Today’s topic is one for the girls…… As I am about to get REALLY personal and talk about CERVICAL SCREENING!!
Okay well laying it bare this is quite possibly the most TMI personal posts I have written to date, BUT I really did want to share my experience(s) and if only ONE person reads this and books a cervical screening then my work here is done.
The reason I’m sharing this now is because January in the UK was cervical cancer awareness. And increasingly more and more woman are opting to miss appointments.
SO YES this is an awkward post but it shouldn’t be right, we should chat about this and realise it’s really not that bad.
Okay so the topic of cervical screening is such a taboo subject, and honestly I GET IT! I really do! Laying on the table, knickers off, legs apart, I mean seriously it’s AWKWARD! There’s no sugar coating it either, it is what it is!!
So let’s RE-WIND – I was the girl terrified of getting my first cervical screening done, so much so that I put it off for a few years!! YES I binned reminder letters without even reading them, and turned a blind eye to articles relating to cervical cancer, like if I didn’t read about it, I would never get it! That was kind of my mentality on the subject! The fact is though it DOES affect 1 in 142 woman, and I’m no super woman meaning it could affect me too! Seeing more and more on social media about someone not having a cervical screening test done and then finding out the worst possible news in the end felt like a warning to me, not to ignore the letters coming through the post!! It made me so upset that in the end I ended up getting really anxious about it, so I took the plunge and booked in my first test.
I remember feeling so so so scared that it would be the worst pain imaginable, kind of like a scene from the horror movie Hostel! I felt sick to my stomach when the day arrived, clamey hands, rapid breathing, WHAT A MESS I was! STUPIDLY because apart from a few moments of discomfort (not to be confused with pain) it was all over, done and dusted. I mean YES it’s awkward laying there with your vagine (our family word for vagina) on show whilst the nurse and I chated about what I did for a living, but at the end of the day I’m not the first vagine she’s seen and I definitely won’t be the last!!
So bringing it up to date, it was the 19th August 2020 THAT time again Cervical screening day (YAY!) So it was time to document the process!!
I documented it as I went along and never got to post it because of problems with my whole blog and also wondering if I should or shouldn’t post something so personal, but here we go……..
19th August 2020 I was booked in with the nurse at my local GP surgery at 11.40am and as soon as I woke up that morning I felt that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach!! WHY THOUGH? I haven’t got a clue, I knew the drill, I knew nothing bad was going to happen, but I can’t shake it, the feeling of dread! Because even though nothing bad WILL happen I’m hardly going to skip into the examination room whilst lassoing my knickers in the air, like “I’m here and ready!” So for the time being the nervous knots were here to stay.
The morning went by so slowly, I just wanted to get it over and done with!! Of course this experience was slightly different as I spotted my mask on the table that I almost forgot, I’m sure COVID-19 will make this trip a little harder than before!
Pulling into the car park at 11.30am I was a little shocked to see a queue of people waiting outside, I thought it was going to be pretty quiet if I’m honest! Wondering if that was the reception line (thinking, please don’t let it be) I then saw signs and arrows that clearly stated RECEPTION going in a different direction. God as if this wasn’t bad enough I now had to navigate (in the rain) the arrows the signs and the social distancing gaps, jeez this was hassle, lucky I allowed the extra 10 minutes for this eventuality.
Wishing I’d thought to wear a coat or jumper, because it was raining quite a bit and all I had on was a stupid loose fitting dress (always wear a dress, never trousers) I did manage to find reception quickly (thank god!) Checking in was also fast, it was then time to sit out in the waiting area in the rain – seriously dam you COVID-19!!!
Luckily the wait was a short 10 minutes before I heard my name being called …….. it was time!!
Met at the door by the nurse who would be performing my cervical screening test, I now just wanted to get it done and for it to all be over!! Cold and wet she did a quick Q&A with me before I entered the surgery, nothing much, just the standard Covid screening questions, relating to temperature and if anyone in my household had been ill. Thankfully I was fit and healthy and good to go, to be honest I couldn’t wait to get inside as I was pretty cold standing in the rain!!
Standing in the examination room with the LOVELY (like she was amazing) nurse, she asked me a few personal questions relating to my period – TIP they usually ask you if you know when your last period was, so try and make a note, if your not like me and have an app, because literally I am like clockwork, but if you want a good app then I use P Tracker which was free to download on the iPhone. I was also asked about any abnormal bleeding (clearly she doesn’t know me because had I of had any abnormal bleeding I’d think I was dying and most probably be sat in A&E wondering who to leave my collection of designer bags too….. dramatic much? YEP!!) So after the questions were done and answered my nurse pulled the curtains around me and allowed me to take off the underwear and get myself on the bed – TIP wear a loose fitting dress for your screening!!
So there I am laying on the bed legs apart and there’s my nurse shining like the BIGGEST light up my vagine (I swear she could probably see my brain, given how bright it was) and there we are having a chat about the weather, you know like, “it’s so miserable today, and hasn’t the weather been nice up until this point! I mean we were like BFF’s for a few short minutes!!
So once your nice and comfy on the bed and relaxed the nurse will gently put a smooth, tube-shaped tool (a speculum) into your vagine with a small amount of lubricant. The nurse then will open the speculum so they can see your cervix. And using a soft brush, they’ll take a small sample of cells from your cervix. The nurse will then close and remove the speculum and leave you to get dressed.
The whole procedure quite literally took 5 minutes, it’s so quick, it really isn’t painful it gets to a point when you feel a bit of pressure and the smallest amount of discomfort, but honestly a paper cut is far worse than a cervical screening procedure! I know everyone is different and it can be more uncomfortable for some than others but 5 minutes if that of discomfort for something that could potentially save your life, is worth it in my opinion. And I know I said it’s awkward, but I mean is it really, at the end of the day it’s the nurses job, she’s used to seeing vagines on a daily basis.
In all honesty the absolute worst part about this whole thing is waiting for the results as they can take anywhere between 4 & 6 weeks. I got mine back at around 5 weeks, and I am pleased to say they were all clear! Next one in 3 years then!!
Do one thing if you read post – PLEASE don’t miss your cervical screening test.