What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
In what world is Speckie the Speculum not scary?
"Annnd your sexual partners? Male, female or ...," a short and sweet nurse practitioner named Dana asked as I lay crucified, a thin white paper table cloth wrapped around my waist.
I laughed nervously before answering with a deeply assertive, "Males! A Man. My boyfriend!" Then I giggled like a dumb ass until the next seemingly invasive question that just might save my life. Dana didn't skip a beat, she just continued to flip through my chart and looked up only when it took me too long to figure out the last time I'd had someone look up my stuff. People, I'm 31-years-old and I still get the church giggles at the gyno.
Is it just me, but do gyno exams always bring out the awkward twelve year old virgin in you? Since my first time on the table in college, I've toed the line between wanting to get everything out there but also not wanting to ask any questions whatsoever and then also also not wanting to be judged despite living a pretty vanilla lifestyle.
"Is anyone making you feel unsafe at home?" Dana queried politely and she massaged my throat and then the back of my neck, checking for I don't know what.
"Um. no. Absolutely not." I answered, wondering what her training would have her say next if I'd answered yet. Like that efficient flow chart the funny girl from "Up in the Air" made up to deal with the recently laid off.
No one really teaches you how to act in the gyno office, which is weird since visiting that tiny room should be a constant in every woman's life from puberty onward. But never once do I remember my mother sitting me down and saying, "Okay so when she or he asks you about your sexual partners don't lie." And to be clear I don't lie per se, I guestimate--because who has the time?
I don't know how your first gyno visit went down--whether moms usually go with their daughters as a rite of passage or something--but I was somewhat traumatized from jump. In Girls Scouts an older girl explained to me what a yeast infection was ("When your vag' itches from wearing thongs") but somehow ten years later as a freshman in college I'd forgot the tell tale signs and headed over to Women's Health just to be sure.
Once there a so-over-it triage nurse asked me in the loudest stage whisper possible, "What seems to be the problem." I managed to eke out an answer about my privates and she unceremoniously pulled back the veil and ushered me into the Holy of Holies for you various holes. It wasn't as horrendous as Tina Fey's experience, so hilarious chronicled in "Bossypants":
Then she took out a speculum the size of a milkshake machine. Even Michelle Duggar would have flinched at this thing, but I had never seen one before. "What's that device f---?" Before I could finish, the nurse inserted the milkshake machine to the hilt, and I fainted.
Also being "factory new" on my first visit to the Great Oz of vaginas, I had no clue what a speculum looked like either. I figured all I had to do was lie down all comfortable like, tell the medically trained professional about what I was feeling on the inside and then get a prescription for something to soothe my pain. Like how I imagined a therapy session might go. Instead I felt like a car with a mechanic under its carriage. It was all cold, metallic and little bit dirty. Did she just stick her finger up there? Or was it a cotton swab?
Ever since my yearly visit to the lady doctor has been met with the same angst I reserve for the dentist. Will she know I don't floss or use water-based lube? Will I be shamed whilst my snatch is getting a light shined on it? These are all the things running through my head as I "umm hmm" and "uh uh" my way through the longest ten minutes ever. Am I the only one out there with most likely highly unfounded gyno anxiety?