It took me weeks to make the appointment. Numerous phone calls were made but never completed, pressing the off button as soon as I heard the voice of the receptionist. Clearly, not the nicest of manners demonstrated but somehow, wrongly justified by the self-induced phobia from which I suffer.
Undergoing a tooth extraction or removal of an appendage seemed preferable over the yearly screening that examined all available epidermis. An experience that never fails to disrupt my sense of modesty, it is one that has to occur due to unfortunate skin type and progression of a condition known as delusional paranoia.
The last few visits to the dermatologist occurred while living in South Carolina. On those visits, I disrobed down to undergarments, despite repeated instructions that the physician preferred patients in their birthday suit under the drafty, open-backed gown. Although I complied each time, I did so with my eyes tightly shut, wondering how in the world the doctor could talk about mundane topics like the weekend weather and tasty crock pot recipes, all the while examining personal parts of which only God should be aware.
(My husband, John, just interrupted my blogging to inform me that skin is the largest organ in the body. It reminded me a little of the whiz kid in the movie Jerry MacGuire who knew the weight of the human head. Except John is a grown man. And spits out scientific facts because he cannot help it.)
Since moving across state lines, I have dreaded the inevitable appointment with a new physician, with new eyes, with new topics to endure during an examination. After succumbing to the ridiculousness of the unintentional prank calls made to the dermatologist’s office, I finally scheduled the visit that always finds me desperately praying for the return of Jesus before the doctor enters the exam room.
On the day of the appointment, I sat anxiously in the reception area, mentally preparing myself for meeting a colleague of my husband’s in the buff. It did not escape me that I was blowing the impending interaction completely out of proportion, as though my nudity were a blip of concern on his clinical radar, but the aforementioned condition prevented me from responding like those considered reasonable.
The nurse called my name and led me to the exam room. She handed me a flimsy, see-through gown and instructed me to unclothe down to bra and underwear.
“Excuse me, “ I said to the retreating back of the nurse. “ Are you sure I shouldn’t remove, um, well, you know, everything?”
“That is not necessary,” the nurse responded with a raised eyebrow and a questioning look as though I were some floozy patient just dying to get naked.
Don’t get me wrong - on any other occasion I would have been thrilled to keep my stuff covered and all to myself . It’s just that experience would suggest that going commando was standard of care in the dermatologist’s office and I had prepared for such. Said differently, I had not planned for the doctor to see my underwear and had unwisely opted for comfort over cute.
There is some colorful history with these underpants. They are leftover from maternity days - the kind every female loves but pretends that they don’t own. Uncommonly bulky and elastically challenged, yards of cotton provide a roominess that can only be described as joyfully comfortable.
In a panic, I texted my husband at work.
John: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “You know those u-wear you hate?”
John: “The ones I threw away?”
Me: “I saved them. And I’m wearing them. And Dr. C is about 2 C them.”
John: “Just take them off. You have on a gown, don’t you?”
Me: “Yeah, but he’ll think I’m a perv."
John: “Better than thinking you are Baby New Year.”
A sudden knock at the door made the decision for me. Friendly and easy going, Dr. C introduced himself and told me how much he admired my husband. I wanted to say that I hoped poor choice in underwear would not adversely effect his opinion of my spouse, but knew that there really were not enough words to protect against the cloth-like diaper he was about to behold.
Without going into the embarrassing details of the exam, suffice it to say that it took extra effort to clear away all of the fabric to thoroughly examine the area where the sun doesn’t shine. While he smiled throughout the ordeal, and acted as normally as could be expected while drowning in stretched-out cotton, beads of sweat formed on his forehead, speaking of the significant task endured.
I recounted the experience with my friend, Beth, over lunch today. After she stopped laughing at my undergarment faux pas, she said, “Well, you know what you need to do on your next visit, dont’ you? You’ve got to wear some really fancy underwear so that the dermatologist at least understands that you know better.”
But, I can’t do that. I’m not even sure that I can return to an office that probably refers to me as PWBGP - Patient With Big Girl Panties. So, I’ve already started my round of hang-up calls to various offices of dermatologists in the hope of securing another appointment by the end of the year.
In the meantime, I have been unable to find the worn-out underwear that caused such distress for me and a hard day‘s work for my doctor. I suspect that my husband might have actually followed through with his ongoing threat and dumped them ceremoniously into the nearest trash can.
Either that, or handed them over to Baby New Year.