There’s a Flap for That

On a scale of 1-10 for embarrassing posts, I’m pretty sure my kids will rate this one a 15+.

To be honest, a lot of people probably won’t find it too tactful, but after reading “10 Things Every Woman Wants to Say to Their Gynaecologist” yesterday – and knowing today might be the dreaded day that I would actually want to say those things to my gynecologist – I had to share what came to be one of my most pleasant experiences in the realm of what we all like to call in code … “women’s things.”

There are things about this country I truly love, and there are things about this country I truly can’t quite figure out. And there are things about this country I truly do not like, but the medical care is not one of them.

"Sawadee ka," she says, as she wais ever so politely in her old-school nurse's hat.

“Sawadee ka,” she says, as she wais ever so politely in her old-school nurse’s hat.

Thailand doesn’t really do “clinics,” as we know them in America. If you want something or have something or need to know about something you think you might have, you go to the hospital. It is there you will find hundreds of cute, teeny-tiny, smiling Thai women dressed in nurse’s uniforms you might see in a movie based in the 1940s. I’m talking hats and all.

Generally (or at least today), someone greets you at the door and asks you what your major malfunction might be. OK, they actually wai (see cool nurse’s hat photo), greet you with a polite “sawadee ka (hello)” and say something like, “Where would you like to go today?”

“Well,” you think, “I would not like to go to the place where they are going to smash my boobs and prod my nether regions.” But you say, “I am here to make an appointment for a mammogram and a pap test, thank you.”

You are whisked away to Point A. Here you are directed to fill out a simple, one-page form. As you’re picking up the form, a nice woman snaps your picture. As you hand in the form five seconds later, the nice woman hands you an official membership card that she whipped up out of nowhere as you were filling out your one-page form.

And just like that, you’re in like Flynn. (From where did this phrase originate anyway? It’s weird. Well, as is my nature to know all things trivial, I looked it up. It is a rather seedy reference to Errol Flynn, and it works here, so I’m leaving it.) No appointment. No phone call the day before. No waiting. Within 15 minutes, my feet were in stirrups, and some sweet-voiced lady Thai doctor had nearly finished with what I’ve put off having done for nearly four years. (Please, all you folks at home, do not leak this information to Nikki.)

I was up and outta there before I had time to consider any one of those 10 things every woman wants to tell her gynecologist, which leads me to the whole point of why I’m causing my children (who I know secretly read all my blogs) to blush 50 shades of red (the name of the sequel when Anastasia Steele realizes she might benefit from an annual exam) in the first place – the article!

My favorite reference in that article was Number 5: Do you have something a little bigger than a tissue paper doily that I can cover with?

I think we are all familiar with the tissue paper doily. Frankly, and I am THE most modest person on the planet, I’d rather prance out in the hall naked than try to awkwardly cover up with a Kleenex while simultaneously trying to keep the noise I’m making from scooting around on the crinkly-paper-covered table to a minimum. You can relate to this emotion, no? Which will make my next statement and accompanying photo reason for every woman in America to book a ticket to Thailand just shy of the anniversary date of your next “women things” appointment.

CHECK. THIS. OUT. LADIES! Behold, what I am calling, simply, “Pap Smear Pants.”

Pants, women! You could literally walk around town in these puppies. They are made of comfy, machine-washable fabric. They tie at the waist! They have a flap in front AND a flap in back! When my exam was finished, seriously, I just wanted to leave them on.

“Can I just wear these to my mammogram?” I wanted to say. “I just am really enjoying my visit here today. Could you see me again tomorrow?” OK, that might be taking it a bit far, but really, it was almost that pleasant.

My ninja uniform! I cropped out the top of my head because I had a googly-eyed look on my face.

My ninja uniform! I cropped out the top of my head because I had a googly-eyed look on my face.

And the mammogram gear was almost as peachy. I felt a bit like a ninja, only I couldn’t instantly climb up a wall and flip in the air and land on my feet, … and my uniform was brown and orange. But it was still pretty cozy, and I’m not kidding the lady who did my ultrasound looked like the queen of Thailand. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t the queen of Thailand, but it did make me feel a bit more relaxed thinking the queen was smearing my boobies with cold gel. OK, maybe it shouldn’t have, but it did. Plus, she was really nice.

And did I mention my escort? That’s right, and that’s the last thing I will mention about my day of nudity and weird lubricants. There are women in Thai hospitals whose sole jobs are just to show people where to go – and I don’t mean in a way we all usually want to tell the gynecologist where to go after he (yes, I’m stereotyping) says, “This might be a little cold.” I mean, this young lady physically shows you where to go, and goes with you – from room to room and floor to floor; she even pushes the elevator buttons for you – until your annual experience is completed.

And that’s it. That was my day. I walked into the hospital to inquire about making an appointment for a day that normally leaves me on the verge of tears with the feeling of being politely violated, and I walked out, less than an hour later, prodded, gelled and properly pantsed. Smiling.

Just for cliché sake:
Taxi ride to Bangkok – $10.68
Annual exam/mammogram combo – $253 (covered 100 percent by insurance)
Pap smear pants – priceless

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