I have tremendous respect for women. My mom is one. After seeing Cool Mum go through two pregnancies, I witnessed a woman’s strength and resolve. And recently, I learned just how hard it is to be a woman.
During a game of wallyball a few years ago, I jumped and felt a little *pop* in my lower left back. My back tightened for the rest of the game, but I didn’t think much of it. The next morning, I tried to get out of bed and the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life (and I’ve seen Waterworld) burned in my back and left leg. When I finally took a step, my knees buckled from the pain.
I have tremendous respect for doctors. My dad is one. But I never go to them – not when I’m sick, not when I broke the little bone in my left pinky, and not then. I had full faith in my Filipino body to heal itself, and my back got better over a long 6 or so weeks. However, my back never fully healed, and I’ve since had persistent pain in my lower back whenever I put strain on it.
Now with an increasingly heavy Cool Baby to swing around, I decided to take action. I went to the doctor, and he prescribed an X-ray. I’ve had MRIs and ultrasounds, so I figured this would be no big deal.
At the radiology clinic, after a long wait and an annoying guy bellowing into his cell phone next to the DO NOT TALK ON YOUR CELL PHONE sign, I was led to the X-ray floor along with another dude. The elevator girl told Dude to go into the changing room and take off his shirt and put on a gown. She told me the same. Yes. No embarrassing breezy gown action for me.
When I put the gown on, I couldn’t remember whether it ties in the front or the back. The back sounded right, so I tried my best to tie it behind my neck. I took a seat in the waiting area with a revealing neckline that would make Dolly Parton blush. Dude sat down a minute later with his gown neatly tied in the front.
Radiology Girl called me up. She looked me over, frowned, and commanded, “You need to take your pants off, too.” But Elevator Girl said… I dutifully marched to the changing room, pantsed myself, and tried to do the best tie job I can do behind my neck and waist. I heard EG tell someone, “Remove your bra and pants.” Don’t listen to her! I bet the lady’s only here for a broken toe.
As I was fumbling with the gown, RG asked if I’m ready yet. Geez, give a guy a minute or ten. I slunk out and rushed past the waiting area. Dude was smirking in his front-tied gown and jeans, I’m sure of it.
The X-ray went without incident. Then RG instructed me to sit and wait for the results. Can’t I change first?? Before I could protest, she was gone and I acknowledged that we’d have to redo it if the prints or whatever didn’t come out right. I sat in my seat and realized to my horror that Braless and Pantsless Lady with the Broken Toe was sitting across from me. Thus began a most awkward ten minutes.
Sitting like I normally do, since normally I wear pants or shorts in public, I realized that BPLBT could see right up my gown, which hung like a skirt on me. I went into crisis mode and evaluated my options:
1. MOVE TO ANOTHER SEAT
This was the layout of the waiting area. (click to enlarge)
Although there were three free seats, I only had one viable choice. Seat 3 would not work because then Dude would be able to see up my gown. Better than BPLBT, but I preferred an option that did not involve someone seeing up my gown.
Seat 2 was not good because, though no one would see up my gown, BPLBT was braless and pantsless, and she probably knew that I knew it, so it would be all sorts of creepy for me to get up and sidle next to her.
That left Seat 1, which would’ve been a little weird sidling next to Dude, but we could all agree it was the best choice. However, I realized that if I moved, my whole back-tied gown might fall off. I was stuck.
2. QUICKLY SPREAD MY LEGS AND PUSH THE MIDDLE DOWN
Though my movements may not be as spry and cat-like as in my youth, I thought about quickly spreading my legs and pushing the gown down in the middle. Then I realized that if I spread ’em, the gown might hike up to the point where there would not be any gown to push down, in effect flashing BPLBT and earning yet another arrest for indecent exposure (not really).
3. KEEP MY LEGS TOGETHER, HOWEVER UNCOMFORTABLE, AND SIT LIKE A STATUE
And I did just that.
All the while, Dude waited, with his front-tied gown and pants, sitting spread-eagle, mocking me. And then Annoying Guy came in, smacking his gum, and planted himself in Seat 3. Just to annoy me, he crossed his legs.
To bide the agonizing time, I wrote this blog post in my head and repeated it to myself until RG came and said that everything was good and I could leave. I carefully stood up and fled the waiting area, leaving behind a cloud of dust and my dignity.
In the dressing room, I front-tied my gown to see what it would look like. It looked like ridiculous. I almost took a picture with my phone, but figured that I had had enough weird behavior for one radiology appointment.
As I exited the clinic, the ladies at the desk, who were expressionless earlier, seemed way too happy to see me, all smiling ear-to-ear. They had to have been watching me on some security cameras. I smiled sheepishly and left, pretty sure of their two prevailing thoughts:
- Now you know how we feel.
Yes, I do.