My doctor has suggested it. My therapist has suggested it. My psychiatrist– if he were so inclined– would probably suggest it, too. When she was just a bit older than me, my mother went in for a routine pap test and found that pre-cancerous cells were forming in her uterine lining. Now, I need to get a bloody pap test, and I cannot seem to even schedule the appointment.
For those of you who don’t know, pap tests involve using a speculum to expand the vaginal opening so that the doctor can see the lining of the cervix. Then, cells are brushed off into a specimen jar. To end the exam, the doctor inserts two fingers in the vagina and presses on the lower pelvic area to feel for the size, shape, and location of reproductive organs. ‘Written out’ it seems fairly innocuous. Why, then, have I had to pause this post to go and be sick?
For me, the panic starts when I have to lay my head back. At that point, I can’t *see* the person touching me. As I was often tied up and blind-folded during sexual trauma, this is terrifying for me. I don’t want to lie there with my head back unable to see this person who, at that point, will feel all-powerful to me. That utter lack of control makes me physically ill. I don’t want anyone even thinking about that area of my body, much less concentrating on it and even touching it.
Logically, I know this is a very simple medical procedure that will be performed by a female physician who has probably done thousands of these. I know it only takes a few minutes and isn’t likely to cause me a great deal of pain. Yet I cannot bring myself to even set the appointment.
Any strategies, dear readers? I know this is incredibly common amongst women with sexual trauma histories. What has helped you through? Thanks in advance.