I think this post will prove to be quite popular as sexually transmitted diseases are almost the last taboo. Has that got your attention?
I am not ringing Anna, I am going one step further and meeting her for coffee. She made my door bell ring last December after my jewelry box had been stolen. I opened the door to the tall and statuesque silhouette on the doorstep. She was clutching a small black velvet bag full of necklaces.
We order great big bowls of coffee and I take notes as she speaks. She finds this entertaining as she is usually the one taking notes as her patients speak. She is a doctor at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. And no, I won’t be sharing any history, not with you anyway. I talk to her about G.U.M. and she laughs. In England, Genito Urinary Medicine would be the sign to follow at the hospital, is it called G.U.M to make it appeal to youths?
She tells me about her one full day a week of colposcopies (you know, taking samples from the cervix) and she really enjoys all aspects of her work. Sex workers come to see her and they say ‘Your job’s disgusting,’ which she finds funny.
I thought this was going to be a really long page in my blog and I have been working up to it. It has been the school holidays, the world cup, I have had a chest virus and shinnanigans in my life and all the while that I haven’t been blogging I have thought I must give Anna’s page my best shot with all those notes I took.
I have just turned over the first page on my notebook and there is only one word on the second. It is Gardasil. Anna spoke about the incredible effect Gardasil has had on lowering the rates of the HPV virus. They are down 95%. An Australian developed the vaccine and Anna took part in the first trials. She calls it an amazing cure.
We talk about her lovely old fashioned and clever parents whom I knew and who died within six months of each other in 2012. Her Dad had trained in mountaineering with Edmund Hillary and was also the Professor of Maths at Monash University. I tell her that I feel a bit embarrassed because I had always thought that Monash was an acronym for something like ‘Melbourne Organisation for National Academia Southern Hemisphere’. And it wasn’t until we went to the Somme battlefields that I found out Monash is credited with turning round the First World War.
We cover lots of topics that would never be aired on Facebook and perhaps would only ever be told face to face.
She tells me that she had a cycling accident which could have killed her, in her twenties, and still has some double vision when she is tired.
But we seem to keep going back to sexually transmitted diseases and in the end I almost envy her her job!
I tell her about the time when, as an 18 year old I had gone into the chemist and bought cheap purple-ish hair dye. I spent the afternoon in the bathroom then sauntered down the stairs all mauve to show those gathered in the kitchen. A friend of the family loved the gentle purple hue that shone from my black mop of hair and she asked me the name of the colour.
‘Chlamydia’ I said and almost felt the heat of shocked facial expressions.
It was ‘Clematis.’
The beautiful, inside and out, Dr Morton.