Special Time with the Speculum

It’s no secret that I don’t like the annual pap smear. God, could it be called anything worse? Smear? Honestly. Also, “don’t like” is putting it mildly. I don’t like stubbing my toes on the bedpost. I don’t like brussels sprouts. I don’t like that there’s an s on brussels. The visit to the gynecologist each year ranks right up there with falling into an open pothole while crossing the street, having your leg devoured by ravenous crocodiles, and getting on the wrong side of Jimmy “Kneecaps” Malloy.

I like my doctor well enough although Debra and I agree that she’s on a mission to coax everyone down to a willowy 150 pounds. She’s thorough. I assume she sees many women who don’t regularly see their primary physician and so she covers the range of issues from blood pressure to medications to life changes and anything else that might merit attention. She’s diligent about checking to see if I’m still seeing the same host of doctors and asks about everything shy of my last haircut. Bless her heart, she manages to do all of this while handing me tissue after tissue.

You’d think (or at least I’d think) that I’d be past throwing my legs open to any old person happening by. After all, for the last five months everyone but the NSA has peered in there. That I know of. I’ve learned the sound of each doctor’s preferred speculum for pete’s sake. And yet, as she propped me open and stabbed my cervix with a shiv made out of a toothbrush, I still found tears pooling in my ears.

As I do with the blood pressure (you all, it skyrockets anytime a doctor enters my vicinity), I assured her that it isn’t personal. But the thing is, I don’t do this with everyone anymore. Sure, the blood pressure thing* is never ending – I’m stressed about them lecturing me, that raises my blood pressure, they lecture me more, and repeat – but sobbing in the doctor’s office has all but stopped. I don’t know why today was different or why the IUIs didn’t desensitize me. It sucks though. Man, it sucks.

Since I sounded fairly sane in last year’s post, I’m going to remind myself that I’m just sensitive right now (go ahead, ask me about passing the prenatal clinic on my way to the visit, oh wait…don’t.) When it comes down to it, I’m just really tired of taking off my clothes so that someone can poke at my body. More fun awaits however, visits to the dermatologist and a mammogram are coming. Hopefully I’ll go into the new year having the least amount of cancer ever.

I can tell you’re worried and that you might mention that I have white coat syndrome (check) and recommend anxiety medication (check), taking it at home (check), and keeping a record to cut them off at the pass (check). I’m on it!






18 Responses

  1. I got vaccinated just to get my cervical cancer risk down to something that made me feel comfortable just avoiding pap smears.

  2. Aww, hugs! My husband has white coat syndrome, so I can absolutely sympathize. Bad enough feeling increased anxiety around doctors, when you throw in pap smears (I agree, worst term ever) and other highly personal things we have to go through… it’s crazy what we have to put up with as women.

  3. My white coat syndrome is so bad that I panic about calling just to make a damn appointment. In fact, I have 2 of those calls to make today, and I am procrastinating. I so hear you. You know those pet shaming photos that are so popular right now? I feel like doctors have their own secret patient shaming photos somewhere. Mine would say, “Keeps Chocolate in Desk Drawer,” and “Hates Exercise.”

    • I have that same problem! I put off calling as long as humanly possible. And then I rehearse the entire conversation before I do call. How did this even happen!?

  4. Big huge hug. That’s all I’ve got. Well except…. Do you ever worry that there’s no way to know what your actual blood pressure is bc the taking of it is such an anxiety trigger? Bc I do. Also, I find something along the lines of the Red Velvet cookie from Panera to be the perfect reward for continuing to breathe while at a doctors office. Who says rewarding yourself with food is wrong? Not me!!!

    • The pumpkin cookie and coffee I had immediately after my appointment say I absolutely agree with you. Fortunately for me, my primary doctor is down with taking my word for it and testing only occasionally since she knows it will always be high and I check at home. It sky-rockets with anxiety, for certain.

  5. I hope you aren’t getting a Pap smear every year. You’re at a rather low risk of contracting HPV, after all. I, too, HATE Pap smears. Apparently I have a “sensitive cervix.” So, I only get them once every three years.

    • Gah. I wish that were the case. I had an abnormal smear back in 2002 – if there were caps for that, I’d use them – and a negative biopsy (now THAT was fun times). So now I’m in for one every single year. The doctor was delighted to tell me this year that if I came back with a normal pap and neg. for HPV and I could stay the same at the next visit, I could step back to having them every five years. Let’s hope my teenage dalliances didn’t leave me with a secret gift.

  6. Well, I don’t think anyone is supposed to LIKE Pap smears. They don’t exactly make them comfortable- “please take off all your clothes and wait anxiously for a complete stranger to tell you to spread your legs and scoot your naked butt even closer- no, closer- so they can stick their whatchamajigs up your lady parts.” SHUDDER.

    That being said, I’m sorry it was so horrible for you. At least it’s over, right?! And maybe a strong drink would not be out of the question as a reward for going through that?

  7. Great sympathies. Anytime my cervix is messed with, I cry. It’s great. You can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that having two cervices=double paps. Whee.

  8. Did I ever tell you I once worked in Pathology? At a big hospital? They had a machine to read the pap smears (so-called because they actually smear the cells in a thin layer across the slide, by the way; nothing to do with you though I agree it’s a terrible name). Fortunately I’ve never had an abnormal one and as far as I’m concerned the next one can be… never.

    Also, did you know that you can get an HPV vaccine even if you’ve already had HPV? Still protective. In case that is ever relevant to your life.

  9. I’m with you! I hate, hate, hate paps and totally dread them. I put them off as long as I can get away with. Hateeeee!

  10. Also, I would like to point out that the pap smear was TOTALLY invented by a dude.

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