Me and “The Girls”

Today’s guest post comes from Renee.

I am a healthy 56 year old person. I rarely get ill. I am not on any medications. My family history is pretty devoid of chronic health problems other than cardiovascular disease, but even that hasn’t kept many of my family members living to very advanced ages. I don’t have a family history of cancer or dementia. I will admit, with some sheepishness, that I don’t have all the yearly checkups a person my age is supposed to have.

I had my last mammogram about two years ago, and the experience still leaves me giggling. Since I don’t go the doctor very often, I don’t have regular experience with cutting edge trends in patient care. I usually have my mammogram at the local hospital, where I have had the same radiology tech for 25 years. It happens in the same room with the same level of more than adequate care each time. I think Rosie, the radiology tech, has worn the same pink scrubs since I met her. We don’t talk much during the procedure, mainly small talk about our respective families and the state of the hospital administration. We sort of ignore the real business at hand, which is fine with me.

I just shut my eyes and think of England.

My most recent mammogram took place at a local clinic where I had gone for a Pap test. The doctor noticed I hadn’t had mammogram in a while, and said I could have one right away in the clinic’s new Mammography Department. I agreed, and was whisked back to the lab/x-ray area where I met the radiology tech. At least, that’s who she said she was. I wasn’t sure, since she was elegantly dressed in designer street clothes, and was perfectly coiffed, bejeweled, and made up. She looked like a highly successful Mary Kay consultant. She oozed friendly concern, doing her best to put me at ease, and led me to the mammogram room, a tastefully appointed space that looked like an upper middle-class living room that just happened to have this weird x-ray machine in it. The lighting was subdued and lovely. The furniture was lovely. The perfectly displayed magazines were lovely. The framed Impressionist reproductions and inspirational messages on the wall (Dream!; Love Like You have Never Been Hurt!) were lovely.

I am pretty modest regarding my person and its private parts. In my professional work I frequently have to educate abused children on the proper names for private body parts, and no matter how often I have to do it, I never find it easy. (I practice saying the words out loud at home when I vacuum). I find the euphemisms for those body parts even more embarrassing than the proper names. Well, the Mary Kay radiology tech really stunned me when she started talking about the parts in question as though they were people, “girls” to be exact. “Let’s get this girl up here!” “Oh, we need to move this girl over just a little so her picture can be really beautiful!” She talked non-stop about the “girls” and their beautiful pictures as though we were at a photo shoot for a fashion magazine. I am surprised she didn’t give them names. Finally, we were done, and the girls and I went home.

I suppose the whole set up was designed to help women feel more at ease during an embarrassing, sometimes painful, and possibly frightening procedure. It didn’t have that effect on me. I want my doctors to look wise and experienced. I want my radiology techs to wear scrubs and look like medical professionals. I want the walls lined with scholarly journals. I know I have little to complain about. I am healthy, and I have never faced to specter of breast cancer. It is about time for me and the girls to go for our next photo shoot. Rosie or Mary Kay? Hmm. I also understand that I am at the age for a colonoscopy.

Oh dear!

What do you expect from a visit to the clinic?

45 thoughts on “Me and “The Girls””

  1. Good story, Renee. Fortunately, clinicians like “Mary Kay” are not common.

    I expect nice conversation during my clinic visits because my doctor is someone I regard as a good friend. He finds me more exotic than most of his patients. We have good talks.

    But it is upsetting to get the wrong sort of clinician for certain intimate tests. My one colonoscopy was a harrowing experience for several reasons, including the fact the clinician was a very pretty woman in her 30s. When she came in the lab I let loose a big squawk and objected. She said, “I won’t admit to being beautiful, but I am undeniably female. You don’t need to worry. I deal with men this way all the time; it’s my job.”

    I said, “You want me to draw comfort from the fact all men look like a$$holes to you?” At that point, seeing I could be trouble, she dialed up the gas being fed to my mask and dove into her work.

