Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And now, the featured program....

Today I saw my surgeon, talented and compassionate man that he is. He was NOT particularly happy with my recovery (nor am I) and had a lot of "debridement" to do. In fact, he extracted no fewer than 15 alien-sized "crusts" (aka "bloody boogers") from just my left nostril.

I stopped counting. It hurt.

As he proceeded, I asked him what there was in otolaryngology to attract a smart man of medicine as it really does not seem the slightest bit glamorous from my position in the exam chair. He described the development of his career having been guided away from certain distasteful options available to him as part of the US Air Force. At one point he'd intended to pursue a specialty in cosmetic surgery and took a rotation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Interestingly, he noted, he had authored his first academic paper in that appointment on the largest ever case-series of breast reduction patients.

Interesting, I thought. I asked whether the patients were largely active duty or the spouses/children of male soldiers---I wouldn't have thought the US Army would have had sufficient female members to yield such a large study population (300 patients, 576 breasts (ouch) over 18 months). Indeed, the patients were mostly active duty service members whose breasts interfered with their duties or caused extreme back and neck pain in execution of their duties.

One moment, please, while I let that settle.

Here's the thing: women have breasts. Some are big, some are not. They're standard issue for those of us with two X chromosomes. It seems to me that when women are admitted to military service, within the physical standards required for their job specification, the military really does need to accomodate women's breasts...don't ya think? Specifically, my friendly doctor indicated that large breasts would often interfere with a soldier's ability to adequately execute the push up requirement---in which case---WHACK! chop 'em off.

Some women choose breast reduction and I have a lot of sympathy for those whose backs and shoulders ache and burn...but if an employer ever told me I was not fit to perform my duties because I have big boobs, I'd see their ass in court. Because that's discrimination. And its institutionalized disfigurement. I wonder if there would be any benefit to the military institution in undermining womanly sexuality by incorporation of clitoral circumcision?

OK---that's a big leap but suffice it to say I find the revelation a teeny bit misogynistic. Looking around a bit I found out a lot more about cosmetic surgery in the armed forces than I wanted to know: there's a lot of it done, much of it elective and intended to keep military surgeons "up to speed"...practice, as it were. god, it makes me wonder about their informed consent process, conjures up all the shame of the Tuskegee Airmen syphilis studies. I did learn that participating Tri-Care physicians (that is, civilian providers which participate in the DoD health care networks) are exempt from virtually all litigation. I would imagine this leaves DoD on the hook for liability but you know---go ahead and try to sue the Department of Defense. Let me know how it works out.

Have you ever heard of a man having his penis shortened? Me neither.

From the Sound Booth...
you're probably not going to believe that I had intended to post this particular clip prior to this morning's appointment but its true. Sadly, reminders of the objectification of women's bodies in our culture are not at all rare.

Rilo Kiley -- The Moneymaker

Thanks for the heads up to Lyman---there's a good bit to like on this cd.


KSM said...

Well that's infuriating,and sickening, and all sorts of other words I can't say out loud. I have to say that I'm glad I didn't choose to enlist, and that this fabulous little fact just makes me even more happy that I didn't. Not that I'm one of those who suffers back pain, but still. No thank you. Thanks for this little tidbit of information. From the mouths of doctors and surgeons....

KHM said...

grrrrrl---you'd have had a commission were there a military career in your future---no enlistment for you!