I’ve been thinking of this randomly for awhile, and damnit, I’m gonna share it.
Men in the audience, you may wanna sit this one out. Trust me.
Okay. You’re at the gynecologist. You’re in the ridiculous little contraption with the stirrups and so forth, staring blankly up at the ceiling, while a device resembling a car jack is becoming better acquainted with parts of one’s anatomy that really should never get car-jacked.
Almost every gynecologist I’ve ever been to, in deference to the uncomfortableness of this situation, has taped something to the ceiling at about the eye level of the victim as a distraction. One had a cheerful animal alphabet that seemed wildly inappropriate to the situation–there are times when you just don’t want to know that O is for Orangutan. Another had a vivid Technicolor scene of a field of bright red tulips in front of a cerulean mountaintop, presumably so that the patient will be lulled by the tranquility of it all, and hardly notice that a rather large quanitity of cold metal is making inroads to the south.
Needless to say, this doesn’t work.
I think the problem is that they’re going about it the wrong way. Distractions have to be distracting, not tranquil. You do not distract people by saying “Look! L is for Llama!” or brandishing tulips. Arguably, many of the things that DO cause distractions, like shooting off flares and firing randomly into the air would probably be impractical in the exam room, but there has to be a way to occupy the brain.
I propose, therefore, that they cover the ceiling with sheets of story problems. Logic puzzles. Algebra. Hell, even a bloody “Where’s Waldo” puzzle would be better. Something to occupy the mind. It’ll take a lot more drugs than are legal for me to visit a happy field of tulips while someone wields a speculum and that little scrapy doodad down there, but I could hunt for Waldo with the best of ‘em, and there’s nothing like trying to figure out the average speeds of trucks leaving cities at various times to get the brain gibbering about something totally unrelated to internal prodding.
So. On the off chance that there are any gynecologists in my audience–consider story problems on the ceiling.
Also, did you know that women’s deaths of cervical cancer plummetted something like 90% after the invention of the pap smear? As weird a thing as it would be to be known for, the inventor did women a service practically unparalleled in the last century, and so probably does not deserve the tooth-gritted “Who…invented…this…thing?!” that is his usual recognition.