I tend, as you may have gathered, to be fairly blunt and forthright (or rude, as it is also known to those of a more delicate and squeamish disposition!) – and, as a result, explaining medical symptoms has never caused me much in the way of embarrassment.
Though I do generally ask to see a lady doctor for my, er, lady bits, I am certainly not one to beat about the bush or indulge in pointless, and time-consuming, euphemisms: This is, after all, a limited-time appointment, not a particularly tedious round of ‘Guess The Body Part!’
To give you an example (made-up at random and to illustrate the point): I would not be inching my timorous way into the doctor’s room and alluding, through a violent whole-body blush, to odd sensations in the bits below the belt; I’d be far more likely to say something like, ‘If my piles get any bigger, Doc, they’ll be indistinguishable from cantaloupes!! Not sure whether I need the help of a doctor or a Celebrity Cook, to be frank!’
Oddly enough, I rarely see the same doctor twice! Can’t imagine why! They probably draw straws – not to see me! One imagines the comment:
‘Oh God, does that mean I’ve got to see the vulgar and hypochondriacal old bag this time? Have a stiff Single Malt ready for me when she buggers off!’
Speculum up the Birth Canal? Not pleasant exactly – but not a source of shame either, my theory being that anyone wielding one has seen it all before anyway and, after ten thousands vadges, is unlikely to be scoring each one out of ten!
Baps out on the Mammogram Implement of Torture/Squashing Machine? Again, not a feeling I enjoy, masochism being foreign to my nature, but the actual thought of some other professional bod seeing my boobs doesn’t bother me. Mind you, since I was a nude model in my twenties (and thirties and early fifties!), showing my body doesn’t faze me at all.
So it is not shame or modesty or embarrassment that causes distress at these visits; it is the fear of my symptom having a serious outcome – a fear often made worse by chance encounters in the dreaded Waiting Room.
If you want lugubrious and unwholesome conversation, head straight for the average Medical Centre! Whatever you are in for, the other person will know someone who had it so badly that the bit concerned had to be lopped off prior to a long, lingering, ghastly demise (which will be relayed to you with the kind of funereal relish that makes you wish you’d stayed at home!).
This morning was no exception. Afflicted (or so I suspected) with a Manky Mammary/Battered Booby/Turgid Teat, I stupidly engaged the woman sitting next to me (who is, actually, a friend of sorts!) in light conversation.
I apprised her of my suspicion that my left pride-and-joy had an abscess. God, what a mistake that was! A harrowing tale of a sibling similarly affected and the plethora of biopsies, needles, antibiotics and poultices which followed had me gibbering into my palsied hand once she cleared off to be seen – and I very nearly turned tail and ran away.
Once in with the lovely lady doctor (who seems, bless her, to get the short straw more than most where I am concerned!), I launched straight in, after a few pleasantries, with, ‘Think I’ve got an abscess on one of my boobs!’
I was right! She had a quick gander and confirmed my suspicions. To my intense relief, there was no mention of lancets or gauze or stitches or poultices made of rancid bread/dead mice/eye of toad or any other arcane ingredients. Instead, I was handed a prescription for antibiotics and a recommendation to have salt baths. Well, as I wasn’t able to afford to go to Crete and swim in the Aegean Sea this year, I guess a salt bath or two (with some Cretan music in the background, and a small glass of raki on the edge of the tub) will have to do!
Relief Factor: 100%…
Embarrassment Factor: Nil!
You see, I do not think that bodies are embarrassing per se; but, by Jove, we have certainly made an industry out of creating an embarrassment factor where none truly exists, haven’t we? Details for another post, maybe…