image: a normal pap test. pretty, eh?
i've been working on a few posts about my parental culture shock. they're coming, but instead i have to write today about a different kind of total, utter shock.
perhaps it's 'just' culture shock - something i didn't know about life in argentina until just now. i don't know, you tell me.
i can't seem to scoop my jaw up off the floor or stop asking my partner, incredulously, "but, can you believe it?"
i wake him up in the middle of the night: "i mean, really, how can this be?"
i call him when he's working: "am i crazy, or is this not absolutely and utterly shocking and unacceptable and unbelievable and...um... shocking?"
i didn't expect to write about pap smears when i started this blog, but i am shocked!!! so i just have to share.
i casually mentioned to my friend that i needed to get a pap done sometime soonish, and could she recommend a doctor. (this was before i realized that my health coverage doesn't let me choose my doctor.)
she was happy to recommend her gynecologist: "he's pretty good. and he uses lubricant."
she found my
"they usually just tell you to relax and to breathe." AS IF. well, i guess i'm glad i asked.
i mentioned this conversation to my only other female friend here. and get this:
she had never even heard of the use of lubrication for a pap test.
my outrage doesn't know whether to boil and sizzle or try to snuff itself out in the name of 'adapting to cultural differences'.
i'm normally pretty chill about these things. though it's slightly uncomfortable, i've had no negative experiences, i don't even particularly mind if a man does the exam. i find it a lot more challenging to get blood taken than to have a pelvic exam.
but come on.
how hard can it be to put a little gel on the speculum, or on the gloved finger, that is going to be inserted into a part of my body that is so clearly meant to be lubricated before anything goes in there? no gel? warm water even. something!!!!
it would be like men getting prostate exams with no lubricant. they do use lubricant for those exams, don't they?
the more i think about it, the more outraged i get (and i'll admit it, nervous. i still have to get this done, and i have no idea what kind of experience awaits me).
the more i think about it, the more it seems to me like a total lack of respect, a total unwillingness to do anything at all to make life, and health, a little more comfortable. i can't help but think that this is about women's dignity. like the whole epidural-and-lie-on-your-back-
maybe i've been living in an oasis of lubricated pap smears all my life, i don't know. though i've lived in different countries, i've always saved things like pap smears and bra shopping for trips back to canada.
i couldn't post this without a little bit of research, so i did quickly google -pap exam lubrication-, and it turns out there
i had no idea there was ever any question about this. i've been getting regular pap smears since my very first one - oh so memorable - back in 1989(!). the planned parenthood folks at the youth clinic didn't seem to have any concerns about using lubricant, nor have any other doctors or midwives since. my last midwife even warmed the gel and the speculum, for my added comfort.
so what is going on?? i still can't get over it, but all i get around me is a giggle and a shrug of the shoulders. then google goes and makes me question my outrage. am i way off? i really don't know anymore.
here's how you can help, if you feel so inclined:
- help me get my bearings: tell me if you are as shocked as i am, or if you're not surprised or appalled at all. am i making too much of all this?
- share any advice or experience that could help me get prepared for my pending, potentially non-lubricated doctor's visit
- help me think of other comparisons (like the prostate exam one) so i can better explain my shock and disbelief