Today, this afternoon to be exact, I am to have pap smear.

This event has become more stressful as I age. I have many fears. What if my gastrointestinal issues decide to blossom while I am on the table? What if bit of that horrid white paper escapes all cleaning efforts? Really, I think if I were a doctor this would be among my least favourite types of patient visits. I never used to worry about these things, now I do, and wish I didn’t.

But really, if I look at this resistance a little more closely, it is really about being tested, and the reality that I might fail the test, that makes me want to avoid the whole procedure. But I won’t avoid it. This afternoon will find me stripped down and in a gown, heels in the stirrups. Oh the inglorious road to maintaining good health!

I wish there were little treats for adults at the doctor’s office, like the children’s lollipops, that would reward the visit!

Next week is another body tune up week. I will wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. I will have a mole removed and biopsied. I will have a skin tag removed that is preventing me from wearing the brace for my arthritic knee. The following week I see a cardiologist to discuss all the tests done on my heart, and the state of my blood pressure levels. I feel like a science project! But I am grateful. I am able to get these necessary tests done through a walk-in clinic, although I do not have a family doctor. The doctor at the walk-in clinic seems to be guiding me through a thorough tune up!

Why do old people talk about their health so much? Well, if you use an elementary level of logic it would be easy to understand. As you get older it is more and more work, for most people, to maintain good health. And it is hard work, with a lot of challenges to be met and mastered. Luckily, I have fairly good karma when it comes to talking about health issues. I was a listening ear for my Granny when her health was failing, and have been consistently respectful of health related confidences shared. I always wanted to be able to get old, it was something I wanted to live long enough to become. My observation was that indeed, some lucky souls carried good health around with them like an invisible halo, but most people did not, do not. They are not that lucky.

I have a secret weapon! When I go to all of these appointments, and will find myself sitting in sterile waiting rooms, I can take out my crochet hook, and a ball of yarn, and lose myself in colour and movement. Crocheting is such a source of pleasure and focus that it can mediate the coldest social environments. Today I carry red with me into the fray.

I am just thinking that I would love to be funny and clever about going in to have a pap smear. But if funny and clever aren’t what I feel, then funny and clever is not what I write. I don’t feel funny and clever; and unfortunately I have little talent for joking about the things that I find disturbing. I love to read funny and clever descriptions of the experiences I find distasteful, but it isn’t in me to write them with any sincerity. I am no comedian.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 11:00 AM EDT Friday 31 March 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.0°C
Dew point: 1.1°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: ENE 25 gust 36 km/h
Visibility: 10 km


“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning… a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”
Joseph Campbell
1904 – 1987

In my case writing, genealogy, food science, crochet… and sitting in the bush whenever the sun shines and the warm breezes blow.


  1. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    I’m sending many hugs. These last few months I’ve learned what it’s like to have days filled with tests that doctors think would be good and finding your day or week overloaded with them. I hope by now you are home and sitting in your comfortable chair with a pleasing color of yarn before you.

    I think a lollipop for adults at the doctor’s office is a wonderful idea! Just thinking of being handed one made me smile. Hmmmm… Maybe I should start carrying something like that with me when I go to the doctor. No reason I can’t be the source of the reward, it’s still a reward.

  2. Once quite a few years back I went to a doctor who had a Garfield poster on the ceiling above his exam table . The caption was “Why me?” We laughed about that, and I told him the pap smear was the worst part of my exams. He replied that it wasn’t his favorite part either. I suppose this puts a little perspective on the experience. LOL

  3. Thanks Sandy! It went as well as could be expected. As I sat naked from the waist down on the table, with a paper blanket over my lap protecting me from embarrassment, I thought, “In fifteen minutes I will be dressed and walking out that door!” I held that thought, and it all fell into place quickly. The time spent anticipating the event was more painful than the event itself, at least for me, I can’t speak for the doctor. 🙂

  4. Thanks Teri! It sounds like you have had quite a time of it with doctors for the last months! And not just a tune up, but actual surgery, with pain involved, and recovery time required, quite a journey. Glad you are through most of it though.

    That is a great idea, to give yourself a little treat with each doctor’s appointment! Yesterday I let myself go to the city a little earlier than the appointment, so that I could go to Michael’s craft store. They have a whole section on yarn, and some books on crochet and knitting. I browsed happily for over an hour, bought two small balls of the same cotton yarn that I used for my first washclothes, and some very nice looking stitch markers. That was my treat for the day.

  5. Ava, I knew it! 🙂 Worse for the doctors than for us, lol! You have confirmed it. And you know, that will keep me smiling the next time I’m on that table. The poster sounds hilarious! I suggested to the doctor that a video screen on the ceiling would do nicely, he laughed at that. As it was, there was only the flourescent light fixture to stare at. Thank goodness the proceedure is a short one.

  6. “Crocheting is such a source of pleasure…”

    It was only a month or so ago that I would never have predicted you saying that… at the beginning… finding your fingering of the yarns, struggling with the edges, but it’s all come out nicely, now, and it’s a source of pleasure. That is how I am seeing it, too. In a life here that plays out pretty much the same every day, my little pieces of color expanding in front of me just give off so much happiness!

  7. Bex, I am what one might call an “parallax learner”. What I mean by this is that I don’t learn in a predictable way, I see things from multiple perspectives simulataneously, so that it takes time to narrow down to a particular perspective that will function well. This means that anyone teaching me is easily frustrated, which usually shows. It also means that I learn the ins and outs of things rather thoroughly. By time I “get it” I have visited it from many angles, and have visited problems and pitfalls that I would not have, if I had taken the linear route. This has always been the way I have learned things, and it has served me well.

    I am with you Bex, the colours are wonderful to see and touch, and creating warmth and beauty with them is very soothing. I believe it is this pleasure in doing that is the basic strength of our species, and that all great things come from this simple pleasure. It is a building block of human health.

    I have a long way to go towards producing beautiful objects with crochet, but that doesn’t concern me. I know that if I follow my own pace, and control the temptation to overreach my current ability, my skills will develop slowly but surely. There are no real shortcuts when it comes to developing a disciplined skill, experience and practice and enjoyment are what counts. It is the same with all skills, from crocheting to publishing academic articles, the best comes from efforts where the heart and mind have joined forces.

  8. I think older people talk about their health a lot because when one’s body starts doing weird, unexpected things, it becomes front and centre. Younger people would do the same if it happened to them. We all love a mystery, even an unpleasant one! -Kate

  9. I agree Kate, young people would do the same thing if it happened to them. I ran programs for seniors when I was 20 years old, and I now think that that was a bit of a farce, because what the heck does a 20 year old know about being a senior! Of course, being young and foolish, I thought at the time that my education and training put me in a position of some authority on the subject… HA! The young know as much about being old as as a turtle knows about flying. One thought I comfort myself with, about those times, is that I was always looking for feedback about what I was doing, and I wish those lovely seniors had been a bit more forthright with their opinions! I always appreciated it when they were, it did happen occasionally. But mostly they were just kind, amused, and very tolerant.

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