Very often, laughter IS the best medicine. We are pleased to welcome humorist and blogger Nadine Preston to the WHRL blog and invite our readers to enjoy her lighthearted approach to life.

examWell, it’s that time of year again. Oh don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It is every woman’s FAVORITE time of the year! Yup, it’s time for the yearly physical…

It’s not as though you can avoid these kind of things when your primary care providers and their staff watched you grow up and know you by your first name. In a small town like this, there is an advantage to going to the grocery store, bank and even doctor’s office. WE all grew up with each other, all know each other; it’s a family affair, really. Hell, my nurse-practitioner even has my personal e-mail address and could quite possibly recite my home phone number if put on the spot. But the patient-doctor relationship means nothing when you have the pap smear appointment. I’d just as soon act like I don’t know you one bit and push myself into seclusion somewhere. But there’s no sense to avoid the inevitable. Ya gotta just get it over with, cuz they’ll come for ya if you don’t. They know where you live!

But all joking aside, I don’t really know what all the fuss is about with pap smears. There is nothin’ to em. Sure, they’re a little uncomfortable, although it is not as though you’re taking a hike outdoors or enjoying a glass of wine around the wood stove. They’re no fun, but if you do your homework and find a healthcare provider you feel comfortable with, they’re not all that bad, either. I found my personal best provider years ago… her name is nurse practitioner Chris Kuhni.

Chris has been at the Milbridge Medical Center since I was a kid. MMC is now part of Down East Community Hospital, but it will always be home to “Doc and Chris” as we know it, no matter WHAT they call it. And of course now they have specialists Dr. Christian Inegbenijie and Alfie. No we don’t call him Mr. Wakeman, we call him Alfie. “We” being the community of Moms who trust our children’s lives in the arms of that man’s care. He is wonderful. They are ALL wonderful, and we all know it.

So, I’ve set the stage for my rapport with my providers, and you know how I feel about them. Let’s get back to the nitty gritty. That dreaded ol’ pap smear!

Like I said, it ain’t THAT bad when your provider is more like your second mother. But it STILL doesn’t make it any easier. You STILL have to go in, strip down, and have some poor woman’s nose within a foot of your “cootah” (as my daughter calls it).

Chris is wonderful though. Early on, as a young woman, she just told me to relax, it would be over before I knew it. And it was. And it would be this time, too. It’s my hundredth pap smear, for God’s sake, but do they ever get any easier? And as though it’s not bad enough, I have to have fasting blood work taken, which in laymen’s terms simply means they’re depriving me of my ONLY vice, coffee. And on top of pap smear dread, comes the starvation of my caffeine intake. I’ve killed for less…

I go in, have my normal “catching up” with my nurse, talk about this, that and the next thing. Course, I know all of THEM, too. Then I get to go through all my past records so they can keep up to date with me and my medical history. What vitamins are you taking? Any medications? Then comes the lovely needle prick so they can draw blood. Gotta check that cholesterol! I’ve never been afraid of needles. I guess I’m thick-skinned or something, but they don’t bother me a bit. Yes, they sting (they sure as heck don’t tickle), but are they really THAT bad? The caffeine deprivation is much worse than the needle. I found that if you envision that the needle won’t hurt, it doesn’t.

After giggling and catching up on the year’s events (if you are lucky, like me, you don’t have to visit the doctor’s office too often… course I’m young, too), now comes the fun part. NOT! “Lay back Nadine”… those three little words I just love to hear. NOT! Now I’ll spare you the details, as the majority of you reading this know just what they’re all about, but you no more than lay down and you’re sitting back up. It’s OVER! YAYY! Or so I thought…

“Not so fast, lay back down, I have to do a quick internal.” UGH, an INTERNAL? That’s right; it’s pretty self-explanatory, but this is where your nurse practitioner feels to see if there are any lumps, bumps, bulges or issues internally… that’s right… with her fingers.

She’s been TRAINED to do this, and it is her job. And my cootah ain’t no different than anyone else’s and she sees a hundred thousand a year, and though it’s my second mother figure standing at the foot of my pleather-lined exam table, it’s not like I’m going bowling. I giggle, relax and lay back down. There is Chris laughing at my quickness to rise from my exam, knowing full-well that she knew that I KNEW that I wasn’t done yet.

And then I see it.. I see her snap on those rubber gloves, and grab a tube of lubricant. Protocol, yes, but as I lay there in ease and laughter in the comfort of my primary care provider, I watch as she dollops this HUGE blob of K-Y Jelly on her fingers… she’s in, she’s out and it’s over. Really Chris? Really? It’s not as though every woman doesn’t take a half hour shower right before her appointment. Of course my appointment falls during No-Shave-November, but I DID take the time to make sure you weren’t battling the Amazon jungle. And you go and do that! UGH, just when I thought we were friends. Now you’re gonna top the cake with a half gallon of jelly for a 10 second internal exam and have me slap my clothes right back on for a 45 minute ride home; MEANWHILE I feel like I’ve sat in jello for the remainder of the damn day. You’re some swell Chris… thanks for nothing! LOL!

Ahhh, the joys of pap smears… Course, the phrase “Thanks for nothing” is a lie. It’s not “Thanks for NOTHING”, it’s thanks for EVERYTHING. Paps are paps for reason. They save lives. Except in the end, you die of humiliation in a pair of gooey draws… or do you?

What’s your funniest doctor’s office story? Share here and you could win a copy of Tina Fey’s book on tape Bossypants.