Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nurse Ratched and The Miner's Helmet

What a crappy morning.  Let me just say that I'm about to talk about some really personal and gross girlie stuff so if that offends you avert your delicate eyes now.

I had a doctor's appointment at 9:20 this morning, for which I was only 10 minutes late.  In my world that's practically an hour early so I was feeling pretty good despite the fact I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since midnight.  It was just my routine appointment for my regularly scheduled blood work, no big deal.

I went in and the nurse checked my blood pressure which was a thing of beauty thanks to my numerous daily medications.  We discussed medications, nothing changed there, so then it was time for that moment that women all across the nation dread.  The scale.  I can't for the life of me figure out why doctors still use those old manual scales with the sliding weights in this digital age.  It seems like by now someone should have invented a device that they simply point at you and it will automatically calculate your weight, body fat index, and when your last period started because God knows that question stumps me every time.  Especially lately.  My "little visitor" showed up 3 months ago and seems to have taken up permanent residency.  It won't leave.  I figure it's all part of this perimenopause hell I'm in so I've chosen to just ignore it until it goes away.  It's a nuisance but not painful or excessive, if you know what I mean.

I digress.  I stepped up on the scale really regretting the heavy necklace I chose to wear this morning.  The nurse slowly pulled the little top slider to the right and kept going...and going...and going.  She pushed it all the way to the end and the bar didn't drop like it was supposed to.  At that moment, I think I went into shock.  Everything was in slow motion as the nurse lowered her hand to grasp the large weight on the scale.  The sound of metal scraping metal was deafening as she slowly slid the weight to the next notch.  It settled into the notch with a loud "clink" sound and I blacked out for a moment.  When my vision returned I noticed that Nurse Ratched had moved the little slider all the way back to the left and was now working to the right again! AS IF!  I am never wearing this 30 pound necklace again, that's for darn sure.

I somehow managed to survive the trauma of graduating up a notch on the scale and sat in my room waiting for Zach the Vampire to come in.  He's Dr. Luke's phlebotomist and happens to be about 6'4" tall,  250 pounds, and has hair down to his waist.  He may not look like your typical nurse but let me tell you, he can draw blood like nobody's business.  I don't know what he does different that makes it almost completely painless but he's good.  Plus he comes in handy when Taylor faints and has to be scooped up off the floor.

So Zach takes my blood then says, "okay, so now we'll need a urine sample".  Oh, right.  I reminded him that I haven't had anything to eat or drink since midnight so the well is dry.  He said I could wait until the end of the appointment and try then.  Peachy.

Our family doctor is Dee Dee Luke and I love her.  She's the best doctor I've ever had despite the fact she employs that lying skank of a nurse who weighed me.  She came in and we talked about medications and moving and stuff then Zach came in and handed her my cholesterol readout.  It, too, was a thing of beauty and we both took a minute to ooohhh and aaaahhh over my numbers.  Crestor is king.  Then she asked how I've been feeling and if I've had any problems.  I told her I feel fine even though I am apparently hemorrhaging.  I've actually been good for the last 5 days but that's the longest dry spell I've had in about 3 months.  We discussed the gross specifics of that for a while and we both agreed it was probably hormonal since my levels are dropping.

Like the good doctor that she is, Dr. Dee Dee wanted to rule out other possibilities before just writing it off as hormones.   She talked about scheduling me for an ultrasound which I presume is so that she can see for herself that my uterus is indeed in the process of drying up and becoming petrified and my ovaries are dangling there like 2 raisins.  

Then she asked when my last pap smear was as she flipped through all the papers in my chart.  I was honest and told her it was probably about 2 years ago and I was due another one.  Then she suggested that we just go ahead and do that today while I was there.  Oh goodie!  A gift with purchase!  She left the room and I changed into my oversized paper towel "gown" that comes with a completely useless strip of plastic that is supposed to be a belt.

