Monday, 10 November 2014

Hand Bags & Cervixes

I was thinking how-lucky-I-am on Tuesday morning. I’m fifty. I’m fit. I can run for forty minutes without keeling over. I have my health. More so - isn’t it a flippin miracle I can run down this steep track without my left knee (with its ruptured ACL) dislocating. Fabulous old body. Charging.

Then boomfa. One Nike-d sole slipped on a tyre step (odd kiwi invention) and I fell backwards onto outstretched hands. FBOOH. I’ll just keep walking down till the pain stops, I thought, as I clutched my throbbing left hand to my bosom. I did not cry. I stopped to take a photo of a fern family and posted it on facebook. Weird. I’ll carry on to the river, look at the water. Throb throb. Then, the other more sensible person in my head told me it was timely to turn back. I had a hair appointment in half an hour.

Silly hand. I took two Panadol and told my digit story to anyone who asked. Enjoying their sympathy. By that night my flipping-the-bird finger was indigo violet. The next morning, the knuckle as puffy as a profiterole. Silly naughty finger.

‘You better get in seen to,’ warned my 95 year old Gran, when I called her. ‘Your Uncle Jack did that to his finger. It was always fat and bent.’

I felt chided, like a selfish child ignoring a new pet. I went to A&E on the way to work. 

‘You have a volar plate avulsion fracture, we’ll refer you to the Hand Physiotherapist,’ said the Doctor, pointing at my compromised metacarpal on the light-box.

‘Hands are very complex, you need to make sure they heal correctly,’ said the nurse as she fashioned my metal splint and wrapped it neatly with self-adhesive bandage in an attractive foundation brown. ‘The doctors call this the driver’s finger,’ she giggled. 

Bondage, up yours. I love flipping the bird. But not ALL the time. I wondered if SA bandages came in black. LBB. 

At reception I paid and booked in for the Smear Test (I keep getting reminder letters for) the following day. Needs must.

Cervixes have pretty much fallen off the radar of late. I know I haven’t given mine much thought since I padlocked the gates to my womb. It’s retired. GONE. Nowadays, as far as cancers go it’s all about breasts in October, prostate Movember. Cervixes don’t get their own month. Or do they?

I did a quick check and discovered – September is ‘Cervical Screening Awareness Month.’ Who knew that. It’s free if you’re under 22.

The medical profession purports early detection is your best protection, for all cancers. But it’s a lot easier copping a feel of your lathered up mams in the shower when on the hunt for possible irregularities, than it is fronting up for a smear test.

160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer a year in New Zealand. 50 of those die from it. “…cervical cancers develop slowly over time….Usually taking many years.” Hmmm.

There you lie on a narrow sheeted gurney, your bare bum carefully parked on the blue absorbent pad the size of a table-mat that says place bum here. If only. Knees bent. Ankles together. Flop apart. Hope she’s looking okay. Down there. Stop tensing. RELAX. Bit of banter. More banter.

At least the speculums are plastic nowadays and room temperature. Remember those metal nasties that made a terrible grinching sound when they were expanded and screwed (couldn’t find another verb for this action?) ajar. Icy cold. Though sometimes thoughtfully warmed under the hot tap down at Family Planning, K-road.

Anyway, my eyes watered and I tried to… breath through it. Silly hurting tunnel, leading to cyclinder-shaped-neck-of-cartilage-covered-with-smooth-moist-tissue. Silly protracted cervix. Hiding.

Flipping you the bird. Pain. Check this out. Flipped. 


Afterwards. Cells scraped.And test-tubed. I wondered I might sit in the car and have a wee cry. Instead, I went to a nearby café, sipped mint tea and buttered a warm cheese scone while waiting for a friend. Then I went to work.

The majority of cervical cancers are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus. The most common of all STDs. Thankfully our daughters can be immunised against HPV, as part of their free childhood immunisations, at 12 years old. It’s my hope that boys will be brought into this programme in New Zealand, as they are in Australia and the US.

Back in 82, aged 18, I listened to Joe Jackson sing, Everything gives you cancer, there’s no cure there’s no answer. Over and over. No caf-feine, no pro-tein, no booze or ni-co-tine. Joe was definitely on to something. 

Medical science has come a long way. However, we still need cures and answers. And early detection. "Three yearly cervical screening is recommended for women from 20 – 70 who have ever been sexually active".

Someday in the future they might even have jokey bum mats.


  1. Oh no, Jane, not you too! Do you know, after my fall while running, I now can't run any faster than snail pace. I'm too scared of gathering momentum that can then be used against me if my foot should happen to find another bit of uneven concrete!! Terrified, I am. And my palms are nearly back to normal too. Good luck with you healing :-)

  2. I have a weird bent finger from breaking it, they offered to reset it but said it wouldn't bend afterwards - which would have meant no more guitar so I said no and left it wonky! Love the bondage up yours snuck in there- awesome record!

    I had a smear once where the nurse told me my cervix was battle worn but beautiful. I wasn't sure what to do with that compliment...... But then last time I went I too had a shy cervix, ouch! Not looking forward to the next one, but won't be putting it off - too important!


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