Monday, September 14, 2009

Only me, people ... only me

Every year around the time school starts, I schedule my yearly physical. It's always such a fun time, sitting on that table, butt naked (except for socks because you know darn good and well I'm not walking around in that office barefoot -- that's disgusting) wrapped in a paper vest and drape, both the size of mini-napkins, neither of which adequately cover the area they are supposed to, waiting on some person I've never seen before to violate my private parts in the name of medicine.

Well, not really. It's not that bad. It's certainly not something I look forward to, like the funnel cakes at the State Fair each year, but also not something I dread, as much as I dread the dentist (which I have to do TWICE a year, man, that really blows.)

Because we live far enough away from the military base, I see a civilian doctor. In fact, I am a patient at a family practice clinic that is overseen by medical doctors, but which is run primarily by residents. They rotate in every year and only stay twelve months, doing a "residency" or "internship" or whatever on earth its called.

Since I'm lucky enough not to have any chronic conditions, and I haven't been sick in a long time, I've only been to this clinic twice before, for my two previous annual physicals. Both times I saw a different doctor and I get notices at least once a year that my primary care doctor is changing ... in fact, I don't even pay attention to the name anymore. I figure if and when I call for an appointment, they'll know who I'm supposed to see, and quite frankly, as far as my own healthcare is concerned, I have no physician loyalty. Just get me an appointment with somebody -- anybody -- and I'm happy.

So I went last week for my annual physical. Blood pressure check, pulse check, weight (ouch!) etc .... the nurse was entering all my information into the computer, asking if I had any problems, had my health changed, what kind of medication was I on ... etc. You all know the drill.

Then she looked at the computer screen, glanced at my chart, and said to me, "I see you've never had a pap smear done at our facility. Do you need to have one today?"

And I paused ..... "Are you sure? I'm pretty sure I've had one here."

She looked again, then looked closer, "No, there's no record of a pap smear here anywhere. Not in your chart OR in the computer."

I sat for a second, stymied. Yeah, granted, I don't go to the doctor very often, but I am pretty vigilant about the yearly exams I need to get like this one.

Then I said, "No, I know I had one here. In fact, I'm positive. I remember because the doctor who saw me last year was SO NERVOUS when he did it! His hands were shaking, and he was sweating like crazy. I remember thinking I must have been his first pap smear ever! In fact, I almost felt sorry for the guy, he was so nervous about doing it."

"OK," said the nurse. "I'll go and check in our lab archives. If you had it, it will be there. Just wait a second while I go see, and the doctor will be in to see you in just a minute ...."

(Famous last words, right, before you sit there, covered by napkins, for another half hour .... hence the reason I always take a book into the room with me. I might be sitting there cold and naked, but by golly, my mind will be occupied!)

Sure enough, just a few minutes later, the doctor walked in.

The same doctor as last time.

And he turned to me, shook my hand, and said, "The nurse said you said I was really nervous last time. I'm sorry. I promise you I've done a lot of pap smears since then so it will be fine today."


The nurse wound up finding my pap smear results from last time, so that was good. Because it's extremely difficult to stick your foot in your mouth when they're in the stirrups.


Trish in Leesburg, Va said...

totally unprofessional! she should have at least waited until after you left to tell him that (although she really should have kept her mouth shut!). I have a habit of sticking my own foot in my mouth- usually from talking about a dr who then appears right behind me-oops!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Trish, you have no reason to be embarassed. The nurse was way out of line and totally unprofessional!

I have to call and make my appointments for next month...pap and boob-smash. Yippee!!! But, I'm thankful that I have the ability to keep up with our preventative stuff so I'm not complaining that much, just a little because no one likes sore boobs.

Connie F-g

Alisa said...

I have to admit, that when I read the title and saw you went to the Dr. I scrolled quickly to the bottom to make sure you were alright.
OK- now thats out of the way, I can laugh with you. (and you reminded me its time to make my appointment!)
And just one more way that we are so different ... I love the dentist and get to go 3 times a year!

Hennifer said...

I say it is more unprofessional on the doctor than the nurse but either way I could die too!

I too scrolled to bottom to make sure you were healthy.

I have to say that reading this my mind went in a whole different direction when you said there was no record and clinician was nervous... I'm so glad that isn't the outcome of this story either

Beverly said...

I thought you were going to say that the new doctor this year was someone that you went to school with!

Cindi said...

Only YOU could make a visit like this as funny as you did!

Stephanie said...

OK so I absolutely love your blog and I can't really remember if I have ever commented before BUT this totally cracks me up. I am a pediatric resident....and let me tell you the nurses love to jab us all they can. That said the Dr was probably very embarrassed and was worried that you didn't think him capable and that was his way of clearing the air. So well, just laugh at it and consider you gave him some good feedback. Did he do a better job this year? (I remember the first pelvic exam I ever did...yes a little nervous).

have a family that I have been taking care of since birth. The first time I saw the baby I sent them straight from the clinic to the cardiologist to evaluate a very loud heart murmur. (It has closed now and all is well). I then saw her a week later with an infected umbilical cord and concern for another anatomic defect (the possibility of the defect sent her to the ED) and well I was wrong....just a gross belly button. I worried for the next 2 months that they thought I was an incompetent idiot. I have seen her for every well child check and now I see her other children as well. The last time I saw her I mentioned our first 2 encounters and how bad I felt that I kept sending her off to other places to be evaluated. She looked at me and said "I know you take me seriously and if you don't know something you find someone that does. that's why I keep coming back". I'm in my last year of residency now and will be moving on. How sad I will be to lose my patients. I love all my babies and their big brothers and sisters.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have now been reminded to watch what I say to my Dr./nurses next week when I go in for my yearly and then following that, for my squishy appointment! But I had not thought about having someone you went to school with being your doctor (like someone else posted wondering!) but that would be TOO WEIRD for me. I'd have to call it quits right then and make another appointment! lol
Patricia, GA

Kristie said...

Blaine and I had a neighbor at one of our military bases many years ago who was just an odd duck. He re-surfaced several years later at a diffrent base, having just completed his ob-gyn training. I told Blaine if he thought he was ever going to treat ME as a patient, he had another think coming!!!

I have had several previous classmates show up as nurses for me or my family in the past ..... kind of cool, actually. In fact, it got my mom some preferential treatment in an emergency room one time, so I sure wasn't complaining!

Rosemary said...

That is funny.. but I loved Stephanie's note, and I'd think she's right. The nurse was probably picking on him.. shouldn't have put you in the middle, but it makes a good story!

A girl in my office was talking about how hot her gynocologist was once, and our new intern popped up and said ''That's my daddy!!''

Now THAT was embarrassing!!

Have a great day!!!

Renee said...

Only you, only you. I agree with Trish - nurse shouldn't have said anything and doctor really shouldn't have said anything!!!

Nothing like having one of your closest friends MARRYING your old gyno. Kim always says, "Don't worry, he doesn't recognize faces!!?!"

Miss you....

The Running Girl said...

Some people (ie. the nurse) just don't know when to keep comments to themselves, do they? Geez. That must have been uncomfortable.

120 or bust said...

I've been a lurker for three years, now i can't help myself and must post my laughter here. You are hilarious. I'm always excited about a new post and sad when there isn't one. So glad it wasn't me sticking my feet in my mouth!

Chris M. said...

In many ways, you and I have parallel lives. Fissures," I told Jim. "I've got fissures." This was in response to his shocked cry of, "OH MY GOD, you took PICTURES?????" Now, if anyone knows what I am talking about, you will know the e-x-t-r-e-m-e- overshare of that statement, but it was SO funny!