When I was sixteen, my doctor sent me home with the news that I had lumps in my breast, and I needed to see a surgeon. I was hysterical, as I’m sure you can imagine. First, my mother ripped the doctor’s head off and handed it to him on a platter. (Her exact words were, “Don’t you ever, ever, ever send a child home with the information that she needs to see a surgeon! What is the matter with you??” Note to self…never mess with a Mama Bear’s cubs.) Next, we called the surgeon. I had to go to the hospital and have a needle biopsy. They did not call it that, though. They called it “aspiration.” I’m pretty sure they were banking on the fact that the high school sophomore did not know big words. Anyway, the aspiration consisted of the surgeon reading the instructions while in the room with me and then performing the procedure. You can image what my mother did to him when she realized he was reviewing his Cliff’s notes before sticking large needles in me.
I’ve been to the doctor plenty of times in my life, and I’ve been in many precarious positions there. I mean, after all, I’ve birthed two babies. People said I would lose all modesty after childbirth. They were wrong. I was horribly modest then, and I’m horribly modest now.
So, when my primary care physician said I needed to go to a dermatologist for a full body scan, I told her I did not like the sound of that. She said it wouldn’t be so bad. I told her, unless the scan involved something science fictionish, like beaming me to another location, I was pretty sure it would be so bad.
I hesitantly made the appointment for The Scan. Like a dumb dumb, I made it for the day after we got back from vacation. Good plan, Al. Eat unlimited food for a week and then go stand naked in the doctor’s office.
All the way to the office, I prayed for the doctor or nurse practitioner to be fat and middle aged. At least let her be heavier than average, I prayed. I’m pretty sure it’s wrong to pray for that, but I was desperate. When I arrived, the very young, thin and pretty nurse walked me back to the room. She told me I could leave my bra and underwear on but would need to take everything else off. I asked her if I should take off my bra, since one mole that needed to be checked was in that general area. (I know…way too much information.) She said to go ahead and take that off and to put on a paper gown. Yay.
I sat on the table and waited for my fate. I was still praying for an old, fat lady. Hold on to the hope, right? There was a knock on the door and in came, you guessed it, a pretty, petite, blonde, beautiful young woman. Kill. Me. Now.
Doctor Beauty introduced herself and reached out her tiny little hand to shake mine. I thought I might break her sweet little fingers. She said she was going to examine me for moles, and she asked me to stand up. Doctor Beauty began at the ankles and worked her way up and down and all around. I kept picturing myself as the giant from Gulliver’s Travels while this tiny doctor and her little assistant moved around me.
At one point, not only was my gown shifted to reveal way too much, but Doctor Beauty was lifting my underwear and looking underneath. At that point, I asked why I had left the underwear on if they were going to peek under it anyway. Doctor Beauty said they tried to allow the patients as much modesty as possible. I tried not to laugh.
A moment later, I accidentally said out loud, “Yep. This is just as humiliating as I imagined it would be.” Neither tiny person commented or acknowledged me. It was better that way. They probably wished the giant would just hush so they could finish their examination.
Doctor Beauty decided to shave six moles from me for a biopsy, and she circled each one with a marker. She left the room, and the sweet nurse started preparing needles and razors. I liked the nurse more than Doctor Beauty.
The nurse and I started talking as she sliced layers of skin from my body. At least it distracted me from the needles. I thought the worst part was over since I was no longer standing half-naked in the middle of the room. Then, the most painful part of the experience occurred.
As the nurse and I chatted, I made a horrible discovery. It turns out this grown woman who was cutting pieces off me was the child of someone I went to high school with. I asked her if she could just stick me with another needle because that would hurt less than the knowledge that I was old enough to be this adult person’s mother.
When the nurse was finished, I got my cane and my bifocals, and I found my way out of the office. I cranked up the radio on the way home and played rap songs just to prove I still had it. I’m pretty sure the guy at the red light was impressed.
At least my body scan was over, and all I had to was await my results. I got the call and five out of six moles were just fine. The sixth was a little iffy, so I will have to go back and have it removed. At least it is just on my back. Hopefully, I won’t have to completely disrobe for that procedure. All I know is, Doctor Beauty is going to be hard-pressed to get me back in for another body scan in a year, as recommended. No. Indeed. It will take much longer than that before the memory fades enough for me to volunteer for another examination. -Al