HPV has been having quite a year. It causes wives of Brooklyn authors to upset people on Twitter and now we all know that vaccinating against the virus will turn you retarded.
For me (this is still called Project Me, right?) this was a shocking year in that it was the first time in at least 14 years that I had a normal pap smear. Who knows whether the bad pap smear followed by colposcopy/biopsy, come back in six months chain has been broken for good or it’s just a fluke? (I have been taking folic acid and didn't expect it to actually do anything, but I suppose anything's possible).
Vonage sends me emails and texts transcribing my landline voicemail messages in pidgin English.
All of this nonsense—a virus that 80% of women have by age 50, as they say—could’ve been prevented if the vaccine existed when I was age appropriate. Not that I would’ve gotten it. I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t have because I hate needles and get anxious and woozy thinking about them (the last time I recall having an injection, not blood drawn, obviously, was in eighth grade after eating strawberry shortcake a my mom’s coworker’s house and she had hepatitis. What the fuck? I was very displeased about going to the hospital).
Giant medically related aside: I have not been to my doctor doctor in over two years (though I have an appt. Oct 17) and the main reason I have been avoiding going is that I’m fairly sure (I won’t get on a scale, so I don’t know) that I’ve gained back at least 75% of the 25 pounds I lost in 2008 after being diagnosed with diabetes in order to keep insulin injections out of my life. The only way possible I’ve found to lose weight (I honestly don’t know how normal people stay normal weight—I don’t know if I was just raised improperly with bad habits and role models or if my genes are just shit. And what? Now they’re saying what your mom ate when you were a fetus could make you fat for life?) is to not eat starch or sugar period (ideally, alcohol too) and that’s just not sustainable. A bagel here, a piece of cake at an office party, too many weekend cocktails, a scoop of rice with a Thai salad, for me, is enough to thwart all the fruit, soup, yogurt, seafood, vegetables, salads and such that I stick to during 70% of my week (i.e. Monday-Friday afternoon. It’s now early Friday evening and so I’ve eaten half a container of Fage yogurt mixed with a plum, walnuts and a teaspoon of ginger preserves and four Moroccan-spiced turkey meatballs and half a cup of Israeli couscous. When I made that dish earlier in the week, I ate it with sautéed carrots and zucchini, but resist the extra starch this afternoon). A twenty-five pound gain over two years is only a quarter of a pound a week, which a lobster roll or fries (even shared) or a fancy tasting menu with wine pairings can add up to. My fear is not being fat, it is the prospect of having to test my blood and giving myself injections multiple times a day. I’m dreading what I will hear at my upcoming appointment. It will likely come down to eating in a very restricted manner. Maybe I will have to stop food blogging. I already feel conflicted about reading others (90% written [yes, I have become obsessed with figures—did I mention I ostensibly got a promotion at work? I’m now a full-time writer, no longer a researcher, which means I write business-style about survey data all day long. Numbers have never been my friend, but whatever] by normal weight women in their 20s) where hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches and sweets, sweets, sweets play major roles. Perhaps I could train myself to be one of those stylish masochistic women who exists on Ensure and Red Bull. I really wish I could wear crazy high heels, though.
In Thailand, pap smears are too expensive and getting women to come to multiple appointments just doesn’t work (one cited traveling 12 hours by tuk tuk) so nurses just do that vinegar thing (I thought everyone knew about this being a method for showing lesions on the cervix, but it’s the crux of this article about inexpensive innovations. I think you leave the office smelling like a salad despite one doctor I had trying to put a positive spin on it how the scent made her think of Easter and dyeing eggs) and if anything suspicious shows up, they freeze it off on the spot with carbon dioxide. Training on this simple procedure (I had the cryo done like ten years ago and it was far more unpleasant and involved than is conveyed in this article, and I would say I have at least an average pain threshold) is being given in parts of Thailand, which leads to the best lines in the piece:
“They did gynecological exams on lifelike mannequins with plastic cervixes. They performed cryotherapy on sliced frankfurters pinned deep inside plastic pipes.”
Third World medicine, you rule. That's the best use of franks since The Octodog.