Lucy Blake's Weblog


STI Screening goes sideways again!

Hellooooo,

Well today a prize arrived for me all the way from Melbourne! I was VERY excited not only because I knew it was going to be yummy, but because it’s super cool to know someone went trudging around a shop to make me smiley happy 🙂 I know how much boys HATE shopping (even for sex toys! How on Earth could that be boring?!), so when someone goes shopping for me for a prize I never underestimate what a drag that was for them. It was especially wonderful to receive because it arrived on a shitty day.

Lollie Monster

Lucy Lollie Monster stash

On Friday I went for an STI check at Family Planning Queensland (FPQ). I usually go to a private Doctor for my STI screening because my experience of STI Centers in Sydney goes beyond sucking. These days due to “funding cuts”, if you want to get blood tests and all your swabs done, you either need to be dripping with green nuclear toxic looking ooze, or you need to lie thru your teeth and escalate your risk factors… eg. “naaaaah I don’t use condoms because I get paid $20 more if I don’t”. If you manage to get a full screen off them, the last 2 times I went, they gave me 2 pots to pee in, 6 swab sticks and told me to go into the toilet and swab myself – YERRR RIGHT! I don’t even like Paddle Pops, how the hell am I suppose to know how to stick a paddle pop stick with cotton buds on the end of it in my bagina and how far do I have to stick it in and where the hell do I put all of this stuff down in the toilets while I’m doing each swab… on the toilet seat where other people’s shit and STI sticks have been sitting?!  So I choose to go private and go to a Doctor that specializes in STIs/HIV.

Sooo on Friday because my private doctor is in Sydney and I’m in QLD, I troddled into FPQ and eventually got into the office with a Doctor. FPQ is apparently a teaching establishment so I had 3 Doctors and 1 Supervisor in there with me. Sooo we start with the questions….

“how many sexual relationships have you had?”, at which stage a hooker thinks:

  • Not bloody enough because I can’t afford to even buy baked beans at the moment
  • What hooker would ever count that?!
  • Sexual relationships? I’m a hooker, I don’t do relationships! What the hell do they mean by sexual relationships?!
  • Surely they would have come up with better questions in the last 10 years? How come they keep asking me the same stupid questions?
  • Asking the same stupid questions hasn’t managed to reduce STI rates and in fact they are increasing at a ridiculous rate, so surely it’s time to device better questions because these ones just aren’t working!
  • Why do they even bother asking me these stupid questions? It’s not as if they base their STI screening on it because they’re either funded well enough to do full STI screens or they’re not. It’s not as if they do any health promotion or education based on my answers, so what’s the bloody point?!

and they go on and on.

Then we move on to the screening. It was decided I was allowed to have a full screen. I handed one of the Doctors a bottle of lube and instructed them all they were to use that lube because other lubes give me thrush. They all looked at me like numbnuts so I launched into my bit of health promotion on what lube is made out of and how it can cause sex workers in particular issues if you use the cheap nasty lube health services insist on buying because it’s cheap and therefore crappy.

Then up with the legs, on with the gloves. None of the Doctors knew how to put gloves on properly to make it look scary so I taught them how to add a snap to the glove to add a bit of theatrics to make the experience more entertaining.

Then we played tag with my bagina. One stuck the duck bills in and then they all walked around the room peering into the chasm (not that I have a loose bagina of course!), then they each took a turn in sticking a paddle pop stick inside me to scratch around. At this stage I told them it was ridiculous you have to have all of this done and you don’t get a prize, so I said I wanted a lollie for a reward. Then there was this mass exodus from the room as they all ran around looking for lollies for me! 5 minutes later they all came back in smiling like lunatics as one held up a specimen jar with jelly beans in it……

Lucy's Jelly Beans

My hard earnt Jelly Beans

Meanwhile I’m STILL flat on my back with duck bills stretching my insides to the outsides. So one of them took the duck bills out and then two of them took turns sticking their fingers in me while they pushed on my stomach. All done… phew, at least I scored some jelly beans!

As I was getting dressed the Supervisor Doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to come back for more STI screening. I was all horrified thinking “but my bagina is spotless and I didn’t have any naughty smelly loud slips, so why won’t they let me come back?!”. I asked why….

