Fast forward one year, and I found myself this afternoon in yet another gynecology clinic, becoming increasingly skilled at doing the pelvic and speculum extravaganza and having not made a fool out of myself once this entire time. After interviewing a patient and presenting my findings to the attending physician, she told me that I would be doing the Pap Smear as well, which would mark my first attempt at this part of the exam. (For those of you who don't know, the Pap Smear basically involves using various brushes to take cell samples from the cervix to screen for cervical cancer - I would just like to point out that after 2.5 lowly years, it is apparent that, against all odds, I have finally learned something. Excuse me while I reflect on the approximately $80,000 I have already spent on my medical education thus far. OK, I'm done.) Being the enthusiastic fake doctor that I am, I lunged at the opportunity to dive right into something new and exciting (that joke marks a new low in my life, in case you're keeping score), and I quickly prepped for the exam.
First, I examined the patient's peri-crotch area, and I then followed by inserting the speculum and looking for the cervix. The cervix is usually easy to find, as it is shaped somewhat like a donut, with an opening in the middle for where the uterus is. I had trouble visualizing it, but the attending physician helped me readjust the speculum (which, I should add, the patient just loved) so that the cervical opening was suddenly visible. I returned to the action and the doctor handed me the brush. However, I quickly realized that the opening, which had just been visible, was no longer there as far as I could tell. Panicking like the little puss that I am, I quickly turned to the attending and uttered these words:
I swear to you all that I actually said that, out loud. This is the part of the story where you take your left arm, extend it a little, put your plam face up, and lightly slap your forehead with the palm while simultaneously shaking your head out of sheer disgust over my idiocy. Thanks.
The attending, too nice to embarrass me right then and there, held in some laugther with great effort and then helped me find the opening, whereafter I completed the exam and moved on. Afterwards, in her office, my attending turned to me and said, "So...having some trouble finding the hole eh?", and I suddenly realized what I had said and turned bright red. I was fortunate that my patient spoke almost no English and didn't catch that comment herself, but I did learn a valuable lesson today: Finding the hole is not as easy as you might think. So ladies, cut us some freaking slack. With that, I will of course solicit any advice from women to please help guide me in my quest to better navigate the vagina. It's a matter of your health...and mine.