“The deadline for my camp physical form to be turned in is tomorrow,” Sam conveniently announces at 6:00 in the evening.
“Of course it is Sam,” I reply, not hiding my irritation for this last minute surprise. He may be transgender, but he is just like any other 14 year-old in the communication (or lack thereof) department. So off we go to the clinic that is located within the local super store – the only place I know of where you can get a physical at 6pm for $24.95. Upon entering the clinic we find that the three exam room doors are closed. Sara, the part-time medical receptionist and avid teen magazine reader parts with the headphone connected to an iPod just long enough to explain there is a 20-minute wait, and hands us a pager. I am skeptical, wondering if there are really patients behind those doors or if it is a ploy to get us to shop, but I don’t complain because I appreciate the fact that I can get my kid a physical and my dog a 20 pound bag of food all in one stop.
When the pager begins to vibrate we head back to the clinic where we meet Physician’s Assistant Ed, a well-meaning, geeky 50 year-old man who is proudly wearing a stethoscope around his neck like it is an Olympic gold medal. Prior to meeting Ed, Sam and I guessed we could be in and out of the clinic within 5 minutes. We figured a quick listen of his heart, a peek into his eyes and ears and we would be good to go. But no, it was painfully clear Ed was going to be thorough at his job and intended to review and check off every box on that form. All 75 of them.
2. Ears, Nose, Throat
3. Mouth and Teeth
5. Cardiovascular (which included Sam dropping and doing 10 push-ups, much to his horror and my entertainment)
6. Chest & Lungs
9. Genitalia – Hernia
When he got to number 9, Ed kindly asked me to leave the exam room. I asked why and he said, “Because I don’t know any 14 year-old boy who wants to have his mom in the room when I do what I am about to do next.”
Sam looked at me with eyes as wide as saucers and the thought bubble over his head, for which only a mother can read said, “Say something quick damn it!”
And so I smiled and calmly said, “Well actually, Sam is transgender, meaning he is biologically female, so I am sure he won’t mind if I stay.”
You can cue the screeching brakes sound effect about right now, because I am sure that was the noise Ed heard in his head. He went from Mr. Thorough to Mr. How-fast-can-I-get-these-people-the-hell-out-of–my-exam-room. He quickly ran a solid line down the entire ‘Normal’ box list on the right side of the form on pages 2 and 3 and then skipped to the bottom of the last page where he signed his name within 5 seconds flat. With that he thanked us for using the clinic and showed us and our 20-pound bag of dog food to the door.
When we got out to the parking lot I looked at Sam and said, “I’m sorry honey, was that embarrassing for you?” To which he replied, “God no – we get to go out for dinner 30 minutes sooner than I thought we would at the rate Ed was originally going.” Sam definitely has the right attitude about these unfortunate events that seem to happen to us more than the average family.
I knew that Sam was healthy or I would not have allowed Ed’s apparent prejudices affect the job he was hired to perform. That said, I have to admit I found his level of unease quite surprising as well as disappointing for a medical professional. And that is reason #289 why I am blogging to spread awareness…because everyone should be able to receive respectful medical attention without the caregiver visibly short-circuiting just because a patient’s mind and body do not match.