Adding Insult to Injury

Adding Insult to Injury

The letter read “We are writing to invite you to make an appointment for NHS cervical screening.  The NHS offers cervical screening to save lives from cervical cancer.  It does this by finding abnormal cells in the cervix before they have a chance to develop into cancer.  Any abnormal cells that are found can be removed, to prevent cervical cancer developing.”

To help me make my decision whether to go ahead and book a cervical screening, a NHS leaflet was enclosed outlining what is involved, the benefits and the risks.

All very helpful and informative, the only problem being of course, that it is not relevant to me anymore.

Later that day I shared this episode and my shock on opening the letter with some girlfriends.  They tried to get me not to dwell on it with a joke about the obvious oversight and the poor administration system of the NHS.

The problem is my perspective was different.  I didn’t find it funny.  I was outraged.  Every fiber of my being was indignant.

The emphasis of the message on screening offering the opportunity of “finding” and “removing” any demon cells before they morphed into cancer was clear and one that I have never needed reiterating.

You see to add insult to injury the letter arrived on the anniversary of the exact day last year that I took myself off willingly and somewhat enthusiastically to my GP to have my cervical screening test, the very one that I have attended diligently for the last 25 years of my life without fail – even in the days back when it was just called a “smear test”.

I have never bought into the whole mentality of those women who have avoided it because they are scared of the pain.  Quite simply – screening saves lives.  My message to those women is get a grip and get on with it, there are worse pains and none greater than that which could occur as a consequence of not having it.

This is not a poor me piece, but it is a rant and a justifiable one at that.  You see aside from the NHS sending me a letter when my records should clearly show I am not in the target market anymore, it also acted as a torch paper for those memories and feelings of injustice that I have worked hard to suppress over the last few months; the very ones that if not kept in check can produce an overwhelming negativity, the likes of which I have never experienced in my life before.

The NHS holds onto your screening samples in a laboratory for at least 10 years – I know this because my gynaecological surgeon told me and if you feel inclined to read that far – it is in the leaflet!

My results are currently being recalled.  It is almost certain that my abnormal cells (those very ones that the letter says screening finds) and went on to develop into cancer, were missed in the early stages, when the consequences would not have been so life-changing.

What’s done is done.  There is no going back, not for me anyway, but mistakes like this can’t happen and shouldn’t happen.  Whoever missed those changes in my body for whatever reason whether inexperience, lack of attention to detail or overwork, needs to learn from it for the benefit of all the others like me.

Adding Insult To Injury

This post was written in response to a 20 minute writing challenge from the fabulous Liberty who wrote a beautiful piece entitled Fragile


1. In 20 minutes you are to create your post, including writing, checking, proofreading, editing and adding any images.
2. Mention the person who gave you the challenge and include a link to their website.
3. After 20 minutes you must publish what you have created.
4. You are free to write about any topic you choose.
5. Once you have done, you must choose three of your blogging friends to do the challenge, include links to their website.
6. Let your challenge nominees know via Twitter.

I challenge:

Sophie – Old House In The Shires


    • Jo
      November 21, 2018 / 11:38 am

      Indeed Lucy. Sadly I doubt I will be alone in being affected by administrative errors of insensitivity.

  1. November 16, 2018 / 11:53 am

    In Ireland we have had a whole scandal around faulty screening for cervical cancer … and women not being informed until too late. Unbelievable mix of arrogance, folly and bureaucratic BS, with tragic consequences. And heads never roll. Far too bust covering asses to set about actually improving the service in order to at least be in the best possible to intervene early #BlogCrush

    • Jo
      November 16, 2018 / 3:13 pm

      Yes sadly Edna there was a report in the media on the same scenario here literally the day after I posted my piece. We place our trust in the health service and whilst we all recognise they are over-stretched and under-resourced the consequences of these mistakes are catastrophic and sadly do not appear to be getting any better. Thanks for your insightful words as always.

  2. November 14, 2018 / 11:42 am

    What a cheek! You were right to feel the way you did. This is a very moving and powerful post, well done on writing it within the confines of the challenge.

    • Jo
      November 14, 2018 / 1:04 pm

      Emotions provide a powerful incentive for writing Liberty as you well know and none so than anger. Ironic that you set the challenge only a few days after the episode happened so it was very much top of mind for me.

  3. November 13, 2018 / 6:10 am

    What a nightmare for you to go through Jo. It’s scary and shocking that anything could have been missed like this when we put such trust in these systems and trust everything we are told. Sorry you had to go through these feelings again by wrongly receiving another letter but thank you for writing about it.

    • Jo
      November 14, 2018 / 1:05 pm

      Thanks Susie. To be honest I am over most of it now and just getting on getting on so to speak but as I said in the post the letter acted as a torch for a variety of ill feelings I had managed to suppress.

  4. Lieve Geysen
    November 11, 2018 / 10:42 pm

    What a horrible experience. I’m so sorry that happened after all you’ve been through. It’s so good of you to write and share this, to make people more aware. I’m hoping from now on you’ll only receive good news.

    • Jo
      November 14, 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Bless you Lieve. I dare say there have been worse administrative errors and there will no doubt be more but it is quite staggering. The next few weeks are filled with anniversaries of various appointments so I am preparing myself for a wave of emotional ups and downs but a regular reminder of how lucky I am keeps the downs in check. x

  5. November 11, 2018 / 9:57 pm

    Oh my, what a horrific ordeal for you – all of it. I’m lost for words as I didn’t know that you had gone through this. I’m so sorry and shame on the NHS for not showing more respect and dignity to patients.

    • Jo
      November 14, 2018 / 1:11 pm

      Thanks Suzanne, it has been a tumultuous year but you know only too well what they are like. We get up and brush ourselves down and just move on. Unfortunate episodes like this are an annoyance and like everything will no doubt soon be pushed to the back of my mind – rather forcibly at least. x

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