Lucy: but whyyyyyyyyy, I like it here!

FPQ: you’re a sex worker and sex workers have to go to Sexual Health Clinics (they call them clinics in QLD not centres)

Lucy: but whyyyyyyyyyyy

FPQ: because you’re a sex worker and they are considered a more appropriate service for sex workers

Lucy: but whyyyyyyyyyyy?

FPQ; because that’s where sex workers have to go, we only do ongoing STI screening for non sex workers

Lucy: so if I was a normal person, a non sex worker, you’d let me come back every 3 – 6 months for full screening, but because I’m a sex worker I’m not allowed to access your service anymore?

FPQ; that’s correct, we only offer an initial consultation to sex workers

Lucy: but hasn’t it been established that people have better health outcomes and access services more regularly when they are given choice in who provides their health care?

FPQ: the point is you need to go to a Sexual Health Clinic

Lucy: but doesn’t the National Strategies for Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV all state that sex workers are a priority population and therefore services should go out of their way to make us a cup of tea when we come in to make us feel comfortable and welcome because we’re considered more “at risk” and should be encouraged to come back?

FPQ: You’re welcome to come in if you’re having an abnormal period and need to speak to a Doctor about why that may be happening and to have an ultrasound.

Lucy: so that means I’m allowed to come in as long as I’m coming in as a normal person with normal people needs, but I’m not allowed in if I’m coming in as a hooker with hooker needs?

FPQ; you are a normal person, so please don’t refer to yourself as a non human.

Lucy: if FPQ considered me a person like everyone else, then they wouldn’t be discriminating and withholding services from sex workers. I was reading the FPQ service brochure and it said you have a discrimination policy that says you don’t discriminate based on sexuality, sex, religious beliefs and all that stuff. Just out of curiosity, where do sex workers fit into your discrimination policy?

FPQ: I’ll give you the list of Sexual Health Clinics

Lucy: naaaah don’t worry about it. I know where they all are… I’m a hooker, so I’ve learnt to look after my own health care needs. Thanks but!

Then we move on to the blood testing. All of the Doctor’s were squirming and looking like they wanted to be anywhere but in a room with me and the Supervisor Doctor, so no-one volunteered to take blood. One of them was appointed and came at me with two tourniquets. I looked at the Doctor as they came at me and the conversation went like this:

Lucy: you have 2 tourniquets there all mixed up. Does FPQ ever use disposable tourniquets?

Doctor: what?

Lucy: a tourniquet that is one use and then you throw it away

Doctor: no they don’t exist

Lucy: aaaw you haven’t worked with drug users yet have you? They give them away to them for free.

Doctor: why would you want a disposable tourniquet?

Lucy: because I don’t know where those tourniquets have been and you’re suppose to use clean equipment every time you’re going to stick anything into anyone to minimize the risks of HepC and HIV transmission.

Doctor: you can’t get HIV or HepC from a blood test using a tourniquet

Lucy: yes you can. What happens if the last person had Hep C and you dragged it down past their injection site and then you drag it over my injection site? The risk of transmission is going to be there.

Doctor: no you can see blood and there’s no blood on anyone’s arm and there’s no blood on this tourniquet and you told us you don’t have Hep C or HIV

Lucy thinks: stupid dumb arse

Lucy says: ooook you’re the Doctor so you know best

Doctor then drops the tourniquet on the floor

Lucy says: so now it’s been on the floor, can I have a new tourniquet because I don’t want an abscess and other nasty infections that can even kill you if they move to your heart

Doctor: it’s still clean

Lucy: hmmm you must be right because I can’t see any blood on the floor and of course you need to be able to see a large pool of blood for it to be present so I trust you, go ahead

Supervisor Doctor: ok enough talking, let’s do this blood test. Doctor are you ok?

Lucy thinks: fuck the Doctor! He’s about to stick a dirty tourniquet on my arm, doesn’t understand I’m getting blood tests because I need to find out if I have Hep C or HIV and just because I say I don’t have it doesn’t mean I don’t AND he doesn’t know how Hepatitis and HIV can be transmitted with needles!

