Do you remember your most embarrassing moment? For years I thought nothing beat the time in sixth grade when I tripped over a fan, falling into a cubby hole cabinet and sending all of its contents flying. And over the years, I’ve logged in a few other “moments.” But as I’ve aged, I’ve experienced far less of those times when I wanted the ground to swallow me whole. Aging has taught me there are worse things than tripping on proverbial banana peels. But all that changed on the day of the test.
I was back at Dr. Phartz’s office. Feeling miserable from a new yet chronic stomach ailment, I needed relief. I was lucky. Dr. Phartz was not only in a good mood that day, but downright compassionate, even showing his sensitive side. Of course, later on, I understood why.
“Pat, you need to have this test.” Dr. Phartz wrote down the name of the procedure on a sheet of paper and slid it across his desk in my direction.
“I’ve never heard of this. Does it hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt but…it’s very embarrassing.”
I’d undergone a variety of GI tests through the years and gotten past the indignities. I just wanted to feel better. However, after listening to Dr. Phartz and doing some online research, I admit I was nervous. But the procedure was conducted in a hospital setting, and I was assured, with the utmost privacy. How bad could it be?
Examination day. My husband and I travel an hour out of town because apparently only one hospital in our fair city performs the test. After the usual checking in, I bid my hubby farewell as Maria, a lovely, dark haired young lab assistant, leads me to a dressing room.
“Now, honey, just take everything off and put your belongings in this locker.” She hands me a gown. “I don’t need to tell you to leave the belt untied,” she winks. I like her. Maybe this won’t be too uncomfortable.
“It smells like mashed potatoes in here,” I say.
“It does,” Maria agrees. “I cook up a batch of instant every morning.”
In the x-ray lab? That’s a new one on me.
Maria emerges from a tiny office adjoining the lab. She’s holding what appears to be a turkey baster.
“What’s that?” I ask but I have a feeling I know the answer.
“These are the mashed potatoes I made but I’ve mixed barium into them. Gotta light you up!”
Dear God. So much for comfort food.
“Okay,” Maria shouts. “Climb down, now! Let’s go!”
I’m so startled out of my carb-induced shock that I practically break my neck getting down from the table.
“We must run over and take a seat so you can eliminate quickly!”
I’d read about this part. Maria is about to take me into a private room with a toilet and a doctor in another lab will watch the, uh, process on a monitor. But that doesn’t happen. Oh, no, it does not.
Maria stands at the end of the x-ray table, flips some sort of lever and a funny looking chair, one that looks a lot like a rigged-up commode, descends. Once it’s in place, Maria wraps a large, black plastic bag over the, uh, bucket and commands me to sit.
“Now, hold it! The doctor will be in in a minute.”
Huh? The doctor is coming in here? Where’s my private room? Oh, God.
“Don’t worry. The doctor will be watching from over there.” Maria points to a television monitor that’s attached to a zip-line on the opposite end of the lab. “Now just try to relax, but not too much!”
Relax? She’s got to be kidding!
“Ah, here comes the doctor,” Maria nearly shouts.
And just when I think things can’t get much worse, in walks not the brisk, efficient woman nor the kindly, elderly gentleman I’d imagined, but Orlando Bloom. Or Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Take your pick of hot young actors. The doctor is not only male but friggin’ gorgeous and I am absolutely mortified.
Nodding in my direction, Dr. Bloom Meyers, aka, Dr. B.M., strides across the room, switches on the monitor, makes some adjustments, then drags the pulley until he and the monitor are right next to me.
“Okay,” B.M. says. “Go ahead.”
This can’t be happening. My worst nightmares were never this bad. Colin Firth or whatever this doctor’s name is wants me to defecate right in front of him.
“Go on, honey,” Maria assures. “We won’t look.”
Oh, gee. That makes me feel so much better. Doc B.M. is only standing five feet from me but he and Maria won’t look. What a relief.
Somehow (disassociation?), I got through it. However, let me tell you, I’ve had to do a lot of unpleasant things in my life but taking a dump in front of a handsome doctor has got to be right up there at the top of the list. Number Two equals Number One, if you get my drift.
It took a while before I recovered from the mortification of what is now my “most embarrassing experience of all time.” I don’t think about it often but one thing’s for sure: when my husband and I go out to dinner, I pass on the mashed potatoes.
*For the curious, the exam I underwent is called a Defecography. The results were normal but I’ve never been the same.