    I made the mistake of writing this experience up on an internet site. It kept showing up for years, but I’ve confirmed that that story is buried so deep in the internet that it cannot now be retrieved.

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  2. Good morning. I would not be too comfortable with a female doctor or technician examining my “private parts”. I haven’t had an exam like that done by a woman. I don’t even like having male doctors do the exam for hernias that involves probing in a delicate area.

    I definitely want a professional approach used by doctors and medical technicians. However, I have never been to any medical facility where there were any people like the technician that gave you that Mary Kay approach, Renee. I guess that men are generally spared from getting the Mary Kay treatment.

    I wish the doctors in the Mayo system that serves our area didn’t spend so much time entering information into their computers when they are asking me questions and examine me. They could learn more about what was going on with me and what I needed if they were listening instead of filling on out their report on their computer while I am sitting there in front of them.

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    1. let me get this straight jim, you are complaining that the doctors at mayo who you go to see take notes while they talk to you? you are gonna love the new joint in minneapolis. they have a different demeanor than mayo. they wont be bothering you so much

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      1. They are not just taking notes. They are filling out a complete report on your visit with them that takes their attention almost completely away from you or any one else they are seeing. Some of the better doctors have apologized for the work that they are required to do on their commuters during your visit.

        Also, they move you along very quickly and hardly do any more than collect the minimum information they think they need to come up with something to say that might be of some use. Some doctors are better than others. The ones at our local clinic are generally not as good as those at the home office in Rochester where you get much better treatment most of the time.

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    2. I am fortunate to have a doc that uses a computer to track and enter information, but she does also listen. I was pregnant when my clinic moved from paper to the shiny new computer systems and I learned that being a patient patient while the nursing assistants figured out where things were now earned me a lot of brownie points (and probably made their day easier). I will also say that having that computer system in place has made it a whole lot easier when I have had to go to urgent care (my records are already there), to a specialist (she could look up recent tests and notes from my family practice doc as well as notes all the way back to my pregnancy and delivery…), and I can look up immunizations and health notes myself from home. Not a perfect system, but darned handy.

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  3. We are getting a new hospital in our town, so I have can only imagine the new mammography department is going to look like. Rosie may go the way of the dodos/

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  4. This is great, Renee – laughing with tears running down my face! I long for the old days when my now-retired Dr. sat and looked me in the eye. He was so straightforward I could ask him something he didn’t know the answer to, and he would say “I dunno.”
    I know they do need to get a lot of information entered, but like Jim, I find the computer a bit of an intrusion.

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  5. I would like for it to be routine-go in, come out, have a nice day, done and over with, and no financial reminder later, just like an oil change for the car.

    If I could drop of the pertinent bits with the keys and come back when I get a call that they are done, so much the better.

    Would really love it if “Bones” could just run the tri-corder over me and give me the good news that I am not an alien or suffering from any ailment or disorder-no waiting, no wondering, no bill.

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  6. When I have to go have a photo shoot like yours, Renee, I am happier seeing my Mpls equivalent of Rosie. No fuss, no muss, gentle concern for keeping me comfy in a decidedly un-comfy situation. Similar experience with the specialist I saw last year – I liked her instantly because she was clearly a no-nonsense, practical shoes kinda gal. You have parts, they are causing you hassles. You should not have to deal with these hassles. Let’s fix that so you can get on with living your life. Rooms are clean, sparse except for what is needed in an exam room with perhaps a nondescript picture on the wall, but the staff is friendly (both at the specialist’s office and my regular doc’s) and treats you like a human being, not a number. I am not a number, I am a free (wo)man! Frankly, that’s what I have appreciated most – not whether there is art on the walls, but whether I am viewed as the sum of my symptoms (or lack of them), or as a living breathing human being with a life to lead.