So he sticks the tourniquet on and does the blood test. He then pulls out the needle and sticks a bit of cotton wool over the site getting blood on his gloves. He then releases the tourniquet and places it over the top of the cotton bud and tightens it up so the tourniquet is holding the cotton bud down.

At this stage I’m sitting there thoroughly constipated thinking I’m going to show them NEVER to let sex workers in….

Lucy says: ok so now you have put your bloody fingers on the tourniquet, now you have put the tourniquet directly over a bleeding injection site and now you have dropped the tourniquet on the ground, are you going to dispose of it so the next normal person doesn’t have to risk being infected by a sex worker, after all apparently I am the vector of disease.

Doctor says: ummmmm

Lucy says: well?

Supervisor says: look there is no blood on the tourniquet

Lucy says: go and read your policy on infection control and your stats on why sex workers are considered an “at risk priority population” and think about why you won’t let sex workers in. Think about what your next patient would think if they knew a tourniquet had been used on a dirty hooker. Think about if you would like to have that tourniquet on your arm now.

Supervisor Doctor says: ok we’ll get the tourniquet cleaned?

Lucy: what do you mean you’ll get it cleaned?!

Supervisor Doctor: ok your results will be mailed to you in 3 weeks, have a nice day and if you want an ultra sound come back

Lucy: oh for sure! Thanks for my jelly beans… oh and by the way, do you have any STI information I can take away with me?

Supervisor Doctor: no we don’t actually. That’s why we send sex workers to specialty services.

Lucy: ooooh so non sex workers don’t get STIs so don’t need information to take with them?

Supervisor Doctor: will there be anything else?

Lucy: naaaah I was just imaging what it would be like for a sexual health service to actually give me some health information one day

Supervisor Doctor: enjoy your jelly beans

Lucy: of course, they’re yummy!

Farcking STI services. The experts in nothing.

Services bar you as a sex worker fobbing you off to designated “sex worker services”. You go to designated sex worker services and they say if you’re not a street based worker, CALD worker (Asian), opportunistic worker, male or transgender, then you’re not one of their priority populations so you can get stuffed and you have to fight to get service delivery from them. Sex worker organizations are a classic example of this.

Pfft. discrimination from everyone, everywhere even from people who should absolutely know better. People who deliver services to sex workers should be taken out and shot. Service providers suck and the services they deliver sucks and it’s especially disappointing when it comes to services who should know better. It is especially annoying when service providers think they know everything and aren’t prepared to listen to their clients. I have learnt all of my best information from people living the life … life really is the best teacher after all.

Aaaargh I hate being a “stupid non person client”! You have to argue with these people as a client and you have no rights. If you work for them, you have to continue to argue with them for treating their clients so badly and for being so stupid.

I’m moving back to space in my space pod – makes more sense

Lucy

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10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi Lucy, My name is James, but my mates call me Jay,l am the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outreach officer with SWOP in Sydney, the Sex Worker Outreach Programe, I was just reading your blog and found it great, the info and guidence that you put accross is really needed and i Have advised my clients the “workers” to read your blog… I was wondering if we could use parts of your story’s in our edition of the “professional” my staff profile will be appearing in the March issue, it would be great to hear from you and also use your story’s to help and guide others.

Comment by James

Hi James,

Thanks for your comment and congrats on your position at SWOP – they have DESPERATELY needed an Aboriginal worker FOREVER! It’s awesome to see the position filled again.

Babe I’m on the editorial committee for the Professional and give Wayne stuff for each addition of the resource. Also if he needs something on a particular issue, he just lets me know and I write it. Has worked well up until now 🙂

I’m probably going to have to resign though 😦 I have a few issues with SWOP/ACON management and it’s lack of peerness and transparency shall we say lol?

If I do resign, I’ll still be happy to keep contributing, so if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Again gorgeous boy, CONGRATULATIONS it’s the bestest news in a long time that you’re at SWOP and I wish you every success. You sound REALLY eager, on the ball and passionate so I know NSW sex workers are going to adore you 🙂

Take care lovely boy,

Lucy
🙂

Comment by Lucy Blake

Fabulous writing Lucy, as Morgan says it should be compulsory doctor reading, bunch of numbnuts.

