Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our World Tuesday: The pap smear

These are some of the women and man I teach at my ESOL class. I teach them about getting pap smears for themselves and their friends, and for the men, for their wives and sisters. In some countries, you pay a lot of money to get it done. ESOL stands for English speakers of other languages,

In New Zealand, not all women want this done, especially the ethnic women. There is a fear of going. Women are like the plants, strong but if you don't take care of yourselves, nobody will take care of you, and your family will lose someone they depend on. It is free.


1. What is a cervical smear test and how is it done?

Cervical screening aims to detect abnormal changes to the cervix (the nechttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifk of the uterus or womb) before they can develop into cancer. Safe and effective treatment for pre-cancerous lesions detected by screening will prevent progression to cancer. When you have your smear you will be asked to lie on your side or your back with your knees bent up. The lower part of your body will be covered with a sheet. The smear taker gently opens the vagina with a plastic or metal speculum and carefully sweeps a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix with a thin broom or brush. It takes only a few minutes to take the smear. Some women may find the test a little uncomfortable. The test sample is either smeared onto a glass slide or placed in a liquid. It is then sent to a laboratory approved by the NCSP.

By reading randomly, I read online an advertisement an invitation to win a chance to be a guest blogger in a local women's magazine. So last night, I did this post, it doesn't matter if I don't win. It gave me an opportunity to spread a topic I am passionate about and to help those ESOL women I am in contact with.

You watch the television advertisement of a group of Unise, Maata, Sisa, and their girl friends giggling as they pack into a white van. I laugh out loud, why are women in the 21st century still frightened of getting their pap smear done?

Last Monday, I went to my doctor for my flu jab. She said I was due for my pap smear. Yes, I have had done it many times, but I still feel funny. You see, my privates are my privates, except for my husband. I suppose. I always tell my kids in school, your privates are your privates. I always feel that my privates have a funny smell. In the past, when I booked for a screen, and I always cleaned myself well before I went.

But to save from another trip, I said yes. The nurse said the pap smear could only be done in between my period. I smiled and told her, I finished my period couple of years back. I can do my pap smear anytime. The nurse pointed a chair by the bed. Put your underpants and pants there. I felt embarrassed, I have had four pregnancies, and I sometimes suffer from weak bladder leakage. I have been lazy in doing my pelvic floor exercise, lazy and naughty girl. So to avoid any accidents, I always lined my undies with a thin pad.

The nurse made small talk about my fantastic running shoes. She asked if it was good. She's the second stranger who asked me. The other was a lady where I get my fresh fruit and vegetables. She asked if that was the shoe they advertised to help people lost weight. How I wish. I wear it because I walk a lot in school.

Anyway, I took off my pants and undies, and folded them nicely in a pile on the chair. Then I got on the bed and covered my legs and lower body with the blanket. I waited for the nurse. She came with a form for me to read and sign. "It's for the flu vaccination."

"I need my glasses. I don't normally need them, but I need them to read," the fifty something vain pot trying to justify herself for not wearing her reading glasses.

I read and signed my life away. Next came the procedure. The nurse told me to lie on my side, pull my legs up.

"It is going to be a little cold," gently warned the nurse.

"It,s okay, I have done this loads of times before," who was I trying to reassure an experience nurse?

"There you are, it all done," said the nurse.

I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a thing. I did feel the instrument going into my privates. But what is a little discomfort when it means it could save your life. Even if it showed a negative result, you have peace of mind. So my sisters, go do your pap smear. Go and encourage your sisters to do it.

I conclude this with Helen Reddy singing in my ear, " I am woman, hear me roar!"



eileeninmd said...

A great reminder, Ann! It is an important test to have.

Jama said...

Great reminder Ann, because mine is due this year, plus mammogram too...did them at the local polyclinic.

Zenserly said...

I love the way you narrated your pap smear adventure...I too am not always comfortable when it comes to my private parts being examined...love the way you said/sang "I am woman, hear me roar!"...:-)

diane b said...

A good message. They no longer do them free after you are 69. in this country.

Gattina said...

I didn't understand what a "smear test" is, but now I know what it is. All women I know do this once a year when we do our gynecological check up. It also includes a mammogram and scanner. I think this is very important !

Ensurai said...

At the moment in Malaysia we have a special programme for Women's Health and the Polyclinics have a special room to check women's health. We are given a special booklet too to record our health check...We pay a minimal sum..and an extra sum if we want the test results fast. I paid extra but I haven't got my test results yet..May be it is in the tray...

momto8 said...

thank you for your example of helping other women.
I had so many babies in a row, my Ob is my only doctor .

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Ann, thanks for you visit to Stardreaming. Re your comment about coffins, did you know they have eco-caskets now? Out of such things as bamboo, woven seagrass (my favorite) and so forth? I was pretty happy when I heard that - who can afford a big heavy casket anyway??? I have enjoyed visiting your blog and am so sorry to hear of your bereavement - but proud of you for writing a book, which will help other moms. Way to be!