Saturday, May 04, 2013

Holy Moly

Nearly a year ago, a new mole appeared in the small of my back and even with two mirrors, I couldn't get a good look at it so I finally went to see my dermatologist. To be precise, I went to the office of my dermatologist, whom I have not actually seen in years except in passing as he spends most of his time performing expensive cosmetic procedures while those with unexciting medical issues are relegated to his Physician's Assistant. I have never had a problem with that as she was a lovely young woman who did my yearly skin cancer check and always had time to answer questions.

Unfortunately (for me) she recently married and moved to the east coast so I saw her replacement, a young, good looking man who seemed to have more important things to do. He quickly appraised my new mole, pronounced it harmless and managed to call me "honey," "dear" and "sweetheart" several times in the five minutes he spent with me. I also asked him if an itchy, bleeding rash on both arms was eczema and he said it was, and that I must not be applying body lotion very often. Guilty as charged.  He didn't offer to do my yearly checkup which was a relief because I didn't want to bare my body to him anyway.

I had noticed that the waiting room was full of elderly people as well as a couple of women probably there for Botox in their facelifts, and wondered if Wednesday was Over-60 Day. Do older women like to be called endearments by brash young men they don't know? Does it make them feel young, attractive and flirtatious again? Well, I do not. To say it rings of insincerity does not do it justice -- it clangs. It feels demeaning and condescending. I am not stuffy enough to demand that he address me as Mrs. P_, but my first name will do fine. It should be noted that if I do not introduce myself as "Honey" or "Sweetheart," I do not want to be called such things. What's next, Honey Boo Boo Second Childhood? I think the crux of my displeasure is my suspicion that I'm being lumped together with those REALLY old patients, and that if I were still young he would not call me such things because it would be sexual harassment. Do they assume that a woman past sixty is also beyond having a sexual identity? Or do they merely believe that we are all so silly and starved for attention that we welcome it in any form?

I am looking for a new dermatologist. Dr. X is impressive, but if I am not going to see him personally because my needs are medical, not cosmetic (which pays more, cash on the barrelhead,) I may as well find someone whose staff practices respect. I considered whether I might be finding fault because I'm disappointed that the PA's predecessor is gone but decided I do, indeed, have a legitimate complaint. I thought of mentioning my concerns to the doctor, but that would be awkward if I saw his assistant again. Also, I think the doctor himself has addressed me by endearments in the past, but in his case it seemed to be a sign of genuine affection. Maybe he's a better actor. And he's older. But I've always had the feeling that we liked each other, and he made a point of seeing Flip personally long after I was passed on to his former PA, so I cut him slack. Perhaps the new assistant is modeling himself after his boss and mentor, but he has not earned the right to such familiarity. Maybe I'm making mountains out of molehills, but if I'm uncomfortable and do nothing about it, I am conspiring to be treated without respect. And that is never good for anyone. We teach others how to treat us by what we will or won't tolerate, and if we are paying attention they return the favor. It's kind of like having a manual. Or a personal Bill of Rights.

I am still brooding, however.