Today I was back on my back with my legs up in stirrups, and I didn’t even have to wait a year to get into that enchanting position.
Two weeks ago I had my annual gynecological exam and pap smear. And then, as is generally acceptable, I forgot about it. But at the beginning of last week, while I was at the Sears Auto Center waiting far longer than an hour-hour-and-a-half that I was told it would take to change my front tires before what was supposed to be the first winter storm of the year, I received a call from my gynecologist. When she asked me if I wanted the good news or the bad news first, I decided to be brazen and go from bad to good. I mean, no use going for hope just for it to be immediately dashed. She said that I might have a virus, but heck, the pap smear was fine, and then she invited me back for a follow-up test, as soon as possible.
For the next half hour, I was sort of thankful that I finally got a smart phone and researched all that I could about said virus while sitting in a very bare waiting alcove. When I got to the point where there was nothing else to read except about treating cervical cancer (worst-worst-worst-worst case scenario) or opting for the wait-and-see option, I decided that I really don’t like scare tactics, so I put the phone away and thought about my tires.
At least I got to leave work early today for my exam. A silver lining!
When the nurse was walking me to the special procedures room, she ran through the what-to-expects while she simultaneously ran a one-woman pity part for me. Thankfully (at least for a bad news first person), the doctor went for the breezing right along positive approach to talk about the highly unlikely results but it will be fine and we will just need to have more frequent pap smears probably worst case scenario, and did you have sex with someone who might have had sex with other people and it’s such a shame that so many people have the virus but don’t know it so they keep spreading it around. Okay, I get it: it was obvious that at some point I would be punished for having been lascivious. But that is the past, and I do mean past.
I have been going to this gynecologist since I moved to Virginia thirteen years ago. She is approximately my age and so, over the years, we have developed a wonderful doctor-patient relationship. She used to get the annual lowlights and, thankfully, now she gets the annual highlights. She even met monstrous ex-husband when she got to remove my left ovary. That, of course, is a story. When ex-husband was still husband, he told me that I couldn’t get my ovary removed by her because she didn’t have enough experience with the procedure. I can unequivocally state that I chose my gynecologist over my husband, and I have no regrets. I mean when I’m in a “whose husband was more controlling” contest, I think I can win a lot of points by claiming that my husband thought he had dibs on decisions about my ovaries.
And then there is her nurse who has worked for her for years, and she, too, is around my age and also has children around the ages of my daughters. She proclaimed that she will hunt me down if I don’t come back for my follow-up pap smear, which, as a woman with no family nearby, feels rather comforting.
So there I lay on my back with my pink shirt all buttoned up and a white paper covering my lady parts, which didn’t feel so lady-like what with different instruments been inserted and swapped about, when the nurse gave me a gentle hold-and-release on my left knee. That tap touched me in the deep place within that needs to be touched and acknowledged in such a basic “here I am and there you are” way for an emotional person. Then we all talked about a drunk driving accident a few days ago in which a college student was killed, and how we were all devastated just thinking about what that girl’s parents must be going through.
There are times when you feel cared for in a physical way, like when I ran into my second cousin the other day after not seeing him for almost a year and he gave me two all-encompassing hugs of happiness; and there are times when you feel cared for in an emotional way, like when I received a thoughtful Hanukkah gift last night from my daughters and my older daughter’s boyfriend. Odd to say it, but at that moment on the examination bed/table, I felt a bit of both. The tap on my knee and the confidence that the ultimate would be done to care for me no matter the result transcended my fault-finding and trepidations. Taken together, those three moments within four days have brought me to a joyous serenity which must translate, simply, into feeling loved. Yes, I am loved.
Now I need to hold onto that as I wait another week for the results.