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

February 11, 2008

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.
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    Liz February 11, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    OH NOES!

    Never, EVER, tell your doctor. Or do, maybe she’ll find it funny?

    flutter February 11, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Oh my hell, that is so wrong!


    Julie Pippert February 11, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA <— totally laughing in sympath…no, I’m lying. I’m totally laughing AT you. Sorry.

    Niksmom February 11, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Wow, that’s WAAAAY worse than the time i tucked one of Nik’s poopy diapers in the bottom of his (folding) stroller and coudl’t figure out why my car smelled so awful for two weeks!

    [Shakes her head in sympathetic disbelief.]

    Lisa February 11, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Oh dear.. I bet you felt like a real ass, after bitching about the doctors ‘losing’ your test results!

    Oh, by the way, hello. I’m a new commenter.. I’ve been reading for a while, but never got around to commenting.

    Now I have, simply because of the power of month old medical waste in one’s handbag. =P

    Someone Being Me February 11, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    That is hilarious. Note to self, clean out purse more often.

    Stimey February 11, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Yes, the indignities of pregnancy and childbirth. Just upped a tiny notch in this instance. At least you didn’t find it when you emptied your bag at an airport checkpoint or something equally embarrassing. Now it’s just us internets who know. (And we won’t tell anyone. Promise.)

    MommyTime February 11, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Bwahahahaha… laughing at you only in the kindest of possible ways one can laugh in recognition of pregnancy brain. Share and share alike: when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was once very late to pick up my son at daycare because I was sitting and working over my laptop and fell asleep — sitting up, hands in typing position, and slept for two hours that way and then had to call the daycare 10 minutes after it had officially closed to tell them I was just leaving and would be there as soon as I could. I say don’t tell the doc. I wouldn’t have told the daycare if I didn’t have to say something to explain the lateness!

    Still, this story is hilarious!

    Mom101 February 11, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Suddenly I feel less bad for saving the pee stick of 3+ years ago.

    Maggie February 11, 2008 at 10:37 pm




    This is just… just… yeah, thank you for this post! :)

    Heather February 11, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I’m so glad my doctor doesn’t trust me with things like that. I’d totally do the same thing. Then I’d fail to see it for the wonderful blog fodder that it is.

    But, sorry, I had to laugh.

    Lady M February 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Forgetting to take samples to the lab – yep, that’s a good story. Having them in your bag for a month? That’s a brilliant story!

    Mouse February 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve never been put in charge of my vials. Obviously a good thing.

    Plus, another good reason for me not to carry a purse–though I’m not sure when I last cleaned out Scooter’s backpack.

    jen February 11, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    alright, Bad. no that’s just gross.


    crazymumma February 11, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    ah ahahahahahahaha!

    Awesome Mom February 11, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    My husband is giving me funny looks for laughing so hard at the computer. I am sure that you are not the first person to do something like that.

    Maddy February 12, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Ooo my yes! You are exceptionally bad – slapped wrists for you [or should that be bottom?}

    Robbin February 12, 2008 at 3:06 am

    If it makes you feel any better – I am a specialist in infectious disease, and I have found much, much worse in my coat pockets. Trust me, you don’t EVEN want to know.

    And I was curious to see we wear the same lip gloss. ;)

    the dragonfly February 12, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Oh my. Oh my! Seriously, my mouth hung open when I read that. I felt awful for you! But then…well, then I laughed. Just a bit. ;)

    If it makes you feel any better, I was Miss Forgetful when I was pregnant. Or maybe Miss Scatterbrain. How many times did I put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge?!

    Denise February 12, 2008 at 7:43 am

    I’m having one hell of a horrible week. Just getting that out of the way right now.

    So I saw the first paragraph of your latest rant and I thought “I could really use some harmless ranting so I’ll click.” (Because with my last pregnancy they were constantly losing my lab work – CONSTANTLY – and I, who generally am compliant about spreading my legs for doctors or opening up my veins for vampires, got really tired of it and griped heartily.

    Anyway, I start reading your piece and was enjoying the ranting and raving and feeling like I was letting off some steam… and then you throw that curveball. Ha. In your purse.


    I almost wish that was why the hospital kept losing my lab work with my last pregnancy (18 years ago, God help me) …. but no, it was just a military teaching hospital in a foreign country.

    Thanks for the laugh, HBM.

    motherbumper February 12, 2008 at 8:22 am

    I am NEVER EVER borrowing your lip gloss or cell phone EVER EVER again.

    Jennifer, Le Binky Bitch February 12, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Oh that’s so funny. And sadly, something I would totally do.

    Steph February 12, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Question- do you wear that party hat that appears in the contents of your purse when you go for those internal probes? I dare say that the party hat might make it better!

    Deep Fried Yankee February 12, 2008 at 9:47 am

    AHA! We found a glitch in the Canadian Health Care system.

