I returned for another assault on my cervix today, after abortive smear test number one from a few weeks back. I was supposed to go again last week, which was, according to the practice nurse ‘bang in the middle of your cycle.’ Except that my cycle is no more obedient than my cervix, and refuses to be ruled by charts wielded by women in pale blue tunics, however much they might believe in them, and despite all evidence to the contrary.
An early and evil period meant the dreadful day was put off until today, whereupon she failed yet again to find it.
This was most annoying because:
It fucking hurts.
I don’t want to be there, and this is now my fourth attempt to do the right thing, and be a good citizen, and not let my family down by throwing caution to the winds and letting my cervix get on with things without people trying to bother it. Every time I have to rebook it takes an enormous effort of will to go against all my instincts. I am knackered by it all and emotionally wrung out.
It is also embarrassing, not so much for me, who by this time has lost all patience with the entire bally lot of them and could not care less how undignified things get, but for the nurse, who ricochets between apologising profusely, panicking and talking as if my cervix was a recalcitrant toddler who is doing this on purpose. I know she is running out of things to say as she digs away in vain, inflicting extraordinary discomfort on me and generally making a hash of things, but I really find the apologetic small talk infuriating.
Especially when she tells me that I really must ‘relax’. Like that’s going to happen. Last time she tried four different speculums, and I was there for about twenty minutes. This time I only let her have one, prolonged and agonising go before I refused to play ball. It is not relaxing. Saying the word ‘relax’ is not relaxing. It is not helpful. It is pointing out the bleeding obvious. I know it would hurt less if I were relaxed, but it doesn’t make it easy to relax. It is like telling an insomniac that they really need some sleep. DOH.
Today it was so painful it made me want to vomit, so no, I am not going to RELAX. You try relaxing while someone attempts to shoe horn something akin to a furled umbrella into your foof and then opens it.
She kept apologising, and squeezing my knee and saying: ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘I’m a bit worried about you.’ All of this seems reasonable and kind, and it is, except that I don’t really want reasonable and kind. I want purpose and action and I want it done. I do not find it comforting at all. I just find it deeply, deeply irritating as I’m trying my hardest to breathe away the pain, think positive thoughts and not inflict violence on people who are only trying to do their job. It’s a good job I was sitting on my clenched hands as she fossicked about inside me. It meant it would have been much harder to try and land a punch, so I just gritted my teeth and thought dark thoughts instead.
She is not, apparently, qualified to insert her fingers in me to see where my cervix is, which might actually help things along. She is only qualified to stick cutlery, tools, bottle openers and plastic torture devices that look like mutant duck bills inside me. If she could stick her fingers inside me, she could figure out where the cervix is and then use that knowledge to guide the speculum. As it is, she is going in blind, quite literally seemingly.
She explained this last time, and said that if she had no luck this time she would have to get the GP to come and help, who is, apparently qualified to stick any and everything inside me should he so desire. I thought this might happen today. But no, despite the fact she knew I was a tricky customer and that the eventuality might arise, she hadn’t thought to ask the GP to be there, and his surgery was full. I must make another appointment with him.
WOT UNALLOYED JOYOUSNESS AWAITS ME.
I will make the appointment. I really will. Even though I am losing faith. Even though the only other time anyone has failed to find my cervix was when I was clotting through a misdiagnosed ectopic, which is understandable. Even though my cervix stays exactly where it is put and hasn’t moved since I was born, so if everyone else can find it, it’s clearly not that invisible.
I’m just not making the appointment today.
Today I went out for double egg and chips with Oscar and my mum and dad instead. It was either that or a bottle of gin, and as I was in charge of a minor I thought this might be somewhat inappropriate. I might not have a cervix available to the public view, but my parenting skills are second to none.