Things You Cannot Unsee Revisited
As I mentioned in my last post, There are many many things you are exposed to in veterinary medicine that you can never ‘unsee’. Right now I am on the topic of human body parts. Body parts that you wish you hadn’t seen. If you missed my last post check out Things You Can’t Unsee Part 1: The Rash.
This is another category of surprise naked that can be PTSD inducing – that is elderly folks. I understand this a little more as I get older, but only a little. After a certain age and stage, I just don’t really care if I am in sweat pants and a t-shirt – it was more important to go get the chocolate NOW than to dress up and put on make up. I get it. To a degree.
Mrs. MuuMuu’s Boob
Now Mrs. MuuMuu, she only ever wore various colored sleeveless, scoop necked house dresses and house slippers. And that was all she wore. I know for fact she never wore a bra, but thankfully I never had the opportunity to verify whether she wore any underwear or not. Another thing I learned accidentally about Mrs. MuuMuu was that she had a unilateral mastectomy at some point in her life. We never talked about it. That would have been the usual way to find out about such a significant personal thing. However, such mundane ways to find out about things are not the stuff upon which veterinary clinics are founded.
Instead, she would come in with her cat in a carrier and plop the carrier onto our exam table. Our tables were slightly taller than usual counter height table, and very long. They made a great place for someone to rest an arm and chat. After plopping the cat down, she would invariably prefer to remain standing, and then she would reach down and grab her one remaining breast beneath the house dress from someplace around about her waist level. She would heft it upward and proceed to deposit it still within the confines of the loose material onto the exam table.
The very first time she reached down, I was paying more attention to the cat and sort of figured she was reaching for her purse to deposit on the table off her shoulder. No one likes to stand around with some old heavy purse dragging on their back. Oh no. Nothing so mundane as a purse. Imagine my initial surprise when I realize it was her breast that had been plopped upon my exam table. It was her single breast she raised up to plop to a rest on the table. All told I reckon it was a significant weight off her back to do so too.
Now usually that lone breast stayed within the confines of the sleeveless, U necked house dress. But not always. And there lay the problem – almost literally. It would pool there and threaten to emerge depending on how she moved or gestured. And she was an animated speaker with her hands. Maybe it would come spilling out the neck, or maybe it would try spilling out the spacious arm hole. You just never could be sure if it would appear, or where it might appear when it did. That one boob just lurked there, waiting to to ambush your retinas at any given moment.
She never cared if it emerged. She would just nonchalantly scoop it back in, IF she noticed. But you can bet we noticed. I am fairly certain there was always a betting pool among the staff on whether it would escape or not and from which hole – neck or arm. I am pretty sure that I may not have always heard what she was saying about the cat while trying to NOT concentrate on what her remaining breast was getting up to on my exam table.
When we were finished she would stand up and the boob would slide back down to its usual resting place without further ado. And off Mrs. Muumuu would go, back into the world with her singular cat and her singular breast. Thankfully the cat was always better confined and better behaved than the boob. That particular body part was not a particularly pretty one, but it surely memorable.
Nobody can make stuff this good up. And nobody teaches you in veterinary school how to maintain a pleasant smile and professional composure for this stuff either. It takes time. Lots and lots of time and practice.