Today, my necessity is a trip to the gynaecologist. I’ve done a good job of putting it off. I’m almost a year late with my appointment. My faith in ‘lady doctors’ not being what it used to be.
I’d made an appointment for 10am, figuring, that would give me plenty of time to prepare myself. But I hadn’t allowed a contingency for Akasha. She apparently requires an incredible amount of time in which to be ready for Kindergarten these days. At times, I am forced to ask myself if she actually is my daughter. She requires “lipstick” (lip balm), hair styling, princess dresses, umpteen outfit changes; characteristics that cannot possibly be attributed to me. That’s on top of the time she takes to finish her puzzle, picture, book, magazine, toilet trip, eat three breakfasts, and chat about every possible subject known to man. OK, the final trait admittedly is from me.
In an attempt to hurry her up, I inform her of my upcoming consultation with the doctor.
My plan backfires.
Now, instead of a child distracted by all possible means. I have a focussed child. A concerned child.
She starts to cry. She wants to accompany me. Be there for me. She states that she will “not be going to Kindergarten today.”
Instead, she wants to “stroke me” at the ‘lady doctors’.
Hmm. I don’t think so!
So, finally, Akasha is released into the capable hands of her Kindi teacher, and I am on my way. Hurriedly.
I easily find the street of my new doctor, but for some reason, the building itself evades me. By the time I discover it, I realise that I must have walked past at least twice. Flustered, I enter the doorway.
My initial impression is a good one. The receptionist is friendly. She sends me to the waiting room, form and pen in hand. Then the trouble starts.
My spoken German is pretty acceptable now. But reading and writing, are still greatly below par. I attempt to read the questionnaire and fill in the blanks. Medical possibilities are offered to me. I guess, that if I’d had them, I’d know what they were. But as usual, a trip to the receptionist is necessary, an explanation that I don’t understand the form. I’m a foreigner, living in a strange land. And I require assistance. Yet again.
Paperwork complete. Time to pee in a cup.
What is it that when I’m given a plastic cup in which to pee, that I somehow manage to lose all urinating abilities? I could have been bursting two minutes before. But now, there’s nothing. I ask the receptionist for a glass of water in order to hasten things along.
In the cubicle, I sit waiting. Cup braced in between two legs. I wait. After a few minutes, I remove the said cup, thinking, maybe it’s ‘putting me off’. So I sit, cup hovering, ready to zoom back into place. In case, as sometimes happens, in these uncomfortable circumstances, that only the tiniest of all drops comes out. But nothing.
I imagine running water.
I try not to panic.
And I wonder.
I take the pamphlet I’ve been given out of my handbag. I’m bored now. As I start to read through the various optional extras available to me at this clinic, two thoughts hit me:
The first is: the NHS. Having lived in the UK for most of my life, I never thought about the cost of public health before. Here, we pay our health insurance and lots and lots of extras. For example contraception. Should a German opt for the installation of the mirena coil, the cost to that patient would be around 350 Euro’s. Until this moment I had never thought about the burden of contraception on the NHS.
The second thought is more a flashback to my questionnaire, and a question I’d filled in by myself. It went something like this: “What do you want from the practice?” Pamphlet in hand, the realisation hit me, they wanted me to express which services/treatments I required. Shit!
I had written: Understanding!
My attempts at even splashing into the cup, still unsuccessful, I waggle my numbing bottom around and try to think happy thoughts.
The external door creaks open and I hear the voice of another female. She has a strong accent and at first, I cannot comprehend her. I listen. She’s talking about where to place the sample when I’m finished. I shout, “I’ll do that, thanks.”
Another voice. Clearer this time. I lower my head as it comes to me, the accented one is another patient, asking where to leave her own sample.
She sits in the cubicle next to me. I concentrate on the sounds. She fulfils her task easily. Flushes. Washes her hands. All that running ‘water’ and I can deliver nothing.
I am as dry as a desert.
The receptionist enters the bathroom and calls my name. Loud and clear. I explain, from behind my cubicle door my predicament. My body is for some reason, inexplicable to me, refusing to play ball.
She calms me. No Problem. I can return with my cup later once the doctor has seen me.
I follow her into the treatment room. She checks my regularly low blood pressure. Normal. Heightened no doubt, by my recently failed mission. I smile. She takes a few notes. Then ushers me into the consultation room to await my doctor.
I start to squirm in my seat.
God, I really need to pee.
Stirrups ahead of me, I concern myself with possible inappropriate peeing and farting (my nervous stomach is making itself known).
Should I leave the room and chance missing the doctor, and probably not peeing anyway? Or, should I wait and risk an accident?
After around twenty minutes of actually needing to go to the toilet. My doctor enters and goes quickly through her procedures. She puts on an understanding front and then releases my plastic cup and I into the care of a nurse for blood tests.
Unsettled by my whole experience, my nerves rear their ugly head in the form of me chatting like a fully charged Duracell bunny, high on speed. No matter how loud the voice inside my head bellows for me to, “Shut up” the nerves, as usual, win the battle. Adrenaline explodes, as I hear one stupid statement after another racing out of my own mouth.
I return to the bathroom, pee splattering out, all over my own hand, to be precise.
A great end to the appointment: there is no more toilet paper.
Still, at least I’ve already shaken the good doc’s hand!