!

GOOD luck :)

ADC said...

That is so funny but all so true, My nurse used to call the vagina all sorts of funny names. It really really was bad.

~Robyn~ said...

YES! this post rocked. Screw that 140 crap. You're golden.

Dave said...

That's why our family doctor is a sports med specialist who does endurance sports himself. :)

(Though Meredith has vowed that if he ever sees her... um... "swimsuit area", she'll have to switch.)

IM Able said...

This post made my day because yesterday afternoon I was in that same paper gown. This time was to go over treating that pesky pcos, but a lot of the same little discussions... . Do you drink? Um, no. Smoke? Nope. How about exercise...do you do at least a half hour three times a week? Um, gee, let's see.

I then got a lecture about high fructose corn syrup. Because apparently I gobble it down whenever possible.

Today I get to go back for an ultrasound. Because "telescopic camera" and "veejayjay" are just so great in a sentence together.

Good news? It's going to make tonight's spin class look like cake.

Wes said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll just assume your keeping the baby factory in good condition.

p.s. Don't call the Peanut Corporation of America for any advice.

Train-This said...

Luc was conceived while I was on the pill in the heart of training for an Ironman.

Health Care people will always tell you 140 because they do not want to be sued. remember these points:

1. Women who are athletes are the rarity. Your body is much more capable than someone else's so what you can handle is much different. A heart rate of 140 might floor another woman and not even make you sweat. Each person is different.

2. I have never in my life met a pregnant woman who did more than she should or could. Reason #1 why: you just get too big. #2: when you carry another human being inside of you, when you grow a life.... then you lose the ability to be stupid.

3. Remember: they will tell you that because they fear being sued. Really.... that's why.

Knock her up and have fun!

Jennifer Harrison said...

When I went in to my GYN to talk to them about having problems getting pregnant, my GYN (I switched) told me to have a cheeseburger and fries and perhaps my body needed a little "fat" to get pregnant. Um, that IS such the problem with these docs. And, all that know me, know I am not rail thin.

Clearly, I left...went to a RE (specialist)and hence the twins.

This made me laugh. Hearing from you in person on the plane was even better.

Alili said...

Two years ago I talked my OBGYN into triathlon, last year she did an oly. For a vagina doc, she pretty much rules.

Flatman said...

Don't forget to have fun!!

Andrea said...

Classic ELF.

Agree with you on the fact that we are the anomaly in this world as athletes.

However, I feel even more of an anomaly as a woman who is not sure she wants to have children when every woman I know thinks it is their destiny.

Good luck to you and Chris! Your baby will be FAST!

Shevaun said...

Don't worry bout exercising while pregnant. I tried a HRM with my first, but it drove me nuts. Ran by RPE on second. Ran to 8 months with both and swam until I delivered. I did back off on road cycling and stuck tothe trainer after about 3 months with each. No real reason other than nerves.

Anonymous said...

Ok get rid of her! All my Dr. have to exercise friendly!

E.L.F. said...

I just want to *clarify* that I will be "having fun" later this year - NOT YET! :)

Danni said...

After my doc retired I was forced to find a different one. Since I had gotten into sports I wanted to make sure that the person that was going to take care of my health understood the passion I felt for exercising. So, after finding a practice that was covered by my health insurance, I went and googled the name of the doctors to see if it came up with any race results. Voila! My doctor is a runner and he will also be doing the 1/2 IM I am doing in May.
Now for the embarrasing part... I was getting fitted for my bike one day and in walks this guy that look really familiar. As I look at him and it "clicks" who he was, I proceeded to announce to the guy fitting my bike: "hey that is my doctor right there!". Good thing I did not say my "girly" doctor!!!

Jessi said...


Awesome quote. And I can totally relate: my body isn't the only thing telling me that these days...

Jennifer Cunnane said...

I don't get the high heart rate limit either, granted, I was pregnant with 3 at the time so I was just bedridden and the HR probably maxed at 110 bpm just laying there all day! I am in AWE of the moms who posted comments on here who were able to train so well pregnant!

Drew said...

1) That was hysterical

2) You used the "v-word" 8 times.

3) If men had vaginas, they'd only spend HALF their time on bar stools. The other half would likely be spent with mirrors.

4)140 is ridiculous, I'm amazed someone in that room didn't get slapped. I can understand 140 for the average American couch potato but not for an athlete. When I busted myself up after my big bike crash and had to have x-rays done of my torso the radiology staff was amazed that I was thinner than the wall panel and that they could fit the lead belt around me without an extender. Sad commentary of our times.

That is all. Thanks for the laugh!


