I’m not much of an activist. Who am I kidding? I’m not an activist at all. Maybe that’s because I haven’t found the right cause. There are so many issues that need attention, but none that have ever spoken to me. But after my experience today I now know that the cause has to find you; you can’t go looking for it. So it’s a pretty big day in my life: I am a person with a cause. It may not make my politically-minded mother proud. It may not please my sister who deals with day-to-day medical issues. But it’s a big step for me.
So today was my yearly gynecological well-visit. I don’t feel that I need to go into too much explanation about what that entails. Suffice it to say, it’s an uncomfortable, humiliating experience. Made even more uncomfortable and humiliating by the paper gowns we are made to wear. Which leads me to my cause. Now you might think I am up in arms about these lovely “gowns”. And I probably should be. But I try to view them as fashion statements gone wrong. After all, they have a fashionable crop top which my daughter swears is in. And the bottom has a long maxi skirt. Maxi skirts are all the rage this summer. Sounds like a winning combo, right? On paper, it sounds lovely. But that’s the problem: it’s on paper. The kind that starts to stick to various body parts after awhile. The kind that can also double as a place to take notes. Which I did. Which I regretted later because who wants to walk out with that nasty paper when you are done?
But again, that’s not the problem. Yes, I think a redesign of those must-have/must-wear pieces is in order, but I can’t fight for everyone and everything. I’m new to this activism thing. Instead, I’m going to fight for our rights as patients. Patients who have schedules and places to be and a modicum of decency. After wearing that horrible paper gown today for 45 minutes, my doctor finally tapped on the door and apologized for her tardiness. At this point, the pretend elastic in my maxi skirt had given way and I was desperately clutching it in one hand. In the other hand, I was fanning myself while trying to keep the crop top from opening up all the way and slipping off. You’d think wearing next to nothing would make a person cold, but not me. After 30 minutes of waiting, my anxiety about the whole appointment had ratcheted up to the point of near hyperventilation. And let me just tell you, that outfit is not breathable. No moisture wicking going on there. No stink guard like my workout clothes.
Which brings me to my cause. Airline passengers fought for the right to return to the gate if they found themselves waiting on a plane for more than 2 hours. They are uncomfortable. They are hungry. They are wasting their time. As a patient, I think if a doctor is 30 minutes or later to your appointment, you should have the right to rip off that darn paper thing, trash it and refuse to put it back on. It’s up to the doctor to figure out how they are going to do the exam. You did your time. You wore their tablecloth. You have rights too.
I know doctors are busy people. I know things come up like births and fainting patients, but we must draw the line somewhere. We must fight for decency and the right to be treated like something more than a paper doll. Perhaps I will approach my state Senator with this issue. Perhaps I will dub it “The Paper Doll” debate. Maybe I’ll become famous from all this activism. On second thought, maybe I’ll just go lie down. I had a very stressful day.