I think I speak for most Edmontonians when I say our medical system is abysmal. Not only is the task of finding a GP as painful as an amputation but the actual success rate in finding the Dr. Sanjay Gupta of practitioners share the same odds of well let’s say curing Ebola and Bird Flu in the next 3 months.
After embarking on my quest to find the doctor that would be able to “handle” me, because yes, to a certain extent I do believe I am an “over” cautious patient, I found a clinic not too far away from home that was conveniently taking patients.
YAY – twofer.
My name was called and I commenced my walk through a tiny hallway where I squeezed by an older gentleman. We shared an awkward smile as we both tried to manoeuvre past each other. The passage then abruptly led to an even smaller office hosting a doctor loudly narrating his last patient’s case.
“Patient – male – 42, suffers from erectile dysfunction…”
I gape in disbelief. Gently knocking on the door I nervously ask if I should return to the waiting room.
“Come in, come in,” he insists with a grin returning to his report, “ah yes, erectile dysfunction, prescribed viagra.”
I reach for my phone and absently stare at my twitter feed, I can feel my cheeks burning.
He finally finishes and turns to me and asks what he can do for me. I explain that I just want a physical – that I’m a 28 year old female that has one child.
“Are you promiscuous?” He asks nonchalantly.
“No,” I return.
“Do you have any STDs?”
“How do you know? You know sometimes you can’t see them.”
“I just had a blood test a few months ago and everything was fine.”
“Do you have many sex partners?”
“You know how the penis works right?”
“Yes, I have a son. I know how the penis works.”
He then proceeds to pull out plastic models of a vagina and a penis wheeling his little black stool to a large poster of the female body.
My fingers reach for my face, trying to conceal the hysterical laughter that wants to spill out of my mouth. Admittedly – a giggle escapes.
In a presentation lasting roughly as long as sex does, he explains in medical terms how the act of coitus is completed. I try my hardest to maintain a steady mature and professional expression, which at this point is proving to be an impossible feat.
“I think you need a pap smear,” he inserts at the very end.
Now after you’ve had a kid, the shock and awe of having an audience staring at your happy place fades a bit – but this was different.
At this point, I whisper my new mantra of “never come here again, never come here again..”
I am led to the “examining room” which is really just an even smaller office with a bed that has stirrups. He reaches for a book and starts to read the directions of how an exam is administered. He reaches for the tools needed and looks at them questioningly as if trying to figure out what each does and where each goes. In a moment of crystal clear clairvoyance I realise that no amount of clenching my eyes shut and pretending I’m Kim Kardashian getting paid an obscene amount of money to show my woohoo will get me through this.
I conjure all my bravery and politely excuse myself, using my son as a classic excuse. I mumble that I forgot him somewhere and that I have to go find him and try my best not to sprint out of the office.
Now I understand that there’s nothing terrible about a pap smear, it’s a normal medical exam for women and it’s completely legit, but I mean really? The sex presentation?
Our doctor shortage is a real problem that no amount of lubricant will fix. Perhaps we could consider the possibility of increasing incentives for doctors to come and practice in Edmonton. Maybe we could invest in programs that would make our universities attractive places to obtain a medical degree.
Maybe our slogan could be Edmonton – Erectile Dysfunction Ends Here. Imagine the tourism.