When I got two cats, I knew their fur was going to get everywhere. Cricket and Donut are both short-haired, but they still shed like a mother and I could make another cat with the amount of fur I sweep up from them every week.
I love them though and, at least until recently, this seemed like a small price to pay for their cute faces and sweet snuggles.
When it came time to schedule my annual OB/GYN appointment, I made a mental note to mention the dull ache in my lower abdomen that I'd begun to notice over the past month.
It didn't really bother me and since I have an IUD I've gotten pretty used to random, totally inexplicable pains in my lady parts but since it felt new and different I figured it was worth telling her about.
I've spent most of my life uninsured and I've never had the same doctor twice so I just chose the closest female gynecologist that my insurance would cover. I've gotten pretty used to the idea of a total stranger peering deep into my vaginal soul so I wasn't too worried about meeting a new one.
When she entered the room I decided I liked my new doctor: She was no-nonsense but still warm and her unidentifiable Eastern European accent was strangely comforting. We started with the normal medical history chit-chat and I mentioned the aches I'd started to notice over the past month.
Her guess was ovarian cysts and as she snapped on her rubber gloves she cheerfully said “Let's take a look and find out!”
She began the exam and immediately starts muttering to herself. “What is that? I've never seen anything like that. What the heck IS that thing?”
Suddenly she remembers that my vag is actually attached to a real live human and looks up to ask “Do you ever use tampons?”
My immediate answer was no. I'm a Diva Cup girl and I've never used tampons regularly. But after a moment of thought I remembered that during my last cycle I'd used them once or twice during work emergencies so I told her.
She said “It looks like some fibers from a tampon have gotten tangled up with your IUD strings. I'm going to try to tease it out but this will be tricky because if I pull too hard then it will expel your Paragard.”
The doctor tried to dislodge the mystery lump for a minute or two and then called for a nurse to bring her a pair of long tweezers and scissors. The nurse comes in, drops off the utensils, and looks into my vag.
“What the heck is that thing???” I try to laugh off the fact that two grown women are now focused intently on the enigma of my vagina. The nurse settles in to see how things will unfold.
After a noble effort, the doctor says “I've tried what I can but it's not coming off. Looks like I'm gonna have to cut it out.”
I laugh nervously and make some kind of lame joke to distract myself from the fact that I am about to have a pair of scissors INSIDE MY VAGINA and that the whole debacle is being witnessed by two TOTAL STRANGERS who I can only imagine are creating a mental roster of every single person at the clinic that they're going to regale this story to at lunch.
I am trying really hard not to hyperventilate because that is soooo not a good look when your feet are in stirrups and you're rendered immobile by a giant metal speculum. So instead I try to focus on staying calm and breathing through this surrealist bizarro comedy of errors.
Thankfully the doctor has steady hands because within a few seconds she says she's done it. The nurse claps and then, looking at the specimen, recoils disgustedly. The doctor leans back and asks, “So do you wanna see the tampon?” There is absolutely nothing I love more than getting gross things out of my body so duuuuh!
With her tweezers she holds up a glob about 2 inches long that looks distinctly furry and happens to be the exact same color as Donut. I'm speechless. The doctor's waiting for me to say something but the only thought running through my head is:
“HOLY SHIT THAT IS CAT HAIR THERE HAS BEEN A BALL OF CAT HAIR INSIDE ME FOR A MONTH THAT IS CAT HAIR AND IT WAS IN MY VAGINA A HAIRBALL HAS BEEN CAUSING MY DISCOMFORT HOLY SHIT AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
I hesitate to bring up the fact that these “tampon fibers” look exactly like the piles of goo that Donut hacks up every few days because Jesus I don't know what kinds of questions that might bring up but I sure as hell don't want to deal with them so instead I make an awkward joke about never wearing tampons again.
All I really want to do is ask the doctor if I can touch it and see if I can figure out exactly how this abomination against nature found a home in my cooch but I decide against it for the sake of not looking completely insane in front of my new doctor.
She sent the specimen to the lab to make sure it wasn't anything nefarious and I can only imagine how the techs reacted to testing a wad of fur for infections.
When I get the results back it said “foreign object: forgotten tampon.” Thank you, Kaiser Permanente lab techs, for not compounding my mortification by calling it a vagina hairball.
My theory is that our sheets are to blame: I'm not very good at making the bed every day so Cricket and Donut have free reign. My fiance and I don't use condoms so it'd be easy for him to unknowingly have some hair on his penis and during sex it'd be easy for that hair to migrate to my strings where everything got all tangled up. The thought still skeeves me out.
The dull aches are gone but the whole debacle has had lasting effects. I no longer let the cats on the sheets and make sure to keep the bed made so they only sleep on the top quilt.
In a fit of paranoia I bought a cheap speculum online so that the next time my abdomen is feeling inexplicably weird I can check it out myself (nevermind that my strings are now too short for anything to get tangled in them: peace of mind doesn't always have to be logical).
Sex was definitely touch-and-go for the first few weeks after my appointment and I can't say I blame my fiance for being a little turned off by the thought of my vagina furtata. Things are mostly back to normal now but I still sometimes make him shower before we have sex.
I do know one thing for sure: I'll definitely be finding a new doctor for my next annual exam.