Comment by David

Hhehheee you said numbnuts – that’s my favorite word for all the numbnuts of the world at the moment.

I’ve met a few AWESOME Doctor’s and even met one really amazing psychiatrist I actually think is really cool and don’t want to punch him in the nose when I see him (I’m notorious for hating psychs and them hating me) AND I actually really admire the way he approaches his ‘client’ base.

The one thing that stands out with good doctor’s or service providers is they never judge the people they see and know the same thing could happen to them, it’s just a matter of life luck they aren’t the client. There’s nothing like receiving a service like a conversation rather than as a regime.

I can only count these people on one hand and they have all been my ‘clients’ (except my STI doctor in Sydney) and I say stupid things all the time to try and push them into revealing their true selves, but they never crack. I’m now convinced they are REALLY wonderful doctor’s.

But yup, unfortunately the exception to the rule. Fortunately I think they all do mentoring / teaching stuff, so fingers crossed they shall grow up a fresh bunch of lovely doctor’s. I rant and annoy them enough to keep them on their toes anyway 😉 I’m a girl so it’s my job!

Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment David 🙂 Hmmmm I feel like an Oreo… if you were here, I’d let you have one for breakfast too 🙂

Lucy
🙂

Comment by Lucy Blake

Brilliant post, Lucy. Should be required reading for Service Providers. Too bad it’s not fiction.

Comment by Morgan

Aaaaw thanks Morgan!

These services have feedback forms and I had to do one at the end of my testing with this service. It’s tick box of course and framed in a way that would skew results.

Of course the other problem with their questionnaire is they only ask the questions they need to ask to tick the boxes of their Service Agreements so they are limited and only garbage they need to report to Health. Nothing of any consequence to how services are delivered or how you felt about it.

Thanks for your comment Morgan 🙂 It’s brilliant to know someone else thinks it matters!

Lucy
🙂

Comment by Lucy Blake

And their aim is to provide an environment that will encourage their clients to return for repeat testing? 😦

Perhaps it could be fixed with a new mission statement?;)

Don’t consume all your prizes at the same time 😉

Comment by Peter.88188

Pfft they’re mission statement is great… I even stole parts of it for a mission statement I wrote for another org hehehee.

Organisations can write all the vision they like, doesn’t mean they practice it. It’s like you go to meetings with these people in real life profession world and they all sit around the table talking about all the wonderful things they’re going to do for their “client” base. Then they go on with the challenges they face, sook about funding restrictions, what they won’t be doing because it’s not within their service delivery guidelines blah blah. It’s all this paternal crap and you sit there thinking … you are so FULL OF SHITE!

When you’re a peer as both a ‘professional’ and as a ‘client’, it gives you this sickening insight into these services and the way people at these services operate and the way they think and IT’S NOT OK!

Crettens

Lucy
🙂
ps. where’s my postcard?! I’m loooooking loooooking and NO postcard!

Comment by Lucy Blake

What a shclamozzell!! But they more than met their match. Private doctors next time eh!!??

Comment by Lemm

Hi Lemmie, how are you?

I miss you 😦 do you miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiss me? How about Chester? You gotta miss Chester! If you don’t say you miss Chester, then I won’t be sickly sweet next time I see you… nup… I’ll be my normal sooky la la self… you’d like me being sweet I promise!

Yup from now on anytime I need to go for an STI test, no matter where I am in the country, I’ll ALWAYS fly back to Sydney for my tests from now on. Private Doctor’s in QLD suck. Either they don’t bulk bill, or you need to pay and then claim back from Medicare but it still ends up costing you at least $90 to pay the gap.

Doctor’s here haven’t heard it all before either so you can’t tell them anything because they wouldn’t cope. You’d have to pay double the price for an extended appointment because they’d want to talk forever and you’d have to sit there educating them on life, the universe and everything on your own dollar.

Thanks for your comment Lemmie. Makes me smile to know you pop in every now and then 🙂

Comment by Lucy Blake




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