Medical Reassurance

Kage Baker hated going to the doctor. Any doctor. For any reason. It’s one of the reasons she delayed so long to have her symptoms checked when she began to bleed. Like lots of women, she hated gynecological exams more than anything else.

She hated the necessity of getting undressed and sitting about swathed in inadequate paper sheets; she was the most modest woman on the face of the Earth, and just not happy without her clothes. And she said she never knew what the hell to do with her shoes. You can bundle up your unmentionables in your outer garments and all, but what do you do about the shoes? Which become 10 times bigger and clunkier than usual in an examining room, of course.

She complained that she never knew what to wear, either, not knowing how much she’d get to end up keeping on. Socks became vitally important – as most ladies are aware, when engaged in gynecological exams, your socks are usually the one thing you can count on wearing all through it. Also, your feet get cold otherwise. Kage assembled a whole wardrobe of nifty striped pirate socks to wear for her gyno visits – they cheered her up.

It was part of the general malice of Fate that Kage’s terminal illness was gynecological in nature. She would have preferred leprosy. She wasn’t one of those casually liberated ladies who could drop their drawers and never miss a beat discussing politics with the nurse. The mere sight of the stirrups made Kage’s blood pressure rise, and that last year I learned to tell the nurses to wait to take her vitals until after the exam. Otherwise, her blood pressure – which had never before been abnormal – suggested a stroke was imminent.

Kage’s modesty was utterly outraged by the necessities of her illness. One of my jobs was to minimize that – I got really good of whisking sheets around, at bundling her as comfortably as possible on those damned cold tables. Of handling her amazing expanding shoes (always carry a Trader Joe’s bag). She never had to face the endless exams alone, and that helped her get through them.

Kimberly has tried her best to accompany me on my own adventure into cancer, but – you know, she has a life. And a job. And I don’t need as much help- I have all the shyness of a cat bathing on the front walk. As long as the exams don’t provoke so much bleeding that I pass out, I am fine. And since my exsanguinary eccentricities have been copiously documented in my files, my doctor’s office staff has been very careful about managing my pelvic exams.

I saw a doctor today for the second, obligatory post-surgical checkup. My darling gynecologist is home on maternity leave, so I got a very nice young fellow who hadn’t seen me before. Luckily, he read my file … so I emerged scatheless, and not walking funny.

Even better, my progress post-surgery has been exemplary. Not a trace of an infection, the incision looks like it happened 6 months ago, and all my blood work is normal. The fatigue and screwed-up sleep patterns are, alas, not abnormal following major surgery; I’m just gonna have to wait for my outraged system to settle on a new normal. Which might take months. Oh, well. It certainly beats having cancer.

The doctor even liked my socks – green and white argyle, with shamrocks. Socks, as I’ve said, are the most important part of your wardrobe at these visits …

So I am now officially freed to a maintenance schedule. I’m due back every three months for the next 5 years, but really – that’s not so bad.

It’ll give me an excuse for really wild socks. Kage would approve.