Generally speaking, I am one of those people who needs to be feeling like death before I go anywhere near a doctor. Even then, if I think it’s death by virus, standard practice is paracetamol and a healthy dose of avoidance.
Partly it’s a hallmark of being a teacher; the preparation of relief work while feverish is just about as bad as riding out another day in classes. Combine that with the fact that even the most diligent of students give only a cordial nod to completion of said work, plus the likelihood of ructions or all out mutiny in the face of a reliever, and it’s usually best just to suffer through. If you’re well enough to be at school, then you’re too well for a doctor.
Besides, I’m not a fan of anything medical. Not in a ‘stick these quartz crystals up your nose under the light of a waning moon, who needs modern medicine?’ kind of a way, but in a ‘I nearly fainted during first aid training and had to lie on the floor with my legs up on a chair’ kind of way. (True story. Ugh). Some people feel similarly about the dentist but a) I’ve never been weighed by one, and b) they don’t muck around when it comes to giving you decent drugs.
Basically, if it’s a malady I can live with or there’s even a vague possibility of curing it myself, I’ll give that a go first. Don’t want to clog up the public health system with my petty ailments anyway.
Despite my aversion, this week I found myself at my GP for an entirely elective IUD procedure. Why? Because the thought of a fourth child joining our family is almost enough to send me into the basketcase territory of last year, and the actuality of one no doubt would. And as for why an IUD, well, I’m sick of my hormones being messed with. My body has done enough. Plus, as the GP gaily announced, it will last ten years and will see me ‘right through until the beginning of menopause’. Bit of a backhander, that one.
And anyway, no big deal an IUD, bit of copper and plastic, 99.4% effective. Pop it in there and off you go. For ten years. Sounds awesome. (I simplify, I know – do your research).
To be fair, the phrase ‘pop it in there’ is somewhat inaccurate. In fact, think of a phrase meaning almost exactly the opposite and you’ll be getting somewhere close. I’m not silly, I knew it wasn’t going to be particularly pleasant, but ignorance of the specifics when it comes to doctors is a contributing factor in getting me through the door, so I hadn’t quizzed Dr. Google too thoroughly; horror stories abound and I’m all too easily spooked.
I started to get an inkling it was going to be bad when the very first thing the nurse asked was whether I took ibuprofen before I arrived. Then the doctor asked the same and pressed her lips together, grim line style, when I informed her I had but it was the stonking great dose the nurse just gave me because no one told me there was a need to drug up in preparation.
The next alarm bell? The ominous pause in the phrase ‘It’s just that this can be ….. uncomfortable’. That pause? It’s where less professional people would insert a swear word. In my experience, the longer the pause, the worse the required word. This was a two-word pause. You can come up with the swears that give you the most comfort. Try not to say them aloud; it may distract the doctor.
I’ve gotta say too, the phrase ‘It’s nowhere near as bad as delivering a baby’ fails to hit the mark as reassuring banter. If that’s your benchmark for discomfort then I hate to think what else you’ve suffered through. It’s on par with comforting the general public with platitudes about Trump not being as horrible as Hitler.
Of course, she was right. It wasn’t as bad as childbirth. Elements were reminiscent of it. But no, certainly not as bad. Sure, there was an instrument closely resembling a knitting needle and sure, there was a moment when I realised with startling clarity that the cervix is a muscle not to be messed with. But at the end of the day, 15 minutes of dignity-sapping, colour-draining discomfort is a small price to pay for ten years of peace of mind.
A word of advice though, take the ibuprofen in advance. Swig it down with a generous glass of wine to take the edge off. You’ll be grand.