Doctors Visits and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Sara Nash Health Guide
  • Excerpted from The Single Gal's Guide to RA

    See the accompanying comic drawn by Jane Samborski


    ... It's amazing how many times I've ended up with my top off lately.  In a way, you could say that I've been having a pretty hot and heavy relationship with Beth Israel -- seeing some doctor, nurse, or technician (and boy are they seeing me) just about every week, and more often than not, I wind up in some various state of undress before it's all said and done. You'd think one of them could at least take me out to dinner first, or that they could offer me a nice, stiff cocktail when I sign in for my appointment, just to help break the ice.

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    ... when sitting in a cold, fluorescently-lit doctor's office and having to suddenly disrobe in front of someone who's name you don't even know, I find I'm a bit shy and reserved.

    To them, I know it's just routine ... some of these nurses and technicians probably see a million breasts a day, among other things, but often, as I've lain on a table staring up at the ceiling while little electrodes were being stuck to the undersides of my breasts and ribcage, I've wondered if it's awkward for them, too.


    ... The only time I really felt downright uncomfortable was when I went for my echocardiogram. ... I got the one dude who was older, very gruff and large, who barked my name out like he was giving orders at boot camp. Fan-f******-tastic.

    I laid down on my left side on the little bed, and before I could even get settled, Mr. Bootcamp roughly scooted me back into a better position for him (he really could have just asked), which made me feel all cramped and put my neck in a funny position. ... He then commanded that, no matter what, I had to keep my breathing really shallow and hardly move at all, otherwise he wouldn't be able to get a clear picture of my heart. Great. Because you know as soon as he said to breathe shallowly, all I could do, all my poor lungs CRAVED, was a really deep, satisfyingly full breath. (I bet you just took one, too.)


    Mr. Bootcamp took the cold, slimy ultrasound wand and reached around to poke it into my left under-rib, causing my left breast to unavoidably hang over his wrist. (There is just nothing delicate about this, folks.) Apparently, my breathing was nowhere near shallow enough for him. He bluntly asked me, in that smug way where he already knew he was probably right, 'I bet you do yoga, don't you?' Busted. 'Yes,' I muttered. I immediately tried to stop breathing all together, figuring maybe he could get it all over and done with before I passed out. That was no good either. Then, Mr. Bootcamp started to tell me how breathing deeply was horrible for me and how Angelina Jolie's dad had asthma and came up with a shallow breathing technique that cured it and now he can jog long distances, and that other people should really be following this technique and not all that deep yogic breathing hullabahoo, et al. (I did not make a single bit of this up, though he may have.) This tirade continued for about 10 minutes.


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    ... I wish, instead of just lying there quietly like the good girl I've always been, I had had the wherewithal to sit up and tell Mr. Asshole-Bootcamp to lay off, quit lecturing me about how I was breathing all wrong and talking smack about yoga, that none of that was helping me to breathe any more calmly and was just making it worse, in fact, and to just shut up and do the eko so I could go back to work.


    I know for most medical professionals, dealing with partially (or completely) naked bodies is run of the mill and just a job, but for those of us on the other side, it is most often incredibly vulnerable, especially when the reason you are naked to begin with is because something is wrong with you, or potentially wrong with you, and not because you had a really great date. To all the many nurses and technicians who have been sensitive and polite and kind while doing your job, I really thank you for remembering that you are dealing with people who would like to retain as much dignity as they can while going through all of these procedures which aren't run of the mill to us.


    And to Mr. Bootcamp, lay off the lecturing. And maybe try some yoga-it might help you relax a little.




Published On: September 23, 2008