Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Well, today was my (bi)annual "lie back and think of England" exam. Such a nice way to get to know my new OB/GYN. She seemed nice enough, though I don't think I'm going to like her as well as I did my old doctor. Perhaps it's due to a different sort of bedside manner. Perhaps it's due to lack of history between us.

The part of the exam that usually bothers women the most goes by like a breeze for me. I can sit back, talk, even joke around a bit.

(I remember one time when the nurse assistant told me to relax. The doctor shook his head and insisted that NO ONE could EVER relax in my position. Contrary thing that I was, not only did I show them them I could, I started humming Wave in an effort to get them to relax.)

What really bothers and upsets me is the breast exam. I force myself to do it monthly, the doctor performs it, but it still horrifies me to the point of almost passing out or throwing up. In the past I have passed out, coming to propped against a nurse. Today I didn't do that. Made sure that I'd eaten a good breakfast and everything so as not to faint. I did shield my eyes with my free hand, wince and start to feel the tears well up. The weird feeling came over me, as well, but I did manage to stay conscious.

I apologized for being such a baby, that nothing actually hurt. Explained that I'd always been this way. The doctor asked if I was that afraid of cancer; couldn't honestly say that that was the whole reason, but did admit that that was part of it. She told me that in all her career, she'd only met two people now who'd been that upset about an exam, and tried to offer me some reassurances.
I know that I'm cystic: I feel them every month during the hormone surge. Even more so if I've not drunk enough soy, have been stressed-out, or have indulged in too much of three things: caffeine, red wine, chocolate. Already irritated and swelling tissue becomes even more painful if I don't. I can live with that.

I know that I'm young: Though there seems to be a higher incidence nowadays (1/9 women, as opposed to 1/10 before - could be due to more and earlier diagnosis), it's very rare in younger women. Add to that the fact that, as far as I know, no one on my mother's side of the family has ever had breast cancer. My dad's sister did recently, but she's fine now. But that's supposedly of less genetic importance to me than my mother's side.

I also understand intellectually that I'm dealing with some residual trauma from a long-past incident. I just wish that the emotional in this case would catch up to the intellect. It has in so many other areas, why not with my chest. Have worked so hard for so long to let go of pain, both psychological and physical. Why is there still this fixation on one part of me that don't particularly want to change?

Anyway, made it out of the doctor's office in one piece. Couldn't get out fast enough. Of course, in my haste to leave, I left something important behind. Now have to go back to retrieve it before closing time. Thank heavens this is all on my walk home.


Yogo said...

It's possible to relax during those things. I once had a doctor that I got along with very well. We could have been great friends because we had the same strange sense of humor and he never talked down to me. Great guy. I was very relaxed in his presence. I was his patient for several years.

Changed insurance carriers and had to get a new doc. I dreaded every time I had to go. And like you, the breast exam was brutal. I was never near passing out, but the guy's proximity to my face and hands on my skin was creepy. Talk about "think of England!" I couldn't close my eyes (man touching my body and my eyes are closed, I think sex), I couldn't look at him (I think sex again), so I stare at the wall. "Oh my that's a wonderful shade of blue..." Brutal.

I wish we could dispense with that all together, but for practical reasons we can't. And cancer doesn't run in my family. No where. There is an urban tale in the family of a distant cousin who had a double mastectomy, but that can't be confirmed.

I'm rambling now be, but I know how you feel on this one.

Nick said...

Guys are wusses when it comes to this stuff... and here I made such a big deal of my testicular exam in January. Though I too had to crack jokes in order to feel comfortable.

Be said...

Nappy: similar situation for me! Before, I had the quintessential Old White Guy from Harvard, everything that I'd been taught not to trust when I was younger and in school. He helped me through so much (depression, GI problems, all sorts of issues pending from childhood and undertreatment in another country) and got me to actually look forward to my bi-annual checkups.
When he finally got email, it was great...I'd get all these random artworks emailed to me from him, when he thought of them.

I still would get sick when he'd do the breast exams, though. He *did* browbeat, harass, cajole and finally bribe me into doing if not monthly, at least bimonthly exams on myself, though.

Am better than I was before, anyway.

I guess it's just a question of not being comfortable with myself, so much as finding the right emotional workarounds for these situations.

Be said...

Nick - I think that the exam that you have to submit to is every bit as uncomfortable, so feel for you on that all.

Be said...

By the way - thanks for commiserating a bit on my ramble. I feel like such a freak sometimes with the violence of the reaction. I mean, so much worse could be wrong.