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  7. steves colonoscopy story reminds me that a couple years ago i went into the doctor which i never do… its been 25 years because i never get sick and if i feel the crud i look it up in my homeopathic remedy books and go that a way. my wifes insurance was running out and part of being mid 50’s is getting a check up. i wish i could go to mayo and get the latest and greatest but instead i went with the recommendation of my chiropractor to see a guy over by lake calhoun. he was a nice guy and said i looked fine. i have some weird heard skip ( i heard that one before when i went 25 years ago) and that it would be a good idea to ge the colonoscopy. i set up the time and had arranged a ride out so when i came off the juice i would be ready to go. they had me sign some stuff and then told me the day would be out of the question for driving totally and that the gas would carry over and mess me up for the day. i told them i had a day of stuff planned and beside i remember hating the gas they knock you out with. back in the old days of recreational drugs i was a cheap date. a little dab of this and that effects me 175% of the norm. the residue carries on for longer and the whack is more substantial than most. great for making supplies last but not too good for calaberated monitoring. i decided to pass on the gas (theres a pun in there somewhere) and have them discuss the blow by blow as we went along. the old doctor who did the deed was wonderful and he seemed to enjoy aving a participant raterh than a recepticel andhe talked me around corners and through the laser snips involved. i cant remember his term for the stuff he ran across but the girls is tame compared to the innards nicknames he had. you dont want to be snickering when you have somethin inserted 10 or 12 feet.
    i heard a doctor on the radio the other day give a talk on his experience with patients. he said every year 2 or 3 patients required him to go to their houses for follow up on some cancer treatment he had done and while he resented it and then he would get there and while walking through the living room to the hallway where the smells of the kitchen were left form last nights dinner and this mornings cooking, he saw the furniture the paintings on the wall the picture you dont get when you see someone for 15 minutes every two years for a check up. its too bad that the old doc with that black bag full of doctor stuff (i have two of those) is a thing of the past. i would like it to come back. i recently got health insurance again and the first thing i did was call my chiropractor who i had been looking forward to seeing for the 2 years since i went without the insurance. his receptionist called back to say he odesnt take anything but blue cross blue shield. i told him i have a choice of 3 different ones and he has passed on the ovations of all three bcause they want him to pay them to have the honor of filing their claims, medicine is caught up in big brother more than most other areas of life. i am disgusted with the direction we are headed and as the boomers come to the table and need the medical advances that have been achieved over the last 100 years of the ama, the major concern is the billing procedure. too bad. my daughters father in law went back to kosovo with a new understanding of the american dream. he thought he could come here and get looked after,. the medical system in kosovo is corrupt and the doctors line their pockets with less regard for healing than for collections. he found out we are simply a variation on the theme.

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  8. My dad ended up in the ER yesterday after falling in the garage and hitting his head. He is on too much blood pressure medication and it makes him dizzy. I appreciated being able to speak with the hospital staff about him (he is fine) and to connive with them about insisting that he go home and not drive to see my mom in the Nursing home as he had planned to do.(“But I am never dizzy when I drive!”) They assisted, and he complied. I believe that my mom will be able to come home in the next couple of weeks. We are going home this coming weekend, so I will get the whole scoop when I am there.

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    1. Sorry about your dad, Renee. But things get messy with older parents. That’s why I am selling a home I love to be closer to my daughter. I sure hope that simplifies things for her.

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      1. My parents are so independent. They would never dream of moving. I have plans B,C,and D for what we will do in the future for their care, depending on who is alive and what sort of shape they are in.

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  9. Wonderful blog, Renee. I love the idea of thinking of a mammogram as a photo shoot. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m going to rush right in and have one.

    I just want my doctor to listen and speak to me in plain English about what is going on with my body. I want a compassionate, professional relationship based on mutual respect. I’ve had a couple of wonderful female physicians, unfortunately both have moved on. I’m currently looking for a replacement for Dr. Knight who retired as of January 31st. Hopefully someone willing to correct an erroneous entry in my medical history that somehow raises red flags at every visit to the clinic.

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  10. I’m trying to remember where I heard this story. Some guy in a hospital was being driven crazy by a simpering nurse who came on with the Mary Kay style. For example, she always said “we” when she meant “you,” as in, “How are we feeling today?”

