The dialogue went something like this: “Dana, you need to come back to the end of the table.” “I’m sorry. Oh…Okay, there. Sorry.” I replied while scooting down the paper covered, sea foam green, vinyl table. And then more chatter; “A little more, please. Just try and relax your knees to the side.”

“Oh, sorry.” And the banter went back and forth like that through the course of a routine exam. Doc would instruct, I would apologize and follow commands the best I could. If my feet could coil into a fist they would. If I could just cooperate while my doctor did this, I would. If only I was like one of those champion women who flip up on one of those tables like a pro, completely at ease with ‘their annual,’ practically assisting their physician by holding the lamp and specimen jar whilst their uterine lining is being scraped for the lab, I would.

But I’m not. Not even close. Luckily for the doctor, my hands can’t reach down and combat them away because they’re busy wrestling with the gown that almost fits. Instead, keeps falling open to the right, then the left, exposing one breast or the other or worse, the large baggie full of warm pudding that has become my abdomen. My mind is preoccupied wishing I wasn’t so uncomfortable with this, I mean, modest doesn’t exactly describe me. Yet there I am, praying the sensation of rubber squeaking over glass as I’m ‘speculated’ ends quickly. 

More pleading from the doctor: “Am I hurting you? You’re scooting away again, I really need you to come back to the edge of the table so I can…” but I interrupt her, repeating myself through clenched teeth that she cannot see, “I’m so sorry… yes, ok. No, you’re not hurting me.” And the fact is, she wasn’t hurting me but I hate this. I always have hated this, and I reckon I always will. Okay, the squeaking is done for now. Hopeful, I say “Oh, wow, that was fast!” But I feel the whiplash in her dreaded comeback, “I haven’t really started yet.”

And then I feel pressure. She’s cranking that thing open and I wonder how wide she opens her windows at home and is she going to need about the same leeway now because I feel a small wind tunnel blowing through me like the inside of a cave. I think I hear the faint howl of a whirling breeze making its way around stalagmites. Although, by now I’m feeling pretty proud of myself because it’s been about forty five seconds since she’s had to ask me to scoot. Still feeling the pressure, I’m suddenly alarmed. I think the pressure I feel is actually gas. I silently pray; if you would please just let me get through this without blowing ass in my doctors face… 

I feel her working in there and the sensation feels equivalent to scraping fifty years of old wallpaper off plaster. I know it’s almost done, but of course not before a post menopausal hot flash decides to join the party. Not just one of those ‘cute,’ frequent little waves of heat, mind you. Nope, this was one of those baby grand mal flashes that give rise to sweaty, tacky skin. The kind that dumps a bucket of water over you from the inside out and deposits a wading pool in your belly button. The kind that you could almost swear others can hear coming on, like pressure relief valves opening on a radiator as steam forces out of every pore. I laid there, condensation pooling in the creases where my legs meet my body beneath the heavy, formless anatomic apron that has become my belly. 

She’s finally done. I’m sure she must know I think I have to fart because I’m now clenching my cheeks with all my might and mentally willing anything of contemplating force to retract back inside my body. I feel a subtle tug of war. She finally pulls that damn platypus billed looking contraption out of me but not without taking a solo hair along and it feels like a plucked guitar string. My vagina slams shut. Sealed like a tomb for another year. It’s the little things!

She spins the metal stirrups back in and helps me into a sitting position. When I’m upright again, I’m mortified as the poundage of my belly blubs onto my lap like a huge batch of bread dough being poured from a bowl. I almost cry. Skin still sticky as it cycles through the evaporation process from the flash, I’m aware of the unpleasant tactile sensation she’s forced to endure as she does the rest of her inspection. I apologize out loud.

My doctor is very thorough, a diagnostic champion that also possesses an empathetic compassion that’s hard to find these days where patient care has been replaced with patient cash. She senses my self inflicted shame and finds a way to shoo it away with a gentle smile and encouraging words about how happy she is with my overall health. The body shaming minimizes (for the time being) and we wrap things up.

I’m left to dress and as I stand up, the tissue paper tablecloth I was laying on comes with me. It is adhered to my thighs, my butt, my back, everything. I turn a little to hop down but it’s still glued to my skin and starts unrolling from the spindle, but not without sending the sound of crinkling paper through the exam room door, out into the hallway. Gotta love the aftermath of a good flash. I physically have to peel away the dry paper stuck to my body, hoping I got it all. 

I look back at the table and ‘make the bed,’ mentally apologizing for…for…for what? I count my apologies over the last half hour. It starts provoking a lot question in my head about why we (women) apologize for so much. It seems we apologize constantly for things we shouldn’t. I apologize anyway. 

Dana Swoyer discovered her writing interests in the fifth grade when she wrote a poem, “What is Spring”. The poem was an assignment that was published in the local newspaper. Small but significant, that publication was the catalyst that encouraged her to write from that day forward. Later in life, she suddenly found herself a single mother of two. To make ends meet, she put her writing dreams on the back burner and earned her degree as a Licensed Radiographer in 1992. In 2002, she also earned credentials as a Licensed Massage Therapist. She is forever grateful that these careers provided a means for her to support her family, and she maintains licensure in both professions. 

Now an empty nester, Dana is more passionate about writing than ever before. She skillfully accommodates any genre, but her favorite material often has a cheeky humor that brings any circumstance to the bright side of the road. She writes with truth and grit, often leaving her readers wondering if they just read a story about themselves. That is her intention. 

She enjoys life with her husband and long time companion Jeff at their home in Ipswich, Massachusetts. When she isn’t writing, she can be found sitting at her potter’s wheel, painting, gardening, or combing the shores of New England, gathering treasures and inspiration.