Friday, 3 October 2014

The Chair of Gynecological Doom

I recently had my first ever visit to a Japanese OBGYN, and I found the experience of THE CHAIR* so weird that I wanted to share the story here. Be warned, however, that this post contains words describing "lady bits". If that makes you feel all funny, you should probably stop reading now and never again click on a link that has "gynecological doom" in the title. Pro tip.

So, I needed an ultrasound and I was aware that they are usually done trans-vaginally in Japan, so I was a little psyched out but (I thought) prepared. I was ushered from the general waiting room into the more private inside waiting room, which had pink squishy walls to, I assume, get us feeling all pink-squishy-ready. From time to time a nurse escorted a man through (I assume an expectant father come to see a grainy image of his off-spring), but only after announcing loudly "a MAN is entering the area". I guess the manly presence might ruin all the pink squishy psychological preparation. My turn came and I was told to enter the "internal examination room" and lock the door behind me. It was a small cubical with walls on three sides but instead of a back wall facing the wall with the door, there was a ruched pink curtain. THE CHAIR was facing the door, and I wondered how an examination was going to work in such a tight space. I stripped off my lower half, sat on THE CHAIR and draped a beach towel over my knees. So far, so good. Then THE CHAIR started talking to me in that soothing voice elevators have. "The chair is about to move. Please keep your legs and arms inside the chair and do not try to stand up" she said. The chair swung up into the air then pivoted to face the curtain. "The bottom is about to retract" she said, and the part of the chair I was sitting on dropped away leaving my bum suddenly exposed. THE CHAIR then spread my legs open and, bum hanging free and legs akimbo, propelled me towards and through the pink curtain, up to my waist. Sadly there was no music, but in my head the sound track was something like this:

A nurse on the other side of the curtain asked me to confirm my identity, at which point the complete ridiculousness of the situation overcame me and I burst out laughing. The doctor asked if I would prefer to have the curtain open, to which I responded "yes please", much to the consternation of the nurse who seemed decidedly uncomfortable about putting face-to-vulva as it were. "Foreigners always want to curtain open" the doctor told her, and she shook her head at our foreign strangeness. Behind the curtain was a small office space with some other nurses bustling about doing various things, but perhaps the oddest thing was that the doctor was sitting on a wheeled chair. After a very quick in-out examination he pulled his gloves off and rolled sideways. As the nurse was cleaning me up I heard the doctor already talking to the woman in the next cubical: "This is your baby's head, here's the heart..." and I realised that there may be a whole row of disembodied genitals on bumless chairs poking through ruched pink curtains, waiting for the doctor to roll from one to another. I began to laugh again, as THE CHAIR informed me that we were about to begin moving again. When I got home and told the man person about what had happened he added: "imagine the lab where they design those chairs? Do you think they take turns test-riding them?"

*I think these chairs or similar are used in lots of places (although probably not in conjunction with curtains and voice-overs), but I'd never encountered one in Australia so the whole thing was distinctly strange to me.
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  1. I call it the wonderchair because it lifts and separates -- was just there today enjoying the ride. It's a space saver for sure! They offered to leave the curtain open for me today, too. I accepted.


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