Happy Polyp to Me

Dear Writers:

My birthday is on Halloween. This year to celebrate being 53 years old, me and my cervix, whom I call Fred, headed to the OB-GYN clinic at 7:45 in the morning to get our polyp removed.

For my special day, the team at OB-GYN is dressed up like characters from The Wizard of Oz. An affable Cowardly Lion checks me in at reception. Then a smiling nurse in a pink-and-white tutu takes me back to one of those little rooms and writes down stuff that’s wrong with me and what vitamins I take.

“Have you seen The Wizard of Oz?” she asks me.

“About a thousand times,” I say, not much of an exaggeration since I had the movie soundtrack on 33 LP when I was a kid. I knew right off that her costume was one of the Lullaby League ballerinas that welcomed Dorothy Gale to Munchkinland, and I can sing you the song on our next road trip.

“It was kind of hard to make a tutu,” she says, strapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm. “Everybody said a tutu would be easy, but it wasn’t.”


I stop myself from saying that she just needed to lightly tack the muslin to the lining waist before gathering the ruffles to get them straight. I stop myself from saying this not because I’m being polite but because I have a damn polyp on my cervix and the contrast with a nurse in a tutu is a little much to take at 8:08 in the morning sans caffeine.

My mom was a wicked-good seamstress and made me the most amazing Halloween costumes. Being in a stuffy little room with a nurse wearing a droopy tutu and knowing the gist of the medical procedure that is coming my way makes me all of a sudden miss my mommy. A lot.

Nurse Lullaby takes my blood pressure: 116/74 with no caffeine in my system. Who in hell has time to do the pre-how embarrassing if the OB-GYN sees how much hair grows behind my knee caps type of shower, feed dog who takes forever to eat, walk dog who takes forever to pee, find the damn medical referral slip, forget to get gas AND make coffee and still get over to the clinic on what street is it on again? at this ungodly hour?

In a few minutes, in comes the doc, who is dressed in normal clothing. Although she looks quite a lot like my college biology teacher, so it does seem befitting that she is an OB-GYN.

“It’s going to be OK,” I whisper to Fred.


Fred is my cervix, in case you forgot. Fred is a girl, and this isn’t a piece about gender identity unless you decide it is, which is your prerogative as its reader.

The doc wants to know if I’m sexually active.

“No, I abstain when I’m not in a relationship,” I reply. That’s Latin for No man will talk to me unless he’s trying to sell me electronics or a car, and I’m fairly sure the mannequin in the Macy’s window is getting more action than I am this decade.

“About how long has it been?” asks the doc, reminding me that lots of medical terms have Latin root words, i.e., I am so busted.

“End of 2012,” I confess.

“Ohhhh, it’s been a really long time.”


Thanks, doc. Yes, Obama was just starting his second term the last time my hoohaw saw any hoopla.

She stares at me, and I think she’s wondering how on earth Fred grew a polyp in my sensory deprivation chamber, but she explains that sometimes polyps bleed during intercourse (that’s Latin for GETTING IT ON, in case I forgot), but “we can’t know that in your case,” she says.

She shrugs, perhaps a little disappointed at the not knowing. I get that. In order for a scientific experiment to work, there needs to be both a control group and a test group, and I’m a boring control group. It’s like a thin plot line without any dramatic climax, and believe you me.

Of course, the doc has looked over the paperwork I filled out in advance and knows stuff about me, including that Fred was somewhat popular pre-Y2K and even after. There’s twelve to fourteen possible sources of Fred’s little polyp head that has brought us to this moment. If I knew which one, I’d go after him with a rake.

The doc says we have to go to another little room, where I get to take off the bottom half of my clothes and get up on the table in the usual position. When my feet are up in the stirrups and my dignity is fully gone, the doc schooches her chair between my knees and wields a shiny speculum.

“What kind of writing do you do?” she asks my vagina.


“I write literary fiction and occasionally memoir, but my vagina has a great idea for a mystery thriller,” I do not say to the person who is waving a speculum at my vagina, because it is never a good idea to be a smartass to the person holding a speculum.

After the speculum is in situ, the doc produces the long set of forceps that she will use to deftly pluck out the polyp via a “gentle, twisting motion.” At least that’s what Google said. Not to be at all sexist, but Google was absolutely written by a guy who never had a speculum or a set of forceps shoved up his hoohaw to tug at a freakin’ polyp, not to mention that he never had a hoohaw—owwww! As soon as I can move again, I’m going to slay that Google author, this doctor, the nurse in the tutu, and that damn lion at reception.

