Everything is so strange these days, nothing seems strange at all.
This morning I downloaded an app that allowed me to take part in a virtual examination by my plastic surgeon, a three-month follow-up visit with the doctor who built my new boobs from scratch after I lost the originals to breast cancer.
Which is how I found myself in the oddest of all the Zoom meetings I’ve attended thus far. My doctor appeared on screen, smiling big, his face-mask lowered beneath his chin so we could really talk. He described his environment to me and told me exactly where the other people in the office were, all by way of assuring me that what happened next would be strictly between him and me. After confirming that I, too, enjoyed total privacy, he gave me a moment to “disrobe.”
Like you and everyone else who has any kind of business whatsoever to conduct in recent weeks, I’ve spent countless hours looking at my own face on screen. So maybe that made it easier to pretend this was just another Zoom encounter. I presented myself, I turned to the left, I turned to the right, I used my hands to maneuver things so the doctor could get the best possible look at his handiwork. I manipulated things in such a way as to confirm that, yes, the structures at hand were nice and soft.
I’m single and have done my share of online dating, so I’d be lying if I said I’d never done anything remotely like this before. But, still, this was different: so cool, so clinical, so matter-of-fact, so what-are-you-having-for-lunch-when-we’re-done-and-by-the-way-how-are-the-kids?
The doctor said I was healing beautifully, that everything looked healthy, that we’d meet in person (!) in three months to talk about 3D tattoos. I put my blouse back on, left that Zoom meeting, and went right into a Zoom staff meeting at work.
My dear friend Elizabeth and I, Before Covid (the new B.C.), used to meet every other Monday evening at Park & Oak restaurant for dinner and drinks. Now we get together almost once a week via FaceTime to share a cocktail and talk and laugh. She was curious about my telehealth session; when I described it to her, she burst out laughing. “That reminds me of the time you had that mammogram…”
A few years ago, I showed up at the regular place for my regular mammogram; I’d become an old pro, having started screening earlier than many women because my mom had had breast cancer. I stood in the little changing room, behind the curtain, and undressed, placing my clothing in the tiny locker and surveying the unsatisfying selection of outdated People magazines while I waited for the technician to retrieve me.
To signal my readiness, I swept back the curtain.
The technician arrived. She bent double, hand to mouth, laughing until she was gasping.
Other technicians heard the commotion and emerged from their rooms to see what was up. They all bent double, hand to mouth, laughing until they were gasping.
In preparation for a mammogram, all you need to remove is your clothing from the waist up. The half-length gown that’s provided serves as a clue: you don’t have to take your pants off.
And, yet, there I stood.