Sunday, February 27, 2011


'Hotch, hotch, hotch."

There is a good moment to watch the movie 'Teeth' but right before a Pap (UK: smear) test is not one of them. Especially since the above verbal direction from the gynaecologist to shift my hips lower down on the exam table was the exact wording used in the film during the protagonist's own cervical examination. The outcome was the doctor loosing four of his fingers to the teeth in her vagina.

Well no, perhaps there is never truly a good moment to watch a film that involves the unexpected castration of almost every male character. I mulled this over and grimaced at the ceiling. Still, there was no denying that this test was a good idea and it'd been part of the lightening-quick orders issued to me in this post. Also yes, if you found that entry too-much-information, you're really not going to like this one!

Apart from her rather unfortunate instruction above, the doctor was a cheerful individual who did her best to set me at ease. A Pap test isn't usually painful, but it's not exactly dignified. I was sitting perched on the exam table with a blanket flung over my legs when she rapped on the door.

"Is it safe?" she enquired as she opened the door. "You'd be surprised about some of the things I see in this job! Oh yes!"

I watched nonplussed as she arranged containers on the counter. What exactly had she seen? I mean, I was about to show her basically everything I had. We did a brief run-through of my medical history and the doctor asked if I had any questions about the leaflets I'd been given to read. The one I'd worked through had informed me that I might unknowingly have HPV, that I would probably be upset to discover this but ... tough. It wasn't curable. I didn't feel there were any obvious questions one could have to this, so I shook my head. I did get big points from her for having had the Gardasil vaccine against a couple of different types of HPV. This started a mini-rant about people who refused to have vaccinations that ended abruptly with:

"... well, at least I don't need to tell you about their worth!"

At this point, all my questions were now directed at the sort of the people who came to this clinic. Apparently, they were annoying the medical staff.

"My aim is to make this as easy as possible for you," the doctor told me once I'd manoeuvred myself into the required position. "So this will be a test you won't fear coming back to."

"Sounds good," I replied through gritted teeth as I waited for the expected discomfort.

"Breath, Elizabeth. If you faint, this has not gone nearly as well as it might have."

The undeniable truth of this statement caused me to start laughing and the resulting few minutes were entirely painless. As a reward for showing up (apparently another uphill battle with the local populous), I got a year's prescription for the pill, rather than just a three-month batch, with instructions to take a few packets back-to-back if I was still experiencing a lot of pain menstruating.

"It won't do your body any harm to skip cycles," the doctor said. "A hundred years ago, you would have missed continuously because you would have been pregnant ALL THE TIME."

Pregnant all the time?! Now there was a concept even more scary than vagina dentata.

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