I once stage managed a production of the Vagina Monologues. That volunteer activity has since been judiciously removed from my job-seeking CV, along with childcare at the local hippie/activist music festival and selling Keepers and cloth pads at cost  at a womens’ centre that also distributed stickers of the image below.

One of the Vagina Monologues is about pap smears and decries the “mean cold duck lips” of a speculum wielded by a brusque, officious stranger. I remembered it today!  The good (?) news is that apparently I don’t need to go back for another two years. If I decide to get pregnant before then, all I have to do is take folic acid a few months before trying.

Hooray! Cervix, you can have some privacy.

Speculum_1973

I love our Canadian system of health care for all, but there are some flaws in the overall Western medical approach on which it is based. I’d like to be empowered to take care of my own health more. To an extent, I can take responsibility for this myself, through independent research. Charting my fertility cycles is one way that I feel like a conscious steward of my own body. I learned to do BSE out of a book – no-one ever showed me. But I wish that doctors had a little more time to educate us regular folks about our own health and prevention, and to help us to look after ourselves in addition to measuring things and prescribing pills.

My doctor is a perfectly polite person and a competent physician, but she does not engage me in my own health. In my experience, this is typical. I can imagine how the cat feels at the vet. Unless there is a pathology, I do not learn anything about my body or functions. I’d rather hear about what she is looking out for, and why. Is my blood pressure normal? Are my boobs unusually bumpy? Should I eat differently?

My limited experience with midwives, having accompanied pregnant friends to their appointments, is that they are more likely to share this kind of information with the women in their care. The legitimizing of midwives as part of the medical system here is relatively recent, and I’m optimistic that other changes are imminent.

Here’s to a future of medical care where patient empowerment for self-care and prevention is a priority!

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