Are Doctors Just Sweet Talking Us?


Some women have terrible taste in men. I know– I used to be one of those women. Then I married a perfectly lovely man, and that must have thrown the universe off-balance. It’s since righted itself; I now have equally terrible taste in doctors.

You can read about my first bad experience here. But it wasn’t the last.

My new OBGYN seemed wondrous at first. Now I know– a little too wondrous.

Walking into his office was like walking into a best friend’s living room. Cozy and nurturing. It smelled like sunset on an orchard in autumn, and the lighting was warm and inviting– battery operated candles flickered on a coffee table amid a spray of women’s magazines and a zen rock garden. I had the impulse to pour a glass of wine and tell the receptionist my most embarrassing moment. I had the urge to giggle.

I settled into an overstuffed couch, inhaled the sweet home-baked smell of the place, and watched a few minutes of Ellen before I was called into an exam room. I reluctantly left the womb of the waiting room.

The exam room was outfitted with its own flat screen television. I sank into another overstuffed chair and the nurse handed me a cloth (CLOTH!!) gown. The fabric was so much more comforting than the thin crinkly paper to which I’ve been accustomed. Oh the luxury of cotton open at the front!

The doctor was a small balding man with a spunky personality. Kind of like Artie Bucco from The Sopranos before Tony burnt his restaurant down and he lost his god-damned mind. He asked questions about my career, my husband, and my hobbies. His wide-eyed response to all my answers made me feel downright fascinating. A writer? Wow! You play volleyball? Wow! Your husband is a math professor? Wow!

I liked this guy.

He finished the exam by speaking into a handheld recording device. “Alena here is a writer. How cool is that? I can’t wait to buy a copy of her book,” he said into the recorder. That sentence, the best sentence uttered in the history of sentences, was now a soundbite, saved for posterity.

I almost asked this man over for Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted him to meet my parents.

But like the bad-boys of my youth, this behavior was nothing but seduction with an ulterior motive. He was just courting me, wooing me with scented candles and claiming to also enjoy my favorite talk show host. He was flattering me with false interest (I should have known– nobody responds to “math professor” with “Wow!”)…. all so he could get into my pants.

And he did. On the first visit. At the time I didn’t feel shame. It was my annual exam–a warranted put-out. But then the reasons cheapened, while our relationship grew more expensive.

“Oh, I don’t give year-long prescriptions. You need to come in twice a year for medication,” he said.

“Really? My last OBGYN just saw me annually.”

“Too much can change in six months. All of my patients come every six months.”

I’m sick of hearing about your other patients. Stop comparing me to them! “But my insurance only covers annually.”

“It’s for your own good.”

Is it? Is it?

The fact that he held my prescriptions hostage, compelling me to visit every six months, was annoying, but I accepted him for him– flaws and all. (His waiting room is REALLY pleasant.) But now he’s taken it a step further.

I went in for my “six month” appointment yesterday. It was just a breast exam, an interaction that, if anything, he should have paid me $30 for.

After I tied my gown closed, feeling a little used, he said this: “You’re due for a sonogram, and our technician isn’t here, so we’ll need to make another appointment in three months.”

My instinct was to answer, “A sonogram? But I’m not pregnant.” But this seemed so obvious, I had to ask myself, “Wait… am I?”

Apparently he wants to ensure–every three to six months– that my uterus is in good health so that if I ever decide to get pregnant, there won’t be any problems. Kind of like viewing an apartment before you sign the lease and move in.

But since my lady parts AREN’T a five floor walk-up with leaky faucets and a crumbling facade (my facade may be soft–but I’m only 28 and, my god, not yet crumbling), this seemed excessive.

An appointment every three months? There are relatives I don’t see that often.

It was our break-up point. This man isn’t after my best interests. He’s just taking advantage of my insurance. To him, I’m just a friend with benefits. (Yeah, that happened.)

Well guess what, Doctor Wow! I’m not taking a day off work and paying another $30 copay so you can afford your house in the Hamptons and your granny smith Glade plugins and your fancy shmansy cloth gowns. Use paper like everyone else!

I’m giving my insurance to a doctor who deserves it.


I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean

Now, with a brand new cover!



The Dream Behind The Doctor

Doctors had dreams too. That’s what I learned this weekend. They were once children with big, outlandish hopes who shouted things like, “I’m going to be an astronaut!” or, “When I grow up, I want to be cowboy rockstar!” But since we all can’t be Kid Rock, and since some parents insist on a practical education (luckily not mine– three cheers for an English degree!), these people stashed away their extravagant ambitions and begrudgingly earned their medical licenses.

Still, these fantasies live on in the depths of doctors’ subconscious, and sometimes reveal themselves through their practices.

Like my father’s doctor who harbors regrets of never becoming a game show host:

“Your blood results are in, and your lipid levels are….

….. drum roll please ….

….. tension building to an almost unbearable climax ….


He waits for his inner audience applause to subside before continuing.

“Moving on. I have your platelet count here. And it looks like that is…..



also normal.”

Then there was my pediatrician who missed her chance to be one of those actresses that play cheesy Lifetime movie roles, like the counselor who intervenes to save the self-esteem of the young protagonist:

“Do you think you are fat? Do kids at school tell you that you are fat? Tell me, just tell me. Does your mother tell you that you are fat? Look at me. Do you hate yourself when you eat? Or when you are out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs? Because if you think you are fat, you are not. You are beautiful, and you should love yourself, dammit! Come on, let’s hug it out.”

But my favorite is the gynecologist who dreamed of being a horse race announcer:

Spoken in rapid succession taking minimal breaths: “Your feet are in the stirrups, I have my materials, and we’re off. The speculum is first. Prepare for some pressure, here comes the pressure, there’s the pressure, and everything looks normal. That was a good start, and we’re a third through now. Next comes the swab, following up the length of the speculum. You’re going to feel a pinch, there’s the pinch, and it’s done. We’re into the last stretch here, and so far so good. Last up is the finger. I’m going to insert, it’s going in, and it’s in. There’s the cervix, and it’s fine. There are the ovaries, and they’re good. There’s the uterus, and it’s normal. And that’s it! We’re done. It’s all over, folks.”

What a day for an exam, ladies and gentlemen, and what an exam it was.