"OK, you'll need to undress down to your bra and underwear. I'll get you a gown."
"Is it a paper gown?" I asked the very pregnant tech as she began to laboriously bend down.
Without bothering to right herself she responded, "Yeah, why?"
"Well, maybe I'll just skip the gown."
"You don't want the gown?"
"I mean, wouldn't it be easier if I didn't wear one? I am getting a full body scan. I feel like a paper gown would just get in the way and get ripped up."
"I guess. I mean, you don't HAVE to wear one. It's no skin off my nose. It saves me a gown."
I was being efficient AND environmentally conscious. I was pretty much rocking this dermatology appointment.
"Oh," the tech added as she jotted something down on my chart, "do you mind if the medical students accompany the doctor during the exam?"
"Not at all!" And, I was helping to edify our future health care professionals. Fantastic!
But then I sat there, waiting. I sat waiting, and waiting and waiting, just me, my sports bra and my bikini cuts made three. I had no magazine, no phone. I felt vulnerable. Perched on that sticky table with its clingy roll of paper, my armpits began emitting warning waves of fight or flight.
As the first tiny beads of sweat tickled my sides, I hurriedly scanned the room for the gown I had so willingly dismissed earlier. I began to choreograph the quickest way into it when my brand-new-to-me silver fox of a dermatologist crashed through the door followed by three towering med students.
The exam room was no bigger than 12 feet square. The four faces were no further than three feet from mine, not to mention basically the rest of my very fair skin. This was no big deal, I reasoned. I was perfectly decent in front of professionals. I really didn't need that silly paper cover up. Feigning confidence, I took a deep breath, sat up straight and greeted the doctor (and his entourage) with a smile.
"Hello, you must be Kristin," Dr. Douglass bellowed. "I see you decided to go gown-less. Good for you!"
Oh, for Pete's sake. Two sentences in and he spanked the elephant in the room. That was clearly a breech of examination etiquette. Utterly embarrassed, I apologized for being a practical mom who hated waste. The students shifted awkwardly next to me, but then my thought process did too.
I was simply there to get all my moles checked out. I didn't bring anything funky to the table. I looked like any other woman in her thirties with two young kids. In fact, I probably even looked better than average in my undies, after all. I don't exercise, but I stay active and am trim. My tummy is soft, but refined. My chest is small, but therefore very appropriately portrayed. And, no, I may not regularly wax, but I don't go around spidering out everywhere either.
I decided to embrace the exam with aplomb. Even as the eight eyes patiently perused every inch of me for skin enigma, I played it cool. I asked thought-provoking questions like, "What's that weird-looking thing?" I even sprinkled in a few jokes and got a few laughs. By the end of the appointment I had almost convinced myself I was enjoying this dermatological debauchery.
When it was all over, I received a clean bill of health. Relieved that I wouldn't have to have anything picked or scraped off of me to add to the anxiety of the appointment, I actually hopped off of the table to accept my complimentary sunscreen. Possibly alarmed by my nearly naked maneuvering, the group quickly filed out of the room and left me to re-robe.
I felt oddly exhilarated, maybe I had really been concerned the doctor would find something. Throwing on the mere tank top, shorts and sandals that enabled me to re-enter the waiting area, I grabbed my bag and headed to the receptionist. As she scheduled me for next year's full body scan, I read the note the tech had scribbled on the top of my chart, "She refused gown."
That's right I did.