Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Dreaded Smear Test

 I'm not going to sugarcoat it - I absolutely loathe when the time comes around for my smear test. Up here in Scotland, they start at about age 20, and I only recently found out that it's not the same up and down the UK which, in my opinion and I imagine most others, is ridiculous. Despite my hatred of the smear test, I completely understand the need for it and, albeit grudgingly, I do go and get mine when the dreaded NHS letter turns up on my doorstep. 

I was 20 years old when I got my first letter, and, having been suffering from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and the aftermath of being assaulted for the last several months, broke down in tears at the idea of going to my first smear test. My mum had told me about it and I'd read enough online about it that I knew exactly what it entailed, and I hated the idea of every aspect about it. If I'm honest, I still do! I'm not one of those people who's like, "everybody has the same parts" etc, I am super shy about my body and the whole idea that it's 2018 and we can't check these things out with much less invasive techniques really upsets me. It's no real wonder that most people don't go for theirs - if you are one of those people though and you're reading this, GO DO IT - but since my mum has had several scares and a hysterectomy, I am very much of the mindset of getting the weird stuff checked out and getting the dreaded things like smear tests done when necessary. I'm taking what precautions I can, even though nothing gives me the fear like having to visit the doctors office, especially now that my reliable, trustworthy doc has left.

A year after my first letter, I was 21, I was in the middle of counselling and it was the height of summer. Luckily at the time I still owned a few maxi skirts, so I popped one on and some pumps and got my shit together. My mum totally still made the appointment for me, and she chummed me to the waiting room where I anxiously awaited a nurse to see me. 

There was a bit of small talk, the usual "how are you doing?" and "what beautiful weather we're having", and because she was middle aged I felt immediately much more comfortable with having it done - I dunno about you guys but if it was a younger nurse I'd feel really awkward like they were judging the state of my downstairs, which I had, for the record, freshly shaved that morning *looks smug*. 

I've heard from some friends that nurses have asked them to strip off completely below the waist, but I simply slipped off my shoes and underwear, and pulled my maxi skirt to just above mid-thigh, which my nurse was completely OK with and actually encouraged it rather than getting half my kit off, all of which made me feel 50 times better about getting it done. 

Although a smear test isn't the worst thing in the world, I find it highly intrusive and quite uncomfortable, but the plus side is that it's over in honestly all of about 30 seconds and, once its done and everything's clear, you're good for another few years. I got really lucky in that I had no issues with my smear test results, meaning I haven't been for one since, but I reckon I'm due oneshortly. I think the thing with smear tests is to realise how important they are to your health - I am terrified of the big C and absolutely want to make sure my body is functioning how it's supposed to, without any weird shit going on. I check my boobs everyday and I'm always aware of what's going on between my legs - which, thankfully, has never really been anything out of the ordinary. 

If you've gotten your letter, make sure to get the dreaded smear test done. If you're concerned about something that's going on in your body, talk to a doctor. I especially recommend talking to a female doctor as male ones really don't seem to understand that the slightest thing can make you stress for so long, and despite their training, they often don't get that sometimes you just know when something in your body is amiss.

Bite the bullet - it'll take less than ten minutes to get it done and it's 100% worth it.

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