I try to make them chuckle nervously.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve cried when I’ve gone to doctor’s offices, not every time but more often than I’d like. OBGYNs are the worst, but I’ve been known to cry at the dentist too. It’s not that I’m in physical pain necessarily, usually just moderate emotional trauma.
Inherent in any trip to a medical professional is the assumption that there’s something “wrong” with you. I tend to sit and stew about just how “wrong” I really am. The longer I wait the more troubles I can drum up.
I may be at the dentist for a regular checkup but when he asks me to open my mouth wide, I’ll remember that it hurts to open my mouth wide because I have a sore jaw… because I grind my teeth at night… which keeps Dan awake… which makes me an inconsiderate wife… which, why am I blaming myself when I’m the one in pain… which what if my jaw just freezes one night and I have to eat everything through a tube… and by the way, why do I eat so much… I really need to start working out.
THERE’S JUST SO MUCH WRONG WITH ME!!! And then as the doctor approaches, a small tear will trickle down my face as my heart silently mouths… “Please fix my teeth and make me normal… please.”
Don’t even get me started with my inner pleadings for normalcy at other health venues. Let’s just say that by the time I get used to my new normal after childbirth, I’ll likely be going through the changing and the flashes of hotness.
Guilt also contributes to the tearing up.
“How active are you?” = “Do you EVER workout, you lazy slob?”
“Date of your last pregnancy?” = “When are you gonna try for another baby, huh, huh? You’ve already told the whole world you’re baby hungry, why can’t you just take the plunge? Your kids really need more friends.”
“Do you floss regularly?” = “Do you floss regularly?”
Get off my back man! May I weep into your freshly starched white jacket?
So to get over my nerves/emotions/guilt at the doctor, I do what comes naturally and try to make them laugh. I don’t know how many points you score for cracking your doctor up while he’s delivering your 10 lb. 8 oz. baby, but it’s a lot. How about exacting a giggle from your psychiatrist as you joke through chattering teeth during a post-partum panic attack?
I have scored these points and many more, keeping the docs entertained while maintaining some sort of dignity and personal reputation, even if it is a reputation as the world’s only paper-gown-clad, non-flossing stand-up comedian.
Well this weekend my back went out and I lay around icing and heating myself and taking pain killers. I cried in my own home because my back problems are a major obstacle on my way to readiness for child number 3. How can this body carry a child if it can’t even hold my noggin upright for an extended period of time?
So today I went to a new physical therapist, yet another attempt to get my body back into shape after last year’s car accident. I knew that if I’d already been crying about my back at home, I stood next to no chance of remaining calm and visibly sane during a checkup, especially if they were nice. Nice doctors are the WORST for setting me off. I needed to come up with some good material.
When I got in and started filling out paperwork, I noticed that it asked for a name and also a NICKNAME. Hmmm…. I wrote down “shmoopy.” It’s a special little something Dan likes to call me for romantical love.
I handed the paperwork to the receptionist who carried it into the back. I could hear whispering. “… filled it out… only put the blank there so we’d know what people want to be called… snicker snicker… look at this… I’m not sure… hope she was being funny… pretty embarrassing.”
From what I could hear, I got the impression that they were worried that I thought they really wanted a nickname and that little precious pet name was all I could come up with. It sounded like the whole office was called in to consult and then she called me back.
“Kathryn. We’re ready for you,” she said with a face as straight as a pin.
“Oh man. I thought you were gonna call me Shmoopy.”
She squinted her eyes a little to size me up, unsure whether I was kidding or not and explained apologetically that they had only put that line there so they would know what name people preferred to be called.
“I was just being silly.”
So after my session, she called out to me with a grin, “Do you need to schedule another appointment Shmoopy?”
“You know, I love it when you call me that!”