    Who has to take their own zamboozle scrapings to the lab?

    Just plain wrong.

    Her Bad Mother February 12, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Steph – why, yes. I do wear that hat for gynecological exams. Is that weird?

    Christina February 12, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Oh, that’s funny! I left a used pregnancy test in my purse for a couple of weeks before I found it. Just be glad you found it at home and not while pulling out your wallet at a store.

    Hannah February 12, 2008 at 10:14 am

    I can’t even laugh. I’m afraid if I start laughing at this I won’t be able to start, and it will at best cause my co-workers to think I’m having another pregnancy-induced meltdown. At worst, it will trigger premature labour.

    I did forget that the hospital where I had Isaac had given me copies of my birthing records for my family doctor – I told her I had no recollection of such a thing happening and caused a minor stink, actually – and found the damn papers a month later in my hospital overnight bag. Ahem. But at least it wasn’t medical waste. Ewwwwww.

    Beck February 12, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Hahahaahah. And ew.

    Velma February 12, 2008 at 10:17 am

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read all week.

    marymurtz February 12, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Beautiful! You should absolutely tell your doctor—they get few enough laughs as it is. Be thankful it wasn’t a stool sample.

    Lala February 12, 2008 at 10:40 am

    why, oh WHY were YOU responsible for getting stuff to the lab? I have never heard of that before.

    Jenifer February 12, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I’m worried since I’m not really so grossed out my this…then again I was barfed on a few times recently so maybe my meter is set a bit high.

    I think this is hysterical though, I can just see the fuming going on before the discovery. Any chance your doctor reads here?!

    Her Bad Mother February 12, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Am I going to tell me doctor? Hellz no. She already worries enough about my obsessiveness and tendency toward neurosis. She would fail to see my (albeit half-hearted) embrace of the humor here.

    Why was I taking the vials to the lab? Because I was going there anyway. Canadian health care, bitches.

    Chicky Chicky Baby February 12, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Is it wrong that I thought this was perfectly reasonable?

    Lara February 12, 2008 at 11:57 am

    That is so totally something I would do too. Aie ;)

    People don’t have to bring their own samples to the lab in the states??

    Badness Jones February 12, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Ack! Poor you. Poor, poor, poor, poor you. Do you know, that even though I was at the high-risk clinic at Mt. Sinai, I never had to have an internal exam? Not even at the end? I was so lucky.

    Ree February 12, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Um. {hides face} Snort. {peeks out from behind fingers} Snirk. {puts hands over mouth} Snserrtkesdfh.

    {Gives up}
    ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh honey. I’m sorry. That was too funny. And something I would do, not even preggers.

    kittenpie February 12, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I prefer a tiara for uncomfy and embarrassing exams, myself. Also for scraping wallpaper, as my good friends will recall.

    I hope the vials at lease didn’t have any identifying info on them yet? so you could throw them out without handing over your name and DNA to anyone nosey enough to be in your garbage? A little creepy, no?

    Her Bad Mother February 12, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Kittenpie – NO I DID NOT do anything about the identifying information and now I am TOTALLY FREAKED OUT. Is it possible that someone could clone me on the basis of the nether scrapings? OH MY HELL.

    nomotherearth February 12, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Why do I feel compelled to read posts with content warnings? What does that say about me??

    Hey – at least it wasn’t a stool sample.


    Jozet at Halushki February 12, 2008 at 1:28 pm


    You should totally auction them off on eBay for some charity.


    You slay me!

    mamatulip February 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I can’t decide who I’m laughing harder at — you, and this post, or Jozet above me.

    Her Bad Mother February 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    NME – would a stool sample really be all that much worse? Really? I’m not sure…

    Janet February 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Bright side? At least you didn’t pull it out at playgroup when Wonderbaby asked for a snack.

    Also, I’m wondering why you got to keep your dignity after the first. They took mine away and incincerated it with the afterbirth, I think.

    Kate February 12, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I can’t decide what’s funnier, the fact that it happened or the fact that it just adds one more thing to my list of “Things I Never Knew I Should Be Worried About.”

    Miss Britt February 12, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I am totally reconsidering my upcoming “what the fuck is in my purse” post.

    There is no way I can top “medical waste”.

    PeetsMom February 12, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Oh that was perfect – I am still giggling to myself! Priceless. Really!

    Anonymous February 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    catherine you are dignified and held in high esteem in my eyes now its a good thing you can;t see me laughing about the contents of your purse and pregnancy brain….my teens while i was pregnant with their youngest sister would quite often find me standing in some room with a dazed and confused look on my face trying to remember what i was in that room to do….hahahaLAVANDULA

    ewe are here February 12, 2008 at 6:23 pm




    You might want to pass on telling your doctor. heh heh

    Amy February 12, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Oh this is SO something I would do!!

    Great story though!

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