Fingers on My Breasts and Questions on My Mind

Fingers on My Breasts and Questions on My Mind
While my doctor’s fingers massaged my breasts and cradled my hard, almond-sized lump, we had a peculiar conversation. She was from the Bay Area but traveled to tiny Lakeport for a brief assignment. My husband and I discovered the lump the previous evening in a surprising, romance-busting moment. “I’ll call in the morning,” I whispered, wishing our beloved Dr. Kirk hadn’t switched from his private practice to the VA Hospital. In rural America, it can be hard to get a good doctor. We rely heavily on traveling medical professionals, people who come for three to six months from far away places and often make me feel as if they’re on an assignment with National Geographic. These physicians and nurses sometimes carry the air of an educated foreigner studying lesser life forms in the uncivilized wild. The next morning, I put on a pretty wool skirt, thick tights, and a beautiful sweater before I left the house. In Lake County, I always dress up to see a doctor. It’s part of my strategy to get better service, to be taken more seriously. I styled my hair and applied makeup carefully. “So many drugs in your community,” the doctor commented while she probed my breasts. “It’s a shame.” I stared at the ceiling feeling the coolness of her fingertips and nodded. Lake County, California produces a tremendous amount of pot, and that crop comes with cash, guns, mean dogs, and lots of other drugs. It’s one of the poorest areas in the state and endures many of the problems typically associated with poverty. “I know,” I said. I worried about drugs a lot, especially since our daughter had just turned 10, and isolating her from that world was getting harder and harder. Once, standing with other moms by the soccer field, I overheard a conversati
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