“Ma’am I am going to put my hand on your left thigh and then I will move it up to your vaginal area.”
I did it.
“Now, you will feel me place the speculum into your vagina and move it into position. I apologize if anything pinches.”
I did that.
They told us to place the speculum in sideways so the duck bills were standing up and down, and then rotate them into the correct position. Mine was the fourth speculum in her vagina that afternoon and the perineum was slick with lube.
There was a preceptor, a female physician, standing over my shoulder making sure that I said the words exactly right and moved my hands and the speculum exactly as dictated.
My hands shook. This felt so stupid and wrong. This is not how I would want it done to me!
Thankfully, the woman spread eagle on the table could not see my hands or my face.
“Alright, now I am going to remove the speculum.” There was a sucking noise and a little jump. I had pinched her. I looked over at the preceptor to see if she had seen. She had. Damn. There would probably be a mark down.
“Do you have any critique for the student doctor?”
The woman sat up in a rustle of paper gown so she could look me in the eye.
“If you are going to do, do it with confidence. In and out. You want to be fast. You did fine you just need confidence. No one wants someone taking their time in their vagina. Do what you have to do and get out.”
I nodded and stepped over to wash my hands.
“We have seven more to go this afternoon,” the preceptor said from the corner.
“No problem!” The patient sounded happy, almost as if she relished the job.
Curiosity was eating at me. I needed to know what would possess someone to volunteer for this most undesirable thing on earth done to them over and over again. Were they paying her $25 each like the prostate fellows? Equal pay did not seem appropriate somehow in this setting…
So I asked.
“I was your first. You will always remember me. I can teach you how to do it right.” She glanced quickly over at the preceptor who was writing out my score card, not really paying attention. The woman leaned in close and whispered, “Don’t do the twisty speculum or hands on the thigh thing, either. That is just creepy.”
And she was right.
There were whispers afterwards among the medical students about whether she and the other professional vagina patients were drawn to this as an erotic experience. Why do we say/think crap like that about women?
I don’t remember her face, or her name, or even what her vagina looked like anymore. But I remember the experience in great detail. It made me a better doctor.
All these years later, I no longer question her sanity or motives. I now understand completely.
Someday, I just might volunteer for that immortality myself, so she can live on in another generation.
Photo: Dinosaur Valley, Glenrose, Texas.