Monday, February 11, 2013

She Refused

"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.   


            

35 comments:

  1. and... "spidering out" is my new favorite phrase.

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    1. I look forward to hearing you use it

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  2. I loved this! I totally get the rapid fire thought process when left alone with a daring decision. Good for you to be that confident and eco-friendly! There's not much you cant do if you've been almost naked in a room full of strangers!

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    1. I almost jumped down and put the gown on, but I was afraid the doctor would come in while I was doing it. Glad you liked this one!

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  3. "Two sentences in and he spanked the elephant in the room." -- love it! I'm so glad my dermatologist hasn't ordered any full-body scans!

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    1. I have to admit to liking that sentence quite a bit myself. I just decided to get the full body scan myself. I brought this all on!

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  4. As someone who takes modesty and self-consciousness to ridiculous extremes, I applaud your body-baring bravery. Cheers to a clean bill of health!

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    1. Haha, I hope I didn't come across as an exhibitionist. I am far from that.

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  5. Brava! "spanked the elephant" made me cackle. So did spidering. Love the sassy self-confidence! :)

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    1. Thanks so much! I love knowing people laughed at this. That was clearly part of the point.

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  6. Hi there, I tried to comment under my winopants open ID but your blog keeps rejecting it :(
    Coming over from Yeah Write, loved this post and how you owned this awkward moment!

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    1. Hmm, I don't know why. I don't have any comment restrictions on that I know of. Just Blogger being Blogger? But, welcome! I am glad you liked what you read.

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  7. Love this post. You are so fierce, going gown-less in the face of all those med students.

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  8. It's so funny when the techs get righteous about certain things. I had one make a big deal about refusing to have an IV started in my hand instead of my arm. He was already failing epically. I wasn't about to go through that on my hand too. He was the same "She refused it." Our prerogative, right? You go, girl!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! She was being a bit grumpy pants about the whole gown thing. I think she just wanted the doctor to know that she didn't leave me high and dry without a gown, but it struck me as well.

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  9. Wow! I could never do this, but good for you!

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    1. Yeah, I really kind of did it by accident. But, I'm pretty sure I'll go gown-less again ;)

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  10. Rock on, lady!! Such an empowering posg -- I love it!

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  11. Awesome post! A couple things:

    1) "Dermatological Debauchery" is my new band name.
    2) "Two sentences in and he spanked the elephant in the room" made me almost spit my water on my computer.
    3) Next time I go to dermatologist I'm refusing the gown too!

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    1. 1) I allow you to use it, but I want a backstage pass.
      2) Fabulous! (glad computer is ok)
      3) DO IT!!! And blog about it!

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  12. Paper gowns always get ripped up; you made the right choice! Very funny story!

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  13. That's hilarious. I never even thought about the refusal - I'm going to do that at the oby-gyn and see what happens.

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    1. Thanks! Oh man, at the gyno, that's super brave. So, no clothes at all then?

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  14. So fun. Loved spanked the elephant in the room AND spidering out (hadn't heard that one!). I'm not modest but I might have reconsidered (myself) when there was mention of students. Oh, what the hell. Nothing they haven't seen before right. Gives them all something to talk about. Love the note in your file!

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    1. That's how I felt! And I am pretty sure they were talking about me afterwards.

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  15. Right on! Paper gowns are pointless because they don't stay shut and you end up flashing everyone anyway. Besides, had you decided to gown it up, we all would not have learned new phrases such as "spidering out" and "spank the elephant". You'll start seeing those phrases being used by strangers on the internet very soon. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you agree about the gowns. And please let me know if you see my phrases making waves on the internet! :)

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  16. Ee-ee-eeek! I am not so bold, and I'm surprised to discover (by reading your post) that I'm not. You are quite brave!

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  17. I found myself involuntarily curling around my own chest and belly while I read this. I really felt like I was there. (Is there a draft in here?) I too hate waste and I'm so grateful my midwife offers laundered cloth gowns at my exams.

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  18. That's awesome! I don't think I would be brave enough to forgo the gown! I just wrote about medical students last week...I don't mean to make your reading list longer, but here's the link anyway. ;O)

    http://www.lemondroppie.com/2013/02/pet-peeve-medical-students/

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  19. I enjoyed this post. When I was giving birth to my first child, anytime I tried putting on a gown (or my husband kindly suggested I might be more comfortable in one), my skin tingled eerily and I felt waves of nausea. I spent the 2+ hours pushing stark naked. In anticipation of needed intervention for our newborn daughter, by the end the entire pediatric specialty team was also in attendance. At the time, this all felt very natural (I wasn't exactly thinking about my appearance), but I look back now and feel very embarrassed!

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