    So the guy had a friend bootleg apple cider into his room. When asked to produce a urine sample, he offered up the sample jar filled with cider. The nurse crooned, “Oh my, we are a little pale today, aren’t we?” So the patient said, “I’m afraid we are. Let’s run her through again and see if we can’t do better!” And he slugged down the sample. I’d like to think this is a true story, but I just can’t remember.

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    1. I think another one of the suggestions had to do with the cold garage floor and laying down and having the car run over you…

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  11. One of the things that endeared our family doc to me forever was the day I ran into him at a party supply store and almost did not recognize him in his cutoffs and t-shirt. He was getting mylar balloons refilled with helium for his daughter’s birthday.

    I’m pretty sure a fully furnished living room that looks better than mine with a tech that is better accessorized than I am pretty much means I am paying too much for the procedure du jour.

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  12. Sense of humor is KEY for me. More than once when making an appointment at a new facility, they ask me if I have a preference of who to see and I reply “who has the best sense of humor”. Most of the time this works out, but not always. The last orthopedic gal I went to definitely did not fill the bill!

    I also need somebody who is willing to answer questions, because I ask more than most (that’s what I’ve been told anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, VS, they probably did ask you “who” you wanted to see, not “whom,” since most people don’t know (or care about) the difference between the who and whom.

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  13. This topic is too close to my ordeal with cancer, but generally, I love needing to see a doctor. My list is impressive: oncologist, radiologist, internal medicine, neurologist, gynecologist, neuropsychologist , gastroenterologist, (I know there are more but can’t remember them). I’ve hit almost every ologist in the book at this point and loved almost all of them.

    I agree with some of you that today’s docs are so focused on inputting their computers that they don’t make eye contact. A few weeks after my 10-hour surgery at Mayo, I went to see my internal medicine doc. As usual, he only looked at the computer rather than me. Exasperated, I finally said, “Don’t you even want to check out my surgical incisions??” I realized later that I just wanted to show off my 27 inches of battle scars.

    Since my predominant medical care has been being admitted to the hospital through ER, going for an office call feels trite and self-indulgent somehow. My thinking is, “If a problem doesn’t require hospitalization, why go to a clinic?” That is except for PET scans every few months. Each time, I only feel a bit anxious the night before and give it hardly any thought until then.

    There is one very good thing about doctor’s reliance upon computers, though: on a dime, they can review every detail of your medical history since your last visit. I just wish they’d look into my eyes anyway.

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      1. Thank you for opening this topic up and for such a fun read! I’m one of those people bragging “I’ve never been sick a day in my life”, then catch myself and, “Oh – well other than the cancer!”

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  14. Great story, Renee. Very enjoyable read.

    Like most others here, I would not like the “Mary Kay” approach. I want to be treated as a person, not just a body, and definitely prefer a matter-of-fact approach to overly friendly. As an introvert, if I’ve never seen you before, please don’t act like you are my best friend.

    Also, doctors (nurse practitioners, etc.) should be aware of when a person is worried about symptoms and take them seriously, not just brush them off.

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    1. I get lots of referrals for psychology services from the doctors at the clinic, and most of the conversations I have when am at the clinic for my own ills revolve around the clients we share in common. It would be nice to talk about myself for a change..

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  15. I have many clinic visits; no more mammograms, though – I have MRI. Those are not painful, but they involve spending a long time in a noisy environment. I’m a little sensitive to noise, so the MRI machine is not my favorite place to be.

    The people I deal with at clinic visits are all over the map, personality-wise. Most of them that I see regularly I like quite well, but I have to remind myself sometimes that a procedure that may be unpleasant or disturbing for me is just another day at the office for them.

    On the other hand, sometimes a doctor or nurse will apologize for something that causes really minor pain or discomfort like a suture removal. Once or twice I’ve tried to put them at ease by listing off all the major surgeries I’ve had, and adding, “But this is really painful – I might need a Vicodin for this.” It’s usually good for a chuckle.

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