Monday, September 20, 2010

Nothing Says "Good Morning" Like A Speculum



I had an early morning appointment with my OB/GYN. I jumped the gun earlier in the year and scheduled a Pap in April (I was actually not due for my annual until August). When they realized it, they rescheduled my appointment without charging me for the visit. That was a great plus considering I'm uninsured. 


The nurse checked me in, asked some basic questions - when was my last period, did I have sex within the last 24 hours, did I insert anything into my vagina, any unusual bleeding or discharge, would I like an HIV test - weighed me and took my blood pressure. Weighed the same, blood pressure was low (I was surprised considering my mad dash to get to my 8:30am appointment on time and that fact that I was still on a high Mickey alert this morning). 


I choose to believe my doctor is as happy to see me as I was to see her. She also asked some routine questions and inquired if there were any changes to my medical history. No, I don't take supplements or am on any medication, I drink more alcoholic beverages than last year since I've developed a relationship with white wine and have a "Cheers" in my life, I do a self-breast exam semi-regularly, I'm not still with the same partner and yes, I have engaged in some... *whispers* risky behavior. She told me about the Family Planning Benefit Program (FPBPthat I'd most likely be eligible for and get free visits and she asked if I was still working in Physical Therapy. If you don't have the kind of relationship with your doctor where you can tell them who you're sleeping with, what objects you're inserting where, if things smell different, you may want to consider a new doctor or change your approach to your doctor. They've seen and heard "it all".







Turns out I didn't need a Pap since I had one last year that was "normal". The new guidelines are one Pap smear every two years if you're sexually active and between ages 20-29. After age 30, it's every two or three years as long as you've had three Paps with normal results. The Pap is combined with an HPV test as well. So I didn't endure the cervical scraping today, but did have a breast and pelvic exam. And all things were on the up and up. When she looked inside she said everything looked normal. I couldn't help but wonder what the inside of my vagina looks like. The closest I've come was when I was doing research for an article I was writing about the stages of the menstrual cycle and discovered the website, Beautiful Cervix Project. Very fascinating but if you're squeamish about "insides" don't look. 


Now back to that HIV test the LPN asked me about. I was game. Any time they offer one I take it (that and a full STD screening). I filled out the consent form and the checklist of history/behavior and skimmed through the information pamphlet. The test they offer is the Rapid HIV-1 and HIV-2 Antibody Test (OraQuick Advance). You get the results in about 20 minutes, so I was instructed not to leave after I was done with my appointment. There was one question on the form that asked if you thought you were Very Unlikely, Unlikely, Likely or Very Likely to test positive. Despite answering "Very Unlikely", the wait for the results can make your mind play tricks on you. And then you try to read the nurse's face as they walk you into the office to deliver the results (the "papers"). A few minutes of angst is nothing. I will continue to get tested regularly. 


"Badge of honor"


 I love my doctor but I don't want to see her until next year.





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