Read the fine print

This is a very ordinary story with no particular punchline.

It started seven weeks ago when I made an appointment to see the doctor. I saw the doctor last week at our local health clinic. I live in Portugal and have finally got to the point when I understand most of what I hear, and can respond appropriately without too much stuttering. Except this time, because the doctor was Spanish, and spoke very fast indeed (in Spanish). I managed to convey my problems adequately and answer her questions. I just barely managed to catch the gist of what she said to me in response to mine. The consultation was successful in that one of the pieces of paper was a referral on a computer-generated form to somewhere in the next town where I was to have a scan of my gynaecological bits. I am careful to read through the form and check that it is indeed in my name, and my patient number is correct. I also pore over the words describing what parts of me exactly are going to be scrutinised. I think I have done the necessary.

The appointment is duly made for 15:30 on All Saints Day, which was a public holiday last year, but is no longer. I arrive and check myself in (with a bladder fits to bursting, as instructed). My form is examined. Guess what? The little box which says “male” has been checked – and not the correct one in my case, “female”. For a scan of the uterus.

I tell the woman at the counter that I am somewhat perplexed, as during the consultation with the aforementioned Spanish doctor, she listened to my breathing, and my heart. Perhaps when she did so, she did not notice that I was female on account of my small breasts? I have the nurse in stitches. She is lucky that her bladder is not as full as mine.

Nevertheless, the form is problematic because it states that I am male. I am permitted to have the scan, but before I collect the scan results next week, I have to visit the health centre in my village and ask for a new form to be issued which states my gender correctly.) What a lovely time-consuming chore that will be!

I really do not mind if the partially blind, or the truly unobservant, or people who are vastly culturally different from me mistake me for male – although I fail to understand why this happens. But this time really took the biscuit. The doctor had her stethoscope on my chest, for goodness’ sake. Oh, and I defy any male to cross his legs the way I do, with one leg  wrapped entirely around the other for as long as I did in that consultation.

Everything's normal, right?
Everything’s normal, right?

I suppose the moral of the story is that one should always read the fine print before one leaves the building – and ensure one consults a doctor who is also good at clicking the mouse in the correct box.


Post script: I discover today that I can blame the computer for the above gross anomaly. Apparently, based on one’s name, the computer automatically assign’s one a gender .  That makes me feel so much more like a woman!

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