But I knew all this

So, I had my trans-vaginal ultrasound. A surprisingly dignified proceeding, despite backless hospital gowns and despite the fact I was (am. Bah) still bleeding.

I arrived on time, public transport having been sweetly cooperative. The appointment was for 1:50, I was called at 2pm exactly. How bewilderingly, extravagantly punctual of the NHS. The technician, a pleasant lady rejoicing in a name not entirely unlike Mildred, was reassuring and efficient. A nice, if unusual combination, as the admittedly very few NHS technicians I have been dealt with by either seem to be efficient but chillingly uncaring and/or grumpy, or very cuddly and sweet and constantly dropping things or dithering about not remembering what they are supposed to be actually doing. Oh, except the phlebotomist at my GP’s. He’s lovely.

Where was I?

Oh yes, first Mildred carefully locked the door of the ultrasound room. No flingings open of doors while I lie there akimbo with best face *ahem* forward, one of my greatest fears in gynaecological situations. Mildred then picked up a check-list and asked if I had had a TV before (how cool is that? A TV!), had I just had a pee, when my last period was – a question like unto ‘if a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it still make a sound?’, inasmuch that if a woman never ovulates, but bleeds and spots for weeks on end for no apparant reason, is it a period? The which explaining got rather involved and flustered. But which was ‘not a problem’, though she did carefully place the giant roll of blue paper rather closer to the stirrups. Oh, and whether I was a virgin. No, fair question, would you, after all, wish to be The One to probe a virgin? The NHS, being sentimental, won’t, feeling that that duty belongs to the fleshy parts of fellow humans. (Do you get the feeling I’ve gone off sex?).

And then I took off all my clothes from the waist down (except the lively hand-knitted socks. Linoleum is freezing) and put on a backless gown, and lay down onto the table, and said gown was carefully arranged over my knees so that neither I nor Mildred,as she sat beside me looking at the screen, could see anything of my privates at all. In fact, the only angle from which to see them was over by the door. I took my mind off the rest of the proceedings by worrying about the lock.

Mildred very deftly inserted the probe without looking, which impressed me no end – how many of these had she done? So far, not necessarily fun, but no more than disconcerting. She started moving the probe about. Hmm, a little uncomfortable. She then went for a long exploration of what felt like my liver and diapragm before saying thoughtfully ‘You don’t have a left ovary, do you?’

‘Isn’t it on my paperwork?’ I said, with a sinking what-the-bloody-hell-is-wrong-with-the-NHS feeling.

She laughed, and said, ‘Yes, it is, but I thought I had better make sure.’

Am I reassured by this? Does it mean the paperwork is not uncommonly wrong, or that the technicians are very careful?

And then, oh dear readers, she went for a look at the right ovary.


Clearly, it was in a grumpy mood – it twinges a lot at the best of times. And poking it with a stick (literally) did NOT help. Ouch ouch ouch please don’t let the door open ouch. OK, can we stop yet? No? I’m to ‘bear with you’, am I? OK. Bearing. Ow.

And then it was all over bar the mopping up. What with the extreme quantities of blood-streaked lubricant (for which I am not ungrateful, the lubricant, that is, not the blood) this took me quite a while before I felt it was safe to put my clothes back on. Meanwhile, Mildred was doing paperwork, so I looked at the screen. I have had an ultrasound before. I know what a polycystic ovary looks like (scroll down, the second image is the better one). And there it was, the malignant satsuma, covered in text-book black holes. Mildred said the doctor would discuss the ultrasound with me at my next appointment. I said thank you and good bye and went away to the loos and sat there for a few minutes, having savage cramps, and deciding that frankly, bollocks to work, I was going home for the rest of the afternoon.

My poor ovary. I knew it was polycystic. It was the last time anyone looked (nine or ten years ago). It clearly still was because of the symptoms I was getting. I knew that that is what it would look like, and I would have been startled beyond measure by any other result.

So why am I feeling so wretched?


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