Let’s be honest, Ladies, no woman looks forward to her annual gynecological exam. For men out there, you have no clue what we must endure. The only remotely similar medical experience you undergo is the annual prostate exam. And even this makes my big, macho husband tremble. As he turns his back and hears the last snap of the doctor’s rubber glove secured in place, he turns his face over his left shoulder and threatens, “I better not feel your two hands on my shoulders anytime during this exam!”
Recently, I scheduled my first annual exam and PAP smear with a new gynecologist in Florida. Since moving to paradise, I’ve become somewhat relaxed about schedules and have tried to avoid this important medical procedure. At 53, this area of my expanding body more closely resembles a ghost town amusement park whose colorful flickering lights and joyful music has long gone silent. Every once in a while, the caretaker may go for a solo ride on the roller coaster, but the screaming has been muted. In fact, the ups and downs are so much less thrilling that he might actually belch or nod- off in the middle of what was once a thriller.
Like all women, when the day for my gyno appointment arrived, I gave myself the “Let just get this crap over with” talk. I paid great attention to the little details that a man would never even consider. What shoes will keep my feet from perspiring so that they smell pretty mid day? How does my French pedicure look on my big toe? If the doctor’s hand or arm should brush along my calf, with I feel smooth and silky? What matching lacy panties and bra should I select in case the bitchy nurse should glance and judge them where they lay on the requisite patient chair? After a military quality inspection of the lower half of my body, I checked my face, added my rings and earrings and I was on my way.
Before being taken into the exam room, I was given the opportunity to meet with my new gynecologist in his well appointed office. He was an upbeat, handsome man, with blue friendly eyes and neatly trimmed auburn hair and beard. While he did ask me if I had any concerns, my too quick “no” response made the whole experience similar to speed dating. No wine, no food, nothing before he popped up from his leather chair and said, “Off, we go, then.” Perhaps this was a one night stand.
I was trying to keep my feet and hands from sweating as I reclined on the vinyl exam table wearing a white, scratchy robe of the same quality as paper towels. I followed the familiar instructions of the nurse who barked, “Everything off. This drape on top with the opening to the front and this one covering your lower half.” So, there I was, as so many women have been before me, butt forward on the table, legs open, feet in stirrups, with only a thin paper drape covering what my grandmother told me I should never let a man touch.
The bubbly, doctor bounced into the room and his nurse immediately stepped to my left side. He rubbed his hands together, to make them warmer, and said “Ok, let’s have a look.” As he did, I focused numbly on the mysterious colorful mermaids that had been painted on the dropped ceiling panels. I tightened every fiber of my body. Both of arms were extended to my sides and with defensive, white knuckles, my hands held metal grip bars on the side of the exam table. I heard the doctor sit on his short stool, and could hear the squeaky wheels as he rolled himself closer. Gently, he lifted up the lightweight, white paper sheet.
Instantly, he exclaimed, “Oh my God, who’s Irish?”
My mind processed rapid thoughts. What the hell is he talking about? Are parts of me a red head? Am I freckled? Does anything, in that area, resemble a shamrock? Am I carrying a Leprechaun? Was this a rhetorical question?
Then, he freaking repeated the question again more emphatically, “Who’s Irish?”
Like a hundred year old turtle that has been flipped on its back and is struggling to get right, I floundered on the exam table and used my very few remaining “core” muscles (as my legs were still in stirrups) to lift my head and ask, “What do you mean?”
He said, “Your ring. Your ring. I see you’re wearing a Claddah ring.”
He pointed to my right hand on the side of the exam table.
The three of us in the room laughed so hard that, at fifty –three (Ladies, back me up here) my instant prayer was that I didn’t pee my pants or lack thereof.
“I just bought my wife one,” the doc added.
He had me at Erin go Bragh!