I find it shocking when someone treats me like a human. I don’t mean like the scientific-type of human, made up of flesh and blood. I mean like the human who is fallible, with wild emotions that are seldom acknowledged. Which I guess is why I didn’t expect to find myself crying at the gynecologist’s office today. It was a painful visit; and I don’t mean like the physical-type of pain.
I was in for a Mirena IUD check-up. A month after the contraceptive device is inserted into your uterus, the gynecologist asks you to come in for a return visit to make sure it was properly placed. As she proudly sat facing her desk under her framed doctorate degree, Lori Trisson, without making eye-contact, asked me the procedural questions: Was I on any new medications? Did I have any new sexual partners? When was the first day of my last period? Was I experiencing any unusual and/or persistent vaginal discharge? And so on.
She left the office, closing the door behind her, and told me to undress from my waist down. She would return in a few moments to continue with the exam. As I was stripping down, Dr Trisson, from outside of the office, asked me another question: “Are you in a relationship?”
I found it slightly odd that she didn’t ask me that along with the prior questions, but I brushed it off as simply another “procedural question”. Assuming that she was referring, again, to my sexual partner (the sexual partner who gives me orgasmic pleasure – and the additional possibility of an STD and/or a pregnancy) I told her, no, I was not in a relationship.
“No current sexual partners,” I said, adding that, ironically, my relationship had ended the same day the IUD was inserted, but if I were to have a new sexual partner I would surely use condoms to prevent the possibility of an STD (the IUD would take care of the pregnancy).
Dr Trisson returned to the office. I sat down on the table, spread my legs and put my heels into the metal stirrups.
“Is that good or bad?” she asked as she pressed down on my pelvis and shoved one speculum after another up my vagina, fishing around for the T-shaped IUD. The examination tools twisted around inside of me. Left. Right. Left. Up. Oh god, no! Down, and around. I could sense a possible tear coming on as the doctor shoved the specula deeper into my uterus. I gasped for air. The rods seized for a moment, and my focus shifted away from the pain and to that odd question Dr Trisson had asked me moments ago.
“Is that good or bad?” I repeated the question to myself, trying to decipher whether my lack of sexual partners was a good thing or a bad thing for the IUD. I mean, I don’t think the IUD really cares whether I’m sexually involved or not. Or, maybe it does?
“Not for the IUD!” Dr. Trisson responded after accurately reading the confused look on my face. “I meant for you! Are you better off, emotionally, now that your relationship has ended?”
The look on her face was more sentimental and less doctor-like at this point. She removed the specula from my vagina and closed my legs. As the vaginal discomfort ceased, I felt a new-found throbbing sensation in the back of my throat. I clenched my jaw in an attempt to hold back the emotions which, without my permission, were beginning to take on physical form.
There I was sitting on the exam table with watery eyes, astonished by my inability, at the age of 23, to hold it together in a public place. And there she was, Dr Trisson, staring me directly in the eyes.
When I didn’t immediately respond, she brushed the top of my leg like my mom used to do when I was five after waking up in the middle of the night, devastated from a nightmare.
“Let it all out and then change the channel,” mom would say as she patted the top of my leg. “Just change the channel, think about your paradise.”
For the first time since my relationship ended, I responded in a very non-scientific way. Tears began to stream down my cheeks.
“Yes,” I responded. “It is good for me.”