“Dignity and self-respect, dignity and self-respect.”
When I left my ex-husband, Alec, my two favorite words were “dignity” and “self-respect.” From that moment on, I was going to run as fast as I could from anything that even ever so slightly put either one of those two at risk. It became my mantra of sorts. I would mutter to myself, “dignity and self-respect, dignity and self-respect” whenever I felt slightly threatened or insecure.
So there I was two days before the flight to Miami lying on the doctor’s table with my legs spread as far apart as they physically could. Actually, farther I was sure. With my feet in stirrups and almost every part of my voluptuous body exposed because the two pink paper napkins they gave me, one for my large breasts and the other for my ample bottom, had ripped apart and were flying through the air.
I asked myself whatever happened to dignity and self-respect? Should I throw on my clothes and drive away as quickly as I could or did I endure it, escape to some place pleasant in my mind and get it over with? Because it took all of my courage to even show up for this appointment without cancelling at the last minute. I dreaded this appointment more than ever since my divorce.
Maybe it was the part where they asked about my nonexistent sex life.
But back to the indignity of lying here on the GYN table. After all, the doctor, female I might add, had appeared. I wasn’t sure I was happy with another female poking around my body so intimately. But I also wasn’t sure a male doctor would make me feel any better. Not unless he offered a better dressing gown. But why take a chance? Next time, I’d bring my own.
I closed my eyes and held my breath as she poked around commenting on my privates, “You’re a bit red and dry.”
I quickly offered, “Must be my bath soap. I showered right before I came in.
“No, no. It happens at your age, you know.”
I was thinking “Dry? No way. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about, even at my age.” Then she asked, for the second time, “Do you do regular monthly breast exams?”
Then I did say, “Are you kidding me? With these giant globes, my breasts get more action than a Vegas casino on a Saturday night.” And I winked. Didn’t know where that came from. Guess my usual way of using humor in uncomfortable or overly sterile situations. The good doctor didn’t even crack a smile. Just looked at me underneath her glasses riding halfway down her nose.
The truth was, my body hadn’t had much action since, and I hated to admit it, I discovered my divorce attorney ex-husband having an affair with one of his clients–a woman going through a divorce. How original.
And as quickly as the doctor appeared, she disappeared. I was told to get dressed. And as I clasped my bra, she knocked again, fully expecting me to be finished. It took a little more time than that to put us all back together.
I didn’t answer the knock, trying desperately to get my top back on but she entered anyway. “Oh, I thought you’d be done.” I smiled knowingly to myself. Guess she really didn’t know what my life was all about. Because, believe me, there was no chance I wasn’t going to know what was going on with my breasts and my body was well lubricated, thank you very much. Even at my age. Maybe, especially at my age. Maybe I hadn’t had much action here lately but my years of living had given me the experience to get to know my body quite well.
She looked over my chart and told me my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were all quite good. She gazed at me, through her reading glasses, looking rather surprised and said, “Guess you’ve got good genes.”
At my weight and age (who made up those weight charts anyway?), I think she expected something else. Something her medical books told her:
1. If a patient is over 20 pounds “overweight,” check for health risks A, B, and C.
2. If a patient is over 40, check for health risks, X, Y, and Z.
3. If a patient does not fit our diagnostics, shake your head.
Having heard that piece of good news, I sucked up enough courage to ask the question I really wanted to know and why I had kept this appointment right before the cruise. If I was going to execute “operation boy toy.”
“Uh, doctor,” I began as I cleared my throat, “am I still young enough to get pregnant?”
She looked at me below the rims of her glasses again and said, “Only if you have sex.” Ha! So the doctor did have a sense of humor.
I walked out of the doctor’s office with a spring in my step, happy to be exactly where I was, where I had come from, and where I was going. And I was meeting Maggie for drinks. My reward for following through on the appointment most dreaded by women everywhere.
I mean, I walked in there feeling confident, and came out of there feeling confident but in-between going in and coming out was another story. But all of that was behind me. It was time to enjoy the anticipation of embarking on a new adventure.