Dr. Dee Dee came back into the room and we discussed the worthless plastic belt that I left lying on the counter.  Even she admitted she has no idea why the manufacturer even bothers with it.  The thing is too flimsy to actually hold anything shut but even if it could, it's too short to tie around your waist.  She said she has one patient who ties her hair up with it every time.  I love that!  Then she said she has another patient who is a little skinny thing and she wraps the belt around her waist numerous times and ties it just to prove she can.  Dee Dee confided in me that she uses the extra large speculum on that girl.  Serves her right :)  

I'm pretty sure my doctor was just joking with me but then I got to thinking about it while she dug in the cabinets to get all her supplies.  Do specula (yep, had to look that up) really come in different sizes?  If so, how do they determine what size you need?  Is it based on age?  On body weight?  Do they just eyeball it or is there actually some method for determining their choice?  As I contemplated the whole specula size thing, I saw Dr. Dee Dee pull a plastic speculum out of the cabinet, look at it, then put it back in and grab another one.  I had one mortifying thought: oh my God, am I an extra large??!!??  Did she really just reach into the back of the cabinet for the plus size specula??  Is this related to my necklace weight gain??  My ears started ringing and I got light headed again.

Since I have compartmentalizing down to an art, I just boxed up all those unpleasant thoughts and shoved them to the back of my mind where they will grow cobwebs until I'm forced to unpack them in therapy a few years from now.  It was time to "assume the position" and I realized that I really miss the chairs that my old OB/GYN had in his office.  They look like a nice, padded armchair but there are 2 wells on the front where your legs go.  You can sit there comfortably and modestly until the doctor pushes a button and the chair comes to life.  The back reclines, the bottom drops out and your legs are moved into position for you with no effort on your part whatsoever.  You just sit there and the chair arranges you.  It reminds me of those Pat Walker figure machines that you just lay on while the table moves your arms and legs up and down and calls it exercise.  Plus it saves you from the inevitable request from your doctor to slide down on the table...just a little more...more...almost...okay that's good.  I don't care how far you hang your butt off the edge of an exam table, it's never far enough.  

So there I am, in position and all ready to go when Dr. Dee Dee suddenly says, "oh no".  Of course I'm thinking she took one look at me and determined that her extra large speculum would be lost forever and she was kicking herself for not ordering the XXXL size.  As I was boxing that thought up she said she was out of swabs and had to step out for just a second to get some from another room.  She really felt bad and kept apologizing but I told her it was fine, no biggie.  She actually just stuck her head out the door and yelled for Nurse Ratched to bring her more swabs.  While I waited I couldn't help but notice that I was awfully warm in an area that I thought should be feeling a draft by now.  I lifted my head off the table and looked through my paper towel lap sheet and saw that the warmth I felt was from this huge halogen spotlight that was aimed right on my girlie goodies.  Then I flashed back again to that old OB/GYN with the magic chairs.  He didn't use a big halogen spotlight during his exams, he had this hat type thing that looked sort of like a sun visor but instead of a bill on the front there was a light.  Like a miner's helmet.  Then I wondered if he used the miner's helmet with everyone or just me. 

Before I could finish planning my suicide, Dr. Dee Dee came back into the room with a brand new box of swabs.  Apparently Nurse Ratched was able to tear herself away from sabotaging the scale long enough to help out.  As the exam progressed I couldn't help but think about the unpleasant changes my body has gone through in recent years.  Even this routine annual exam isn't the same as it used to be.  I don't want to be too graphic or anything (okay, probably too late for that) but things just aren't like they used to be.  It used to be a straight shot from point A to point B but somewhere along the line something happened and now I'm pretty sure my vagina resembles an ant farm.  There, I said it.  There's this sharp left-hand turn just before the dogleg that can really trip you up if you're not expecting it.  My experienced doctor managed to reach her destination without having to use GPS and we were all done.   

