Being a woman I am used to going regularly to the doctor; and I think many of you will agree that seeing the gynecologist is one visit that’s always weird. Is either you are in an uncomfortable position or the speculum* is made of metal and is too cold, or simply you are self-conscious about being look at your most intimate part in a way that’s as routinely as the stylist at the beauty salon that’s looking at your hair color before coloring it.
I’ve always had female gynecologist and not precisely because I feel embarrassed that a male doctor sees me. Actually, for me being a man or a woman does not change the weird feeling of the visit. The reason I always choose women is because I believe we are naturally detail-oriented, and our idea of hygiene is more clear, plus we are more gentle, anyway, just my idea.
My current doctor, an Italian with many years of experience and with a very strong personality; she is a teacher at a university in New York, and as I’ve seen, very respected by her students and colleagues. However, for her younger students the least that they feel is intimidated. At a recent visit, preceded by the apprehension that characterizes me, and while I was waking to the examination room following the nurse, I took a peek at a young man seating with his back towards me as I was walking at the doctor’s office desk.
Right away I thought, oh man … that’s probably a student and for sure he is going to be part of my exam. I understand that somehow doctors need to get their experience, but I cannot help that sensation of guinea pig when I am use as an example for some medical student, especially when it comes to the gynecology specialty.
Anyway, that only added to the stress of an already uncomfortable situation for me. The nurse told me to undress from the waist down and left me in the room. Within a few minutes, the doctor knocks on the door and when she enters I confirm what I thought. She says, hi Dania, I introduced to you my student (I honestly don’t remember if she said the name) and I looked at him and nodded returning the greeting.
To my surprise, the student greeted me with fear in his face, like he wished he were invisible; I saw him as if he was a child, scared, who was taken to see something forbidden. I still felt the apprehension that he was going to look there. The doctor started to ask routine questions, she told me to put my feet on the leg-rest and to get my bottom to the edge of the bed.
Then, I realized that the student had sheepishly cornered himself to the left of the room and turned his face to the other side. The doctor, with the natural demeanor and strong personality that characterize her, turned to him and said “john doe, c’mon you have to look, you have to look.” At that moment, I felt embarrassed, but not the kind that was worrying me on the previous minutes to that moment. I was embarrassed for him. I swear I did not laugh because the moment did not call for it, but I can assure you I was relieved to know that the student was frightened to have to look at me there, to the south of my body.
* This post was originally published on August 19, 2010 on my former blog “Del Otro Lado Del Sol”.
*Clarification: this is a device to take samples; it’s like the lift that is used to lift a car to change a tire. In the case of the speculum, it is inserted into the vagina and then it’s open to allow the doctor to examine and take the sample.