Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Gender Bender

I have need of a surgeon. Not any surgeon, but one who specializes in damaged hands. The years of toil have taken there toll on the tendons connecting each finger.  The tissues around each tendon have been injured so frequently that each has developed a thick hard rope like band that roots in the tendons and causes a lot of nerve damage.   Most of my once powerful grip has gone and I can no longer open bottles and jars. Cycling long distances cause each hand to freeze in closed positions for a few post ride hours.

The lovely Sheila, my bride of thirty nine years, recently became frustrated watching me struggle doing the simplist task in obvious pain.  She researched hand surgery in Plano, Texas and found a surgeon who had experience with my condition.  She called his office, talked to his office manager and set an appointment.

On the appointed day, she drove me to the clinic to meet the surgeon.  We pulled into the parking lot of a new Plastic Surgery Complex close to our home. I immediately felt uncomfortable about going inside.  Why a plastic surgeon? This somehow felt wrong to me. I looked at Sheila and she sensed my anxiety. It's alright, I talked to the manager a long time. She said he specialized in hands. It will be alright!

We walked into the nearly empty new office. It was beautifully designed with modern furniture, arranaged fresh flowers and soothing music. I almost relaxed until I took a closer look at the other patient. She was the tallest woman I had ever seen. At 6'3" or 6'4" she had wide shoulders stretching the edges of her blouse and huge arms that strained the hems of the arm holes. Her short tight skirt clung to her muscled thighs.

The receptionist smiled as she gave me the normal paperwork found in each office and asked for my health insurance card. I set down and began completing the forms.  Suddenly, the other patient stood and teetered uneasily on her high heels as she made her way to the reception desk. My eyes fixed on her. Something was not right. Sheila chuckled softly as she looked at the signs on the facing wall.

"Breast Agumentation", "Body Recontouring", "Face Enhancements", "TRANSGENDER": All signs tastefully placed at eye level along the wall. She nudged me and motioned her head toward the wall. Transgendered caught my nervous attention. I looked at the female patient again.

"Sheila, we are in the wrong place" I whispered.

She smiled and said not to worry, after all, he was only looking at my hands. My hands began to sweat. My entire body had broken into a cold nervous sweat when the receptionist called my name. I stood and looked at Sheila.

"Only let him look at your hands", she said as a smile crept across her face. "Just your hands."

It was a very long walk to the observation room. I set in the first chair I could find and waited.

Soon the young Doctor walked into the room, he looked at me curiously. "That's my chair," he said. "You sit on the examining table."

"That's OK, Doc", I said.  "Your only looking at my hands. If it's OK with you I'll stand."

"Mr. Voyles, you may pull up a chair if you feel more comfortable. Let me see your hands." The Doctor replied.

I extended my hands and tried to make a joke, "Ok, but, that's as far as you go."

It was at that moment I then became aware that this young Doctor did not have a sense of humor. He seemed annoyed at my attempt at levity. He stared at my palms for a while. He rubbed my hands and felt the damaged tissue.

"Surgery is going to leave a scar," He commented, "a nasty scar on the palm of each hand."

"That's OK, no one ever looks at my palms. Aren't you a Plastic Surgeon?" I said.

"I can't help you, Mr. Voyles. You need to see a hand surgeon." He said.

"I thought you specialized in hands?" I asked.

"Not this kind of surgery, sir. I contour fingers. I could do this, but, it is not something I feel good about. See the accounting clerk on your way out." The doctor stated.

"Thank you Doc, I am sorry for wasting you time and my money." I replied as I headed to the acounting clerk.

When I arrived at the waiting room, I went to Sheila and implored her to hurry to the door as fast as possible. I felt very uneasy about still being there. I picked up her purse and motioned her to hurry. Suddenly, I felt the stares of the receptionist. I realized I had Sheila's purse in my hand. I passed it to her and reached for her arm.

"Come on, Dear, let's go do something romantic together." I loudly stated.

"Oh shoot, I always wanted a sister!" Sheila laughed and grasped my hand.

We both laughed and headed for the door.