My Date with A Speculum

In my part of the world they say to get a pap smear every three years if you are a women without symptoms of cervical cancer from age 25-69 who are, or have been, sexually active (source).

So today was my date with my family doctor and a speculum.

Was I thrilled?  Nope.

Was I terrified, like I was getting my IUD inserted or that ultrasound a few months ago?  Nope.  I have already survived the emotions of medically removing the possibility of having another pregnancy and I survived the ultrasound so, I knew I’d survive the pap smear.  In the scheme of my life, a pap smear seemed easy.  So, leading up to the actual procedure I wasn’t worried and really didn’t give it much thought.  I didn’t get worked up about the actual procedure because seriously, 5 miscarriages means I’ve had more medical instruments shoved up my lady* in the span of a few years then the average women will ever have in her life.  And honestly, I know my family doctor.  He’s well aware of what I’ve been through both physically and emotionally.  He is both professional and compassionate.  His entire team is pretty awesome.  Simply, I trust him.  And this trust put me at ease in the days leading up to my appointment.

But, that all changed when I arrived.

My amazing family doctor works at a teaching clinic (which I like because I think it keeps the older doctors current).  In the last few years they stopped sending the residents into see me – I was a special case.

This time, they gave me the resident.  I could have said no, but I didn’t because honestly, they’ve all got to learn at some point.  In hindsight maybe I should have said no.

All of the sudden I’m lying down, legs in stirrups and just wishing it would be over quickly.  As I lied there she began describing what she was doing (as all doctors seem to).  For some reason the last thing I wanted to hear was her voice so I cut her off and said, honestly, I’ve been though this enough times, I’m good.  Just do what you need to do. 

Much to my annoyance, she didn’t take the hint when I tried to cut her off.  Instead, she began asking about my medical history and so while I lied there staring at the roof, I got to repeat everything of the last few years (I think this caught her off guard as she didn’t respond to anything as I said it).

So anyways, as I was reciting my recurrent pregnancy loss story, I was fighting tears, determined not to cry in front of some resident doctor I had just meant.  Determined to just get through the damn procedure and move on with my day.

The potential tears were not the result of having a speculum and some women’s hands and face up in my lady, I’m all about proactive medicine and testing.  But, I was lying there fighting the tears because I couldn’t help but once again face the reality of our lives and the baggage that I carry around:

  • I hate what the last few years has done to my relationship with my body.  I try not to dwell in it and just accept my body for what it is, but honestly, days like this are hard.  I have to have pap smears for the possibility of cancer in a part of my body that kills babies.  Seriously, if it cannot do what it’s supposed to do, why even have it?!  Why do I have to have yet another reminder of my body’s failures?
  • I hate that for the rest of my life when I’m asked about my medical history I get to say:
  • I hate that my body has put my husband and I through pure hell over the last few years.
  • I hate that I rationally know the death of our babies was not my fault, but I also know it was my body’s fault and sometimes its fucking hard to separate those two things.
  • I hate that my body cannot and will not ever do what it is meant to do.
  • I hate that we are now staring down the end of another year and it is becoming clear to me that 2015 will be another year of empty arms.
  • I hate that my daily life seems to continually give me more reasons to think that things might just not work out in the end.  I hate that some days I am left fighting to make lemonade out of my life’s shitstorm with some sort of crazy recipe intended only to be used be the insane and fighting to hold onto hope.

It’s freaking exhausting and I’m tired.

So, am I okay right now?  Not really.  As I sit here writing, I have tears running down my cheeks.  I’ve had better days.

But, will I be okay?  Yes, I will be.  Maybe not today, but there’s always tomorrow and who’s to say tomorrow wont be better?   I sit here reminding myself that so long as my test results come back healthy (which I expect they will) I wont have to go through another pap smear for 3 years.

* during the actual procedure the resident doctor referred to my womanly parts as my lady.  I thought it was hilarious and decided I had to share my newly acquired terminology with the world.