Ulyana said...

eeeew, your NP made me cringe and wanna throw up. Find a new one! And HR in the 140's - she's been drinking for sure.

Kim said...

I am seriously laughing so hard right now. This post was amazingly hilarious. Thank you so much for making light of all this and showing just how true it is that we are the anomoly! I love the "have fun" that's classic and I know that you will be fine.. below 140 is insane and like you said LATER in the year!! ha! I'll never say have fun to someone and look at it in the same way again!

Meredith said...

My GYN told me I had to gain weight to have a baby. Um, I've never skipped a period so obviously my weight has nothing to do with that.

My GYN is also all about the 140 restriction, although my family doctor said I could run a whole marathon pregnant if I wanted to.

I would love to find a GYN who agrees with my family doctor. For now, I've stopped going because I don't need any more lectures about being over 30 and being childless.

Molly said...

You two are going to make one seriously fast baby! Should we start pitching in for the aerobars on the tricycle now?

As for the doctor, I hear you. It's almost as if they feel uncomfortable when they realize you are in better shape - and probably living a healthier life - than they are.

meredith said...

hee hee! i just learned today about the doosing it from day 11 to the 19th from melina! that makes it hard for me since i only see k on weekends. i plan on running with buns, no questions. and even megmeg broke the 140 rule. and she doesn't exercise regularly. only after she gained 30lbs in the fist trimester did she start exercising.


Ange said...

YeS! So funny. Docs around here have no clue what to do with me...I've been tested for some things just to see what my results would be because they dont' usually see "people like me."
And, find a new ob/gyn.
My SIL conceived her first while competing in the Olympics!
You can have a pulse and still carrry children.
thansk for sharing this very funny version.

Susi said...

Absolutely brilliant post! SO TRUE!! Glad you survived and good luck finding an OB/GYN that understands athletes!!

E.L.F. said...

I am going to write about vaginas more often. It's been decided.

Keith said...

Very funny! Have fun!

Oh, and for a while I was swimming with a girl 7 months pregnant. At the time I was doing 17 minute 1000 m's and she swam lots faster. My all out sprint speed was just a little faster than her regular cruise. She got a kick out of picking it up to stay ahead of me. Tumble turns and all.

Try golf, too. A buddy of mine says she had an extra kid because she took like 10 strokes off her game while pregnant, and wanted to win a tournament. Something about a lower centre of gravity, and being careful with the swing.

E.L.F. said...

I should also add that yesterday at masters a pregnant chick led our lane because she wanted to "go slow". Her slow 500 was in 6:15. Uh, I think I need to be knocked up to drop some time from my 500.

D said...

I've heard (and I think there's quite a few womens here that can attest to it) that after having babies you go even faster!

But I'm concerned about your comment "I just want to *clarify* that I will be "having fun" later this year - NOT YET! :)"... I feel like you should still be "having fun". But uh... just "careful fun". LOL

Shan said...

Hi Liz! I found your blog via Marit and Jen H, and I wanted to say hellooo! :)

This post was HI-larious...gotta love doctors! You are a fabulous writer!!!

Pedergraham said...

I am having a hard time deciding which part is more entertaining--the original post, or all the comments? I think that ELF had so much fun racing on those kids bikes with campers that she has decided to make a kids race track in her own home...and of course, she needs a (little) buddy to race with.

Sherry said...

Thank you for helping me laugh/cough up what is hopefully the last residual sticky phlegm ball from my 'cold that won't quit'. Hey, we are talking medicine here, right?

Can't wait for my appt. next month! After reading this, I'm thinking about taking the 'remain child-free' approach for this appointment. HR... let 'er rip!

Julie said...

My favorite was going to the gyn a month after Ironman, and having her tell me that IM training is "too much exercise for baby making". #1, I was not trying to make a baby during IM training. #2, I was STILL not looking to participate in the baby making, which should have been evident by my request for a refill on my birth control. I guess once you get to be of a "certain age", they all just assme that that's what you want to do!

tri.bassett said...

Well, I can't touch the q-tip in the pee-hole quote, but it seems that most of your male audience are under the age of 40. For those approaching that magic age-up, I would suggest watching "Fletch" and the "are you using the whole fist Doc?" scene..

And we are waring the paper gown, waiting for Dr. Fisticuffs to lube up...

Just saying...

Javier said...


But 2 things to clarify
1) Those paper gowns were designed no doubt for the clothes hanger shaped runway model as most clothes is I think. I bet you it closes fully for them!

2) Coffee is no longer on the "Unhealthy" list. It was officially pronounced as such via press release last fall. SO therefore you have no unhealthy habits and are perfect

Cy said...

Thought you might enjoy this post: