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I’m scared about tomorrow. Waiting is the worst part. The closer it gets the more unhinged I am. I try to stop picturing it. At least I’ve kept myself from Googling.

Since I scheduled the appointment two weeks ago, I’ve tried to press the thought into the furthest corner of my mind. There is nowhere in my mind for the thought to hide. Instead, I count down. Twelve more days. Seven days. 36 hours. This time tomorrow…

My gynecologist discovered it at my annual exam.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “I see these every day.”

My gynecologist could not pick me out of a line-up. He would not know my name if he didn’t glance at my chart before an exam. I have seen him once a year for the past decade but ours is a shallow relationship. Routine exams. He ticks off answers to my questions on a yellow pad. “No surgeries.” “No medications.” “No pain with intercourse.” Sometimes he asks the same question twice. Can’t figure out if he’s absentminded or trying to trick me. He always says “how’s your better half” just as he cranks open my vagina to insert a long swab.

This was the first time a check-up veered from routine.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” he said, seeing me turn green as a kid stumbling off a carnival ride with undigested lunch in her belly. “Take your time,” he continued. “Think about it. It’s not urgent. I’m just suggesting you do this for your own convenience.”

Out of the room he sailed. Leaving me in a paper robe with gooey genitals and a swath of fuzz wrapped around my head. All that was left in the room were me and his words. “In 99% percent of the cases it’s benign.” “I’m not worried.” “It should stop the long stretch of mid-term bleeding.”

His last words: “Just suggesting you do it — for your convenience.”

“FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE” I fixated on those three words. “For your convenience.” I imagine a butler tipping forward from the waist saying, “Here you go, madam. Your bumpershoot — for your convenience.”
“I have a polyp on my cervix,” I shouted into my cell phone, yelling over the Fifth Avenue bus’s squealing breaks. “The doctor says it’s not serious but he thinks I should have it removed. For my convenience.”

“You’re breaking up,” my husband said. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Crisp autumn leaves swirled on the ground. Tree limbs were thin with nakedness. I stood in the bus stop motionless, me and my polyp. I’d let two buses go by so I could call my husband on my cell phone. I didn’t want to say aloud ‘I have a polyp’ while riding on the city bus. Even though it is not a medical term you need to whisper.

My husband knows a gynecologist.

“Can you please ask Michael to tell you all about this procedure,” I requested that afternoon.

Michael says “It’s like having a scab pulled off?”

“Did you ask him if it was painful?”

“He said they numb you; it’s like going to the dentist.”

That was not the best image for me because when I was 17 years old and I was driving with my mother on the Belt Parkway to a clinic in Manhattan she said something I will never forget. She glanced over at me, sheet-white and quivering, and said, “Think of it as a dental extraction.”

My mother was not one to fabricate but let me tell you there was nothing about climbing on a table and putting your legs in stirrups that is similar to the dentist. The searing pain from the injection that started in the vein of my hand traveled like a cigarette burning down to ash. I was too young to become a mother but left with sadness nevertheless.

So I’ve been told this procedure is “no big deal” and really it’s just “for my convenience” but still… I envision being cranked open like a soup can and ladled with clunky metal tools. It makes me think about the women in my family. My grandmother’s mother who died in childbirth. My grandmother who lost a breast. My mother’s carved out uterus. My sister’s tangled fallopian tubes. My womb.

The sun is going down. The sky is orange and red and purple. It looks like a beautiful serape floating outside my window. Sometimes I think if the sun never set, I would never be afraid. Twelve hours to go.

 

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TINA TRASTER writes the 'Burb Appeal' column for The New York Post and "The Great Divide" blog for the Huffington Post. She is a city girl who has turned her efforts to social commentary on life in a NY-metro area suburb. She is not afraid to "out" bad actors, annoy neighbors, take on bumbling town officials or challenge anyone who messes with her bliss. She lives with her husband, young daugther and four cats in an 1850s reclaimed farmhouse on a beautiful mountain precipice.

Traster is at work on a memoir called Burb Appeal.

You can reach her via email at [email protected]

8 responses to “For My Convenience”

  1. Jessica Blau says:

    And fish tastes just like chicken, right? Why do people who compare these awful experiences think they’ll get away with it?! Fish tastes nothing like chicken, and a silver, clamping, giant bird beak in your vagina is nothing like a tooth-scraper in your mouth.

    Did you get it removed “for your convenience”? Has it been more convenient?!

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to say Polyp on the bus–it’s one of those words that just sounds yucky and wormy and bad, like SINUS and EXTRUSION, and RECTUM.

    Thanks for posting this, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on life, polyps, etc.!

  2. Hi Tina! Welcome aboard – and good luck.

    “I imagine a butler tipping forward from the waist saying, “Here you go, madam. Your bumpershoot — for your convenience.”

    Snort.

  3. Marni Grossman says:

    Male gynecologists. Hrrmmph. They can dish it, but they could never take it.

  4. Mary Richert says:

    Wow, good luck with that removal. Also, comparing anything to a dental visit isn’t particularly comforting since my last several dental visits ended disasterously…

  5. I was fourteen the first time I had to open my legs to someone I didn’t want to… horrible, painful periods of nearly indescribable pain where I would pass out forced me up onto the table for my first feel of invasive cold metal. My mother tried, in vain, to prepare me, with a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves but in the waiting room she just shrugged helplessly and shoved me towards the nurse. Afterwards we went to Rexall Drugs and sat at the counter and had root beer floats. To this day I hate the metallic taste of root beer.

  6. Irene Zion (Lenore's Mom) says:

    Jesus, Tina,
    You should consider having it removed “for your convenience?”
    99% is pretty high up there on the good side of odds, but we always think of the other 1%, don’t we?
    I would be just as frightened, but I’d do it, mostly because I’d be so frightened.
    Crossing fingers.

    (And welcome to a great group of people!)

  7. Irene Zion (Lenore's Mom) says:

    Tina,

    This piece is both under “Arts and Culture” and (even more weird,) “Travel.”

    So, you TRAVELED in a bus to the doctor and admired the ART in his office? I’m just trying to understand this….

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