I meet the doctor ahead of time, sit forever in a little office full of purple pears, waiting to discuss the mental implications, needing to tell her some personal things before I consent
. Knowing I have already spent a few years ruminating, trying to think it away, and now it had to come to this.
A doctor said my cervix looked angry. Another confirmed through a biopsy that there were “bad cells”. So we all know something needs to be done. I have known it for a long time. Now I am here to interview this new doctor, to test her and see if she will say mean things about my insides. If she is right for the job I want her to take the bad part away and pronounce me healed. I think this surgery might also get rid of these scary cave dreams, scrolls hidden in the dark. I want them to change into something else. Like an ornate library, big old books open on carved mahogany tables.
So I pick a doctor who delivers babies, is friendly to midwives, and has lesbian support group pamphlets in her office. She turns out to be a very soft spoken and gentle older woman, salt and pepper hair, slight downy fuzz to her cheek. These things tell me she can be trusted. She does not have a rigid framework. Which means I can tell her I am truly scared, that this is a mental block, that I will need valium, that my heart races from just looking at the table, even though she has little covers for the stirrups. Even though she warms up the instruments before insertion, does not assume that because I have had two babies I will require the biggest speculum.
I tell her that the idea of getting up there and waiting for her to burn off the cells makes me want to cry. Because I have been legs open vulnerable before, but I was not given a choice. That there was once a rapist, a slimy fucking hateful pig, who got me down and also took a thing away from me, and I did not give it willingly. And then it was his. My whole sense of place, everything sensual, all feeling. Just gone, for years and years. I tell her I had only recently begun to work through it, to admit how I really felt about it, to tell the story. And how, when I did, my sensuality began pouring back in. And just as I start to get a hold on reclamation, here we go again. How every time I start to get good with this part, someone busts in and makes it feel bad again. The same punishment for different reasons.
I tell her what a great deal of trust is required for me to get up on that table, get into position and relax, all those things gleaming and waiting to burn my most tender flesh. Can you see my point?
Yes she tells me, sad that I have had to spend so much time thinking about it with out getting anywhere. She tells me it will not hurt because I will be given medication. She will help me with the mental part, Zanex is the way to go, or so she says.
But when the day comes I get half a pill, and it does not take enough of the edge off. My husband sits at my end of the bed. He takes my hand. I look at the ceiling, ready to cry, trying for brave and missing it altogether. A machine kicks on, like one of those suction tubes at the dentist. It is for getting rid of the smoke made when the electrified wire loop hits the flesh. “Like a hot knife through butter”, they said. How’s that for an image?
Please be very, very careful, this is my body. That’s where the babies came out. That spot is usually pleasurable, why do we have to cut a chunk off again? Ok sure I’ll relax.
Despite the suction tube I can smell my own flesh burning. There is no pain, but a cramping. I want to get fetal, curl up. I hate them, the cells and the sweet lady I hired to burn them off. The nurse looks at me skittishly, she asks if I am ok.
My chin is shaking,
I am squeezing my husband’s fingers together,
he looks at me only, looks sad.
He hates this too.
Tears well up and blur everything,
I make no sound,
try to breathe.
Purplepears purplepears purplepears
The doctor puts a hand on my calf, peeks around the sheet. Almost done honey. We can stop when ever you want to.
Go on, yeah, this is great. Top notch. But I only nod and wait for it to be over. I can’t believe I ever told any one it would be ok with me for them to go in there with a knife. Even if it’s for my own good. Cervical dysplasia be damned.
She tells me she is done and I am so relieved. I focus again on my own vagina, having taken my consciousness out of there for the process. I feel warmth and know I am bleeding. I am very cold, shivering. I feel shame. I am a big fat baby. I want to go home.
Turns out we are not done. I put my consciousness back to fast; I lost my edge and will be forced to have to have the horrible feelings ahead. “We” still have to stop the bleeding, my part is to stay still and allow it. I am dabbed at the site with some kind of thick brown paste, warned that when it comes back out it might be black and alarming. She then begins to pack my vagina with impossibly long, dry strips of gauze. It actually hurts worse because there is no moisture on the intake. I want to cry again, but now I am numb, no tears left. When she is done she gives me a pad, and leaves me to put my clothes on. When I sit up it’s kind of uncomfortable, all that gauze on the inside. Somehow I am ok. I hated it when I was supposed to and then let it go. A bit of a clearing in my head. A kind of relief now that it is over. My husband hugs me, asks if I am ok. I have had enough of yes. I get dressed. We eat at McDonalds for lunch. I am very tired.
Later, alone in the shower, all unpacked, I stand in the spray for a long time. Put my hand down and rest there, afraid to know. Days pass before I can finally do it, feel around, put my finger in the missing tooth hollow. I find I am missing more of my cervix than I had imagined. I cry again, and this time I am not silent. It takes several weeks before it feels whole again. But it does heal.
There are worse things in the world, buck up kiddo, you might be safe now. That was help. Do not forget to say thank you. You are bigger than this.