April 28, 2009

A Doctor's Visit

I mentioned back in early February that I was meeting a new doctor. A woman doctor. Our family GP is leaving his practice, and my confidence in him had been rattled after being given the impression on three different occasions that he should have tested for something that he didn't. It's hard to imagine how difficult a doctor's job is, so it's hardly fair for a layman to criticize. However, when your laser technician wonders why you haven't been tested for hormone abnormalities before being referred to a expensive cosmetic procedure that may or may not work, you've got to wonder too.

Last week I had my first physical with her, so I was furiously filling out the forms about my medical history before she came in. Then she reviewed them with me, and noticed the question marks beside some of the other diagnoses I've had over the years. I explained that because my last doctor would often say, "It's probably this," I wasn't sure if that counted as an actual diagnosis. Then I ventured, "There are some other things I wasn't sure if I should put on the list." I named hirsutism last. Despite having this blog where I talk about the condition once a week, it was still much harder than I expected to actually say, out loud, "I have hirsutism."

She looked down at me from the examining table where she put my forms. "Really? It's not prominent at all."

I felt my throat growing thick. My voice came out strained and much too loud. "Well, yeah, that's because I--" I had to swallow here. "I'm very--anal about--about shaving..."

"Shaving? Shaving usually makes it worse."

"It does?" I was agog. I'd always been convinced that the theory that shaving made hair grow in thicker and darker was an old wives' tale. To have a medical professional say it so matter-of-factly took me completely aback, and I didn't even have a chance to ask how on earth it could make things worse. I had never myself observed any worsening in my condition while I was shaving.

"I would say waxing."

I shook my head. "Then I'd have to wait until the hair grew back long enough before I could..."

She nodded, smiling. "I see. Is it just here?" She motioned to her jaw as I had been doing.

"Here, here, and here," I touched the areas of my face and neck, "my chest, and my stomach."

Of course she wanted to know if my cycle was regular, and of course, to add to the mystery, mine always is. She asked if I had considered laser hair removal and I explained in a nutshell what had happened there. (For those of you just joining me, I have two entires about it here and here.) I emphasized the lack of testing beforehand, and she asked what had become of the test I finally did have. I told her I never did find out. So she said she would have me tested for free androgens again, and optimistically mentioned options after we knew what was causing it.

As she was feeling my neck and jaw for the usual lumps and bumps she touched my chin and said, "Ah, I see what you mean." And as she felt along my abdomen for the same, she said again, "I see what you mean. I really think you should try waxing. Maybe not for the face, but for everything else."

I still didn't have it in me to ask her why. Talking about it out loud felt so awkward, and it seemed to me like I really had to restrain myself--or perhaps just my tears. But after I have my tests done (eeyuck), I'm to make another appointment to come in and discuss the results with her. I'll ask her about the evils of shaving then. Considering how long it's been since the last time I was tested for weird hormonal things, this is a big step forward for me.

I just hope I can remember that when I'm facing down the needle. I can't even get my ears pierced without nearly fainting. But then afterward, I'll regain my senses, suck on a candy, and I'll walk out of there none the worse for wear. And know that things have been set in motion that may get me some questions answered.

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