Saturday, mar. 15, 2008   |   0 comments
The only thing that stands between a person and happiness is finding an honest, good: a) mechanic. b) doctor, and c) pair of shoes. Right now, I'm a third of the way. I have a fabulous general practitioner. Not only is her office right next to a good-coffee cafe in this really cute, village-within-a-city area of town, but she's chatty, informative, funny, and honest. Fer instance, this is what we talked about in our "getting to know you, getting to know ALL about you" discussion on my very first visit:

She asked me if I regularly self-examine my breasts. And I said, "Well, my first inclination is to lie and say 'yes' [because I know I should, and I don't want to get in trouble, have her yell at me and stuff...see my rant about flossing to learn more about this incredibly irrational kind of thinking] but, no, I don't really."

And she says, "Let me tell you a story: the worst case of breast cancer I ever saw was on a twenty-six-year-old ... how old are you?"

[throat clear] "Twenty-six."

"Yes," she says, smirkingly, and not unkindly, "I knew that, I just didn't want you to miss the point. Well, this woman was a smart cookie, a PhD candidate. And she was married to an X-ray technician whose job it was to scan women's breasts for cancer. [Lingering and meaningful raised-brow eye contact] They had been together for years, and she always thought that he had been giving her regular 'check ups.' But listen up. Someone caressing your breasts during sex is NOT probing you for funny lumps. Cancer is possibly THE furthest thing from their mind. Anyway, since HE always thought that SHE had been checking herself, since she, of all people, knew the risks, somehow a huge tumor went undetected. When she finally came to me, it was falling through her breast. Literally. [Beat] She was very lucky. It turned out okay in the end ... she lived, but only after having a mastectomy, and now she's a doctor with two kids, still married. I don't tell you this to scare you, but you need to know that your youth doesn't make you immune. There are very few things that you have any control over in this life, but your body's one of them. Don't miss the opportunity, okay?"


"All right, let me show you how it's done. Give me a girl scout salute."

[I give her a girl scout salute.]

"Second only to your clitoris, these three fingers have the most nerve endings in your body. Use them to learn and memorize the landscape of your breasts."

Everything was so damn frank and straightforward that I didn't really have a chance to get shy. She explained the correct way to check everything (soaped up in the shower, then again lying down) and we discussed when to do it (a week after my period ends), and then the "hold nothing back" conversation wandered into the peaked and valued land of safe sex:

"Do you practice safe sex?" [Bam. Not even one pussy-footstep.]

"Yes. I'm very careful and I get tested regularly."

"Great. That's wonderful to hear. Before we move on though, I'd like to quickly cover some safe sex gray areas...I'm sure you know it all, but let's just review. Oral sex is less risky than other kinds of sex, but it's still dangerous...especially with a new partner. When a relationship is just starting out, and you're still trying to impress your partner with fresh, minty breath, you tend to brush and floss more than usual, which makes your mouth extra vulnerable. Your gums don't have to be bleeding ... vigorous brushing and flossing create all sorts of tiny abrasions that up the risk factor. Not only that, but pre-come ... you know what I mean when I say 'pre come,' right?"

[Solemn, saucer-eyed nod.]

"It's often clear and looks like saliva and can come out in such small amounts that even the man may be unaware of its presence. Anyway, this pre-come has a much higher concentration of HIV than the ejaculate itself. So if you're using unprotected oral sex as foreplay to safe sex, you're putting yourself at risk. Also, I'm not sure if you have sex with other women, but in case you do, then you should know that two women having sex are not by definition having SAFE sex. There have been reported cases of the virus passing along via shared sex toys and oral sex during menstruation. So, be careful. Be safe. Take control of your body."

Right ON! Then, during the actual be-stirruped examination, she asks me, "Are you comfortable with your body?"

"Well, growing up I never thought I would be, but somehow in the last couple of years I've managed to grow into it. So yeah, pretty much."

"I thought so. You know, I can count on one hand the number of women I examine who are comfortable with their bodies, and I think it's great."

I was a tad unsure how to take this last exchange...I mean, are you SUPPOSED to be noteworthily comfortable when you're in the midst of a pap-smear? But in the end I decided to take it as a compliment.

I take them where I can get them.


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