Many years ago, I discovered a small painful lump near my belly button. I immediately assumed it was something horrible and I was going to die. Then I did some research online and discovered that it was most likely an umbilical hernia. It hurt when I bent down or picked up my kids, so I saw my doctor who recommended surgery, and referred me to a surgeon who she said was excellent.
My sister kept me company while I waited in the surgeon’s office. He showed up late, and was short, round, and rude. He marched over, told me to lift my shirt, felt for the lump, manipulated it until I was yelping in pain, then released me and said, “I can fix that.” Then he added in a tone dripping with condescension, “And I know you’re worried about how you’ll look in a bikini, but you don’t have to be. I’ll make sure you look fine.” And then he left. He had spent all of two minutes with me and hadn’t even bothered to describe the operation.
“Jerk,” I said, and my sister agreed. We did whatever paperwork we needed to get out of there and then got on the elevator–at the same time that the surgeon did. My sister whispered something funny in my ear–and I’m so annoyed that now I can’t remember what it was. I think she compared the doctor to some animated character or something. At any rate, it was PERFECT and I started giggling and so did she, and suddenly all the power was reversed: the surgeon who had been so condescending and almighty in the exam room turned bright red while the two young women laughed their heads off. I could almost have felt sorry for him–but I didn’t.
Anyway, I told my internist I didn’t like the guy, and she sent me to another surgeon, a woman this time, who was as kind and gentle and respectful as this guy had been brash and arrogant. So I agreed to do the surgery with her. The operation went fine. I had a slight problem recovering from the anesthesia (which led me to the brilliant conclusion that vomiting after stomach surgery sucks), but otherwise, all was good.
Until all the bandages came off and I discovered that my stomach was lumpy and uneven: one side was rumpled and stuck out. At the post-surgery appointment, the kind, sweet, lovable surgeon told me not to worry, that it would settle down and be fine.
Here’s the thing though: it NEVER did. While I haven’t had a medical problem with it, my stomach remains lumpy, ugly, and unsightly to this day. Sit-ups don’t help. I can’t wear a bikini or anything that might rise up and show the inches above my waistline. I have to wear long tops that hide everything.
So sometimes I think about that first surgeon and his sexist, arrogant assumption that the main thing I cared about was how my stomach would look in the future.
And I think, “Why the HELL didn’t I go with him?”
Like I said. A story with no moral.