Disclaimer: If you’re of a nervous disposition and/or related to me in any way, you should probably give this one a miss. Just saying.
It’s always a bit nerve-wracking seeing a new doctor, isn’t it? A good GP isn’t just someone who writes out your prescriptions, it’s someone you have to really trust. A good GP needs to be someone you’re comfortable to have see you at your weakest and most vulnerable – someone who, over time, gets to know all the foibles of your little family.
After we moved, finding a new family doctor was the one thing that I kept pushing to the bottom of the to-do list. But six months into Tasmanian life, when everything else on the list had been ticked off, I finally had to get on and do it.
To save time, I made a double appointment. We could zip through the list of things DorkySon needed – vaccinations, allergy testing, height and weight – and then zip through mine – a couple of prescriptions and a referral for some blood tests – and be out of there in a single trip.
It went really well. The doctor was very nice. A mother herself, she had a very sweet manner with DorkySon, and the fifteen minutes passed without tears or drama.
But as I was backing out the door, she suddenly narrowed her eyes at me.
‘When was the last time you had a pap smear?’
‘Erm. I’m not really sure. Three years ago? I think. Maybe four? I’m sure I’ve had one since DorkySon was born. Sure-ish.’
‘Let’s do one,’ she said.
‘What, now?’ I asked, unable to keep the horror out of my voice. I glanced down at the small person tugging on the back of my jacket. DorkySon had been very good, but his patience was starting to wear a little thin.
I was a little taken aback. In the UK, GPs don’t do pap smears – you have to make a separate nurse’s appointment for them instead. And as far as I know, it’s not usually a spectator sport.
I glanced at DorkySon again.
‘He’ll be fine,’ she said. ‘I’ll close the curtain and we’ll get it done nice and quickly.’
So I pulled out a few emergency toys to keep DorkySon entertained, and slunk over to the bed, whisking the curtain closed behind me.
A few minutes later there I am, lying back on the bed, naked from the waist down. Heels together, knees apart, you know the score. Nice doctor is having a good rummage around trying to find the relevant lady part. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Gosh, I do so love being a woman…
Suddenly I hear the curtain rustling.
DorkySon’s little face grins up at me from floor level.
I try to keep my voice light.
‘Hello sweetie. What are you doing down there?’
‘I’m being a ninja Mummy. Look! I can crawl all the way under the curtain!’
DorkySon continues to wiggle his way towards me.
‘Just wait outside, there’s a good boy. There’s not really room for everyone in here.’
The nice doctor glances up. ‘Just relax for me a little can you?’
I make a noise that’s somewhere between a groan and a snarl.
‘Mummy I’m going to get up on the bed with you. Move over a bit.’
‘No, you really can’t sweetie. There’s not room up here, look. We’re nearly done. Why don’t you go and see if the iPad is in my bag?’
I fear there’s a little hint of desperation entering my voice now.
Nice doctor, obviously still struggling to locate the necessary lady part, adjusts the light and cranks the speculum open a little further, drawing DorkySon’s attention to the other end of the bed.
‘Ooh Mummy, what’s that noise? What’s the big light for? Can I have a look?’
I can feel a genuine sense of panic rising in my chest.
‘Probably best not to, love. Here, if you want to stay why don’t you hold my hand and help me be brave instead.’
‘No, that’s okay Mummy. I know you’re brave anyway. I want to see what the —’
‘AHA!’ shouts nice doctor suddenly. ‘Got it!’
‘Got what? What’s she doing Mummy? Are you okay? Why are your trousers and shoes on the floor?’
I squeeze DorkySon’s hand, and give him a look, which I hope is more reassuring smile than post-pap grimace.
‘No worries buddy. It was just a little test. We’re done now. I’ll pop them back on again.’
Later that night, it is bath time, and I overhear DorkySon chatting away to DorkyDad.
‘I had to have an injection today. Mummy had to have one too. But the odd thing is she had to take her pants off to have hers, and the doctor closed the curtain so she didn’t get embarrassed about people seeing her bottom. Isn’t that funny, Daddy?’
Indeed it is, DorkySon.