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51 Comments on “My Date with A Speculum

  1. Oh I’m so sorry – what a sh*tty experience. Recounting everything is so upsetting, perhaps more so to a stranger, and it does show that it’s all still bubbling away in there. I wish I knew what to suggest or try to make it better, but I know there is nothing I can really do or say, other than to agree that you are right to always hope for better. There WILL be better times ahead, and one day, there will be a time when your relationship with your own body will be healed. Be very gentle with yourself. I know it might seem impossible on days like today. That’s okay. Cry as much as you need to, and then pick yourself back up again. It’s the repetition of this that gets us through grief: up and down, up and down, until eventually the downs aren’t as steep and distressing any more. You will get there. xxxxx

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  2. Oh goodness. And “so are the days of our lives”. One never knows what is around that next corner. Proud of you. You took that step and accepted her for the appointment. It is hard. It is hard when you just want to put your foot down and say no I cannot.. Oh land, can you imagine their faces if they had a class of us IF ladies in to train the newbies. Whew! They would run out of ink that day taking notes on our charts. Hahaha.

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  3. I am usually a pretty nice person but when you are put through things like this I find myself getting irate and protective of you. Can’t this clinic write in your chart a summary of your history and a note to not make you repeat it to them for the millionth time???? Anyway you can call them and suggest this? Let them know how emotional and awful it is? That being said- I like to think about three years from now when you will have that beautiful baby that was meant to be in your family and you can walk in there with a full heart. Maybe not completely healed but a heart so full other things seem smaller. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so sweet mamajo. Honestly, I’m not going to call my clinic about it because I know it’s all in the chart – every single nurse, receptionist, doctor, they all know me and our history. I think she was just trying to make conversation and/or understand the details. I think like most people she probably didn’t think about the emotional baggage that comes along with these types of questions.
      Also, I like your thinking – within 3 years I had better have at least one kid! And my heart will be full in a whole new way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely agree about people not thinking about the emotional baggage that comes with these type of questions. I’m so sorry that you had such a rough day and hope that tomorrow brings better things. Thinking about and praying for you.

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  4. I so agree with mamajo. It’s not fair that this stuff has to happen to you. You went in all composed and not that fazed, and then you got that. Sometimes for me they hadn’t read my chart ahead of time, like when the nurse who was getting me ready for my NT scan couldn’t understand my nerves and why I wasn’t just looking forward to the scan and seeing my baby (because lady, the last time there was no moving baby). Read the damn charts!!

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    • I’m sorry you’ve also had similar experiences, yet I’m not surprised that you have. Sadly. If all doctors/nurses/care providers would just read our charts in detail then we’d all be spared so much annoyance and frustration!

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  5. I can imagine this – and the accompanying exhaustion and pain – so very well. I am really sorry you (we) have had these horrible experiences, over and over. I would be exactly like you: be brave, be brave, be brave…oh my gosh, did that really happen?! (That’s the thought process through the decisions to let her examine and question you!) On another hand, I am thinking of her point of view and how lucky she is that you gave her such a learning experience right away…and that you didn’t bite her head off as she went on, silently stunned! (Sounds a bit like my run in with the 16 week pregnant lady a few weeks ago – but at least I wasn’t in a gown with her hand in my…what did she call it…my lady (!!!). I know you are not religious, but bless you! You basically experienced my reasoning behind not wanting to go back to my awful clinic for my Pap smear (I will go when it’s been 3 years). Hopefully, one day, these situations won’t sting quite so much. Cheers to hope. Hugs.

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    • I so remember your post about your Pap smear, and honestly at the time I had no idea I was due for my 3 year check-up! And I really didn’t expect it to be a horrible experience because my clinic is normally so good.
      As you said the other day, I think you and I are just building our soul muscles. Moments like this, where we sit quietly, these are the moments that I believe will help us tremendously in our lives, especially when we do have children.
      Also, seriously, who in the medical profession uses the term my lady?!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ugh. What a crap experience. I’m sorry that the resident didn’t take the hint. Unfortunately, they are trained to verbally explain every minute detail of what they are doing and to outline relevant history and etc. – it’s how they get marked on their practical skills. But what an emotional experience- having your reproductive parts exposed and having to relive (let’s be honest- telling your story forces you to relive it) a horribly difficult time in your life. I’m glad it’s over. Now go get yourself a nice cup of tea and a baked treat and pamper yourself a bit. I’d give you a big squishy hug and watch something funny on Netflix with you if I lived closer.

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  7. I’m sorry you had to go through that today. I like the my lady bit……although I view my reproductive system as more of a male. It never does what it’s supposed to lol.

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  8. I’m Sorry this happened. I have a role with my GP. If it’s got anything to do with reproduction or that part of my body NO RESIDENTS. Ever. I only learned that lesson the hard way too. I’m sorry she was such an insensitive clueless jack*ss and that your doctor didn’t see that coming and eliminate the possibility. I think it’s okay for you never to accept a resident again for anything involving your lady bits.

