Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bearing it all

Before I jump into this, I should point out that this post will probably appeal more to my female readers…unless of course, gentlemen, your lady friends have described to you the unpleasantness we call annuals. Oh, and there will be no pictures.

Earlier this week I had my yearly OB-GYN appointment for the first time since moving to Germany six months ago. It’s something I’ve been putting off for two reasons: my lack of dexterity with the German language and my lack of appreciation for those infamous, um, stirrups.

I finally decided to suck it up and get it over with. (What’s that phrase about just putting on your big girl panties…well, that sort of fits, in a reverse sort of way.)

So yeah, there I am in the waiting room, brushing up on my female anatomy vocabulary in German when the reception calls me into a small room to get my blood pressure, which turned out surprisingly normal despite my language-barrier-based anxiety.

“Whew, one thing down,” I thought.

Shortly after another short stint in the waiting room, I was called into see the doctor and entered a large half office, half exemption room. After the German formalities of proper greetings and hand shakes, she directed me to the chair opposite her at the desk. To lay out the scene properly in your imagination, the following dialog occurred solely in German. Any mistakes in translation are due to the fact that I had no idea what the f*** she was saying half of the time.

Doc: So, what is the reason for your visit?
Me: I need a quiz, errr, exam…the normal one…that one that happens once a year.
Awkward Pause
Me: (Wondering how this information didn’t seem to make it past the appointment desk) The, um, the just regular exam.
Doc: Ok then. Please go behind the curtain and undress waist down (pointing to a sheer circular drape extending slightly out from the wall between the undivided office and exam areas).

I get behind the curtain only to find no robe, no blanket (something I’m used to in the U.S.) And let me clarify, although I consider myself modest, I’m not bound to the typical American prudish stereotypes so often depicted in movies (except for, of course, those infamous Girls Gone Wild videos, of which have no doubt led to the disappointment of  many international students and tourists in the U.S.). But after undressing, I had no idea what to do. Should I should step out in my nakedness, or wait to be called out? What if I walked out too early and she was still doing paperwork for several minutes? Would I just stand there or scurry back awkwardly into the see-through curtain?

I decided to wait it out for an excruciating 42 seconds (yes, I counted). Then I slowly sauntered out, faking a been-there-done-that-but-it-just-took-me-a-really-long-time-to-undress attitude.

She was still seated at the desk, but pointed at the CHAIR, which was slightly different that what I was accustomed to. Not to go into too much detail, but for my American lady readers, the stirrups are not for your feet. And apparently asking what goes there warrants quite a quizzical look from the doctor.

After that was done, it was time for top half, which was done standing up…facing the doctor. Two thoughts were running laps through my mind during: do I look at her, or is that weird and (more sarcastically, since you can’t hear the voice (not plural) in my head) should I ask her for a coffee later…?