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."
I. LIKE. TO. HAVE. DIED.
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.