Side note: it was very striking to me how many women felt they needed to justify their pain, to “prove” that the pain was real, that they weren’t making it up or being weak. This is how used we are to having our pain dismissed. For more on this, check your copy of Invisible Women, pp.223-228, where I cover some of the ways women routinely have their pain discounted, dismissed and pathologised, even in the face of emerging evidence that women may in fact be more sensitive to pain due to, among other things, sex differences in pain receptors…
But back to the GFPs who wrote in, many of whom shared the same experience as Fiona; several were unable to continue with the procedure as the pain was so severe. But there were two stories in particular that struck me, because as well as experiencing extreme pain during what was sold to them as a routine gynaecological procedure, they both had also experienced a colonoscopy. And the difference in the standard of care between the procedures is striking.
GFP Lucy was sent off for a hysteroscopy with the advice to take 2 paracetamol 30 mins prior to the appointment. On the day, the nurse advised her that it would be “a bit uncomfortable”…
Uncomfortable is definitely not the word I’d use. Bloody painful would be more accurate! Not to mention the “don’t be silly, calm down it’s not that bad”! Then the whole, there you go, pull your pants back up, there are maternity pads in the loo next door, seeya!
I staggered to the car, and had to take the day off work the next day with the worst period pain of my life, not to mention that saline that had to come out somehow, and then the fact that my body went off on one about having been violated so figured an out of the blue period would be just the thing to sort me out….
Compare this with the colonoscopy Lucy had to have a month ago:
I got loads of information about what to expect, what to watch for afterwards (as well as the what to eat and the horrendous prep medicine).
I then get to the hospital, greeted by a really nice nurse in a light and bright room, and get the choice of gas and air, or iv sedation for the duration of the procedure. (I opted for gas and air, because fun, but that’s by the by). After it was all over, they let me sit on a bed with a brew and some biscuits, and even offered to ring the person I got a lift from to come and get me.