Nearly two months after my initial consultation, it was time for my postoperative followup, a chance for Dr. Thorough to confirm that everything went smoothly and check my incision site. Obviously if I’d had any complications, I would have been in touch with him long before, so this was a pretty pro forma event.
I cruised into Dr. Thorough’s office in plenty of time for my appointment, and proceeded to spend time in the waiting room cooling my heels until well after my scheduled appointment time. This is my punishment for being early to things. When I have an appointment at, say, 1:30, I show up at 1:20 in case there’s paperwork or something, so I will be ready to roll at the scheduled time. Meanwhile, of course, they have no realistic expectation of getting me anywhere near the exam room until 1:45.
My medical friends tell me this is because most patients show up late, and so it’s kind of structured into the schedule. Also, in this practice as in many others, the doctor’s patients are sandwiched into that hour pretty tightly, and it’s not uncommon to start running behind, especially when patients may have multiple complaints or issues that become more complex once the doctor actually sees the patient. So I understand why this happens, but I’m still complaining about it.
A medical assistant finally rescued me from purgatory to make small talk about the heat1 while taking my blood pressure and weighing me. She demanded a sample of my pee, because apparently they’re very into knowing if you’re pregnant around there, and then deposited me in the exam room. Contrary to my secret hopes, the dreaded gown was waiting again. Of course Dr. Thorough would want another poke at the goods to admire his handywork.
I duly garbed up and deposited myself on the table and since he seemed to be taking his sweet time, I took a little siesta. When he showed up, the moment must have been oddly reminiscent of the last time he saw me, when I was groggy and croaking for water from a mean, mean nurse who insisted I needed to sip slowly instead of guzzling it.
“Are you happy you had the procedure?”
“Oh yes, definitely,” I said, fervently, and he smiled.
He asked me if I’d had any problems during recovery and I said “not really,” not wanting to get into my whole body image crisis since that’s not, strictly speaking, a physical surgical complication, and then he did a rapidfire examination just to make sure everything was in order. He mentioned that as long as he’d been in there back in June, he took a peek around under the hood to check for any obvious problems.
“You really do have nice anatomy,” he said, which struck me as a kind of weird thing to say, but I guess if you’re a surgeon, you probably mean that as a compliment. “Everything right where it should be,” he added, and I nodded appreciatively.
“Great gallbladder, really nice,” he said, with a ruminative expression. That was definitely the first, and probably the last, time I've been complimented on my gallbladder.
With two fingers up my AirStairs, he proceeded to helpfully point out each organ as he poked it.
“Ah, gallbladder,” he said. “Bladder nicely positioned...yup, ovary.”
I was starting to feel like a walking anatomy textbook2 by the time he was done, and he thoughtfully swung my feet out of the stirrups so I could perch more comfortably on the edge of the table.
“Well, we’re all set then,” he said. “You’re definitely cleared to have sex, if you’re into that kind of thing.”
There was a long pause while we looked at each other across the table, my gown crinkling vaguely in the faint breeze from the air conditioning.
“Thanks for the great work,” I replied.
“Thanks for being so easygoing and having such great anatomy,” he said, shaking my hand and then politely leaving the room so I could put my clothes back on and slip quietly out the back door and into the oppressive heat of the parking lot. I waved at a pregnant woman making her way to the door of the clinic and then patted my belly gleefully.
Not for me, I thought. But good luck, my friend.
1. “Hot weather we’re having.” “Yeah.” “You know it got to 104 in Comptche?” “Yeah.” “That’s hot!” “Yeah.” Return
2. Did you know that there are actually professional vaginas? Well, they call them something else, but people who allow medical students to maul them in trial pelvic exams so they get a chance to learn in a setting that doesn’t involve an actual, and potentially irascible, patient. If you’re vagina-equipped, I heartily encourage lighting a candle to them now and then. If you’re one of them, well, I worship at your feet. (And you should totally submit an IHTM.) Return