We had an appointment with the building society to apply for a new mortgage. I decided to take the opportunity to book in for a smear and my ears syringing at the same time, as the GP practice is near enough the building society for it to be an efficient use of my time. My hearing has been a bit crap of late, and this is not good in a therapist. (“I’m sorry what did you say then?....No, just didn’t get the last bit….You feel….? Just that last word, again? You feel suicidal. Oh.”)
I was a bit nervous. The smear thing is fine. I have had 3 miscarriages and a baby so I am quite used to taking my knickers off for the doctor. It is almost a reflex action now when I walk into the surgery. I am worried that one day I will be introduced to a doctor at a party and I will automatically start to undress. The ear syringe is an entirely different matter though. I never put anything in my ears, and I hate doctors even looking in them through that thingy that they have. It just feels so intrusive. I know, it doesn’t quite make sense.
So I arrived for my smear and ear syringe. There are a number of jokes that can be made about this double booking, and the receptionist made several as she ticked me off on the computer. The funniest one involved me walking around for the rest of the day with wet knickers, which quite tickled her.
The practice nurse asked me in her best bedside manner which procedure I would like to ‘get over with first’, as she reached for her tray of speculums.
“The syringing” I said, and admitted to being a bit nervous. She looked at me like the numpty that I felt. I don’t know whether you have ever had your ears syringed. I can’t tell you what the instrument looks like, because I didn’t look, but I am guessing a turkey baster attached to a pumping machine. I focused hard on the tray of speculums in front of me to calm myself, and wondered why there were so many different sizes. We are not that different, surely?
“Are you okay, now?” she asked sweetly as she pumped warm water into my ear, me sitting with my head cocked on one side and slightly trembling.
“Just fine” I said bravely, although in actual fact I was feeling quite dizzy. Then I heard a thump, which was me landing on the consulting room floor. Like a delicate Victorian lady, I had fainted. How bloody embarrassing. She made me sit with my head between my legs, whilst she consoled me that I must have a very sensitive middle ear. She made soothing noises for a few minutes, which did nothing for my embarrassment, and suggested that I have the smear and come back for my ears on another occasion. I felt a bit silly, as well as nauseous, dizzy and shaky.
Knickers off. You know the procedure. Except she couldn’t find my cervix. Several insertions, change of speculum, internal examination. Still no cervix.
“I definitely have one” I said. “I’ve had a baby. He would still be in there if I didn’t have a cervix.”
More poking and prodding. This was getting uncomfortable.
“Perhaps you could try left lateral?” I suggested helpfully. (Blokes, ask a woman. I’m not explaining this one.) Left lateral worked a treat and I could finally get the hell out of there.
I rushed into the building society 20 minutes late. The Husband was in the advisors office, making small talk, and flashed me an irritated look as I was ushered in.
“I’m sorry I’m late”, I flustered, “but I had my ears syringed and I fainted – it was horrible - and then she couldn’t find my cervix!” and then I burst into tears in quite a dramatic fashion. I know it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened, but I was feeling a bit delicate. The mortgage advisor looked mortified, and went rushing off to find tissues and a glass of water. The Husband looked bemused. He is used to me. I just don’t normally do it in public.
The application went fine, with The Husband answering all the questions and me snivelling into my tissue and sipping my water. He gave all his personal details. And then my turn. Name, date of birth, occupation.
“Psychotherapist” I said, ever so quietly.
“I’m sorry?” she said. At first I thought she had said “I’m sorry”, which would have been entirely appropriate under the circumstances. But it was definitely a question.
“Psychotherapist” I said, just a tiny bit louder.
“Oh!” she said, looking both surprised and amused. The Husband smiled wryly. I knew he thought it was very funny.
“Could you spell that?” she said.