I almost had my cervical screening
For anyone that’s had a cervical screening, I think we can all agree they’re unpleasant. They’re one of life’s necessary evils. Knowing that I needed to have mine, I tried to ignore my anxiety, and booked in an appointment. Sit tight, grab some popcorn, as I tell you about how I almost had my cervical screening (whilst incidentally discussing the failures of the NHS).
Getting the letter…
As soon as the letter came through the door, I felt my anxiety spike.
How has it been 3 years since my last one?!
(You can read about that here)
Rather than worrying about it, I decided to be brave and just book the appointment.
Now, I should probably mention that besides all my normal anxiety, this is my first face-to-face appointment since March 2020. Even back then, I was having CBT and certain things were in place to make appointments easier for me. The idea of going to an appointment scares me. I know that I’ll sit in the waiting room as my anxiety builds in my head. Either I’ll go into the appointment before it explodes, or I’ll run away. I’m never quite sure which way it’ll go!
I talked myself through it. Reminded myself how important it is to keep up my cervical screening and I booked the appointment.
The appointment was for a Tuesday afternoon, so from the weekend before, I could feel the anxiety building inside of me. I did my best to keep ignoring it, but it was hard. Honestly, I got nothing done on Monday. The impending doom of Tuesday’s appointment was hanging over me, making concentrating incredibly difficult. I feel like a failure admitting this. How silly that one appointment has wiped out my week. But, it is what it is. I might look fine on the outside and I might have good days (excellent days, even) but it’s easy to forget that I’m still mentally unwell.
Tuesday came around and I focused on getting ready for the appointment. If I have to go somewhere anxiety provoking, then I usually do my hair and makeup as it gives me a focus and stops me from falling down an anxiety hole! So, I got myself ready. Stopped myself from having approximately 50,000 panic attacks, took various tablets to settle my anxious stomach, and tried to decide what dress was best to wear – I didn’t want to make too much of an effort!
How I almost had my cervical screening
Thankfully, the appointment was for 2:15, so my boyfriend took a late lunch from work. We decided he would drive me there, walk Peanut while I was in there, and then he’d be there for when I came out. So, off we went. I was feeling sicker and sicker as we got closer. Anxiety was threatening to suffocate every single thought. If you’ve ever been anxious, you might recognise that feeling of not even being able to speak. Anxiety was stopping me from forming words and I was just focused on how sick I felt. We pulled up outside, and I sat there for a few minutes, not wanting to go in too early. This was the worst I was feeling. That fight-or-flight mode kicked in and I cannot tell you how much I wanted to run away.
I didn’t. Instead, I made sure my boyfriend and Peanut had everything they needed for their walk and then I walked into the doctors. My heart was pounding, but I’d made up my mind. I was doing this. I would shortly be walking back out and it would all be done. I’d be so proud of myself.
Except, it didn’t happen.
I walked in and gave my name to the receptionist. She read out the name of the nurse I was supposed to be seeing and glanced at another nurse who was standing beside her. It was then I was told the nurse was out and had left a note saying she tried to cancel my appointment. Now, as someone who’s anxious, I was verging on obsessiveness checking the details of my appointment. I’d had no missed calls or voicemails. No texts from the doctors (surely if they couldn’t get through to me and couldn’t leave a voicemail a quick text to say it was cancelled would do? I’ve had entire appointments via text so I’m sure they could have just given me some warning). I’d also checked my NHS to make sure I had the right surgery – once home, I checked the NHS app again and the appointment had mysteriously disappeared (in other words, they’d actually cancelled it this time).
It looks as though someone messed up and forgot to cancel my appointment. The receptionist tried to re-book me there and then, but I said not to bother. Explained how anxious I’d been and couldn’t face going through it again.
To them, I was just another appointment. For me, it was days and days of anxiety building up to that one appointment. I’m in such a state I can’t even begin to imagine putting myself through that again any time soon.
*I try to always take something positive from a situation, so I’ve come home and booked a dentist appointment for July. It’s tough catching up on all the life stuff that you’ve missed out on whilst battling with your mental health*
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