Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Could you please speak up? It's the genital warts.

One time back in grad school I had an ear infection.

If you've ever had one, you know an ear infection feels like some sadistic torturous clown inflated a balloon inside your ear canal. A balloon with spikes. Perhaps more like a spiny blowfish.

Anyway, another disconcerting symptom of the infection is near deafness. I don't know why; I can only assume the blowfish blocks the sound waves.

As all fair-sized campuses do, my university boasted a bustling Student Health Center, affectionately known as the Quack Shack, where a student ID was your hot ticket to free examinations and cheap birth control prescriptions.

I carried my throbbing ear to Student Health, somehow managing to avoid being run down in the crosswalks on the way even though I couldn't hear the screeching tires and didn't much care. Life was pain.

I signed in with a description of my complaint, waited the requisite half hour, and was called by a nurse who ushered me into an elevator with another younger woman. When we arrived at our floor the nurse ordered me to one examination room and the other woman to another.

A few minutes later a doctor arrived and spoke to me, but since she clearly had not bothered to read my chart and thus did not recognize that I was experiencing Bose-level noise-cancelling effects, I couldn't understand a goddamn word she was saying.

Trying not to expose all of my annoyance--I needed drugs from this person after all--I asked, "I beg your pardon?"

Again: "Oo Inca ha Vegeta horks?"

The fuck? "I'm sorry, what?"

Finally, looking utterly perturbed, she yelled, "SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE GENITAL WARTS?"


"Sorry, no." I gestured lamely toward my blowed up ear. "Ear infection."

Confused, the poor doctor flipped past my chart to the other one in her hand and then switched them. "Oh. Right. Excuse me a moment." And she bailed. I actually felt worse for her--and my be-warted elevator companion--than for myself. At least briefly.

Of course I told this story to all my friends back at the English Department, and for weeks afterward our offices rang with, "I'M SORRY BUT I CAN'T HEAR YOU. I HAVE GENITAL WARTS."

Hysterical as it was at the time, I had totally forgotten about this incident until yesterday, when I again found myself facing a doctor who had no idea why I was there. The details are honestly too boring to waste time on, but suffice to say I had a section of pre-cancerous material removed from my cervix several months ago. In August I had to go for another dramatic exam (I think this was my fourth such) where my cervix appears on a TV screen (I knew I'd get my 15 minutes someday!) and several doctors and nurses stand around and make comments about it that a more secure person than I might find uncomfortably personal.

Everything looked fine at first, and I was thinking I might be well out of this mess, when suddenly the talk turned to some "squamo-something-junction" that refused to show itself. I'm not even going to describe what they did next, but it involved some very nasty implements and felt more than anything else like early labor. Not fun. Not nice. And they never found this stupid thing that NO ONE HAD EVER, EVER MENTIONED BEFORE.

So I got referred to a specialist, someone who could hurt me with more precision.

I went to this specialist yesterday--nervous, I admit. When I was called in, it was like genital warts lady all over again, because she started asking me very direct and technical questions...about my bladder functions. Now, my bladder ain't what she used to be since the whole childbirth thing, gods know, but was she suggesting I tinkle when I sneeze because of my squamo-whateverthefuck? So confused.

And she was clearly just as puzzled, as she gamely continued the survey.

"How many times a day do you urinate?"

I, er, never thought about it? It depends on how many times something startles me? I wasn't prepared for this test! I never got the study guide!

She finally asked me what the hell I was there for and I told her: I really have no fucking idea. OK, I didn't say that, but I was sure thinking it by then.

She popped out in a fluster, popped back in a few moments later and beamed hopefully, "Do you think you could urinate for me?" I felt guilty, like I was giving her a terrible time, but I had to admit, shamefaced, that I had gone right before I came in. I made an attempt to cheer her: "Maybe in a bit?" Off she went again.

Ultimately, she gave up and sent the doctor in, who read my chart and said, "They did a LEEP right?" Ah ha! Now I was on firmer ground! YES. Yes, they did. "Hmm. Well, if they can't find the [thing] it's probably because they removed it." Oh. I suppose that does have a certain logic...

Then he told me he couldn't imagine why I got sent to him since he had nothing to do with such business--"but if you were born with two uteruses I'd be the guy to see!"--so he didn't charge me for the time I took up being asked questions about peeing. Which was kind of him since this clusterfuck wasn't his fault, surely.

So, yeah, that's me: Chick who never seems to have the right ailment. At least I could hear this time.


At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I was crying with laughter until I got to the "pre-cancerous cells" bit. Really, it's much funnier before I get the image of your cervix up on a screen. I had completely forgotten that story and it was Dave? somebody who delivered the punch line wasn't it? Oh, I'm so confused....Thanks though, best thing I read all day. Oops Mark Foley just IM'd me, gotta run.


At 7:24 AM, Blogger CrankyProf said...

Heh. At least he didn't charge you for the visit.

I'd be on your PCP though, for referring you to begin with.

(Now I have a modified "Sesame Street" skit in my head: "I'm sorry, I can'[t hear you, Bert -- I have a genital wart in my ear.")

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Shell said...

"Oops Mark Foley just IM'd me, gotta run."

Don't flatter yourself. You're WAY too old for Foley.

OK that joke was too easy.

Yes, I think it was Dave who really picked up the genital warts ball and ran it into the goal. Bless him.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

The last time I asked someone to urinate for me it was a hooker and I was in a hotel room.

I got in the bathtub...

I'm sorry. We're out of time.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Tense Teacher said...

"Do you think you could urinate for me?" I pictured the voice I used when I was talking to my 2-year-old daughter. "Can you go tee-tee for Mama?" I hope she didn't use that voice for you...

I'm glad all turned out well; it did, right?

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ow! Reading that post makes me have cramps on your behalf. Ack.

The genital warts story is a hoot.

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Shell said...

Yeah, my PCP is not the most organized entity I have ever encountered. (I'm trying to be nice for once, by the way.)

tense, I guess it turned out OK. At least it didn't hurt.

Someone's supposed to call me about seeing the right person next time, unless of course I find myself with an extraneous uterus before then.

Mr. Fab, I'll look forward to the rest of that tale on your blog soon.

Thanks, michelle. Who knew that little donut-looking thing was such trouble?

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a funny story, but you've gone through hell, Shell.

I know exactly what you mean about bizarre implements and feeling as if you're going through early labor--not a good feeling. Here's hoping everything is well with you ... So you still have to go to another doctor?

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Shell said...

Yeah, zed, I'm supposed to make it to GYN-ONC this time instead of GYN-URO. My sister says I'll end up at the proctologist. Heh.

Thanks for the sympathy. :)


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