Thursday, March 15, 2007

Please take off your clothes

I recently had my first experience at a gynocologist here in Germany and can safely say I was terrified. Mostly because of the chair. Let me explain.
I am not averse to going to the doctor. I'm fine with the dentist and I've never had any problems giving blood or getting needles. Like a good breeding machine, I'm sorry, I mean woman of childbearing age, I go and get a pap smear every year or two years or whatever it's supposed to be. And I'm cool with that.
But in Germany they don't just get you to lie down on a bench, no they don't. They have a special gynocological chair. Now it may well be that I'm showing my ignorance here, having only ever been to my GP for the procedure, and perhaps gyno chairs are way old news in surgeries across the nation. For me, they are a new, and rather scary thing. The fact of the matter is, rather than lying back comfortably and staring at the ceiling while the doctor does their thing, I was quite perturbed at the prospect of having to sit up, with my legs strapped in and hanging in the air in a ridiculously undignified fashion and chatting to the doctor between them. I imagined it being like a Monty Python sketch where the woman's legs are encased in fishnets and heels and lots of very unfunny puns are made about carpets and so on.
It didn't help that when I mentioned this small but growing anxiety to a friend, her reply was something like Oh yes they're horrible and do you know they're always in pornos? Well, now I did, and I had another set of reasons not to want to sit in one. Although I must say I've always thought there was something kinky about the way everyone here is harbouring a hyperchondriac just waiting to come out. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but if you say you're not feeling well, you're foot hurts, you've cut yourself or your throat tickles to anyone here they're pretty likely to say that something's going around and you should take a day off. Stiff upper lips are for those Poms with a crappy health system across the water, here you don't need a doctor's certificate unless you take more than three days off. Imagine all the things you could do in a gynocological chair in three days...?
Anyway the point is I was nervous, so nervous I left the ring I was wearing in the bathroom and still haven't gone back to pick it up. When the nurse came to get me I immediately though she was the doctor and took umbridge at her wanting to measure my blood pressure straight away without asking me why I was there. I had visions of waking up and being told that I'd lost one of my ovaries. When she told me that the ultrasound was free this time only I almost jumped down her throat: why do I need an ultrasound? I think she thought I was crazy. I think she was right. However, I still maintain it's a bit weird to offer eveyone an ultrsound just for the hell of it like a complimentary pen.
Once I finally got into the doctor's surgery everything was fine. The chair turned out to be quite cool, it tipped back so it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as I'd imagined and the leg rests were absent of straps. I was so relaxed I even said what the hell and got the unneccesary ultrasound, which led to my seeing my womb for the first time ever. It was so exciting and looked just like all the pictures in books, except cooler, because it was mine.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Diving into work

Lately I've been enjoying work a little too much – this week I clocked up almost fifty hours in the office, at least a third of which, I have to add, I could have chosen to do at home or put off. Since I have gained more control over things, I've discovered so much satisfaction in seeing things come to fruition, even something as mundane as getting a course organised, or helping out a teacher.
The upshot of this is, however, that my evenings and weekends are increasingly spent in bed watching movies or reading. This is okay in winter, when there's not a single moment in the day when you get direct sunlight. But the last week has been increasingly sunny and as I write this I can see a few straggly beams breaking through the grey clouds. Suddenly, spending all my free time either eating chocolate in bed or doing sport so I can justify eating more chocolate is starting to seem a less viable option.
Despite all this I did find time last weekend to go on my second diving lesson, which Simon also came to. I enjoyed it just as much as the first, in fact, possibly more since I wasn't calmly convinced I was going to drown. My trainer told me I stayed under for half an hour – half an hour! - and I felt very proud of myself. I even practised taking the regulator out of my mouth and putting it back in under water. I found not thinking about the possibilities helped.
The other, slightly less sensational thing, I've done of note lately is formed a book club. We had our second meeting this week, talked about the book for exactly ten minutes and then got on with the business of talking about everythng else but the book. It was great. The one glitch was that I decided to make humous and during my very rushed preparations I managed to cause the motor in the handmixer to burn out. Luckily I turned into a Stepford Wife on the spot and proceeded to make the humous with a fork, which meant slightly more texture but the same taste. I now have unbounded admiration for the generations of women who made do without kitchen appliances.