I want to tell a story.
One that will make the average man cringe in fear.
It is the story of how I discovered my own vagina.
I have been on birth control for five years to regulate my period. In fact, it’s so regulated I hardly get it. So it was traumatic for me when I ran out of refills before I was able to get my annual exam. That’s right: real, intense periods. When the first came, I began to question my mere existence. How was I surviving seven days of endless deep red blood coming from my body? AND THE PAIN. My body was tearing itself apart from the inside, and I waited for death. Death didn’t come, fortunately, but the end did so I continued on my way and immediately forgot the agonizing events of the past week as I always do in order to block out any emotion that is not fun and/or alcohol induced.
However a month passed and it began to feel weird down there again… I couldn’t quite place my finger on it… and I really didn’t want to either. Instead, I pulled out a nifty hand mirror as if anyone actually uses those shits anymore. I was terrified to look. Not fearful of what I may find, but fearful of what I KNEW I would find. A disgusting black hole. An abyss surrounded by pink flaps that some liken to orchids or beautiful flowers, but which I prefer to identify as f*cking oods from Doctor Who. I’ve never really seen mine from an angle that most men have, but I guess it’s never too late. So, yes, two months ago I finally saw my vagina.
My stomach dropped.
I knew something was wrong! There was a bump! Just inside of it, I clearly had a cyst and was going to die. I threw the mirror to the side and called my mom in tears. She promptly made my appointment with a gynecologist because I am only 21 years of age and cannot handle such a responsibility as talking to my own physician who has seen more of me than even I have… It was scheduled as an emergency appointment four days later. Tuesday at 1:20 pm.
Tuesday strolled around and I wore a dress in preparation. I strolled into work and had been there for 30 minutes when I got a phone call saying, “An ambulance is here for your mother.” In a panic, I rushed downstairs having been relieved of all my duties for the day to assist her.
There was no ambulance. Just my mom with a bag of frozen peas on her head saying she was fine. Crowded around her, coworkers urged me to accompany my mom to the hospital which was okay by me because I had to be there in four hours anyway. Apparently, she had slipped and fallen although she could not pinpoint why. Video footage showed nothing. If you ask me, the ghost of Grandmom Betty came and shoved her in anger for having to have a third idiot child. (That would be me.)
Flash forward to 12 o’clock noon. I am pacing my mother’s hospital room as she’s asking me to feel a huge bump on her head whilst I’m preparing to discuss with a random woman my own personal mysterious bump. I’m in the middle of complaining that I hadn’t even shaved my pubes when I feel it.
The death sentence.
Flo had returned. And no, not my great-grandmother may she rest in peace better than her daughter, Betty. With one hour left before my appointment, I had a bush and a heavy flow. With nothing to protect my precious underwear or the seats beneath my ass, I stuffed a wad of toilet paper in that alien Ood of a vagina and prepared for the most awkward conversation of my life.
I waddled into an elevator. I tottered out of the elevator into the wrong hall. I shuffled to anyone who looked medical-ish or doctor-esque for directions to a f*cking vagina doctor. It took me ten minutes to find her, but I made it to the waiting room to an unamused desk clerk who did not take kindly to my stammering and two cent jokes. A woman in braces called me into the room for my emergency check-up.
Immediately, “Is it okay if, um, I am, uh, bleeding, eh, a tad?”
“Of course, we’ll just put something down under you just in case,” something being a literal pee pad from PetSmart for your average canine, “your doctor will be here in a minute. Just take everything off and put this gown on, it should open in the front.”
So much for the stupid dress for easy access. Guess that’s only for the classiest of bars and clubs…
“Um will I be getting a PAP smear?” I ask with a disappointing amount of trembling in my voice.
“Probably not today, you usually get one at your annual physicals”
Okay. So things were starting to look up for me. So with a wad of toilet paper still in my vagina, my doctor came in.
“I kind of have something for my period, should I..?”
“You should dispose of it or else I won’t have sufficient access,” My doctor always speaks with an amazing accent of which the origin is unfamiliar to me just in case you want to make this a vivid interpretation.
Duh. I waddle once again out of the bathroom, pinning my gown shut with my index finger and thumb. Once back inside, the doctor went right to work.
“I, uh, I didn’t really get a chance to shave I don’t know if that’s gross or anything.” Facepalm.
“Is fine! Pubic hair serves a purpose you know! Now spread as wide as you can!” And immediately I feel the cold pressure of fingers pushing against my uterine wall. Hands that have gone where many have gone, but never my own. How does one find this to be an enjoyable profession? I must ask the gigolos of the world.
“Where is this bump you saw? I do not see anything out of the regular?”
“Uh, it was inside toward the bottom,” I replied clearly trying to sound as knowledgeable on the subject of vaginas as possible, “I’m not sure if I was mistaken because I am not used to what it’s like before my period..?” Everything here just sounds like one big question.
“Yes that must be it because I don’t see anything. Looks healthy to me. Maybe it was a swollen gland,” I didn’t even want to budge that topic as long as it’s normal, “Have you had any new partners?”
The dreaded question.
“Um, one.” Not totally a lie…
“Do you use protection?”
“Uhhh,” I fondle my hair as she looks into my eyes with an overhead light shining down on her like she’s a saint, “mostly!”
“Hm, well it is not a physical so a PAP smear would not be covered. I probably don’t have to check…” I metaphorically wipe beads of sweat from my forehead for avoiding the torture device that is the “clamp”, “but ah what the heck! One second…”
My heart raced. This was it. This was the one thing I feared the most.
The PAP smear.
“Okay, Joelle, I will need you to spread your legs a little wider,” I moved ever-so-slightly, “little more… okay now move up closer.”
I scooched my damn ass off the bed.
“Okay this will feel like slight pressure,” She said as she gave me a lil’ help boosting back onto the bed and in one swift motion of her hand I was seeing stars. I involuntarily leaned back as my body begged to just float away and out of that room into oblivion. The pain as she drilled in further brought me back to the first time a foreign body invaded that sacred space. It felt as though she was reaching for the pit of my stomach and the pain surged like an earthquake to my heart. The blood rushed from my face, I held back tears. I wanted to be a God damn adult about this God damn PAP smear!
“Joelle, this will work better if you are not so tense.”
“Oh, okay,” I eek out maintaining the same tense as all Hell position, maybe even straining more as I tried to fight my fight or flight instinct, “sorry!”
“So does that mean I had my PAP smear?”
“Well, this is what a PAP smear is, yes.”
“Oh well thank God I don’t have to get another ‘til next year!”
“Oh no, this is not your PAP smear. It will check for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, but insurance will not cover it if I say it is a PAP smear. You’ll have to come back as soon as possible for your annual visit.”
My heart sank. Again?
“Okay, Joelle, you are done now if you don’t hear from me it’s good news. If you get a call from me, not good news. So pray not to hear from me! Unless it is for your annual! Bye-bye!” And she walked back from whence she came without even a blink of an eye.
So needless to say, I went through all of this- ALL of this- because of a bump that was a normal part of my f*cking vagina. I call that a crash course in “Getting to Know My Vagina”.
Also, I was clear of STDs before I incriminate myself with a nonexistent illness. But, for God’s sake, don’t be a pussy like me and just get to know your pussies, ladies.