Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

This morning I had a visit with my very competent oral surgeon on New York City’s Central Park South. Since I would receive sedation for the procedure, I was fasting overnight and none too happy. No coffee — and it was morning. The surgeon behaved like a saint while I whined about yet another visit, yadda yadda. But, I do remember he got that IV into me really quickly. “At least I don’t have to listen to anymore words from her mouth,” I could just hear him saying to himself as I drifted off.

It is odd being partly awake and yet unaware of time — luckily having no discomfort, while still being able to follow directions: Hold this, move that, bite down.

When the procedure was completed, I was freezing, since my natural thermostat requires 85 degrees Fahrenheit for real comfort and this surgical suite was about meat-locker temperature. I was given a blanket for my shoulders and felt better. I declined the offer to sit in the recovery room, since I knew there was coffee at the front desk, which the kind receptionist had promised me would be in the waiting room when my procedure was completed.

After my coffee, I felt still a bit tired. I decided that since I had hours off from work, I would treat myself to breakfast at Sara Beth’s on Central Park South.  It’s at the base of my friend’s building, one I know well; and I do love the restaurant’s wonderful breakfast choices. It was only a few feet away from my surgeon’s building.

The sun was shining on the tables outside on the sidewalk. The park was visible across the street. My coffee and omelet were as good as I had imagined they would be. I took time to read the papers, feeling like a tourist on holiday.

I paid my bill, stood up, picked up my orange purse cand prepared to leave. Years of leaving things behind have trained me to look around carefully to make sure that I have left nothing important behind. Then I saw it: a dark navy wooly blanket, on the back of the chair. It had been on my shoulders as I swished along the sidewalk feeling quite pretty, thank you very much, and then still there as I had enjoyed my time alone for breakfast al fresco at my table for the hour of my holiday breakfast. I had, however, been draped in an old woolly blanket —in July, just half a block from Bergdorf.

Then I realized that the anesthesia impact had been a bit more than I had expected. There is a reason doctors tell you to make no important decisions for 24 hours after anesthesia, after all. So, I picked up my blanket, folded it nicely and returned it, just up the street to the concierge at the surgeon’s office building.

This growing older thing is becoming more attractive I realize now. I can wear a blanket at breakfast just off Fifth Avenue, simply because I am cold and no one cares. The days of public embarrassment are over.

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  • Toni Geyelin July 28, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    A little bit of maturity does give us all a better sense of self worth and so much less self consciousness! Thank you for sharing such a lovely vignette.