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  9. I wish medical practices would note these things in our chart so we don’t have to relive everything during each appointment.
    I cannot believe she called your bits “my lady”. That might be the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard, although it did make me chuckle. *hugs*

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    • I completely agree with you! And I wish doctors would actually read our charts so that they don’t ask questions like these. So frustrating!
      And I hear you about “my lady.” A combination of weird and funny. I’d like to think the medical professionals are able to use real terminology!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “Seriously, if it cannot do what it’s supposed to do, why even have it?! Why do I have to have yet another reminder of my body’s failures?”

    Truer words were never spoken.

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  11. Wow- that is a terrible experience to have at the doc. I am so sorry she didn’t take the hint and asked about your history. That is incredibly frustrating and I’m sure it opened so many wounds that were just healing! Biggest hugs!!

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    • Thank you Mrs. Brooks. I think the moments when I’m not expecting it that are the hardest to deal with. It’s as though I let my guard down and the unexpected pain becomes a bit worse.

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  12. Next time, just decline the resident. Sometimes instead of trying to be strong, you need to just take the special treatment. You damn well deserve it. I’ve been avoiding my own relationship with my body – you know the fact that I’m missing a fallopian tube because my baby decided to get all cozy in there instead of in my womb. I try not to dwell or even focus on it at all. It is what it is, but it still sucks in the grand scheme of things. It’s especially hard when other people don’t get that concept of my body “can’t do and won’t do” certain things. I hope that once your child has joined you that you will finally be able to make some peace with your body. I know it’s so hard especially when you are waiting to move forward from the darkness of RPL.

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    • Yes, next time I will decline. I’m not sure why I didn’t because I typically would in the last few years.
      I am sorry that you also are dealing with a similar struggle. I hope with time you are also able to deal with the emotions as you move on in life knowing your body is no longer what it once was. I really do hate what IF/RPL does to us – I think it’s changed or at least impacted almost every aspect of my life. I never had body issues before, I was naively unaware of the consequences of not trusting your body and it’s been a really hard lesson to learn. I guess the one thing I can say is that I now truly have a much deeper respect for people who struggle with their bodies – the mental health side of life is just so significant and so often misunderstood and overlooked.

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  13. Sending lots of love your way today. As evidenced by some of my recent bellyaching — we all have bad days. And we’re all ENTITLED to bad days. You bitch and cry and feel sorry for yourself as much as you need to in order to do what you do best — pick yourself back up, brush off, and keep moving forward.

    But that “my lady” thing — hilarious. Reminds me of a Frasier skit which I’m going to post in the hopes it makes you giggle because I was cracking up. But I love Frasier.

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    • Oh my gosh, I am killing myself laughing at the Frasier clip! I actually love Frasier and didn’t even think of this when she used the term “my lady”, but now I’m finding her terminology even funnier!!
      Oh, and thanks for your encouragement, as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Your lady? Wtf? Lol that part is funny. The rest, well that was just an awful experience and it makes me mad. Can they not skim a file before asking you a zillion questions? I mean fuck. I hope they felt awkward and uncomfortable and BAD about what they put you through today. There’s a lesson right there. Ugh

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  15. Oh, I’m so sorry. That sounds like a truly awful experience — I wonder if you could talk to the desk staff or your family doctor and ask to avoid the medical students/residents in the future. It just doesn’t seem fair.

    And I know how it can catch you off guard — I went in to MFM freaked out about a new type of abdominal pain several weeks ago, and they gave me a medical student (like, a 26-year-old) before the resident came in. Same thing: she was chipper and cheery and asking all sorts of questions about my history, and I was completely emotionally unprepared to tell her all about our first baby’s death at a moment when I was terrified that our second baby might be dying/dead as well. Not her fault at all, and I know they all have to learn sometime… but did it really have to be during an “urgent OB” appointment in a high-risk pregnancy office? It totally threw me off, and I was weepy both during and after as well — this is all to say that what you’re feeling is totally normal and predictable, and I wish they would realize that before putting you in that obviously upsetting situation. Grrrr.

    Also… “my lady”??? That’s just weird. (Also awkward — I don’t think I would have been able to keep a straight face!) Why can’t a doctor use anatomically correct vocabulary?!

