Today, however, the dreaded annual doctor’s appointment was undertaken. So dreaded, in fact, that it has been avoided for several years. Time and responsibility being what they are, finally an appointment was made a couple of weeks ago with the lovely and charming Doctora Elena Velderrain Zazueta, ObGyn.
In the doctor’s office, there is nervousness, heart racing, mind racing, quickly Spanish words are lost and feelings of being an idiot come into the mind making the whole cycle continue. Big butterflies fly around in the stomach and then into the intestines.
After a preliminary exchange of information like name and date of birth, the blood pressure is taken and the doctor informed of the likelihood that both will be significantly elevated by the aforementioned feelings and related physical reactions. An attempt was made to relax while the pretty doctor made a lighthearted joke. Her charming smile and calm demeanor assisted the patient greatly. Blood pressure 115/71. A mere miracle!
While having the blood pressure taken, a series of photographs, three sets of three photographs each, were observed under the glass covering the desk. The subject of the photos was the same in each frame, but what it was in reality was not readily apparent. They left the viewer with an unsettled feeling. Probably best not to ask in the midst of trying to relax.
An invitation was made to come to the technical area of the office, tucked behind the wall that encloses the waiting room, but separated from it by a corridor. “All clothes off please,” Dra. Elena politely requested. Together we flipped back and forth between English and Spanish. Among other lessons, it was learned that, in Spanish, the nose can become constipated.
“And the gown open to the front.” This was said rather sternly. It is suspected that more than one patient has exited the bathroom with the gown on the “wrong” way. How very disconcerting to put on a hospital gown over nothing but your insecurity with the opening at all the important bits.
The bathroom was exited with the gown wrapped well over the front of the body, arms crossed firmly to keep things well in hand and an invitation was now made to get on the examination table. Butterflies, which had flitted off somewhere temporarily, returned now.
First with the right arm over the head and right breast examined for lumps. Observations made aloud in an atmosphere of disclosure. Left arm up. The evil stirrups put in place and discovered to be of a different sort altogether than those experienced in Canada. The legs dangle comfortably supported at the knees. Cushioning is present. Conditions that permit the patient to relax. Each step is explained before any action is taken, making the patient feel even more relaxed. The demeanor and tone of the doctor similarly promote relaxation. A very unique experience!
Lying there on the back feeling very vulnerable, a television monitor is noticed hanging above the examination table. It is directed so the patient can see it clearly. And it is noticed that the digits of the doctor are visible moving on the screen. And then it is realized what is being viewed on this screen. Utter amazement. Embarrassment overcome by amazement and then curiosity.
While the doctor works she talks and explains what we are viewing. We not just she. There is complete disclosure and actual participation. The images distract the mind from what is actually happening in the body and sensations are explained by what is happening on the screen.
Over and above the visuals, several procedures are carried out that have never been done in what is supposed to be the more developed nation of Canada. Iodine is used to look for the human papilloma virus (HPV), a cause of cervical cancer. Ultrasound is used extensively to examine the ovaries and uterus. The results are both visible and verbally communicated immediately to the patient and interaction encouraged.
“You may get dressed now.” Music to the ears.
Back in her office, the doctor is making notes on her computer screen. She has packaged the sample to go to the lab and has an envelope for the patient. It is discussed that an email will be received when the results from the lab are ready and there is no charge for the lab work nor for the follow up consultation to hear the results. The entire examination has cost only 900 pesos ($65 US)!
In the car it is discovered that the envelope contains a series of 3 photographs similar to those seen under the glass on the doctor’s desk. It is realized that they are images taken from the video viewed earlier. As if to fill the void made by the desire to have the photograph taken several weeks ago, images of the cervix were captured by a photographer who similarly photographs thousands of people each year. Only this time there was no need to smile.