Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PAP: The Most Dreaded Acronym In The English Language

Yesterday I had my first OB/Gyno appointment. I know...ME... the girl who is deathly afraid of doctors and faints when she enters a hospital. I am still so proud of myself for going through with it. I'm proud that I refrained from running down the hall screaming for my husband when they called my name. And that I only poured tears sniffled for the first 30 minutes of sitting in the wait room. That I didn't throw a small child in front of me when they came to "collect" blood samples.

I ended up waiting in the wait room for over an hour- omg, this just let the fear of the impending unpleasant procedures sink into my head and brew and boil for much longer than I would have liked. I read an entire Parenting magazine from front to cover. I looked at the pictures of all the smiling moms and thought- they did this too and look they're still smiling...

Eventually they called my name. The nurse directed me to the bathroom and asked me to pee in a cup. Ok, so how high should I fill the cup? Do they want me to fill it all the way? That's kinda gross AND embarrassing because it shows how much I can pee at one time (alot). Should I be generous with my sample or should I be modest? I never know. So I figure, can't go wrong with halfway right? I always worry- what if its too orange and they think I'm dehydrated, but if its too clear is that bad? oh man, I think about this WAY too much!

The nurse comes into my room and asks me some pretty innocent questions: have I ever had a UTI, have I ever had a rash...down there, do I want the baby (what?!), do I have abnormal discharge, what's the most embarrassing thing I've ever done? I keep thinking, omg, I barely know you. Then she pulls out what I think is a handtowel and hands it to me, "you can put this on after the doctor comes in to see you. The doctor will examine you while you're (que the cheesy Titanic line) wearing this...only this."

The doctor comes in and I finally get to meet the person who will be touching my most intimate parts for the next six months or so. The first thing she says is, "are you pregnant?" Um, woudl I be here if I wasn't? When I tell her that I've never had a Pap before she says, "don't worry, I haven't killed anyone doing one yet." great. thanks. alot. sooooo hilarious. When I have to put the gown on, I start to cry. I feel so humiliated and exposed. And the room is freezing! Each layer I took off made the tears flow in greater volume. Overall, it wasn't THAT bad even though it was REALLY uncomfortable, even stung for a bit, and stripped away all my dignity. It didn't help that my doctor described each thing she was about to do, the ability to anticipate what was going to happen just gave me greater anxiety. I kept thinking, just do it already be-otch!

The doctor listened to my heart and then asked, "are you a runner? You're heart rate is 49, that's really low, but don't worry it means you're heart is healthy." I beamed and answered yes. I love when people recognize the fact that I am a runner, it makes my day and shows me that all my running isn't for nothing. Plus, I just love being identified as a runner because, to me, it's a big part of my identity.

The only good thing about this whole experience was that I got to hear the baby's heartbeat. Omg, it's amazing. I heard it before at my untrasound but the experience is just breathtaking. The only tangible sign I really have that there is life inside me, not just a parasite. The baby's heart beat is 160...and just perfect. It's amazing to think the baby's little heart can pump so fast and so hard.

The very last thing I had to do was give the doctor blood samples. The tech escorted me to a room and joked, "I hope you brought you're big veins today. The doctor wants me to take half of your blood." OMG... He sat me down and they filled 15 vials of blood! Of course, I looked away but I also counted the vials the tech laid out on the table. I felt that damn sharp needle go into my arm each time. I warned the technician that I usually faint afterwards. Well, about a minute into it, I started seeing spots, and my ears plugged up. All I could hear was my own breathing. I started breathing so fast I thought I was going to die or hyperventalate. The world started to spin and I said, "i'm fainting!" The tech told me to hang on, they had to fill seven more vials.

OMG. I tried so hard to hang on. All I could see was blackness, I was so scared! Then he must have finished because he was suddenly wipping my arm with a cloth. I couldn't see or hear anything (but my own rapid breathing) but i felt something cold on my face and the back of my neck. I woke up a couple minutes later and they gave me apple juice and licorice. That was the most uncomfortable experience ever. I felt so helpless and out of control of my own body. I almost would rather have another Pap than have to give that much blood again.


newduck said...

While the whole experience sounds pretty bad, your doctor actually sounds nice. I once went in for an ultrasound and the technician made me DO IT MYSELF. To the tune of inserting something that looked like a huge dildo inside myself while she watched. I was so pissed off I actually considered telling the office I didn't want them to charge me for the visit. I mean seriously, medical people can be so screwed up.

the dragonfly said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

If it's any consolation, the PAP during my pregnancy was much more uncomfortable than a PAP before pregnancy. After was (mostly) better too (only mostly because I tore during delivery. but don't worry, hardly anyone tears as bad as I did).

Boy, I was trying to make you feel better and I probably didn't help much.

I just wanted to say that PAPs in the future probably won't be so bad. :)

And you're right, hearing your baby's heartbeat is incredible!!

Colleen said...

how did you skate through life not getting a PAP before this? lucky!

well, I agree with dragonfly...the PAPs during pregnancy are more uncomfortable because you've got a lot more blood in that area making the nerves more sensitive.

And did the blood tech REALLY stick you that many times instead of inserting a catheter and just clicking the vials on one-by-one? Yikes!
I usually faint when I get blood work done...it's that Vagus Nerve that tells your body it's under attack and starts shutting auxillary power down. ;)
Next time you need to give blood, ask if you need fast...if you don't need to fast, make sure you eat a good meal before you're appointment...that seems to help me. Also, warn your blood tech that you "get vagal" or "have a vagal response" so that they know that you might tip over on them. I've even had a blood tech let me lie on a cot while he took my blood...that was really nice.
That's awesome that you got to hear the baby's heart again...I was always anxious for each check-up to hear the heartbeat. and I agree that your doctor sounds nice in that she was letting you know what she was going to do so that maybe you didn't kick her in the skull. ;)

Law Student Hot Mama said...

Ah, yes. The first pregnancy indignities.

Well, there's good and bad news about them. The bad news is they increase over time. There will be tons of these undignified experiences before you deliver. Also, delivery is by far the most undignified thing that you will ever experience. Pooing on a gurney as you struggle is not quite a Jackie Kennedy moment. However, the good news is that you won't give a damn by the end. You won't be able to see what the doctor is doing, and you won't really care because you'll be so glad that 1) pregnancy is over and 2) the baby has arrived.

PT-LawMom said...

Yikes! That was your first one ever? How scary. :( Maybe they can let you lay down next time?