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August 11th, 2011

by Elizabeth Spannuth

I am going through the painful process of sourcing independent health insurance. I have had group insurance for the last 10 years, so initially I was just plain confused by the terms and intricacies of each plan, as well as being shocked by the monthly premium. My insurance agent patiently explained it to me about 10 times and helped clear the fog. Then I started filling out the actual application and my heart sank… They ask for 5 years of medical history and, scrolling through the last 5 years felt something like getting my credit card statement and reliving the last month of my life. You know how it is to dredge up charges from past: that retail therapy impulse buy; that expensive dinner you should have just said no to; and that date you should haven’t bothered with, all come back to haunt you.

For the most part I have been in good health, but I have had an abnormal Pap smear within the last 5 years. When it happened I was aware that there are millions of women who go through this every year and it turns out to be nothing, however, the process of diagnosing what is causing the abnormality can be confusing as well frightening. Those memories came directly to the surface when I checked that box on the form. My doctor’s nurse has the bedside manner and tenderness of a drill sergeant and is fond of leaving messages regarding everyday items that are worded in medical jargon. This can be alarming to the medical layman, as it is roughly the equivalent of saying something like “your epidermis is showing” to someone who doesn’t know what an epidermis is. These feelings of confusion were compounded by the fact that every woman that I know that has had an abnormal Pap result has gone through a different process. Needless to say the whole experience was unsettling and left me wondering how to best proceed.

I chose the wait and see approach and I am glad that I did. I have had 3 years of clear Paps since then, but my insurance agent suggested that I have my doctor write a letter of recommendation for my vagina. He said this would help the insurance provider process my application faster. I was a bit taken aback at the suggestion; he didn’t word it quite that way, but the concept seemed strange and the subject uncomfortable. I grappled with this for about a week. What should I ask for? Do I need to ask for specific verbiage? Will they laugh at me?

Once I got over the old memories rearing their ugly heads, I called my doctor’s office and explained the situation. After a long conversation with the receptionist, I boiled it down to “I need a letter of recommendation for my vagina.” These were the magic words! She finally understood my request and it was put in the queue. Once I had my letter in hand, I was overjoyed to see my medical success story on paper. This helped to diminish my fears about recording my history on an application and make some peace with the past. I proudly turned in my paperwork, complete with my vagina’s letter of recommendation. I stand by her, as she has always stood by me!

Elizabeth Spannuth believes in love as a driving force in our lives. She is continually amazed by the humor at work in the universe and approaches things with a wry witticism. She firmly believes that love takes many forms as she herself has had many different kinds of meaningful, relationships.  She has said “I do” and signed “I don’t” and thanks the powers that be for giving her the grace learn from every experience. She has a varied professional background that includes performing arts training, event planning, sales and marketing planning and execution and serving as a whipping girl in corporate America. She is currently the Love Evangelist at Good Clean Love.

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