I can hear the gynecologist talking on the phone in the next room. A personal call, judging by her cooing tones. Despite the fact that she is ten minutes late, that I am the only person in the tiny waiting room, sitting awkwardly on the overstuffed leather sofa, glancing at my watch periodically to see just how late back to work I am going to be, she is clearly not it any hurry to call me in. Classical music plays on invisible speakers, but does not have the desired soothing effect.
Finally, five minutes later, I am summoned in. I shake her hand, trying not to think about where it spends much of its time, and take a seat, opposite her desk.
“Now, remind me of your name,” she says, looking not nearly as bashful as she should, under the circumstances.
I comply, puzzled as to why she doesn’t have my notes in front of her. What does her secretary do all day? Blog?
“I seem to have misplaced your notes,” she continues, rising to paw through her filing cabinet half-heartedly, but apparently still drawing a blank.
I sigh, and refresh her memory as to the subject of our previous appointment, less than a month ago. Explanations out of the way, I am invited to strip naked (bottom half only) and take up the habitual position on my back, feet in stirrups.
My mother always told me that once you’ve had a baby, any inhibitions you used to have will disappear. I found this to be true during my pregnancy, largely because due to my burgeoning belly, I couldn’t actually get a clear view of what was going on down there anyway, but shortly afterwards, my inhibitions returned to haunt me with a vengeance.
Suffice to say that the snap of latex gloves being pulled on is not a sound I look forward to. Nor is the fact that French gynéco’s all seem to be rather fond of checking for breast lumps with their bare, cold hands, which is not dissimilar to being groped by a particularly inept sixteen year old boy.
Thirty seconds later it is all over, and when I return to my seat, a prescription awaits me. I pull out my cheque book and pen.
“Sixty five euros?” I ask, wondering if my memory can be serving me correctly.
“Oui, Madame, c’est exact,” comes the reply. Her nose is already in the next person’s file, signalling that I have been dismissed.
Inwardly fuming, I write my cheque. Sixty five euros for five minutes of her precious time. Sixty five euros to see a doctor who has misplaced my records, has no idea of my history, and yet feels qualified to make a snappy, thirty second diagnosis. Sixty five euros, all because she has a double-barrelled name and a tiny cabinet from whose windows you can almost, but not quite, make out the Louvre.
I mumble the usual niceties and take my leave, vowing never to cross her threshold again, even if she is within spitting distance of my office.