Emily Yoffe on being a Human Guinea Pig.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
July 5 2007 5:19 PM

Oh, No She Didn't!

Emily Yoffe talks with readers about being a Human Guinea Pig.

Emily Yoffe was online at Washingtonpost.com on Thursday, July 5, to discuss her adventures as Slate's Human Guinea Pig, the latest of which involved being examined by medical students. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.

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Emily Yoffe: You're talking about the doctor who unsnapped and peeled off my bra in order to listen to my heart.

Actually he reminded me of the old joke, "What do you call the person who graduates last in the medical school class?"

"Doctor."

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: When I lived in England, I saw a magazine ad looking for "grousers." This is someone who assists hunters, and their dogs, by scaring up grouse out of the thickets so they can be shot to death. You might want to look into that for a future column.

Emily Yoffe: Oh, boy -- don't know if I have the stomach for that. Although I do have a beagle which is supposed to be a rabbit hunter. My beagle, thank goodness, is too incompetent to hurt a little bunny.

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Washington, DC: Emily, I am a recent college grad who is huge fan of your column and have even joined the facebook group "Emily Yoffe Keeps Me Coming Back to Slate.com"! How goes your participation on Facebook recently? Do you enjoy the new applications? Have you made any new friends?

Emily Yoffe: Thanks so much.

Yes, I am the world's oldest Facebook participant. I have exchanged many emails with my new Facebook friends. As you mentioned, Facebook keeps adding new features and I have to ask my young Slate colleagues what they mean.

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Durham, Maine: How come every one of your Human Guinea Pig pieces seems to involve you getting disrobed?

Emily Yoffe: That's not fair -- only 90 percent do!

For the vast majority (singing debut, oil rig visit, vow of silence, etc, etc) I stay dressed. The disrobing ones may be the most memorable (or disturbing).

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Washington, D.C.: So after taking 23 physicals, you would now have to go take one from your doctor to find out if something is wrong with you?

In a country as lawsuit-happy as this one, I find it hard to believe they haven't been sued for something like that.

Emily Yoffe: I had to sign a waiver (what does it say about me that I don't remember reading the fine print). I'm sure I signed away my right to sue because a 2nd year student missed something nasty.

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Just for the record, no female physician undresses or performs a pelvic or a breast exam on a female patient without a chaperone.: That's not true. My female doc conducts breast exams without a third party witness. Guess I'm lucky she doesn't assume I'll make a false accusation; glad that lady isn't my doc.

Emily Yoffe: Yes, I actually have been examined by both female and male gynecologists without a nurse in the room.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Have you ever met the guy who hosts Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel? You two would probably hit it off. That, or you'd be competing to one up each other with your stories.

Emily Yoffe: I've seen the show and he's very clever. I think he'd win with that episode in which a snake sunk its fangs into his arm.

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One who was shaking kept saying to me, "Relax, relax!" even though I was very relaxed.: Poor kid! I just get so sympathetic reading your funny description!

Emily Yoffe: I know. It really made me look at doctors differently and have more respect for what they do to get where they are. And the responsibility! In most professions, if you make a mistake you just have to apologize and fix it. If a doctor makes a mistake, a life can be ended.