Monday, May 16, 2016

Pap Smears, Root Canals, and Family Photos

I think you can all understand what pap smears, root canals, and family photos all have in common right? No? then it's possible you haven't experienced all three or you would know. There are three main commonalities required for each.  1. Prep work 2. Endurance 3. Enjoying the fruits of your labor. Let me elaborate.

Prep Work
If you've got a pap smear scheduled this week I'm pretty sure you're going to take a few steps to prepare.  Including, but not limited to, shaving, waxing, trimming, additional cleaning.  You're going to wear your nicest, or least-stained undies (even though no-one, besides you, even sees them), you're going to do a little prep work for that glorious moment when your bare legs are sweating like crazy in those charming stirrups while your OB talks about the movie he saw last week. We've all heard the story about the woman who, intending to spray a deodorizing spray right before her pap smear, accidentally grabbed glitter spray.  Her ob was surely impressed with her preparation that year.

If you've got a root canal scheduled you've probably already endured the worst part, which was most likely an abscessed tooth.  If you've had an abscess you won't need help remembering how it started out as just a bit sore, and you flossed it because maybe something got stuck, then the pain increases to really sore and a little swollen.  If you're like me, it's at this point that you call the dentist because you've gotten past the point of tolerating it with 4 Ibuprofen every 4 hours, chewing on ice constantly and telling your kids, "yes, you will start another movie for them" for the 3rd time that day.  You've never been this excited for a dentist appointment in your life.  You will do anything, literally anything to get some laughing gas, and a shot.  Heck, I'll take 10 shots at this point if it will help with the non-stop throbbing that has become your tooth.  And that's when your dentist informs you that there's nothing he can do.  You have an abscess and all you get is a prescription for an antibiotic. No pain numbing shot, no pressure-releasing drilling, just waiting.   "In 2-3 days you'll feel better" He explains.  "2-3 days?" It's at that point when you look in the mirror and realize your cheek has swollen to three times it's size, you can no longer be recognized by family, and you cannot go out in public (as if you would anyways.) The dang dentist is no good to you now and you get to see an endodontist.   You start prepping for the big day by getting a million x-rays, and most likely, the first appointment where your roots are numbed and then pulverized by scrapping needles up and down.  The finger impressions you left on the armrest as you wait in anticipation of the impending "little pinch"  are just beginning to return to their original shape when it's time to come back and finish your little root canal. This was just the preparation. 

If you've got family photos on the docket you've likely spent hours prepping by pinning adorable families smiling perfectly, hours online shopping, more hours returning the items that didn't work, hours walking through the mall explaining to everyone that "I'm just browsing." while in actuality you're desperately searching for the perfect necklace, belt, hat, earrings, hair bow, dress, sweater, shoes for everyone in your entire family (which for our family of 7 is sooooooo exhausting) Not to mention stalking the weather forecast in hopes of no rain, no tornadoes, not too hot, not too cold.  I mean even Mother Nature needs to comply on your big day. You've tried on everything in your closet in different combinations, you've spray tanned, cut your boys' hair, "polished" shoes with a magic marker, ironed (for the first time in 2 years), took notes while watching make-up tutorials on you-tube. Tweezed the heck out of your brows.  These are going to be the best family photos ever, your preparation will not be in vain.  Everyone's going to be happy, healthy, excited, smiley, and looking beautiful in a flawless, not-overdone way right?

The doc comes in and I can't help thinking, "Why I can't give myself a pap smear?"  Can't they just bring in the kit, let me watch a short video on what-not-to-do, and come pick up the kit a few minutes later?  I'm sure it's not that hard.  But no.  They need to get the specimen themselves.  I honestly get so stressed about such silly things like, where to put my clothes, how fast do I need to get dressed because, heaven forbid, the doc raps on the door when I've got my panties around my ankles.  I don't know why it's that big of a deal but I whip off my clothes at lightning speed, fold them gingerly, hide them, clasp my paper gown fiercely and wait.  They obviously haven 't done any scientific research on the amount of time it takes to get undressed because I'm pretty sure I get naked in under 1 minute.  Then I wait about 15 minutes shifting back and forth on the paper, trying not to tear it with my bare buns.  You know what comes next, lay back, put your feet in the aforementioned stirrups or place your feet flat together with your knees apart.  Boy oh boy.  This is fun. Then there comes the "little pinch" again.  Well it's over now, you endured. 