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  16. I’m sorry it was such a crap experience, and a crap day. Maybe from now on you should ask to only see your Dr.
    And I’m not sure I’d like any sort of Dr referring to my vagina as “my lady”. I mean, you’re supposed to be a medical professional, use the medical terms that you should have learned in school!
    Anyway…thinking of you, and hoping you have a much better day tomorrow. *hugs*

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    • Thanks Amy, I really do hope tomorrow is better! And I totally hear you about “my lady” – seriously a doctor should be able to use the anatomically correct words! However I do suspect this is going to be a running joke for the rest of my life. I’ve already told Mr. MPB to expect me to make a joke at the most inappropriate time, to which he just rolled his eyes because he knows I will totally do it without even tying, ☺

      Liked by 1 person

      • HAHAHAHAHA!!!! You know when we were at the MFM the other day, B was asking him something, and neither of us could figure out what he was trying to say. He kept stuttering around his words, and finally we figured out if he was asking if we should try getting pregnant with sex while we’re waiting to go back to IVF! He said something about “natural” and it finally clicked with the Dr. It was really hard not to laugh…he’s kinda shy, and he just couldn’t bring himself to say “sex” in front of this new Dr. I didn’t pick on him, but it was hard lol!

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      • We were having a talk about that at work today. 3 of my coworkers were talking about how they hate going to the gyno, and one of them said how once they asked if she would care if an intern came in to observe and how she wasnt having it. I was like “OMG I’ve had so many people up in there this year I don’t even care anymore. You want to teach interns? Sure, bring them all in! What difference does it make anymore” They were a bit horrified lol!

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  17. Your “lady?” Seriously? I refer to it in conversation as “my lady bits,” but if my doctor called it my lady, or even my lady bits, I’d cringe. Doctors, of all people, are supposed to be able to use the proper, medical terms.

    I can’t even imagine reciting your RPL history over, and over, and over again. I remember having to recite our IF history for a couple of years, and it frustrated the hell out of me, and hurt my heart. No one reads charts anymore, no one cares to remember what you’ve been through. I understand that they can’t remember everything about every patient, but it’s on the damn chart for god’s sake. Take a moment to READ it.

    I’m sorry the pap smear, which isn’t a pleasant experience (I don’t find it all that unpleasant anymore, it is what it is), was made even worse by the resident. Ugh.

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  18. Oh friend, I always feel so terrible for you when you have to relive all of your losses. The whole “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” thing can be such BS sometimes, especially when it just doesn’t make you feel better. I always keep you and the Mr. in my prayers..thinking of you friend and sending you some sunny happy vibes to help you get through the next few days…

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  19. I’m sorry that you had to go through all of that once again. I wish they would have had the foresight to know what you’ve been through and not send a resident in to do your pap smear. I hope today is better for you!!!

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  20. Ugh. Can I tell you though, its nice to know I’m not the only one who feels dread at that damned speculum. With my first pregnancy I had six major bleeds each resulting in an ER vaginal exam with that giant speculum and no lubricant (it obscures the findings). No wonder I developed pelvic spasm when we started trying to conceive again that required physical therapy! Yes, that’s a thing. I still panic when approached with a speculum and am dreading my annual in October… I have to have yearly paps due to my medical history… Sigh.

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  21. Oh hun! I am so sorry!!! I just can’t even imagine all that you have been through over the years. But you are such a strong and inspirational woman. Hugs! 😘

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  22. I’m so sorry. I find recounting it all very traumatizing, too. I’ve also done that since we’re all in his community together we’re ‘used’ to hearing very high rpl numbers. So that, when I say ‘this is my 6th pregnancy, the others were lost in miscarriage’, the pause and response after is soon awkward. Most people don’t know what to say, others stick in their foot in their mouths.

    I also relate to a disconnection with my body. I hated m body growing up due to sexual assault and in particular, my breasts. Then as I got older, I developed a lying relationship with my body due to sports. Now I’m trying to redevelop a new relationship, but i know the last few years have damaged that and I know because when I did like my body things felt different – there’s a contrast.

    All to say, I can understand how that experience would throw you and create discomfort. You went in thinking things would be one way, they went another and just the experience of feeling so caught off guard by something routine is jarring, it reminds us of how intense the last few years have been to our bodies. I hope time lessens the pain and your relationship with your body blossoms back into a positive part of your life.

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