When I was twenty-two, I cared nothing about who would be performing my professional health exams, including, but not limited to the fields of dentistry, dermatology, and gynecology. I didn’t yet have a preference of male vs. female doctor or age of said doctor. I didn't care about the kindness of office staff. For me, the details were of no concern.
It was during one particular medical visit that I began to understand what going to the doctor really means. You must have a rapport with your medical practitioner to feel comfortable divulging your health concerns. He or she should not be crazy, or worse, a pervert. You should always pay very close attention to what your doctor is telling you during an exam. These lessons about being an informed patient culminated in one very important doctor visit when I was twenty-two: my annual gynecological exam.
It was during this first meeting with my gynecologist, who was highly regarded and recommended by our friends, that I found myself in a very awkward position, more awkward than lying naked on your back with feet resting in metal stirrups, with only a thin paper sheet for modesty while two other fully clothed people stared at and poked at your private parts. Yeah. More awkward than that.
So there I was, all laid out awaiting examination, and the doctor, nurse and I were chatting and getting to know each other. I decided that in spite of the run-of-the-mill horrifying embarrassment of this kind of exam, I really liked this doctor. I was glad that our friends had recommended him, relieved that I wouldn’t have to find another doctor. He was good. Plus, he was young and married, not bad looking, and not creepy in any way.
Then things started to get weird.
As he started to get down to the business of introducing my dramamama to the speculum, I inititated my mental defense mechanism of zoning out for the duration of the all-encompassing discomfort that is a Pap Test. That’s when I heard the doctor ask,
“Now Andrea, tell me this: Have you ever had an Oral Pap?”
My mind snapped to attention and my heart thudded to the pit of my stomach as I wildly tried to grasp the meaning of his words. Oral Pap? Is that a thing? Surely he means to swab the inside of my mouth. Yes, that’s it. Something in my mouth has something to do with my gynecological health. Somehow, my saliva holds a clue about whether or not I am prone to yeast infections, or if I have uterine cancer.
Or or or or or or or Oh My God, OR. He means to swab me *orally*
Oh God, why did I move here, away from my safe, familiar, and conservative home state to a wild and foreign place where sexual vulgarity is the norm, orgies are expected everywhere, and even the GYNECOLOGISTS OFFER ORAL PAP TESTS? Which one of them is going to do it? And Where Are My Clothes?
I said nothing for about two seconds, or maybe 12 minutes. Just as things started getting even MORE awkward, I did the most genius thing I could think of: I giggled weakly.
The doctor and nurse sensed the strain in the room, and fell silent and businesslike. I had tensed up so much that my fingers and toes were curled up into fists, and the doctor was starting to have trouble inserting the speculum into my lady parts. No oral exams for this girl, Buster.
“So, have you?”
“Have I what?” Depraved quack. Please oh please oh please get me out of here. Maybe my head will explode and end this nightmare.
“Uh, ever had an abnormal Pap?”
All the blood rushed out of my head. “Did you say abnormal Pap?” Abnormal. Not Oral.
By now, the doctor is thinking that I am an idiot. “Yes. Have you?”
“No.” A minute passed as I relaxed and let the nice, good-looking, non-perverted, totally normal gynecologist do his job of swabbing my uterus the old-fashioned way.
As he was finishing up the exam, I had to come clean. “By the way, do you know why I got so weird back there? Because I thought you said ‘Oral Pap.’”
I can still hear them laughing.
|Where's my Chapstick?|