Monday, 12 May 2014

Lie back and think of...anything else but this!

health screening
There was some of this involved 


I have a confession to make. Here I am prattling on about all the things I do that are good for my health, when I have a dirty little secret. I’ve avoided going for a cervical smear test for about six years. When I’ve seen doctors for other things in that time they’ve flagged it up to me (like I’d forgotten about it) and I’ve had reminder letters through the post. But you know what? I just ignored them all. I’ll do that another time, I thought to myself, but of course, another time never came.







Anyone that knows me well, could perhaps hazard a guess as to why I’m not keen on the NHS getting its hands on my nether regions. To fill in the uninitiated, let’s just say delivering my first child didn’t go exactly to plan and resulted in a trip to Intensive Care for me, and lots of ‘procedures’ where the way in was ‘down there’. That’s a lot of gloved hands and lubricated things that I’d like to forget. REALLY like to forget. And I think it’s probably given me trust issues with doctors and nurses. And Latex.

But recent news reports about the gradual decline in the number of women attending smear tests over the past decade gave me a bit of a wake up call. In fact, except for a brief hike in 2009 after reality TV star Jade Goody's death from cervical cancer, one in five women who are eligible for screening do not take up their invitation, and for young women aged 25-29 this rises to one in three. And yet an online petition that asked for smear tests to be available to those under 25, following the death of 19-year old Sophie Jones from the disease, attracted more than 300,000 signatures and led to a House of Commons debate.

Cervical smear
Hands up if you'd rather be somewhere else
(Image courtesy of artemisphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


So with gritted teeth but open knees I found myself at the doctors this afternoon, considering life as a nun. After a little chat with the nurse, and her telling me quite pointedly that she’d bolted the door and closed the curtains (to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a rush of spectators, but she seemed to like to err on the side of caution), she got to the main event. And in fact, the actual procedure has come on leaps and bounds since I first had a smear. Cold metal speculums have been replaced with plastic devices and a specially designed brush is used to collect cells from the cervix. The process only lasts a few minutes, and I had a lovely little ‘modesty’ sheet so I could pretend I wasn’t naked from the waist down (well it was more like a big sheet of kitchen roll – no patterns of fruit or flowers though).




And while it wasn’t the most pleasant experience of late, it was no more painful than the tricep exercises I perform during my Body Pump class (and that goes on for ages, although there is music to distract me). I also got the impression that for someone so short, my cervix is approximately a mile away from the official ‘entrance’. It seemed to be deliberately ducking out of her way too – like it was determined to play a game of internal hide and seek. I did wonder if the nurse had removed her watch first… 

Cancer screening
Well done you!
(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


So now I can feel just a little bit virtous that I have done my duty to my booty and had the test. I will get a letter with the results through the post before too long – and hopefully I won’t need to think about the whole thing for a few more years. 

And if I can do it – so can you! If you’re overdue a health check, why not bite the bullet and make that appointment. I recommend Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website for really clear info on smear tests – this page in particular will give you all the technical info you need, plus the charity runs a Helpline (0808 802 8000) manned by volunteers who have had personal experience of cervical cancer or cervical abnormalities and have had training in telephone helpline skills. The Helpline offers listening, support and information.







Are you up to date with your health checks? Do you have a guilty health secret you can share? Let me know in the comment box below.

Thanks for reading
Vanessa. x

******DRUM ROLL PLEASE******** AHappyHealthyMummy.com has been shortlisted for a Brilliance In Blogging Award (in the health category). Please vote the blog into the final here. At least I get to keep my fingers crossed!!!

18 comments:

  1. Great post, and excellent message to other women. It is scary I think going and having them done, but I had a positive smear test when I was younger and had to be lasered 'down there' :-o It might not have turned cancerous, but I was glad to have to sorted.

    Oh...and my Dr Dad always told us the roll was elephant's toilet roll, just so we can be clear about things! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elephant's toilet roll - love it! I assume they use their trunks to help wipe???! Glad to hear your suspect cells were swiftly dealt with - it just goes to show that the tests do help prevent cancer from developing. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  2. Well done for getting up to date! Try being pregnant with twins, it was a weekly occurrence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess the increasing bump acted as good modesty blanket though right?! Being a woman is definitely the short straw, only another 6 years & I can look forward to having my boobs squashed flat with a mammogram!!!

      Delete
  3. Good for you for finally taking care of that. You just inspired me to go get an appointment. I haven't seen a gynecologist since my son was BORN two years ago and I think it's time!!! #AllAboutYou



    Angie from reasons to dress, life as a North American mom in Italy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's every 3-5 years here in the UK, so you're well within the time limit here! Thanks for stopping by & commenting.

      Delete
  4. Well done for getting over the fear and doing it it, it is so important and glad to hear things have improved! I'm not actually due one yet and now I'm pregnant not sure when I will have one as I am due to have a baby just after my smear is due. When the time comes though I will just go and get it over with! Better than the alternative. Great post #allaboutyou xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point - the alternative would be far more uncomfortable and involve even more doctors, nurses and Latex! I think about 3 years after you give birth they send you a letter to let you know to come in. Good luck with the bub!

      Delete
  5. Nice post. It's well worth doing for any woman, we all grit our teeth, but you do feel the relief when it's done for another few years :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hadn't thought about it like that, but yes, I feel relieved it's over & done now for another few years.

      Delete
  6. This is an excellent poke in the bum for me...I haven't seen a lady doctor in the last 2-3 years myself, and I used to go regularly every year! I blame it on moving to a new city...guess it's time to find a new gyno! #allaboutyou

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Loving that expression! I can't imagine anyone wanting a gyno job, I can't imagine it's pleasant for them either? But perhaps it's something you get used to...perhaps...

      Delete
  7. Well done! I lived in France for 12 years and to get pretty much any contraceptive you have to see a gynaecologist, who will give you a smear test every year. That's right. Yearly. So I've had around 15 smear tests and I'm only 38! Also every antenatal check up has you naked from the waist down and legs akimbo so having baby number 2 in London was a big surprise!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting! I wonder what explains the difference in approaches, if it's an NHS budget thing, a NICE recommendation, or just cultural? If you have a straightforward pregnancy & delivery, you really don't get that much personal space invasion at all here do you?

      Delete
  8. Ok ok ok, you've got me, I'm booking an appointment! I'm actually fairly good at just "getting it over and done with", but my mother was shocked when I admitted that in 39+ years I've never been to a gynaecologist! Good for you, and great post #AllAboutYou

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm jealous of that record! I thought 6 years was a good run!!! Glad it has served as a reminder though - good luck!

      Delete
  9. Well done you! I had mine, also long overdue, a few weeks ago and they really aren't as bad as they used to be. Thanks for sharing with the Monday #pinitparty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it's all over fairly quickly too, although the wait to go in was pretty torturous (not least trying to decide if I needed the loo or not, or if I would get called while I was in the loo and miss the appointment altogether!!).

      Delete