1) Making an Appointment
It’s not everyday that you get to call a stranger and say things like “intercourse” and “discharge.” I also find, since most doctors’ offices are closed during lunch, that it’s best to have these conversations on your bathroom break, while you’re huddled in the handicapped stall. Sometimes they don’t get the urgency of the situation, so I like to make it clear that they aren’t talking to some rube. Several internet forums have already diagnosed me with syphilis.
2) The Urine Sample
I get nervous about collecting an accurate, perfect sample for them, which diminishes my flow and makes it a struggle to capture. Then you have to wipe the cup down. Always write your name on the cup before you sample. It’s hard to write on a cup, so the writing always looks like a child’s, and I think that’s appropriate for a cup full of urine.
Every doctor’s office is different. The best have little secret doors in the bathroom, where you place the specimen. The one I went to last week requested that you walk across the hall to the lab with your specimen. So you walk gingerly, past everyone in the waiting room and all the nurse and receptionists, cradling your piss in your hands . Then there was no clear designated lab area. So I had to ask one of the nurses where to put my piss. She pointed to a row of other piss cups. Surely that wasn’t how this scientific, highly precise process went–throw it in the piss pile?
While I was waiting in the office, I saw two other women go through the same process. You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle holding a cup of their own urine in public. One woman erected a sort of paper towel privacy shield around her cup. I’m more of the go-with-it, dignity-left-you-at-the-door school.
3) The Gown
What do you do with your panties, after you’ve stripped down? I opt for a nice folded pile on the chair. Then you put on that gown, opening in front, and hover awkwardly reading Us Weekly. I had a paper gown once that I ripped up the middle before the doctor came in. I tried to clutch it shut, but basically it was pointless–I was naked and cold. When the doctor came in, I made some nervous joke about easy access. He gave me a cursory, pinched smile. Another time I was given a two piece gown set. I felt sporty and fashion forward. When the doctor came in, she had me take off the top part completely. Normally they examine your breasts under the gown, but I didn’t want to seem uncooperative or worse uptight, so I whipped that top off. She never examined my breasts…I was just topless for no reason, while she focused on my nether regions.
3) When They Think You’re a Badass
I always get a little flattered when they ask me if I’m having anal sex with multiple partners while using intravenous drugs.
4) When They’re Suddenly Inside You
They try to put you at ease by making small talk, but I don’t know if I want to talk about my Halloween plans while you suddenly enter me with your cold, gloved hand.
5) Real Talk
You’re gonna have to talk about some things you’ve never said while sober. I always get upset with myself for blushing and stammering. I went to UC Santa Cruz. I was in The Vagina Monologues. I should be able to handle some lady bits talk. I mean, in elementary school I was in The Daughters of the Universe, a group of mothers and pre-teen daughters worried about negative female stereotypes and tube tops. I remember voting that we rename ourselves the Hot Foxes and my mom shaking her head because I obviously wasn’t getting it. So to me, Vagina talk seems intrinsically political, and I’m not impressed with myself.
I think I want the consultation to feel like a huddle around the hearth with a wise woman: we light candles and talk “moon cycles.” Instead the doctor’s in pleated chinos, and I want to laugh when she talks about lubrication and foreplay, because it’s obvious she’s asexual. At least you think she is. Then you start imagining her having sex, and you feel badly, like you just objectified your wise woman.