I sat in the pink gown with the scratchy paper draped over my lap waiting for the doctor to come in to give me my yearly checkup. My husband, Francesco sat awkwardly in the corner repeating, “200 dollars?” He was shell shocked that we had forgotten our insurance cards and were forced to pay for the visit up front. “The money will be reimbursed when you call in with your policy number,” the receptionist told us while I handed her my forms of 3,564 questions that ranged from “Insurance provider,” to, “Is your spouse hitting you?” Francesco was suffering from some form of financial ptsd as he usually does in his day to day life. Because he’s responsible and cares about our savings in a way that I wish I could but know I never will.
On our drive to the clinic he had tried to convince me to, “Ask the doctor how much everything will cost. Maybe we can get it cheaper somewhere else.”
I turned, “Really, where do you think we can get a vaginal exam for cheaper? What makes you think I want a cheap exam? Maybe I don’t want a discount doctor to poke my ovaries.”
Rolling his eyes, “It’s fine to ask. Maybe your dad’s friend doctor could do it?”
I threw my hands up, “Are you insane!? Dr. Mandorlay is a family friend. I am not showing him my vagina! We have insurance you crazy person! And we’re not even that poor! What the hell is wrong with you!?”
He made a right into the parking lot of the clinic, “It’s never a bad idea to save money. We don’t know how much this might cost.”
“That’s kind of the point of insurance.”
I sat on the table swinging my legs anxiously. It’s kind of twisted but i’m less worried about someone seeing my vagina than displaying it. Going to the gyno for me is awkward because of that weird moment where you have to unveil your lady bits to someone sitting one foot away from it. Preparing to go to the doctor is like going on a date where you know you’re going to get lucky. I shave, rub my legs down with lotion so she doesn’t judge me for having dry skin. I spritz my thighs with a bit of rose oil perfume so the doctor can sit down to a nice fragrant mist. I bet she’ll appreciate that, I think, she probably wishes that more of her patience oiled their legs. Then I get dressed and stress about what I’m wearing. If I wear something too comfortable I might give the doctor anxiety about having to put her hand in my hoo-haw. When I see women in sweats outside their homes I don’t associate them with the cleanest vaginas. I mean, if you can’t even bother to put on real pants who knows what’s happening down under. Do I want to go business attire? Slacks and a button-down? Do I want her to think, Power Vagina? I settle on leggins, a t-shirt, and cardigan. I went with “Casual vagina.” I started to apply makeup than worried I might take it too far. I usually wear red lip which seems a little inappropriate considering the circumstances. Like I’d somehow overdressed and was expecting something more than a simple exam. I decided on minimal makeup to somehow make it less weird.
The doctor came in and introduced herself. A Colorado native, she’s been an OBGYN for a decade or so. She married into a Sicilian family. She spoke with my husband a bit about his native country, Italy, and then moved onto me. In the usual fashion, she sat on a chair and rolled up to me.
“Scoot down, scoot down, scoooooot way down. Alright, great! Now straddle for me,” she yelled in between my legs like she was screaming into a tunnel. I heard her reached for something, “Great! Lookin’ good!” I took that as a personal compliment, “Thank you.” So all the lotions and shaving weren’t crazy. Something clanked loudly, “Hmm, gotta find the right one,” more clanking. I couldn’t see her over the scratchy paper blanket. My husband peered out of the window into the parking lot. He was either uncomfortable by what the doctor was doing or he was trying to find a back alley surgeon.
“Let’s see if this speculum works. Nope. This one? Nope. Hmm. It’s your lucky day. I only use more than one for my special ladies.” I felt like I was trying on shoes. Shoes for my vagina. “You’re cervix looks healthy.” I felt scraping with her tiny, evil mini broom that they use to test your cervical cells for abnormalities. ouch. ouch. OUCH. She was finished.
She stood up, “Go ahead and get dressed. So do you know if you’re close to your cycle?”
I sat up, “Uhm, well, I want to ax murder my husband so that’s a good indication that it’s near.”
“Uh-huh,” she wrote something in my chart, probably, “psycho.”
“Also, you see my sister and she said you said she has a tilted uterus or something. Is that me too?”
“No, you don’t have matchy vaginas in that sense.”
“Cool. Is it weird that we both come to you?” It had just occurred to me that it might be odd for us to both see the same doctor.
“No, a lot of family members see the same doctor.” She smiled, “I hope you’re doing okay. I hope I didn’t kill you.”
“Jesus, could it get any worse than ‘death by pap-smear?” I laughed.
She smiled, “No, it probably couldn’t. So, see you next time!” She left.
I hopped down from the chair and started to get dressed. The tile was cold on my bare feet. I wondered why doctors offices were always freezing, like a meat locker. I contemplated taking a picture of a giant plastic sculpture of a uterus. I noticed how much space it takes up in the body which totally made sense and explained why I had to pee so often. My bladder was being pushed around by my big ass uterus. And, who invented the weird table with the feet stirrups?
I turned to my husband who was now standing anxiously, “would it be weird to do it in here?”
His eyes bugged out of his face, “Yes, yes it would be weird. What the hell is wrong with you!? Get dressed!”
I pulled on my pants, “It was just a question. I wasn’t like hitting on you. Plus, I thought you might want to get as much bang for your buck as possible. Since, you know, you’re stressed about the cost of maintaining my lady bits.”
“I’m not stressed! I was just say…Please stop talking,” he ushered me towards the door.
“Fine, but can I at least have ice cream now?”
“What are you five?”
“I just had a metal duck head inside my guts. I think I’m entitled.”
“Fine-a. We can git gelato on the way home.”
I would be free for another year, given that my results come back as normal.