I have bad gyno karma.
It all started about 13 years ago. I thought I Iiked my gynecologist. He saved my daughter’s life when she was born. He was a kind and gentle person and easy to talk to. I found him when I was working as a heath and feature writer for a small Michigan newspaper. I’d interviewed him when he first came to town and immediately knew I wanted him to be my doctor, based on his credentials and bedside manner.
My gynecologist liked to talk to me about Judaism, because he was interested in incorporating some of my people’s traditions into his faith. I obliged, since I imagine if you have the same limited view all day, you at least need a topic change once in a while.
When he started inviting me to prayer meetings, I politely declined, but didn’t think much of it. Jewish people are used to a constant barrage of people from other faiths being concerned about the status of our souls. So I continued to see this doctor and recommend him … until the day I showed up for my yearly breast check and Pap and it all went wrong.
There I was lying there in my tissue paper gown, feet in the stirrups, belly-up like a dead beetle, when he hit me up to be part of his Amway circle. For the record, I’m a regular washer down yonder, especially prior to a gynecological appointment, lest I offend. Yet something about my most intimate parts reminded this man that he also sells cleaning products — and oh, by the way, with my outgoing personality, I was just the kind of person he needed on his team.
To add legitimacy to his offer, he informed me that the future of medicine was bleak and a lot of his colleagues had recently signed up. He, himself, had been recruited by a local doctor. And I’m thinking to myself, “Was it your proctologist, while he had his rubber glove up your rear end? Because I’m pretty sure this is not the optimal time to hit up people to be part of your down line.”
This man was a respected physician. He performed my emergency C-section. And now — with a bright lamp spotlighting my privates — he was telling me about Legacy of Clean, Amway’s fabulous multi-purpose cleaner that’s safe as water for all washable surfaces. If you’ve never heard of L.O.C., it’s a “super-concentrated, super-versatile cleaner that cleans everything, but harms nothing.” And it’s kosher to boot. Why, I ask? Is there bacon in regular Windex?
I’ll admit the product actually sounds pretty good — and it’s safe on the environment — but what, pray-tell, about my most classified parts made him want to talk to me about cleaning products in the middle of my pelvic exam? I have a legacy of clean. My grandma taught me when you’re in the tub to “wash your china.” And, without getting too personal, I always have.
Sure, L.O.C. is dermatologist-tested and safe for the environment, but was he hinting that it might have other uses? And if so, when I buy that kind of product, why would I care that it also works great on linoleum?
Well that was the end of my relationship with Dr. Amway. If the future of medicine was sketchy, hitting up patients for a network marketing opportunity during an exam was only going to make matters worse. So I took my business elsewhere! In fact, I figured if my old doc was actively searching for recruits, he’d probably started with his gyno buddies. So I moved my private parts to a town 20 minutes away.
I loved my new doctor. Once again, I’d found education, expertise and fantastic bedside manner. This guy even warmed his speculum. But alas, I was forced to relocate, when my husband was offered an exciting job opportunity in New York City. So I found myself living in Jersey, once again searching for a lady doctor.
The first gynecologist in Jersey didn’t work out so well. I sat in her waiting room for more than two hours —so long that Aunt Flo came for a visit and I had to reschedule. When I finally got another appointment, I discovered this practice took HIPPA just a bit too far.
Arriving at the office, I signed in and was given a number. They then peeled off my signature and recorded my name on a sheet behind the counter, so I could remain anonymous to the other threatening ladies in the waiting room. So I’m sitting there browsing through Reader’s Digest when the gyno assistant opens the door and shouts with a thick Jersey accent:
I wasn’t sure whether to shout “BINGO!” or hold up my ticket and say, “I’ll have two pounds of pastrami and half a pound of potato salad.”
“I’m more than just a vagina,” I silently screamed. “I’m a human being, with a name … a dream … a Thighmaster!”
My next gynecologist was a fabulous young doctor training to take over her father’s practice. But after four years, we relocated to Tampa to open a business. A good friend recommended the #1 gynecologist in town. I went to him once, and then he retired. So I found myself in the market yet again.
This time I asked my neighbor for a recommendation and found someone I really liked, though I’ll admit she was a bit of an odd duck. After a surgical procedure, she gave me 8 x 10 glossies of the cysts she’d removed from my uterus. What exactly was I supposed to do with these — frame them and put them on the mantel next to my daughter’s bat mitzvah shot?
Last year she moved to Mississippi, leaving me in the capable hands of her successor. When I went for my annual exam recently, replacement gyno and I discussed my medical history, and she seemed well-versed and responsive.
So we get to the Pap part of my exam, and she grabs one of those long Q-Tips you could use to swab the ears of a moose. And while I’m in the stirrups, spread open like the mouth of Jaws, she decides it’s the perfect time to hit me up for the new “added value” services her office is peddling.
“Are you interested in Botox?” she asked.
Botox? What about my southern regions made her ask me about Botox?
“Oh my God,” I’m thinking. “I have wrinkles down there, too?”
Now I appreciate that doctors’ offices are suffering with lousy reimbursement rates from insurance companies and that they’re trying to find new cash revenue streams … weight loss, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion. But timing is everything. How about waiting until I have my free Victoria’s Secret panties back on and slipping me a brochure with my receipt?
So here I am, back to square one — looking for someone who will spread me, swab me and send me home, without trying to pitch me while I’m a captive audience. I’d like a well-educated gyno with a great sense of humor, who’s empathetic, a good listener and financially solvent.
Though I’m honored that more than one gynecologist has come face-to-face with my nether regions and thought, “Wow. I could make a lot of money off this one,” there is a time and place for everything.
So, gynos of America, when it comes to conversation, it’s okay to talk about the weather, a great item you just found on sale, your kids, my kids, today’s kids, even the horrors of sex trafficking in Cambodia. But I am not interested in your pre-paid legal plans, vitamins, cleaning products, meal replacement shakes or miracle face creams.
And if you have a close relative in pest control, for God’s sake, man, keep it to yourself.
I’d prefer to call Orkin.