I got dressed and told Dr. Dee Dee that thanks to today's gift with purchase (during which I swear she checked my tonsils) I could probably produce that pee sample now.  I went into the bathroom and resisted the urge to take a picture of the specimen cups which look a lot like a small to-go cup from a fast food restaurant.  I half expected to see a straw hole in the lid.  I took care of the unpleasant urine sample task during which I thought it's quite possibly the only time I ever wish I was a man.

As if I hadn't had enough trauma this morning, my 5-day dry spell promptly came to an end immediately after I snapped the lid on my to-go cup.  Icing on the cake of my day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Burger King and the Cleavage Queen

I've gone insane again and decided we needed to do another big Halloween thing.  This will be our last Halloween in Lafayette before moving back to the land where the trick-or-treater is an endangered species.

The first time we did this was 4 years ago with some friends from church.  Our neighborhood gets bombarded with hundreds of inner city kids every Halloween so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to love on them a little.  We put together this big Wizard of Oz thing where we all dressed up like a character from the movie, we built our own version of the Emerald City, we had the soundtrack playing in the background, and we gave out candy along with a little handmade book that shared the gospel Wizard of Oz style.  The kids really seemed to love it, even though some of them had never seen the Wizard of Oz and had no idea what we were doing.  They thought the Tin Man was a robot!  That didn't stop them from acting like we were the main attraction at Disney World.  Every kid wanted Mama to take their picture with one of us.  That was a little bizarre, we weren't expecting that.  It was exhausting but fun and hopefully the message got into the hands of those who needed it.
For the past couple of years I'd been thinking about doing a Willy Wonka themed thing, but we're kind of limited on character choices for that one.  Actually, I guess there's plenty of characters to choose from when you consider Charlie's grandparents and all, but they're just not fun characters.  Then a few weeks ago I thought about Alice in Wonderland.  That one has lots of fun characters to choose from and we have both the old and the new versions to play with.  I just wish Alice had a better soundtrack.  The Wizard of Oz soundtrack is fantastic but Alice....not so much.  We may have to improvise a little.

For the set, I'm thinking we'll have the Mad Hatter's tea party, maybe a game of croquet going on in the front yard, and definitely some giant mushrooms.  Heck, let's go all out and put the caterpillar on the couch and let him wile away the hours on his water pipe.  We all know what he was smoking in that thing.  In fact I'm pretty sure Lewis Carroll was on an acid trip when he wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  Then we could set up black lights all over the place and play Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit in the background while we all complain about the establishment.  I'm sensing that I may have gotten off track a bit.  Anyway, we'll figure something out.

Over the weekend Jayson, Taylor and I picked out our costumes at Old Vogue.  Yes, we take the weenie way out and rent our costumes.  There is no way we could put together the whole Halloween experience and our own costumes too.  I ran out of that kind of energy when I was about 38.  Renting them is pricey but it's worth it to us.

Jayson is supposed to be the King of Hearts but he looks an awful lot like the Burger King.  His outfit comes with these little short king pants and he's supposed to wear tights with them.  I CAN'T WAIT to see him put on a pair of tights!

Taylor was supposed to be the White Queen but given her costume and hair choice, we're calling her the Off White Queen.  They even had these adorable boots to match.  We were talking about the White Queen's makeup and how she has this really dark red lipstick and black eyebrows.  Taylor's fine with the red lips but when I suggested she use a black eyebrow pencil to darken her brows she looked at me as if I had just told her I wanted her to quit college and become a stripper.  She absolutely refuses to darken her brows in any way, shape or form.  I had no idea she was so protective of her brows.  My bad.

I am the Queen of Hearts or the Red Queen.  I will have to add a little undershirt to my costume since it is made in such a way that if I inhale while wearing it, I will completely ooze out of the top of it.  This could be traumatizing for the children and no picnic for me either.  I treat cleavage sort of like the good china.  It's only for adults and you only bring it out on special occasions.  Halloween doesn't qualify.

Now that costumes are out of the way, I can obsess over the set.  I see some chicken wire in my future which means there will likely be injuries to go with it.