I am the squeamish sort. I have fainted twice at doctors’ offices. I also passed out watching a film about the heart in high school biology. I have had to lie on the cold tiled floor of the bathroom outside a medical office after having a couple of moles removed. I have had ear and eye exams interrupted as the light-headed, cold, clammy symptoms surfaced. Yes, I am not just squeamish. I am a medical anomaly.
Any doctor’s visit brings uncertainty and anxiety. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, the specialist refused to put me under because I didn’t have anyone to drive me home. (I felt a cab would be fine.) He had barely begun when my semi-controlled moaning noises became too much for him. He screamed at me and then said, “I don’t care. You’re going under!” Fine by me.
Another doctor who seemed homophobic in the first place did not take kindly to my skittishness and went out of his way to make the examination unpleasant. In the end, he stated that he did not want to see me again. Again, fine by me.
I carefully selected my current doctor, putting out feelers among friends. Wanted: doctor with amazing patience for nervous patients. Thankfully, I found just the right person. He is a gay doctor who matter-of-factly asks the relevant questions about sexual health and seems genuinely amused by my nervous, fast-paced banter and by the bottle of O.J. that I bring along in case I feel faint. He takes his time. I get the impression that he extends the chat during the examination, viewing my behaviours as a quirky change of pace. At the very least, it must provide for interesting banter in the break room.
Today was my first appointment in three years. Yes, even though I have found the right doctor, I don’t go out of my way to visit. The office is one of my few exposures to the gay world as the other doctors are also gay and the waiting room is always filled with gay patients who intently eye the entrance door every time a new person walks in. Never thought of going to the doctor as an opportunity for cruising.
Beside the coat rack was a stack of the local gay newspaper, Xtra West, which I haven’t come across since moving out of Vancouver’s West End in June. As I waited forty-five minutes—okay, it seems my doctor dawdles with all his patients—I noticed a couple of assistants retrieving files and calling patients’ names. The assistants were both hunky, buff eye candy in tight shirts. My gosh, my doctor’s office is the gay equivalent to Hooters!
It’s all a bit surreal, but I suppose the übergay atmosphere provides enough distraction to take the edge off. I passed my physical by not fainting. The doctor did have to say, “Just relax” nine times—yes, I counted as a way to amuse myself. Still, I didn’t even reach for the orange juice and this is the first time that I can recall that the tin paper sheet on the examining table wasn’t soaked through when I got up. Progress! A phone number might have been a nice bonus, but that would have been pushing it.
Medical breakthrough? Sure. Medical miracle? Forget about it.