Where Is My Paper Dress?

Never did I think I would miss that stupid paper dress!

So, I’ve done it. I’ve been to the doctor’s, the dentist, and the vet’s here in the Netherlands. Not that I worried about any of them except the vet. I wanted to make sure Turner was in good hands and our vet in the U.S. makes it almost impossible to find anyone just as good and not even worth bothering to try to find someone better – no such thing. Plus, Turner’s so skittish and terrified of everything, that I worried most about bringing him to a new vet and having him exposed in an already terrifying environment (for him) in an unfamiliar language. (Yes, I realize much of the English language is beyond Turner’s comprehension, but we’re also dealing with the fact that Hubs gets upset with him in Dutch, so he’s associated Dutch with Bad Turner).

Since I’ve already started with the vet, that’s where I’ll begin. The veterinarian is called dierenarts. Dieren is Dutch for animal. The art of caring for animals is called dierenpractijk or animal practice. Not much to tell actually. It was very small and looked more like an apartment from the outside than an office. We checked it at the reception and, to my joy and surprise, we were offered a cappuccino – at least I was. Turner got water. We were called in before we even sat down by a kind looking man with curly and lightly peppered black hair and glasses. For being packed in as tightly as it was, the check-up room was impressively high-tech. They had all the latest technology in that little room. I imagine they do surgery there as well. The place was positively pristine. There was one assistant taking notes on the nearby desk top and a second one held and comforted Turner while the dierenarts looked him over. They spoke to me mostly in Dutch unless they were using terminology I didn’t understand in Dutch. Sometimes it was very difficult for them to find the words to explain. Definitely a mental exercise for everyone involved! Less than an hour later, Turner had a passport, updated rabies booster and cocktail injection, general check up, and a second microchip (apparently, European scanners can’t read US microchips. I want to find and murder whoever it was who mandated that animals leaving the US be microchipped before leaving.). For Hubs who had only ever had vet bills for cats and me who was used to writing checks for the vet with sums that made me feel like I was robbing the man, the visit was an incredibly expensive one. But, we live in a city, he’s a big dog, not all vets do their work for little more than a song in return, and he did have a lot done.

About a month ago, I started feeling an intense pain on the bottom of one of my lower teeth right along the gum line. Sure it was a cavity and wanting to be able to eat, drink and floss and brush my teeth again, I scheduled an appointment at the dentist. This waiting room visit was far longer than the one Turner and I had at the dierenarts (dentist, by the way, is tandenarts. Tanden is Dutch for teeth). I think I waited about a half-hour. Finally I was called in and guiltily explained to the tandenarts that my Dutch was not quite to the point where I’d be able to understand what he was saying about my teeth for the most part. And again I was launched into the game of how-do-i-explain-these-technical-terms-in-a-language-not-my-own with a new partner. As for the examining room, it looked identical to every other dentist’s office I had been to. Only, after taking an X-ray of my mouth, he went right to the computer sitting on the counter where my X-rays were uploaded and waiting for him. He was able to show me everything, touching the screen to get to and enlarge certain sections. Turns out, I drink too much soda and brush my teeth too vigorously which eroded my gumline and exposed a nerve. The pain I was feeling was the nerve being hit. He gave me a trial toothpaste created to fill in holes in teeth caused by those very things and we discussed what was to be done with my crown once my implant was finished and he sent me on my merry way after making me promise to get him my dental records ASAP.

The huisarts (or doctor. Huis = house. This one, I don’t get either) was by far the most interesting. Hubs and I are still depending on the anti-baby pill and I desperately needed new ones – after all, we don’t want any Little Tiffanies running around just yet! So, my doctor’s visit was more of a feminine nature. I figured since I was in there, I may as well do that yearly exam that we women find so gezellig since I was due for one anyway. The exam rooms are really the doctor’s office. The huisarts works there at a computer with scanner and printer and phone and fax machine. And on the other side of the small room is the examining table next to a counter filled with cabinets and drawers to store all their goodies. Between the two sides of the room is a lovely little Japanese changing screen pretending that it actually gives the patient privacy.

I was told by my new doctor to go over to the table and strip from the waist down. Which I did and then reached for the chair to grab my paper dress. When I pulled my hand back to me, I was a bit surprised to see that I had failed to retrieve  the paper dress, which was surely laying on the back of the chair. So I turned back to the chair – actually looking with my eyes this time – and was shocked to see there was no paper dress. Feeling quite naked and exposed all the sudden, I began to search for my paper dress. My search turned frantic, but yielded no paper dress. I was about to tell my new huisarts that she must have forgotten to set out my paper dress when it struck me: perhaps there was no paper dress at all. I was not about to Amaricanize myself by insisting on a paper dress (did I mention there was no paper sheet either?), so I sucked it up and sat down. She came around to my side of the good-for-nothing changing screen and told me to lie down. I did and waited for her to pull out the stirrups. I always had this sort of exam done right in my regular doctor’s office and every examining table had them build in. But she did not reach to the bottom end of the table and pull out the stirrups. Because there were none. And so, stirrup-less and without the comfort of my paper dress and blanket, I spread ’em and let her do her thing. I was speechless. But, honestly, what does the paper dress really do? The doctor just opens it up and feels your boobs and looks at your bare hoo-ha while they stick various tools up there. And, much to my relief, I have been assured that at the gynecologist, they do indeed have stirrups. Perhaps they have paper dresses and blankets too. I wonder if I’ll use them?

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