“Oh, my!” exclaims the doctor, which is interesting phrasing considering the attire of her colleagues. “It’s a big one!”


She holds up the foot-long forceps, at the end of which dangles my polyp. I have never seen a polyp before, but this one looks pretty big to me. And really icky. Like a Molten Meteor that could grow into a Blob and eat up the town. I make Fred pinkie swear to never have sex again even if Keanu Reeves shows up at our house with twelve to fourteen red roses.

The doctor looks gleeful as she eyes the big specimen she has retrieved from my me-oh-my. She places it in an Estee Lauder-tinted-moisturizer-sized-jar conveniently waiting on the tray next to where Fred and I humbly sprawl.

Thanks to the ungodly size of the polyp that just carved a tunnel through my netherlands, Fred is dilated to the extent that Doc says she can collect an endometrial sample right now instead of waiting till another time. She opens the door and calls out for someone to bring her more tools and stuff, and in pops a member of the Lollipop Guild with a couple ominous-looking twizzle sticks.

The doc asks if Lollipop is going to be comfortable enough wearing her costume all day. Well, the collar is a little stiff, but otherwise it’s okay, and Lollipop brought a regular pair of scrubs just in case.

“Oh, good! And, hey, could you shut the freakin’ door while you two are chatting, so not everyone from Munchkinland can see Fred and me lying here like a bug on a windshield when they walk by?” I do not say to Lollipop, because it is never a good idea to be a smartass when there are three people crammed into a tiny room and you are the one in the stirrups.

I get that Fred is a common sight in this building, but sheesh. The scenario is further upsetting because there are two Dorothys running around in the hallway outside, one in the traditional blue and one in pink. My memory of the book is admittedly a little hazy after Dorothy and Co. head Away to the South and into Quadling country, but I’m pretty sure there weren’t two Dorothys. Maybe Dorothy in pink is an understudy.

Lollipop departs and shuts the door, so I miss the rest of the impromptu hallway photo shoot of the Wicked Witch of the West. No one had wanted to be a flying monkey someone explains, so Elphie had to pose solo.


And then, the doctor pokes a twizzle stick through Fred and further into me than should be physically possible in order to collect floating debris from the universe otherwise known as my uterus. She casually mentions that it’s much harder to navigate the twizzle stick into someone who has never had children. This has all been done without anesthetic, alcohol, or coffee, and my 8:45 a.m. headache is truly clicking in, and I think I might cry at the unfairness of the world and Donald Trump and that one time when I was ten and my cat ran away.

Then we’re all done, and the doc sits back and gives me a grin that says, “We did it!”

She has pretty, sparkly eyes, which I’m sure is the reason her husband, who must be a pathologist, fell for her. I fall for her too because I’m so damn grateful to have the twizzle stick/forceps/speculum process over with, and as soon as I can stand on my own, I get to leave Oz and go home.


After a couple aspirin and some kind words from the nurse, on the way out, the costumes are less annoying. The people in them are wonderful. Fred and I have to admit our gratefulness to the pros who work so hard to keep the rest of us healthy and try to bring some fun into the day. I’m probably not the first person to have a giant Blob polyp removed on her birthday, but I bet I’m the first one to have it done in Munchkinland.

There’s no graceful way to end this thing, so Fred and I are going to go take a nap. Good-bye.

XO Laurel Leigh

P.S. All Oz pics are from Google, where else, who got them from that one movie, what else.


15 thoughts on “Happy Polyp to Me

    • Hi Kari! Thanks so much for reading and for the nice comment. I decided I might as well have fun with it – and make a way different plan for next year’s birthday, lol. Take care!

  1. Oh Laurel, I just love this kind of humor. And how funny you call “it” Fred. Indignities don’t feel so bad once we can take control and “poke” fun at them. Thanks for bravely sharing this essay. Best to you and Fred.

  2. Oh dear Laurel (and I’m deliberately leaving out the comma so you can interpret those words either way):
    What a surreal experience to usher in a new year. Thank you for sharing and may I amend my birthday wishes to add health, and some hee-haw (but only if you and Fred agree)!

  3. Laurel, what an incredible thing for you and Fred to go through! I’m in awe of the amazing piece of writing you created from the experience–I especially adore your voice in this story.

    • Thanks, Lish! It might be the strangest birthday I’ll ever have. I wish I’d taken pics while I was there. They were so proud of their costumes. It was pretty cute–after I finally got coffee. XO

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