Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The X-ray Incident

I have scoliosis.

I found this out after 6 years of my mom yelling at me to stop popping and cracking my back and neck pretty much constantly. But it HURTS.

Summer after sophomore year of college, I had an awesome internship at an off-Broadway theatre festival. This involved a lot of heavy lifting and moving, and I didn't have a pillow in my tiny NYU dorm room. By the time I got home, I was in AGONY. I begged Dr. Dad to check out my back. After a lecture on how much of a hypochondriac I am, Dr. Dad finally ran two fingers down my spine.

And checked it again. And called my mom over and she felt it. "Yup, there's a definite curve there. We should get you in to see a doctor."

Are you keeping track, world? I was RIGHT and my parents were WRONG.

A few weeks later I went to the doctor and got all the routine tests done before getting shipped off to the X-ray room. He was a pleasant chap, but I wished he'd stressed "You were in pain for YEARS and your parents just DIDN'T BELIEVE YOU?" so I could milk the emotional duress and maybe get like a car or something out of parental guilt. No such luck.

I head over to X-raytopia, and the two female techs ask my mom to stand outside. There is a cool stand-up X-ray in the center of the room. It looks like a teleporter from Star Trek. I dutifully remove my piercings and jewelry, clutch at my flimsy hospital gown protectively (WHY did I wear a thong today?), and get ready for 30 seconds of pretending I'm getting beamed up.

Except the techs can't find their consent forms. And my bloodwork hasn't been processed in the lab yet.


I'm not, of course. I cheerfully tell them I know I'm not pregnant, and they can X-ray me with no worries. They look at me skeptically. They don't believe me. They think I'm lying.

"Is there any way possible you might be pregnant? Even sex with a condom can lead to pregnancy."

I'm thinking to myself that perhaps immaculate conception IS a possibility, but I think an angel was supposed to give me a heads up first. I don't want to sound snarky, so I explain the basic facts:

"Look, I'm not really sexually, um, my boyfriend's been out of town since I last had my period. I'm certain, there's no way -"
"Have you had sex with anyone else since then?"

Not only did they think I was lying, they thought I was a WHORE. Maybe it was the underwear. Next time I'm wearing frumpy gray granny panties to the doctor's.

So I wracked my brain, trying to find some way to convince these women, who still couldn't find their stupid consent forms, that I was most certainly, undoubtably NOT PREGNANT. Aha!

"Three days ago! I went to the gynecologist! I have not even TOUCHED a guy in three days."
"Do they test for pregnancy there?"

WHAT. Do you know what a gynecologist is? How are you working at a hospital? Actually, how are you a thirtysomething woman and not know that? I fear for your ladyparts.
But I tried to remain calm. Explaining what a gynecologist is, they still seemed skeptical. They shuffled around. They tried to explain "protocol" to me. What should have taken 5 minutes was now an agonizing debate about my womb. I couldn't take it anymore (and it was lunchtime, dammit).

"Look, I'm a doctor's kid. I KNOW what will happen if you expose a fetus to radiation. I'm not just saying that I'm not pregnant because my mom's right outside, or because I don't want you to think I'm a whore (coughcough, which I'm NOT). I really just want to get this over with because I'm uncomfortable and my back hurts. I give you verbal, informed consent. If GOD FORBID I am pregnant, I will not hold you or the hospital accountable for my mutant Chernobyl baby. I promise. PLEASE. Run the tests."

They ran the tests.

I was not pregnant.


My spine, however, had two nice-sized though not back-brace worthy, curves. I started going to physical therapy to strengthen up the muscles but was still a little self-conscious about the whole back-deformity thing.

Later that week, Dr. Dad came home from work and tossed something white and plastic at me. It was a spine keychain given to him by a drug rep. Something seemed slightly off about it...

"Get it? It's a little spine... but it's crooked... just like your back! Hahahaha"

Thanks, Dr. Dad. Thanks a lot.

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