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11 Feb

In Which My Dignity – Such As It Were – Finally Plummets Headlong Into The Abyss

WARNING: this post is not for the squeamish or the faint-of-heart, or for anyone who clings stubbornly to the entirely misguided idea that I am in way or in any kind a noble or dignified creature. If, however, you have a strong stomach and you long to point fingers at me and cackle ‘ha-ha-ha-HA-ha,’ this post is for you.

My doctor, bless her overfunctioning heart, had the grace to look sheepish when she said, “we’re going to need to do another full examination.”

Me: “Again? Because I distinctly remember having to take my pants off for an examination last month. And I took the little vials to the lab myself, when I went for my blood test. I never forget a blood test.”

Her: “I know. But I don’t have any lab results recorded for you, and I can’t figure out what happened.”

So we had to do the test again. Which meant, of course, the discomfiting indignity of having one’s insides probed and prodded when they’re at their most sensitive. And this without the benefit of flowers and chocolates. Not that I regularly receive flowers and chocolates as an accompaniment to internal probing, but one always hopes.

And then I bitched about it publicly. Why does my doctor keep sticking her hand up my parts, I asked? And why, I continued, in bad temper, does it bother me, especially after one difficult pregnancy, during which there were umpteen internal probes, and all the complications of this pregnancy – apart from lost lab results – that have required undignified leg-spreading and belly-baring and reception of needles? Why have I not been able to keep my chin up as it all goes down, and is it really my problem that I can’t cope and who says that I need these tests anyway and to whom do I submit my complaints?

I was still feeling testy (no pun intended) a week later – just this past weekend, actually – as I rummaged around in my bag for yet another piece of paper with doctor scrawl that would send me to my next (mercifully radiographic) test. Stupid doctors, I grumbled to myself. Gotta get me a midwife, or maybe just some nice older lady with a bucket and a tarp, a copy of A Prairie Home Companion To Birthin’ Babies and maybe some warm biscuits.

Then my hand brushed against what felt like a tube, or a vial, and then against something that felt like a little container in a medical-grade plastic baggie. And then, I think, I may have actually gulped audibly.

Was it possible – under some god-forsaken scenario known only to pregnant women with hormone-addled brains – that I had been carrying around the materials swabbed out of my body during a gynecological examination – in, granted, medical-grade storage bits, but still – in my handbag FOR OVER A MONTH?


I had. I had neglected to take those little vials and bottles with their nether region innard scrapings to the lab. And had been carrying them around in my handbag for WEEKS, oh my hell.

So it was that I had to slink down the stairs and ask my husband whether he had any idea about how to safely dispose of medical waste. And then empty and fumigate my purse and wash my hands, like, six thousand times (medical-grade storage baggies and all that, but still) and then rinse out my lightly vomited-in mouth. And then go sit and contemplate the final and complete annihilation of my dignity.

And then recount it for you here. Because if one’s attachment to one’s dignity is held only by the merest thread, one might as well give it a snip and send it on its way for good, and be done with it.

Contents of HBM’s bag, under ordinary circumstances: be very, very grateful that I did not have the presence of mind or the total disrespect for the memory of my dignity to take pictures of the contents in their last incarnation.