Thursday, January 28, 2010

Annual Exam

Not long ago, my wife finally called her doctor’s office to schedule an annual exam. It had been, maybe, eight years since she’d had one, so she needed the works. On the phone, the nurse asked, “Will you need a Pap smear?”

And my wife thought about it for a moment, then asked, “Do you need a Pap smear on someone with a partial hysterectomy?”

And the nurse asked, “Do you have a cervix?”

“I don’t know,” my wife answered, “Shouldn’t you be able to tell me?” thinking they’d have access to the surgeon’s notes about that partial hysterectomy about eight years ago, the details foggy in her mind after all this time.

“Well, we’ll figure it out when you get here,” was the nurse’s final comment.

My wife should have just called me.

Not that it matters a ton whether she gets the Pap smear, she’s a Gold Star lesbian and has about as much chance at cervical cancer as she does getting hit my lightning. But medical protocols must be followed.

At the appointment, our doctor came in with her Karmic sparkle and dazzling smile, an air of bonhomie and all-business and attention to detail, crackling with energy. I know because she’s my doctor, too.

“So,” she says, “You don’t know whether you have a cervix.”

Ahem, my wife is texting all the time; she could have asked me in the minutes between blood pressure and the doctor’s arrival in the room.

“Yeah,” she says instead, “I can’t remember whether the surgeon took it out or left it in.”

This makes more sense when you know that it was three or four hours of surgery involving two separate surgeons, two organs getting removed, her ovaries burned and she emerged from surgery with about seven holes in her body, including a five-inch incision.

“Well,” our doctor says, shifting into professorial mode, “the cervix is about so big,” she indicates with her hand, “And feels kind of like a nose…” her voice trails off. She remembers who she’s talking to. “But I don’t need to tell you that. You know what a cervix feels like. Let’s just find out, shall we?”

Out comes the speculum.

After what seems like a lot of searching to my spouse, the doctor announces, “Yes, there it is, you do have a cervix!” and gives it that annoying poke feared by all women (with cervixes) during their annual exams, followed by the usual health-oriented chit-chat and the physical exam.

That done, the doctor sweeps from the room, taking her Karmic sparkle and dazzling smile with her, and tosses out, “Laboratory, blood work, down the hall. And schedule a mammogram on the way out,” before disappearing into wherever magical physicians go between appointments.

My wife puts on her clothes, safe in the knowledge that yes, she does have a cervix. And dutifully schedules a mammogram.

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