... the journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

Now we have some magnets from Bob, who is an internet-friend I've never met, but who sent this series...

rs-cat.jpg (13339 bytes)


0062507249.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg (4762 bytes)

Becoming a Man:
Half a Life Story

Paul Monette

My Amazon wish list


The World Series
The Emmies


Pictures from our The England and Orkney trip are on my own Club Photo page.

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That's it for today!



5 November 2001

This should be an interesting entry to write. How to keep it tasteful, and yet explain the things I want to explain. It's definitely "TMI" for the gentlemen in the list.

The idea for the entry actually came from a comment someone made in an email list I'm on, after she read some of my duties in the new job. But I'll save her comments for a little later on.

I was at the office this afternoon doing the stuff I should have done Friday--the housekeeping stuff. Vacuum. Dust. Straighten. And then was speculums. (or is that specula?) When an exam is finished, Dr. G drops them in a solution of something called "surgical milk bath," where they sit for about a week (since he doesn't see that many patients). Then I put on shocking purple rubber gloves, dump the milk bath, lift the specula out and into a bleach soak for half an hour. Then I take a toothbrush and scrub them and finally I put them on what looks like a teeny cookie sheet and put them in the sterilizer for half an hour. They go in with a teeny little vial that has a substance that turns black when they have been in the sterilizer for long enough at a hot enough temperature.

Then you let them cool, put back in the speculum drawer and are ready for the next week of patients.

But anyway, as I was going through all this process, I was thinking about the things that I've learned and experienced in the past week. I'm still new enough at this that it's difficult to be blasé. I suppose that comes with time.

I'm still not entirely comfortable standing by the table with a total stranger lying there with her boobs flapping in the wind. Dr. G is very discreet and he uncovers one at a time, manipulates it to feel for unusual lumps, and then covers that one up and uncovers the other one, but occasionally if there is a patient who has fibrocystic breasts (i.e., they are very lumpy) he will stop to demonstrate on himself how to check herself in the shower each day, pausing to reassure her that there is nothing that feels unusual. And in the meantime, there she is lying on her back pointing toward the sky. Where do your eyes go?

An even more "where do you eyes go" comes during the Pap smear. Guys don't have to go through this lovely experience that we woman are supposed to have each year. It involves sticking a metal spreader in your vagina, propping it open and then taking something that looks like a long q-tip, and swabbing the cervix. "This will cramp a little," he tells the patients. (I have to admit that his bedside manner is extremely polite, extremely patient, and extremely considerate) I watch her wince.

But as he prepares to take the Pap smear, I get the little bottle that he will put it in to send to the lab. The bottles are behind him. He is sitting at the bottom of the patient and...well...let's just say I've come to know some total strangers pretty intimately in the last week. It may be that "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all," but I still haven't reached nonchalance about having a stranger's twat staring up at me as I try to be discreet. You can actually get into the comparing game. And no, they don't all look alike, actually. The first time this flashed before my eyes, I resisted the temptation to say "oh...hello there!" Keep a straight face. Do your job. Be professional.

(As someone who gave birth five times in a teaching hospital and was spread eagle on display for everyone including the janitor, I do understand and sympathize with the uncomfortable position the patient is in.)

But the best of all is the ultrasound exam. Now I came from an ob/gyn office and I've seen ultrasounds, but usually only ob ones. They smear some gunk on the patient's abdomen and run something like a computer mouse over it and you get to watch the baby do its bits there on screen.

Well, Dr. G doesn't do ob, so the ultrasound exams we do are vaginal ones. It's quite a process. There is a wand that is about 6" long and maybe ˝" in diameter. Dr. G takes what is called in the books an "ultrasound wand cover," but let's be real--it's a condom.

He squirts some gunk in it (I think this is to improve the view), rolls the condom down over the wand, and then he slowly slides it into the cervix. As my correspondent explains it:

I had my first ultrasound last year. Why doesn't anyone tell me about these things ahead of time? It was difficult to contain my amazement to watch the cute attendant take a device that looks like it came straight from the Good Vibrations catalog, put a condom on it and proceed to manuever it around in my vagina. Then, she asks me if it hurts. No, honey, but if you could do it a bit slower and moan my name, I might like it more. Who in the hell thought of that entire procedure? How freakish.

Now just imagine the scene. There's this lady lying on a table, wearing only a thin piece of tissue, with her legs spread far apart and her feet resting in oven hot mits (these go over the metal strirrups on the table so the feet don't get cold).

The doctor is at ground zero and he's got this stick up her wazoo. They're carrying on a casual conversation while I point things out on a tiny TV screen. The exam takes 5-10 minutes and all the time he's moving this wand around inside her while she tries not to smile.

I swear someday one of those patients is going to light up a cigarette after the exam is over.

One Year Ago:
Things I Know Very Little About

(Club Photo has started deleting
photo albums after 90 days,
so the photos which were once there,
have been removed now)

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Created 11/4/01 by Bev Sykes