Crying at the Doctor’s Office


Image courtesy of beccafrog. Licensed under CC BY SA.

Y’all, I think I may have convinced my gynecologist that I’m having a nervous break.

It stated last week. Per her instructions, I had made an appointment six weeks before to make sure that my IUD had not, post-insertion, wandered off to parts unknown (or at least unintended). Since I was working a 2-10pm shift six weeks ago, I scheduled the appointment for 10am.

Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, I’ve started working 8pm-6am (ie the shift of champions). Ninety nine percent of the time, that’s totally fine. However, I realized–after calling to confirm that my appointment could not be moved earlier–that this was not so good for my doctor’s appointment. By the time it rolled around, I was going to have been awake for 19 hours.

I thought about moving it. Unfortunately, the thought of moving the appointment caused my armpits to break out in painful lumps that–in true Web MD fashion–screamed “cancer.”

(I’m going to cut the dramatic tension right here: not cancer. It appears to have been a bad reaction to my wearing Old Spice, because apparently my pits like gender norms.)

“Well,” I thought to myself, “I can do this! How bad can it be?” The answer, it turned out, was “godawful.”

The first few hours after work weren’t too bad. I went for a run on my workplace’s basement murder treadmill (which, I recently learned, other shifts do not call by that name). After a cold and possibly fungal post-run shower, I decided to go to a coffee shop to kill some time. Caffeine and a pastry sounded fabulous right around hour 16.

For an hour, it was in fact totally pleasant. I caught up on my reading, ate a croissant, and generally relaxed. However, with two hours left until the appointment, I felt myself flagging. I could feel my contact lenses. I resorted to pinching my thigh to stay awake, freaking out the aspiring actress sitting across from me.

Finally, it was time to go. I rallied enough to drive safely to the hospital and into their parking garage. As it was already 9:30 in the morning, the garage was already packed. It was right about the moment where this fact started causing me to tear up that I realized that maybe I wasn’t on my emotional A-game.

Tears aside, and with an encroaching exhaustion so palpable I could feel it, I wandered into the clinic and checked it. The doctor was, of course, running late. It was when this started to make me cry that I realized that I definitely wasn’t on my emotional A-game.

Finally, I was called into an exam room and told to disrobe. I did, covering myself in the sheet that is supposed to protect you from the knowledge that you’re paying a stranger to look at your genitals. I lay back on the table and–while waiting for the doctor to show up–felt myself drifting off.

I knew I shouldn’t, though, and at that point my eyes started to water from the effort of keeping them open. This wasn’t a light misting: there were tiredness tears visible on my face.

It was at that point that my gynecologist–who generally has the (delightful) beside manner of a vulcan–opened the door to see me lying back, legs kind of sadly akimbo off the exam table, apparently crying.

“Is everything okay?” she asked, in a manner normally reserved for small children or feral animals.

I couldn’t tell if the implied end of that sentence was, “since you appear to by crying,” “with your IUD,” or “since your chart indicates that your mother just died.” Even while tired, I sensed that asking her to clarify was only going to start an Uncomfortable Discussion.

So I decided to lie: “Totally!” She seemed unconvinced, so I added, “I’ve been awake for 19 hours. I work nights.”

This seemed to pass muster, as she started making small talk about her residency. This continued while she checked to see that the IUD was still there (it was!), and did something to confirm that my uterus was still there (it is!). All very exciting.

Three minutes later, she was done. I have never seen a doctor back out of an exam room as quickly as she did.

After I got home, I slept–without the aid of medication–until 7:30pm. It was at that point that I realized that I’m scheduling different appointments from now on.

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