Monday, 9 July 2012

Undignified - Not for the squeamish

Being a girl has it's drawbacks. Even the healthy female body takes severe abuse from life. It has to be super resilient to stand the test of the periods, the smear tests, the giving birth, the breast feeding and the menopause (amongst other things).

Having a child means that the area you once regarded as sacred is now somehow not as it was. By the time a room full of doctors, nurses, midwives and all of their students/trainees have seen and prodded at your nether regions you become desensitised. For me, there was a pivotal moment which I remember that changed the way I felt about other people having access to my 'area'. That moment happened for me during labour when a 6'4" man with sausage fingers had to check if I was dilated. I had to suck on the gas and air which prompted him to question if I was having a contraction, "Hell no, I'm just terrified at the prospect of your arm!" There I was, willing for the smaller lady Consultant to start her shift so that I wouldn't have the fear of that up there again. It's pretty shocking how far up they really have to go to check that sort of thing.

So, now I'm fairly desensitised and un-threathened by the prospect of routine check ups and smears etc. I like to think I take it in my stride. I felt that, as I'm dating again, I should probably get some sort of contraception in place. I can't afford another child right now and feel I should focus all the efforts and money on my son for the foreseeable future! So with this in mind, and after exploring all the options, I decided to get a Mirena coil fitted. I went for the smear test and STD check a couple of weeks ago and was given the all clear to have one put in. I've had so many dodgy smears and colposcopies in my life time I thought it would be a breeze.

There is a pharmacy onsite at my doctor's surgery where I was instructed to get the coil just before my appointment. Which I did. I sat there in the waiting room with a foot long box. Naturally, people were curious (mostly men) but there were knowing glances from a couple of the women in the room. Was it terror I'd seen in their eyes?

Dr Glover* has the bedside manner of an angry troll. After a brief, "Hello", and instructions to get on the bed she pushed my knees apart and had a good look. Without warning she pushed in two fingers which caught me by surprise! Only once she was in there did she explain that she was checking to see which way my placenta was lying. Oh. OK. Maybe a bit of warning next time, yes? I breathed and tried to relax. Apparently it was fine (whatever that means).

Next in was the speculum. Now, say that word in a room full of women and you're certain to get a few shudders, tense shoulders or crossed legs (maybe even the odd tear). The speculum is like the opposite of a vice whereby instead of cranking closed, it cranks open. Yes, it is as uncomfortable as it sounds.

The Dr did a bit of wiping up there with cotton wool (still not giving me any warning or commentary about what she was doing). This was followed by a rod. Now this part was quite painful, and I'm pretty sure they would have heard me yelp in the waiting room. She came up for air to tell me, yes it does hurt and that it was to dilate my cervix. Again, thanks for the warning, and secondly, surely it's not natural to do that when I'm not in labour!?

So finally they get to putting the thing in. I stared at the ceiling breathing like I'd just run a marathon. The nurse offered her arm to grab if I needed to. I declined as politely as I could muster in this stressful situation. Although we were in that intimate environment together I didn't feel I could trust myself not to leave nail marks in her skin. Instead I clenched my fists above my head and tried to think of a sandy beach (not sure why, that was just the image that came into my head and I went with it).

Everything was removed as quick and as roughly as it had gone in. The Dr flung a bit of tissue at me and said, "Clean yourself up with that". I felt like a used one-nighter but I did as instructed, and put my knickers back on (I didn't want to struggle with my tights too, I just wanted to get out of there). I stood awkwardly, not knowing if I could leave when I was summond to sit. I was handed a card with the date of when it needed to be removed and a leaflet. To my joy the doc would like to check if it's still in the right place in 6 weeks. Oh goody. More probing.

I've felt really achy, uncomfortable and grumpy all afternoon. However, I know that not only will I now be prevented from having babies for the next 5 years, I also won't have to think about it.

I think I've lost count how many medical practitioners have had to address my lady parts. I wonder if it ever does get any easier?

Animated doctor's face with mask
The doc's bedside manner left a lot to be desired. I thought she might be gentle, but I felt like the prize cow getting probed prior to a big show.
*Names have been changed to protect the angry troll doctor

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