Friday, 23 November 2012

I know it's not rational

Men, I suggest you do not read this post. Achieve a goal more useful, like make a cup of tea, and cherish your beloved.

Today I had the routine once-every-five years smear for cervical cancer. The second smear this year, note, because the earlier attempt two months ago produced no cells for examination.

Really? Well, I can tell you why it didn't. The same reason I expect this attempt with the dreaded speculum also to fail.

Because, strangely, when I am flat on my back on a medical couch vulnerably exposing my doodah to a Chinese woman with a focused stare, watching in growing horror and fear as she draws back her arm to skewer me with something that resembles a bicycle pump, terror kicks in. My body reacts in a completely involuntary, uncontrollable manner. This always takes both of us by surprise.

Personally, I think my body has examined the options. As far as it can see, they are:

a) suffer being stabbed up the doodah with a bicycle pump
b) punch Chinese Lil in the face and record-break the three-minute mile
c) confuse the enemy, by levitating.

Obviously, it is option (c). My body has worked out that by jumping to a height one metre above the couch with the speed of a cricket, this unexpected manoeuvre will confound the enemy, secure its safety and thwart the evil attempt to stab it in the doodah with a bicycle pump.

Unfortunately for my body, the limbs and torso have not yet learned how to jump like a cricket. This is where it cunningly employs the hands. The left hand attempts to scale the wall while the right hand grabs at the modesty curtain to lever the whole being up and off the couch.

I think my hands do very well, considering the people who make walls forgot to put in handles. My left hand, for example, does a sort of flat-palming technique half a metre up, which works fine and is a good start for elevation purposes. The right hand does not fare as well, sadly, because a thin modesty fabric curtain is obviously not as rigid or secure as a wall. The scrabbling right hand can therefore have the entire screen tipped over on the floor in seconds; curtain, hooks, metal rods, the lot, crashing about the feet of the confused Chinese Lil.

The worst isn't over, because once the body attempts the levitation, I have started screaming. I have tried to stop this panic reaction, and simply can't, unless it is to suppress this sound into a sort of gulping sobbing noise punctuated by shouting GET AWAY FROM ME I MAY PUNCH YOU. It is not very dignified, it is true, but at least I can be relieved that there is only the final act to go before the horrible scene is complete and I can crawl home in ignominy.

The combined forces of the failed levitation attempt, the falling modesty screen, and the fight-or-flight reaction invariably tips me over, unbalanced, off the couch, sending me lurching towards the floor. Given that my legs are at ninety degrees to the rest of me, it is understandable that I have zero stability and no point of balance to help right me in the fall. I am not a cat, after all! Thus one leg swings wildly round to locate a floor while Chinese Lil steps back to avoid my foot in her ear, simultaneously tripping backwards over the fallen screen. Give it one misplaced footstep now and we will both be sprawled on the floor in the wreckage, wishing I had cancelled like last time.

I can find nothing, absolutely nothing, to say about the whole experience which suggests it is a good one. In previous years the only way I have found to control the involuntary terror is by drinking a triple whiskey beforehand. I do not emerge well, and Chinese Lil is now completely terrified of me.

To her credit, in the hour-long appointment I take for this two-minute procedure, she attempts to calm me by reason (fail), with humour (fail), by showing me the speculum which she confusingly labels 'virgin size' (fail), telling me the techniques of others (fail, you are insane), suggesting a variety of pain-lessening positions to do with buttocks and hands (fail), asking me to use deep-breathing exercises (fail), giving me a badge which reads I have been brave at the doctor's today (fail), and suggesting, as a last resort, that in five years from now I don't take up the offer of the smear on the basis that I am probably low risk for cervical cancer and frankly it is doing more damage to her nerves than the good it is doing for my medical reassurance.

1 comment:

Deb said...

One time, I had the gyno actually pinch my butt cheeks to demonstrate WHERE exactly I should relax.

So fun.