It’s 10 AM, and I get a call from my clinic. I’m working at the moment, so I let the call go to voicemail. A missed call and a voicemail notification pops up on my phone. I look at the notifications and pause for a moment. A few thoughts are running through my head.
Could this be about the tests I took a few days ago? Isn’t that a bit too soon to know the answer? It was only a few days ago.
I wait for a moment to put myself in personal and play the voicemail.
It all started a week after my birthday. On July 26th, I scheduled my annual pap smear with my physician assistant. I sat in my paper gown, completely bare, waiting for my PA to pop her head into the doorway. A few minutes pass by, and there she is: a small framed woman with a golden blonde bob. She greets me with a warm smile.
“Hello Emily! I’m Jessica. We’ve met before. I did your pap last year, and I’ll doing your pap today.”
I return her warm welcome with a smile of my own.
“Before we begin, I’d like to ask you a few questions if that’s okay.”
“Sure. No problem.” I said.
“Okay. So when was your last period?”
“July 4th…wait..that’s not right..sorry…” I pick out my birth control pack from my purse and check.
I’m on my first week of birth control pills, so that means I had my period last Thursday; I usually get it on a Thursday.”
“Wonderful. Now have you had any issues with your birth control? Would you like to stay with this brand?”
“No. I’d like to keep this brand.” I quipped.
“Okay;and have you been experiencing any discomfort that you would like me to take a look at today?”
That’s a lie. For the past few months, I’ve been experiencing this extra dryness and irritation down there every week before my period.
I’m not sure why I lied to Jessica. She’s been my PA for the past two years. I feel like I could trust her and could confide in her, and yet I just lied and said everything was fine.
“Okay. If you could just scooch your butt towards the end of the table, we can begin.”
I move myself down to the leg stirrups and assume the position: my legs open wide, while my gown is covered with another paper cloth.
“Okay, you’re going to feel my fingers move to the opening on your vagina. I’m going to insert the speculum right now. You might feel some pressure.”
The speculum opened, and I felt like as if someone was sitting on me.
“Have you been feeling itchy lately?” Jessica asks. “I see some yeast like puss in here.”
My face turned crimson. “Yeah. I’ve been feeling some irritation.”
“Okay. That’s no problem. When I take the sample, we can see if we detect any yeast. In the meantime I can order a prescription for you to clear that up.”
Yes! Of course! That’s probably what I’ve been experiencing lately with my periods. An untreated yeast infection.
“Would you like the sample tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea too?” she asked. She slowly removed the speculum.
“Uh. Yes please.”
“Okay. Well you are all set. You might experience some spotting, so I’ve had the nurse leave you a panty liner and a cleaning wipe so you can freshen up. The prescription to treat the yeast infection will be ready to pick up shortly.”
She smiled one more time before leaving the room. I was in the room alone with my thoughts.
Oh my God, what if it’s not a yeast infection? What if it’s an STD? I’ve never been tested for anything else besides Chlamydia and Gonorrhea?
I walked out of the clinic with a head full of “what ifs.” The next day, I went to my local pharmacy and took the yeast infection medication. A few days passed by, and I still felt irritated.
While I awaited for this clear up, I took the liberty to scour the internet and try to figure out if what I had was truly a yeast infection. To my avail, the internet just added more worries. My symptoms mimicked some STDs.
What if it’s BV? What if it’s Trich? What if it’s some kind of bacterial or viral STI I had no idea I had?
I tossed and turned in my bed at night thinking of all the possible scenarios that could happen. I counted the number of sexual partners I had in my life, and how many partners my partners had. After a few days of sleepless nights, and some relief from the medication, I called my clinic once more. I talked to one of the nurses there.
“I’m getting some relief, but I still feel irritated. I’m worried that it might be something else. I think I want to come in and get tested for other STDs.”
“Jessica isn’t in today,” the nurse said. “But I will tell her and ask her what she would like to do for you. In the meantime sweetie, try to eat and drink things that have probiotics in them so you can get your flora and fauna back in balance. But if you want to get tested, we will do that for you.”
That day, I ran to my grocery store, and purchased everything that had a probiotic in it.
The next week I had scheduled an appointment to get tested for Trich and BV. While I was there–being the paranoid person that I am–I asked to get tested for all other STDS as well.
I sat in my clinics small lab, while the nurse prepared to take my blood.
“Do you have a good arm?” she asked.
“I’m not sure. I don’t get blood tested that often.”
“We’ll see which arm I like then.” she smiled cheerfully.
I lifted my right, and watched her take three large vials of my blood. I couldn’t help but notice how deep and rich the color was.
With a sore right arm, I left the clinic; I felt more anxious.
This is it. I tested for EVERYTHING. This is a first. I’m going to know everything about my sexual health.
With that thought in mind, I felt somewhat relieved, and sort of proud of myself for putting my health first.
I played the voicemail.
“Emily, this is Kathy from your clinic. I’m just calling to let you know that all of your tests came back negative. If you have any questions, please call us.”
I smiled. And for the first time I felt relieved that I knew everything. I also started feeling better after consuming all of those probiotics.
And even though I now know my status, I sorta feel bad that it took me so long to get over this fear of getting tested. Deep down, I know that it’s best for me to be honest with my family doctor, and if I prolonged this, I would have continued to self diagnose myself with stuff on the internet.
Tell your doctor everything. Don’t be afraid of getting tested.
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