Hysteroscopy, derived from the Greek ὑστέρα “hystera” meaning uterus, is a procedure in which a thin camera is inserted into a woman’s vagina, up through her cervix, and into the uterus so that its interior might be viewed for diagnostic purposes. Back in ye olde old-timey times, mustached gentlemen would insert coins into large wooden boxes containing images of women’s uteri, which could be briefly viewed or “peeped” by pulling a corresponding string and gazing into a viewing hole carved in the side of the box. These devices were called “Raree Boxes” or “Peep Shows.”
It starts off resembling a date. The coy, witty banter. The questions about likes and dislikes. The offers to hold your hand. The sticking-things-in-your-vagina.
What did you do New Years Eve? He asks, smiling at you as he begins screwing something in-between your legs.
My boyfriend and I drank some Prosecco and watched Deadwood. It was pretty mellow.
Deadwood, huh? I haven’t heard much about that – take deeeep breath now – why don’t you tell me about it?
Well, it’s pretty fantastic. Easily as good as The Sopra – WAIT WAIT WHAT THE FUCK THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL THAT’S SUPPOSED TO GO IN THERE.
Those breaths are a little fast. Try to breathe in sloooow and deeeep.
I SAID OUCH GODDAMMIT.
On the screen to your left you watch as images of shimmering pink vistas slowly begin to emerge from pitch-darkness. Then it occurs to you: you are looking at live images of your own working insides. Understandably, you begin to feel just a wee bit light-headed in the wake of this too-visceral realization. You squinch your eyes shut and try to think happy, not-having-things-shoved-up-your-brewster thoughts. But for some reason, the unwelcome visage of Charles Nelson Riley keeps materializing in your mind – his giant, twitching, guffawing owl head pushing you farther and farther away from your happy place and back into that room, the room with your big pink uterus pornographically displayed on a 24″ HD flatscreen, all discomfortingly fleshy and live and pulsing in living color.
Ow, says the witnessing medical student, who now resembles Charles Nelson Riley if Charles Nelson Riley were a tiny Asian woman.
What’s wrong? you ask, your voice trembling in anticipation of her response.
Ow, you’re kind of holding my hand really tight.
When it’s over the doctor asks you to sit up, but when you try to follow his command the entire room dissolves into static. Tiny Asian Charles Nelson Riley grabs your arm almost maternally. Yeah, that sometimes happens. You should probably just lay back down for a little while, she and/or he says. A cool wash cloth is gently applied to your forehead. The world pixelates into hundreds of tiny Hollywood-Squares-like boxes, each box containing several gallons of rancid split pea soup-colored nausea.
When you next open your eyes the doctor is standing beside you, saying that your malfunctioning uterus looks fine, just fine. The biopsy will tell the final tale, of course, but it’s something to hold onto at least, those slightly milquetoasty and noncommittal words – fine, fine. And so you find yourself humming softly and smiling as you make your way out of the building – down the tragedy-threatening and claustrophobia-inducing elevator, across the impossibly vast, football field-like length of the hospital lobby – until finally you burst out of doors, stepping into the finest patch of bright midday sun you believe you ever saw.