Let’s talk about pap smears. This is going to be one of those posts that makes Brian blush beet red (I don’t really care for beets) and my mother raise her eyebrow in the condescending way that says, “My numerous years of wisdom can’t believe you just put that on the internet.” But yes, Mom, I am putting it on the internet for all to read: I, APPARENTLY, HAVE AN OFF-CENTER CERVIX. Thank you for that genetic gift.
Anyway, yesterday I went in to my doctor and got a pap smear — excuse me, “yearly physical.” I found out that’s this office’s particular euphemism, because when I requested my appointment online, the text field for my reason for the appointment was not big enough to put in “make sure all my lady parts are up to snuff” so I just said “pap” and then one of the office minions wrote me back and was like, “Do you want just the pap or your whole yearly physical?” And my honest answer to that is “Does it cost more if you push on my tummy some? Because I don’t mind that part.” But instead I just said I wanted my yearly physical.
So anyway, that was yesterday. And I went to my normal doctor, because I also needed my tetanus booster because it had been a full decade since the last time I was hit with that particular one, and so I was like, “Two birds, one stone, okay.” But the back of my mind was remembering a conversation I heard once between my cousin and my mom. My cousin was working at a pediatrician’s office, and she was telling my mom about all the poor teenage girls that still go to their pediatrician for all their grown up girl exam needs, and how it’s so much more drawn out and awful at the pediatrician because the pediatrician rarely deals in the world of stirrups and whatever that awful duck-billed metal thing is, and if these girls would just go to the OBGYN it would be way quicker and likely more comfortable and all around better, since then the person looking up their vagina would not be the same person that has been medically caring for them since they came out of their mother’s.
But I had this tetanus shot requirement, too, so I went to the normal doctor. And like, it was mostly fine. I should say that this is my second pap, because I find the fact that they keep changing the rules about them for young people very confusing. First it was like, 18. Then I was almost 18 and they were like, okay, 21 or sexually active. Then I was 21 and sexually active, so I went and had my first done, and like, it was kind of no big deal at all. Like I didn’t get what all the big fuss was about — I wouldn’t do it every day by choice, but it wouldn’t kill me if that indeed were the situation. But then on my way out of that one, the doctor was like, they’re now recommending these every couple of years for folks your age (as opposed to every year), so I just kind of put it out of my mind. But now it’s been a couple years, so I made a “make sure all my lady parts are up to snuff” appointment, and let me tell you, this one did not live up to the first.
I mean, it wasn’t awful. I know some people have much worse experiences. But it’s not like it didn’t suck. First of all, there’s the whole blind aspect. I’m pretty sure the sheet between you and the doctor is just for the doctor, because seriously, I see the lower half of my body all the time, like when I put on pants. And I’ve seen the doctor before. So basically, there is nothing on the other side of the sheet that I haven’t seen before or that needs to be hidden from me unless they’re up to something. Conclusion: they’re up to something.
Sidenote — I had to come out to the ceiling during this exam, which was weird. She was asking me about birth control, and so I was like, “I’m gay,” and while that was generally well received (by the doctor, not the ceiling. The ceiling just stared back blankly.), she did not pursue the safe sex talk. I rolled my eyes at the ceiling.
So in addition to the air of deceit and the awkward outing, there is the actual trauma. This started something like, “Ok, this is just going to be a pressure.” And I was like, “Pressure like you just jammed a sword up into my innards?” Except in my head. Which was also wondering how often she works with children. But then she was like fiddling around and swinging the sword from side to side and my head was like, “OW” and she was like, “Your cervix is just a little off center, just have to get a good picture here and then we’ll take the samples.”
And that’s the part that got me and made me doubt the whole experience, more than the whole discomfort, metal-things-hung-out-of-me-briefly-while-somebody-q-tipped-something-several-inches-into-my-body thing. Because I do not know if the picture was a figure of speech or not! And before y’all jump down my throat and are like, “Dude, she was not taking an actual picture of your cervix,” I would just like to say: YOU DO NOT KNOW THAT. Orthodontists take like a thousand pictures of your teeth and then hold on to them for a long while, and I’ve always thought that’s weird. Maybe there is now a picture of my cervix, age 23.5 in my file.
Big Brother is watching. From a very odd angle.