There are three questions I dread each year during my physical: “Do you do examine your breasts monthly, do you drink more than one glass of wine or alcohol a day, and what is the date of your last period?" So dreaded, that I lie to the first two, and mentally shut down on the last.
I don’t like to lie, but the looks of horror by healthcare professionals at my negligence of breast self-exams, or the admission of daily wine consumption drove me to it—these lies make them happy. “Yes, I do regular monthly self-exams, and yes, I have one small glass of wine each night.” These lies put to memory; I struggle over the approaching ‘period’ inquisition.
Waiting, I’m creating my answer. Thirty days hath September—no that's number of days in a month. Months that end in an "R?" No, those are the months you can eat oysters. Crap. Let's see, ovulation is every 21 days—no, I think that’s Leap Year—is it 27 days? The nurse interrupts my crafting, “Date of last period?"
I’ve got nothing. "Do you want the first day of my last period or the last day of my last period?" Knowing neither, but believing this response gives credence to my delay.
The nurse is holding her pencil poised over my chart. "Either is fine."
Stalling unsuccessful, grasping for some memory of my last period, I ask, “May I call my husband?”
“Your husband knows the date of your last period?”
“Well…” Remembering, I see myself procuring a last square of chocolate from the freezer. My husband, spotting me, is demanding half. Lunging, tripping over one of our dogs, he’s grabbing for my now empty hand, and lands hard on one knee. His limp is almost gone, but his desire for revenge very much alive. Deciding against bringing my husband into this conversation, I change my answer.
“Three Weeks, is that your answer?"
Final answer—studying her, as the Jeopardy song is plays in my head, I chance it. “Yes, three weeks.”
Apparently satisfied, except in need of a specific date, she’s looking around for a calendar. Finding one she counts backwards. "So that would be February 18?"
Feeling I’ve done my part by giving her my sweet three-week answer, I think she should come up with the date, but want to stay on her good side, so agree.
Glad to have that behind us, and anticipating her next question, I am mentally rehearsing the lies I’ve prepared. The nurse looks up, “Have you had a colonoscopy?”
I hear the question, but can’t stop the practiced response, “Yes, I do regular monthly self-exams.”
WARNING! 50+YEAR-OLDS! DOCTORS HAVE ADDED A NEW QUESTION FOR THE AGED PATIENT. IT’S ON COLONOSCOPY—THE RIGHT ANSWER IS NOT—I REPEAT NOT—THAT YOU DO YOUR OWN SELF-EXAM.
Trying to win favor, and remove that FREAK SHOW look from her face, I smile confessing, “I drink wine, lots of wine—everyday.”