"I need to listen to your lungs, in the back. May I just reach under your shirt?"
I have never once gotten a "no" to that question, to my continued amazement. We doctors are a trusted lot.
As I lifted up the cotton blouse edge and placed my stethoscope between bra strap and spine, I wondered... How many times have I lifted a T-shirt, a button down, a tank top or jacket? What different skin types have chilled to the touch of my scope? Youthful and taut, old and saggy, fat and pendulous, skinny and bony? Pale white, deep dark brown, copper, dusty, sunburned pink, covered with moles? How often have I felt them, cool and dry, clammy and pale, hot red and feverish?
Reminds me of the old ad jingle: "fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks...tall kids, short kids, even kids with chicken pox." But I digress.
I turn my hands over and gaze down at my lined palms. I imagine all the patients I have ever touched rising up out of my skin to stand in miniature on the curving softness. A tiny testimony to the bodies and lives I have been priveleged to know.