After the abscess, enduring the root canal is amazing.  You're just so happy that the antibiotic did indeed work and you can now put this all behind you (with only an occasional glimpse at your horrifyingly ugly chipmunk-cheek-phone-selfies.)  The thought of that week will help the endurance of the root canal seem like a trip to the Caribbean.  Sure you have to get more x-rays, shots, you have to prop your mouth open for 3 hours, you have to endure the saliva oozing down your neck, but it's worth it.  Your nerves and roots will never cause you pain again.  "I LOVE YOU Dr. Gibby" will go through your mind the whole time you're laying there, especially if you got laughing gas.  

It's family photo day.  The clothes are laid out on your bed like little one dimensional bodies, the curling iron is hot, the hair spray handy, you've put in the work and your ready for anything.  You've got bribery fruit snacks and smarties in your purse, the location already in your gps, nothing can go wrong.  And then your son starts puking, your 5th grade son has somehow grown 3 inches over night and his pants are now capris.  Your husband is late, your toddler refused his nap and is exhausted and emotional.  You would be bawling too at this point if you had time to re-do your makeup but you don't.  So you pull it together.  And maybe yell a little, at everyone.  Since the baby won't let you put him down you downgrade your daughter's hair style.  Straight is just as cute as curled, right?  You give the puker Motrin and bribe him that if he will just fake it for 10 minutes he can go back to sleep very very soon.  You pick different pants for your son and you glare at your late husband to get dressed now.  This is just what you hoped for.  A happy family moment captured forever.  After a good self pep-talk in the bathroom mirror you apologize to your husband and hustle everyone out to the Suburban. You take a deep breath.  The children can smell fear, stress, and anxiety so you want to act cool, calm, collected.  "Let's have fun guys!" you cheerfully say through gritted teeth and you select "My House" by Flo-Rida on you-tube and crank it up - loud.  You've got to keep the toddler from falling asleep somehow. Your teenager rolls her eyes as you start getting in your groove.  Pointing to each kid for their "solo moment" you yell "Work It Babe!" right as you pull up to a red light and your husband does his best robot arms ever.  The windows go down and you get your 5th grader to do the "sprinkler" to the rocking beat.  Your toddler hits the "dab" and everyone starts laughing.  Even the puker.  Deep Breath.  This is going to be ok.  Once on location, someone may have stepped in bird poop, someone may have cried, someone may have pinched someone else, someone probably started climbing up on rocks that they were told to not get on and scraped their knee but, according to the photographer, "We got some great shots" so you trust in her Photoshop skills and hope for the best.

Enjoy The Fruits Of Your Labor

If I'm being honest the fruits of a pap-smear can be a little hard to conjure up.  But I'll be danged if I'm going to give up on my analogy that easy.  After googling, "why should I get a pap smear?" and "do women who get pap smears live longer?"  I've come up with a few pap smear "fruits" for you to relish. To begin with, there's the relief that it's over. Whew! You now have a whole two years to wait until your ob office starts leaving you robotic voicemail every week, for 6 weeks, until your voicemail gets full and your guilt takes over and you schedule your annual appointment again. Let's not overlook that fact that you also got to sit in the doc's office for a while, by yourself, to get caught up on instagram or the latest "People" magazine.  It was kind of nice those 20 minutes of peace, at least in hindsight it seemed kind of nice.  And after, you probably stopped and got a beverage as a reward for being so proactive in protecting your health.  See, three amazing pap smear fruits: relief, moment of peace, a beverage.

Fruits of a root canal are easy to see.  Say, "chipmunk cheeks" three times and you know what I mean.  Ice chomping, thrashing back and forth on the bathroom floor in pain,  holding heated rice bags to your cheek, calling your dentist at 3:00 a.m., all of these things bring back a lot of miserable memories and a root canal is the only solution. If it weren't financially prohibitive I would consider getting voluntary root canals on every tooth because thanks to laughing gas, "I LOVE Dr. Gibby!"

See those beautiful Christmas cards? that gallery wall? The Facebook update where everybody chirped in to say how cute your family is?  Fruits of the family photo right there.  For some reason all the crying and stepping in bird poop and spit up chocolate stained, turned inside out shirt moments all seem really funny now that the pics are printed.  They are the crazy journey that got you those beautiful photos that you will cherish forever.  All it takes is opening up your photo album and you're ready to start all over again. It was totally worth it.  

To see a gallery of my family photos over the years and to read through a few tips I've rounded up over the years keep scrolling down.  Or click here.

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