An Anxious Girl's Guide To Your First Smear Test - Booking The Test

18 Jan 2020

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Sound the klaxons, I've had my first smear test! If you cast your mind back to the end of December, I wrote quite a personal post about why I hadn't had my smear test yet and published it with so much fear about how it was going to be received. To my surprise, everyone was so lovely and encouraging, which was kind of an incredible boost for my self esteem, which prompted me to chase up an appointment.

Within that blog post, I said that I wanted to have my test done by the 26th of January, the end of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, As I sit and type this, just four hours after my test, it's the 16th of January, so I blew that deadline out of the water! I'm pretty proud of myself and chuffed that I didn't have a full on cry, but this whole experience has kind of prompted me to share some posts about each step of the process.

I'm quite an anxious person, which is something that I haven't been shy about, so this whole thing was pretty nerve-wracking and anxious-vomit-inducing for me, but there were things that I did along the way to help me get through it. I figured that by sharing, I could help someone else who is anxious, nervous or uncomfortable about the whole thing!

For this first post, I'm starting right at the beginning, of course. The initial step that you need to take is book the appointment, which was quite possibly the scariest bit for me, so let's have a chat about it.
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Booking an appointment with phone anxiety

The reason why I found booking an appointment so difficult is because I'm extremely anxious about making phonecalls. My heart rate sky rockets, I get hot, I get chest pains, I feel sick - I experience the works, all over picking up the phone. To think that I had to call to book an appointment for a nurse to prod at my hoo-ha was even worse! But I did it, and if I did, then you can too!

That being said, I know how difficult it can be to pick up the phone and dial in those numbers, so here are some tips based on things that I did to help you get over this hurdle.

Use Google to see if you have the correct phone number
This may be a bit of a no brainer, but I'm a bit scared of phoning the wrong person. Get yourself on Google and double check on a few websites that you definitely have the correct number. That way, you know that you're going to be answered by a receptionist, rather than a random in the middle of nowhere who definitely doesn't want to know that it's time for your smear.

Make your call in a comfortable environment
For me, this was my car, although I was on hold for quite a while, so ended up pacing in my hallway instead. If you're somewhere familiar that feels comforting to you, you're more than likely going to feel so much calmer.

Stand up 
This might sound a little bit daft, but there's something kind of nice about pacing around or swaying from foot to foot that feels much more relaxing than sitting and bouncing your knee (I know I'm not the only one!). You'll feel a lot more confident by standing - also try relaxing your shoulders down to give your chest all the room to breathe.

Don't think too much about what you want to say
I know, this is so much easier said than done, but I promise, by making a script, you're kind of more likely to stumble over your words, which is something that I'm terrified of doing. All you need to do is start off the conversation with 'hi there, I'm looking to book my cervical screening' and you'll be flying. I kept my preferred date and that opening line in mind, and that was it. I didn't stumble and ended up having a really nice chat with the lady on the other end.

Make sure you know when your surgery is available for calls
My surgery is only open to calls for appointments from 8AM - 8:30AM, so I was able to get my call in nice and early on a day that I was off work. I don't know if this dedicated time slot scenario is a common thing across the UK, but it'll massively ease your mind if you know for certain that your surgery is ready for calls.

See if you have any other options
It doesn't hurt to take a look at your surgery's website to see if you can book your appointment in another way. You might be able to log in and make a booking online, or you may be able to go along in person to book yourself in. If you feel like making a phonecall is too much for you, this is a really good point to try out!
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I know that I'm just a person on the Internet, but I promise you, once you've made this phonecall, a huge weight will be lifted from your shoulders. I felt incredibly powerful after making my call and booking the appointment, and I felt secure in knowing that the first hurdle had been jumped. Of course, actually going along to the test was a whole other task in itself, but that's something I'm going to discuss in another post.

It's also worth me saying that holding myself accountable really helped me with making a call. Because I'd set myself a deadline to have my smear done by, I knew that I would have to make my call a few weeks beforehand. I didn't pressure myself to do it and neither did anyone else, which was really lovely - I sort of naturally felt like the time was right to pick up the phone.

I really hope that this post has been somewhat helpful to at least one person or if you've come along for a little snoop as someone who has already had a smear, why not drop your tips in the comments below?

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@thenorthernist