Test, Test

As an addendum, I think it’s just that Schindler’s List is all about surviving through terrible adversity, and managing to carry on with faked elan when you need to charm the evil-doers… because you can’t be honest with what you really think. It is inspirational. Honest… If you don’t have nightmares.

I wasn’t kidding that I kept falling asleep writing that though. A couple of short paragraphs and I fell asleep three times. I even bore myself.

There is possibly even less to report today. I got a flu shot before work, and then caved in to advertising and asked about the posters they had up offering free smear tests for the month of May. The nurse suggested that she could give me one almost straight away if I could wait.

“Uh, no, I have to go to work.”

“Well you have to stick around for 15 minutes after the shot anyway.”

“Really? Why?”

“Just in case you go into anaphylaxis.”

Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m very overdue for a smear test. The reason being that I find it just about the most deeply unpleasant and painful thing that a doctor can do to me. So starting that procedure by telling me that I just needed to hang out and wait to see if I had a massive allergic reaction… that probably wasn’t the best way to put my mind at ease.

I know lots of women (possibly all women) think I’m over-reacting to what is for most a very straightforward and completely painless test… But it’s also currently 4:30am and I’m still awake from pain, so guess what? It doesn’t always work out so easily for every woman.

My first problem is that I bleed. A LOT. I’m not even kidding that I once kept a (particularly rough) gynecologist for half and hour afterwards as she tried to staunch my bleeding. She shoved a whole lot of gauze pads up there. She ended up filling a tray the size of a roasting dish with blood soaked gauze – not one spot of white left showing. She tried applying this sticky stuff that looked like molasses. She tried silver nitrate sticks. Twice. I lost probably around two cups of blood. In the end she just gave up in disgust and left a very pale and worried-looking nurse to try and clean me up. The gynecologist said not one word to me the whole time – no apologies, no “this might hurt a bit”, no acknowledgment of me as a conscious human being who was suffering.. and who she happened to have her fingers inside at the time. I think she somehow thought I was bleeding deliberately just to spite her. She had put me up in one of those inspection chair/bed things that had armrests, and I’d actually ripped the vinyl with my fingernails in a couple of spots. It was unbelievably, and agonisingly painful. I didn’t fully stop bleeding for four days.

The second problem is that my body is also now expecting it to be painful, and so tenses up involuntarily. This makes it even more painful. I did forewarn the nurse today about the bleeding and the hurting… and then she quickly figured out that she couldn’t even get the speculum open because my muscles had tightened up so much.

“You need to relax.”

“Trust me, I’m not doing it on purpose,” I said through gritted teeth. “I wish I could relax them because this is hurting me a lot more than it’s hurting you.”

She was at least kind enough to ask how I was feeling at the end.

“Like I’ve just been punched really hard in the bladder. Thanks.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Oh honey, it’s not your fault. It’s always like this.”

The reasons for the pain and bleeding are complex. I have endometriosis, and a thyroid condition – which in turn make my cervix very prone to pain and muscle spasm, and make the membranes of my body very delicate with a tendency to disintegrate. Adding hard plastic and a brushy thing into that equation just doesn’t work out well. I can breathe deep and meditate and go to my happy place as much as possible – and I do. It’s the only thing that makes the whole procedure possible in the first place. But seriously, if your doctor regularly did something that made you lose a couple cups of blood from your penis, you’d be a little tetchy about it.

One thing that does bother me is that I can’t be the only woman who has these problems, and yet there does not seem to be any thought given to local anesthetic or pain relief. This is a little surgical biopsy (a very little one) done with no option for making it painless. I appreciate that for the vast majority of women it is painless – with no more discomfort than having a DNA swab rubbed inside your cheek – but it doesn’t work that way for everybody and it seems like there should be some acknowledgement that women like me exist.

Instead, it seems the general attitude of the medical community is that pain relief is not required, and I should stop being a stupid hysteric (literally) and stop bleeding all over them on purpose. My pain is very distinctly my problem.

… But I know it doesn’t happen that way after dental procedures, or other minor operations. If I hit my thumb with a hammer they’ll prescribe me enough paracetamol to kill a horse.

Just not for your lady-bits. Lady genitals apparently aren’t sensitive and don’t ever feel pain. Stupid, over-dramatic lady.

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