27 10 / 2011
This Won’t Squirt A Bit
“Is there anything else you want to ask?” enquires the young, male doctor. Mid-twenties probably. 27 tops. I have officially reached that point in life’s great conveyor belt of clichés where you start guessing your doctor’s age.
“Yes,” replies my wife. “I want to talk about my boobs.”
This isn’t the response the doctor had been expecting. In the preceding 20 minutes we had discussed our baby’s weight, his sleeping habits and the persistent rash around his neck, not to mention the obligatory five minutes of ‘weather chat’. There had been no indication whatsoever that anyone wanted to talk about their boobs.
“When I called to make the appointment, I asked to speak to a Boob Specialist,” continues my wife.
“Is there such a job as a Boob Specialist?” I wonder silently. That sounds like the start of a spectacularly bad chat up line. The kind of chat up line that ends in costly legal bills and a restraining order. Which would be annoying if you actually were a Boob Specialist. Maybe you could get business cards printed to verify your credentials; tasteful business cards with expensive embossing and a nice, serif typeface – probably best to resist the urge to do anything clever with the O’s in “boob”.
The look on our doctor’s face however, suggests that he does not have any such business cards.
“Oh.” says the doctor, his voice pitching somewhere between soprano and castrato. “I’m afraid, I’m erm… I’m a visiting doctor.”
He doesn’t say it, but we’re left in no doubt that he hasn’t been brought in for his mammary expertise. My wife is disappointed but undeterred.
“My left one is broken,” she says helpfully pointing out her left breast to the doctor. “It’s not producing as much milk as the other one.” She then points to her other breast just in case he’s confused. He’s not a Boob Specialist, after all, is he? The doctor glances momentarily at my wife’s breasts before quickly deciding to focus his attention on his shoes instead.
I want to interject at this point, because technically it’s not really broken. My wife has a lazy boob. That may not be the correct medical term, but that’s what it is. Calling it broken implies that her boob has stopped working entirely. It’s still working – it’s just not working very hard. I’m not trying to vilify her boob as indolent or workshy, but there’s no escaping the fact that it’s just not pulling its weight. I decide to let this clarification pass, however, and instead nod sagely at the doctor.
“I erm, ah… don’t really know much about these, umm… matters,” says the doctor to his feet. “Maybe you should, ah… discuss it with a midwife.”
“But this is the whole reason why I made the appointment,” says my wife resolutely.
“Right. I see,” says the doctor. “Have you tried, umm… rubbing… y’know, or erm… massaging the, erm… boob?”
“Yes, I’ve done all that,” she confirms with no small hint of impatience.
My wife really has tried everything to get her milk flowing properly again. She’s tried massaging it. She’s tried manually ‘pumping’ it. She’s tried applying a heat compress to it. She’s even tried wrapping it in cabbage leaves. That last particular piece of advice was given to me by a stranger in a chemist a few weeks ago. He seemed incredibly nice and well meaning, but I’m still not entirely certain it wasn’t an elaborate practical joke. “You have to crush the cabbage leaf veins with a rolling pin first,” he said. “Then tear out little holes for the nipples to go through.” If it was a joke, you have to admire the attention to detail.
“Do you think it could it be mastitis?” offers my wife.
The doctor contemplates this for a while and an uneasy silence descends on the room. There’s only one way he can answer this question and as the seconds tick past it becomes increasingly clear that my wife is not prepared for it to go unanswered.
To be continued…
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