Once a year, every year, it is necessary to go to what my friends euphemistically call “the lady doctor” aka the gynecologist. This is rarely a pleasant experience for many, many reasons, even in the best of times. You don’t go in there expecting to have a fun time of it. And just about everyone I know has a story in which things have gone awry. Zuska has recently shared her terrible experience with a physician’s assistant during her annual exam, so, in a show of solidarity, I thought I would share my “worst annual visit ever” story.
For several years, I had been getting my exam by a lovely nurse practitioner who was upbeat, kind and efficient. However, she took a position elsewhere (as an instructor at a medical school, actually, so I suppose I was glad she was at least going to influence generations of health care workers) so I had to find someone different. I tried to get the person a friend of mine saw but she was all booked up. So, I got someone who was an unknown.
I should’ve known things were not going to go well when in the beginning she asked if I had any plans on getting pregnant and when I said no she said, in a rather patronizing tone, “You can’t wait forever, you know.” Really? Gosh, I may be getting my PhD in cell biology but I am completely ignorant of the fact that women have a finite amount of time in which to conceive!
So, we go through the breast exam and all that, and then I’m in the stirrups, with my ass hanging off of the table as per usual and of course that’s when things really started to go downhill. Because things are taking a lot longer than they ought to. And she must’ve repositioned the speculum at least 5 times (does anyone else find those damn plastic speculums uncomfortable? what happened to the metal ones???). Then, she elevated the bed WAY up high, I mean I must’ve been 6 feet off of the ground. After more futzing around (at this point, I would say I’ve been subjected to this for about 15 minutes which, if you’ve ever been in stirrups and had a speculum being constantly repositioned you know that that feels like FOREVER), I have the following conversation:
HER: I can’t find your cervix.
ME: Well, it was there the last time someone checked.
Now, I know I have a retroverted uterus (aka a “tipped” uterus). I know this because my previous nurse practitioner told me (and when I asked if that was a problem, she said only in that it might make some sexual positions more uncomfortable than others and I had an AHA! moment). This means, of course, that my cervix is not in the conventional position with respect to the rest of my anatomy. However, I know that it is not impossible to find my cervix because not only have health care people been able to find my cervix fairly easily for many years I have also seen the damn thing myself*. And, anyway, aren’t there only so and so many places to be looking for it? I’m pretty sure there’s not that much room up there.
Finally, after five more minutes of searching, the woman found my missing cervix, scraped it and blessedly removed that damn speculum.
I should’ve written a letter of complaint. But, I didn’t. Actually, I should have told the stupid woman to take out the damn speculum and get someone in the room who knew what the hell she was doing. But, I didn’t. Because I’m a Nice Girl. And because it’s difficult to feel empowered when you’re in stirrups with your legs wide open and your ass hanging off of the table.
This year, when I went to the lady doctor (at the same clinic), I got a different person–a nurse midwife–and I feared I would be subjected to another fiasco but all that happened is one readjustment during which I said, “I have a retroverted uterus,” and the nice woman replied, “You certainly do!” and moments later it was all over with. Thank you, Jesus!
Note to self: When looking for a new lady doctor be sure to ask in the beginning if she’s ever had problems finding a cervix.
ETA: Unfortunately, I’ve had to disable the comments on this post due to the large amount of disturbing spam comments it was getting. :( I’m apologize to all of the women who have found this page and would like to comment on their own experiences.
*Once when I was having my annual exam, the woman conducting it asked, “Would you like to see your cervix?” Now, the real answer to this question was, “No, thanks,” but that made me feel like I was being chickenshit so I said, “Why yes I would!” and a mirror was brought over and held in the appropriate position and I leaned way forward (difficult in stirrups) and saw my cervix. Several years later another examiner asked me if I wanted to see my cervix and I said, “I’ve already seen it once before, thanks!”