Warrior Schedules PAP Test

Photocredit: Francois et fier d l'Etre
Photocredit: Francois et fier d l’Etre

Okay, so I think I found a safe (to me) place to get a gyne exam. I found out through some friends that the community health centres have nurses that do pap tests, who are allowed to schedule longer appointments than doctors (who under our health system are allowed 15 minutes, if you can believe it!) .  Somehow a nurse seems less scary than a doctor, anyhow. Less hierarchical power.

How to Book a PAP test for a survivor in 10 not so easy steps:

Step 1: Look up on the web the community health centre my friends recommended. Read web site. Like web site. Find out I live in the wrong area to access this centre.

Step 2: Find out what community health centre I am allowed to go to for my location. Find that there is no website, no way to check out much about what they’re like. Hmmm…. Find short brochure for local community clinic with single helpful phrase: “Ask us what you’re looking for and we’ll help to connect you” and a phone number.  Give up for the day.

Step 3: Go back to web site. Re-read brochure. Print out brochure and put on desk. Give up for the day. Look at brochure several times over the next few days-week.

Step 4:  Call number on brochure. Say “I read in your brochure that I could tell you what I was looking for and you’d try and connect me, is that right?” Answer: Yes, I’ll try.  (Deep Breath) “I’m a survivor of childhood sexual assault and I haven’t had a PAP test in 8 years. I need to find a place to get a PAP test that will be compassionate.” Listen as woman on the line hems and haws a bit (albeit with sympathetic voice), and then when prompted with what I’d heard about the nurses, she says that they did have a nurse that came in briefly for a couple of times a month. She gave me a name and a phone number and apologized that she couldn’t make the appointment for me.  Write number down, thank her and leave room to go to the bathroom, cry, have a snack and tell my wife.

Step 5: Call number. I’ve been given the wrong number and get voicemail that says nothing about the person I’ve been referred to. I call back and ask for the switchboard operator, who confirms that that person is supposed to be at that local. I call again and get a live secretary, who tells me that person has moved to another local, gives me the local. I let her know the operator still thinks the other person is at this local in case she wants to change it.

Step 6: I call the local of the person I was supposed to call. Her voicemail doesn’t say her name or any department that seems related to what I want so I’m still not sure I have the right person, but I leave a message with my phone number.

Step 7: I call back the community clinic and let them know the nurse’s number has changed and give them the new number. The reception nurse remembers me, thanks me for letting her know, and takes my phone number so she can follow up and make sure the other nurse gets back to me, which I appreciated.

Step 8: I get a call back from the secretary for the nurse I’m trying to book an appointment with. She wants to book me in at  9:30 in the morning. I don’t think I can do 9:30, I don’t think I’ll be steady enough by 9:30, since mornings aren’t great for me emotionally. I tell her that I don’t think I can do 9:30 and that the reason I’m booking with this nurse is because I’m a sexual assault survivor  and mornings aren’t a good time for me for this sort of thing. She wisely accepts this without comment. We work out that 10:30 would be a lot better. She begins large amounts of hemming and hawing, and proposes a date two months from now when she can fit me in at 10 am. I accept, and then she says that the nurse I was referred to isn’t going to be there that day and someone else will be filling in for her. She asks if someone else would be okay and I say well, I asked the health clinic for someone who would be compassionate and this is who they recommended. I suggest that she root through the schedule and call me back when she has something. She seems relieved to agree.

Step 9: Nurse’s secretary calls me back and can put me in at 10:30 am two weeks from now. I accept. I put it in my computer calendar with lots of reminders and my cell phone becasue I’m likely to ‘forget’ about something that freaks me out.

Step 10: Cry a little in kind of safety-relief.

Related posts: “Pap Test, Anyone?”  ” Hidden Disabilities and Dentists”  “The day before the pap “,”Warrior Victorious in Pap Test “,  “In the wake of proof

Related Link: The impact of a history of child sexual assault on womens decisions and experiences of cervical screening (also might be located here)


0 thoughts on “Warrior Schedules PAP Test”

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  4. butterflysblog

    You know, I think Kerro’s idea here is a really really good one. For instance, I know of a great one in my town, and certainly one of us can start another blog with a title like “List of great gynos in your area” or whatever. It seems like all of us survivors share the commonality of not liking our private parts touched without a lot of mindfulness attached to it, so I think this might be a useful site that would grow throughout the years, as more people send in names of good people.

    1. What about starting it as a thread on one of those survivors discussion boards like isurvive (I haven’t been there before so I don’t know how that would work, but it might be good). Then we could all link to it off our blogs. One thing we’d have to figure out is, how to get a bit more anonymity. Most of us don’t want to have our real names and locations made public, and recommending a local gyno kind of wrecks that. I’ll think about it.

      I was thinking, if we could get the anonymity (and probably a million other issues, not to mention legal ones) sorted out, that it would also be useful to have an ‘out your abuser’ board, where we could network around postering each others’ abusers neighbourhoods with warning notices. I’d love to find someone in my home town who would do that in a way that couldn’t be linked to me easily. It’d also be way less scary to poster about someone else’s abuser than risk meeting up with my own while walking my old neighbourhood. Since many of us don’t live in the same town as our abusers, but others might, wouldn’t it be interesting if we had some kind of anonymous internet link up to spread the word to abusers that people know where they are and what they are? If the shitheads can use the internet to prey on children, why couldn’t we use the internet to stop them?

  5. I’ve been thinking about your posts on this issue, and mine. You know what I think we need? A worldwide list of decent health professionals who are sensitive and experienced at working with people like us… and a similar list of fellow survivors who can help and support us to get through this without completely freaking out. As Kate would say, “good and healing thoughts to you”.

    1. Yes, I think we do. Even if the local women’s centres had a list of recommendations or something.
      If I get my courage up, I may talk to this nurse about setting up a clinic day for survivors to get gyne exams. She’s a community practice nurse, so her job is a bit oriented toward this kind of thing I think. I’m sure they could make a case for it with the health authority, since it’s a known thing that survivors avoid pap tests and are at risk for all kinds of gyne problems.

  6. Actually, in general the people I spoke to were kind, which was all I needed, and was about half of the reason for the tears. I’m hoping my wife will be able to get time off work to come with me, or a local survivor friend.

  7. Dear SwordDanceWarrior,

    I’m so proud of you. I know this was hard. And they made it much harder than it needed to be. I’m sorry about that.

    You are right. You are a warrior.

    Warrior hugs,


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