“I made vagina art for my husband and ended up in hospital.”

 

For Mikey’s 31st birthday I thought I would give him something other than an Armani tie. While watching The Graham Norton Show, I saw a lady who produced vagina art for a living. She literally painted the fleshy parts of her vagina and squished it onto art paper.

“That looks fun and easy,” I thought. So off I went to the art supply shop, with my friend Kate in tow. I’m not good at lying, so I made Kate tell the assistant we were painting with children and needed safe paint colours that would wash off easily. We left with our palette of water colours and waited for my husband’s next late-night business meeting.

The night arrived. I quickly called Kate and within minutes she was at my front door, paintbrush in hand. I hadn’t thought about the execution of the whole exercise, all I knew was that I had to get paint onto my vagina and get my vagina onto an A4 sheet of paper.

Things that accidentally look like vaginas:

Hmmm, slight degree of difficulty considering I wasn’t flexible enough to do the splits! Standing in the bathroom and thinking about high school art class I thought, “What would Miss Montage do?” Ah-ha. The bathtub. I’ll put the paper over the edge of the tub and squish my vagina onto it.

Kate was laughing so much she could hardly get the paint onto my vagina. After we applied several primary and a couple of secondary colours, my brightly coloured vagina was ready for action.

vagina art painting
The finished masterpiece. Image supplied.

Being a perfectionist, I wasn’t happy and asked Kate to keep applying more paint. Sixteen beautiful vagina butterfly prints later and a husband en route from his business meeting, it was time to get rid of the evidence.

Kate packed up the paints while I washed my vagina – thoroughly! Pants back on, Kate out the door and a husband totally unaware of what just took place.

Thinking how I would explain my vagina art to the picture framing person, I decided it would be easier to frame it myself. I was so proud of my creativity and Mikey simply loved his new birthday art.

It was hung in the bedroom immediately and only viewed by extra special (and very open-minded) friends, although we did have a tiny bit of explaining to do when Mike’s dad enquired after our new piece of art!

When Kate and her husband Jon came over for birthday drinks, we were all rolling on the floor laughing at how it all came together. Months later, a consequence of the artwork would arise that didn’t have me laughing any longer.

The Aftermath

Heading back to the doctors, having surgery for the fourth time in two weeks was painful enough, but not as painful as the lump growing in my vaginal region.

My female GP told me I had to go to the emergency department immediately. I was living in London at the time with no form of transport, so I waddled (like a duck on horseback) to the bus stop and checked myself into the local public hospital.

I called Mikey in tears – an hour later he met me curled over on the emergency room lounge chairs, miserable and in pain. As I was looking around wondering what brought everyone to the hospital ER, I noticed a lady sitting very gingerly on her side. I recognised that state of pain – maybe she’s got what I’ve got?

Five hours later I was taken to a bed and told I would be having surgery first thing in the morning to drain the abscess growing “down there”. Surgery? With a team of people staring at my vagina? I hadn’t waxed my vagina for over six months – my worst nightmare!

As you now know, I’m a wax-a-holic. I’m the type of person who gets an upper leg and bikini wax just to get a Pap test. Even the slightest chance the doctor may invite me to jump up on the bed, I get a wax.

In fact, I’m disappointed if I do get a wax and the doctor doesn’t invite me to remove my undies. Strange, I know.

Sharon Tierney and husband
Sharon and her husband. Image supplied.

It turns out the lady in ER did have what I had. She got there five minutes before me, so she was operated on that evening while I ended up waiting two days. Just before I was wheeled off to surgery, the anaesthetist (who looked like a male Vogue model) was explaining very important pre-operative details, only I didn’t actually hear a thing that came out of his mouth – I was too concerned with the fact that he was going to be looking at my vagina.

After three days in hospital, a week off work and a dose of pony-sized antibiotics, I was back to normal and telling the whole office the tale of my hospitalisation.

I never once mentioned my vagina art to the doctors, thinking it had nothing to do with it. The abscess wasn’t actually in my groin, it was growing in one of my vaginal ducts known as the Bartholin’s Gland. I had never, ever heard of this gland and I had been living with my vagina for well over 30 years.

The Bartholin’s glands lie at the entrance to the vagina and secrete fluid that makes up part of your healthy vaginal discharge. And just like the pores on your face, these glands can become blocked, forming a cyst (kind of like vaginal acne).

If you imagine your vagina as a clock-face, these glands are found in the four o’clock and eight o’clock positions of the labia minora. The ducts are right where Kate and I were applying the paint. It is not certain how I blocked my four o’clock duct, but I’m pretty sure the water-coloured art paint for the vagina art didn’t help.

Years of vaginal peace and harmony went by until one day, it was back with a vengeance. This can’t be happening! I had surgery and it was fixed. Haven’t I suffered enough for my art? I hadn’t touched the paints since! As it turns out, surgery is not always the best option.

Five years after the first surgery I was back in Australia and back in hospital. My gynaecologist scheduled me in for what’s known as marsupialisation of my left (four o’clock) Bartholin’s duct, which involves creating a pouch and making a small incision into the cyst to open it up and allow the infection to drain away.

I had to laugh at a male friend recalling his ex-girlfriend having to have the same “possuming” operation. If the doctor in the UK had detected the first cyst in the early stages, all I would have needed was a course of antibiotics and a soak in a warm bath several times a day.

Moral of the story: buy your husband a tie for his birthday!

This post was previously published on The Glow and has been republished here with full permission.

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