Yesterday I had my first ever “Total Body Skin Exam.” After constantly reminding my patients to get their moles checked, I thought it time to take my own advice. (not to mention the countless summers in the 1980s where laying in the sun wasn’t enough-we had to apply oil and foil to really get a good crisp.)
I got to my appointment a few minutes early. The “reception” I received from the RECEPTIONIST was cool (to be kind.) I had a bad feeling.
Once in the room, I was given a blue paper half gown and a gigantic white napkin “for my lap.” I was spazzy as I undressed. For some reason I felt like if the doctor walked in on me half dressed & half in the gown it would be much more humiliating than if I was fully UNDRESSED. In my panic I hung my clothes on the back hook and realized that my yoga pants had one leg turned inside out. It bothered me for some reason as if he would think I was a slob for not hanging my pants neatly. But, I can’t make myself go to the door to fix it for fear that he will “walk in on me.” Walk in on me doing what??? Fixing my pants?
I really should be medicated.
Keep in mind, in prep for this visit I have done the following:
-showered (this is extra on a Thursday)
-shaved my legs but only to the thigh (this is extra anytime after Labor Day.)
- put on my only set of matching bra and panties.
- a couple extra sit ups (as if 10 sit ups this year will miraculously give me cut abs.)
My appointment was for 9:30.
The doctor walked into my room at 9:25 carrying a large canister/blow torch looking thing. Again, I had a bad feeling.
He was kind, funny, and respectful, reassuring me that he barely ever has to torch anything he just likes to have that thing handy.
Then the exam. If you think a PAP smear or a prostate exam is humiliating, you have not had a “Total Body Skin Exam.”
1. Scalp—Doc combed through my air carefully. Thank God I opted to wash it today.
2.He proceeded to examine literally every inch of my skin from head to toe saying things like “let me see your inner thigh.” I twisted, turned, splayed, and bent AND sweat my ass off–It was a lot like my first (and last) yoga class.
3. He expressed concern over the bottom of my left foot. “Is that a wart?” he queried coming in for a closer look. I regretted my “no pedicure after Labor Day policy” almost as much as the “no thigh shaving after Labor Day policy.” He ran his finger over the “thing” on my foot and announced “Oh no. It’s just a piece of crud. No worries.”
I felt like dying.
So, rather than keep my mouth shut, I did what I do best when I am mortified: I began rambling.
“Huh, crud? Must be from my sock? My kids borrow my socks and…I did take a shower after I ran this morning.” ( I hope he says in his head–Wow. She ran this morning! In the freezing cold!” No wonder she has such strong thighs!–unshaved as they are.)
He didn’t respond and I finally stopped the volcanic eruption of words from my mouth.
3. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.
My back was to the doc. He had just checked it up and down, including under my adorable purple bra straps and way up into my sweaty armpits (I can’t remember if I shaved them or not.)
I start shuffling around as I really didn’t like standing there in my underwear with a strange man breathing down my neck. He then says, cool as can be “I am going to check your backside now.”
Hold up sir.
I am here to get my skin checked for melanoma. Melanoma is from sun exposure right? Well, I can tell you that not only does my “backside” not get sun exposure, it barely even gets air! I am a full on panty kinda girl–no commando. No thong. Period. You DO NOT need to look there.
He had hooked the back elastic of my cute purple panties and pulled them away. I could feel his eyes boring down into the cavernous space. I was convinced he was about to ask me to bend over when, wordlessly, he lets the elastic band snap loudly back into place.
I noticed he immediately went for the hand sanitizer before declaring that my skin was “totally boring!”
And just like that it was over. I wanted to ask Dr. M if he too, had the feeling that my skin examination had taken no less than an hour and a half.
I looked at my watch.
All that trauma happened in under 10 minutes.
The American Society of Dermatologists really should have some kind of award for that: “And this years award for “Most Humiliation Delivered in the Least Amount of Time” goes to….”