The Gynaecologist Appointment 

By ANNE O’NEILL

“Ok, let’s see what’s going on”, the gynaecologist said after the initial medical history, question/answer, session. “Just through there”, he pointed, indicating the adjacent blue/grey curtained area. He gestured towards a folded papery square, also blue, and said, “Can you take off your clothes below the waist and put this on. You can leave your shoes on”. So, I could keep my feet clad at least. I liked that notion. It would lessen my sense of déshabillé . He was sounding casual. I guessed he was trying to put me at ease. It was working, well sort of. “Put the gown on, back to front. It ties at the waist. Let me know when you’re ready”. “Take your time”, he said in a relaxed tone. 

“Take your time” indeed! Well that instruction went in one ear and out the other!  Hurriedly, I ripped my black top over my head, rending asunder, as I did, the hairdresser’s coiffing of earlier. My hair hung dishevelled, at my shoulders, the aftermath of the tussle. It occurred to me, why on earth had I bothered with a blow dry, just before a gyny appointment!? A bit of a stress buster. May as well have my top half looking smart, while the bottom half is prodded and probed, I reasoned. Quickly quashing any guilt about the frivolity of the hairdo. 

Despite his calm demeanour, I was nervous, my heart pounding. I didn’t want to keep him waiting, even as I had sat, a lone patient but one, in the waiting room. There may be other patients to follow, though the hour was late, 6.30pm. He was wearing his theatre scrubs which fitted with what his secretary had told me earlier. He would see me in the evening, after a scheduled theatre surgery. 

God, I thought, what a shift in gear for him, a theatre surgical procedure completed and now, a pelvic examination. The thought scared me and yet it calmed me all at once. Here he was segueing from one, probably, invasive procedure:  sterile theatre setting, incisions perhaps, resection, stitches, dispatching another patient remedied, their wounds dressed, and they primed to reach towards recovery. Now it was my turn in this room. Legs to be stirupped, a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan to assist his diagnostic assessment of my gynaecological issue. One thing was certain, despite my pragmatic reasoning and his calm demeanour, I wanted, needed, this examination to be over and done with, now! 

At a pace, without thinking, I unhooked my bra clumsily, and watched it drift to the floor. Retrieving it quickly, I lay it and my top, now a crumpled mess, on a functional grey plastic chair. My hands, sweaty, shook as I thrust both arms, into the doctor’s gift, that papery blue gown. Dusting myself down, I smoothed the garment and managed, somehow, to stand perfectly still, for just an instant, waiting, as if in the wings, about to make a theatrical stage entrance. It would, indeed, be an entrance, though not of the kind spurred on with the exhilarated excitement of an artistic theatrical one. Rather this entrance would be marked by nervous apprehension. I was armed with everything from none, to alarmist googled titbits of information of dubious origin to finally, the vast experienced knowledge of my trusted G.P. who referred me, swiftly onwards. I was now about to thrust myself upon the, expertise, skill, the hoped for, humanity of my new gynaecologist, in search of an answer to the cause of my recent symptoms. At 62 considering myself done and dusted I hadn’t, until now, attended a gynaecologist for five years.

Half-dressed now, vulnerable, I stepped forward, hand at the ready to wrench back the curtain which divided him and I. In my mind’s eye, I could picture the stirrups, my legs bent, feet resting on the metal. I imagined him telling me to inch my bum to the seat’s edge. “Don’t worry you won’t fall off” he’d say, reassuringly. I knew the drill. I had been here before, just not with him, my new gynaecologist. 

Now, in a split second of hesitation, just before “curtain up”, a panicked dawning: there I stood, my legs still clad in my black jeans, shoes reassuringly adorning my feet and they both, jeans and shoes, peering out beneath my, blue paper garb covered, upper torso. I had disrobed alright, as the gynaecologist had asked, just not my nether regions! In my haste, instead of my pelvic area now, being minus jeans and undergarments, shrouded in the blue gown: I stood, my chest bra less and flimsily covered with that trusty blue gown prepped, or so I thought, for my pelvic gynaecological examination.

 “Oh God, I got it the wrong way round, took off my top, not the jeans…I blurted through the curtain. Sorry, I’m holding you up now”. “No, you’re not holding me up. Take your time, he said again, sounding calm, unruffled, even a little amused. 

I think I’m going to like this new gynaecologist…I just hope I don’t have to see him too often, though. No offence intended!

Woman's Way