So, it’s taken me a little while to write about this, mostly because it’s actually a pretty terrifying thing for any woman to need to go through. After already broaching the topic of cervical cancer and some pretty suspect symptoms along the way with a doctor and being laughed out of the surgery, I had put the thought of it all to the back of my mind. I went for my routine three-yearly smear and within six days I’d received a letter – “High grade dsykaryosis”. (See previous blog post)
I was referred for a colposcopy which I had yesterday. The gynaecologist, possibly the funniest Indian chap I’ve ever met in my life, informed me that they had found the severest grade of abnormal cells and he would definitely be offering me treatment at the same time – a LOOP procedure which involved him basically burning craters out of my cervix. Stupidly, (or not so) I had watched a couple of YouTube videos so although I was completely terrified out of my wits, I at least knew what I should expect and before I knew it, my mother was ridiculously crying to the side of me, my legs were in stirrups and the guy had jabbed a local anaesthetic needle into my insides FOUR times before cutting / burning out a section approximately the size of a chocolate mini-egg.
I was told there would be some ‘mild discomfort’ as they injected my cervix with the anaesthetic. Mild discomfort my ass. Apparently there are no nerve endings in the cervix itself so the pain I was feeling is the flesh being stretched, but the pain I felt was sharp, stabbing and felt like it had gone right up to my rib cage. To be fair, the second, third and fourth stabbing I barely felt but that first one was enough to put me off forever. Legs up in those awful stirrups, there was not only me and my mother watching him stab stuff inside me, but the gynaecologist himself and THREE nurses. There was literally a party happening in my va-jay-jay. The only thing that was missing was wine and music!
It wasn’t long before he was wiping a cotton bud with some sort of acid over my cervix. Nothing really painful about that but you could definitely feel someone moving around inside of you. I noticed the area had gone from pink to white, examining the TV screen myself, and he agreed with me – they were the abnormal cells, and he would need to take them out. He told me not to look at what he did next because of how uncomfortable I felt about the blood that appeared from the injections, and from what I can gather from the smell, the loop-wire contraption burnt and cauterised stuff away from me. It smelt like burning flesh and the noise the device was giving off was enough to make me cry. I’ll be honest with you, it was probably the worst procedure I’ve ever had done. It was an invasive, scary, unknown, frightening experience that completely stripped me of my dignity. I wouldn’t wish this on the nastiest bitches I know.
It lasted, in total, probably about twenty minutes. Maybe even half an hour. I went in, spoke to the gynaecologist, stripped from the waist down, positioned myself, and was sanitary-towelled up and walking out the hospital in no time at all. Oh yeah, you don’t realise how shitty things are going to be afterwards though. Quick it was, painless – nope!
I managed to walk the 15 or so minutes home afterwards and to be honest, the cool rain on my face helped me to compose my thoughts. I was a mess before, during and after that procedure, and it really knocked me for six. I needed some time, just me, to think about what had happened, and to consider what could happen next. It’s 20th Feb right now and if I haven’t heard from the team by the end of March, I’m to call them but to assume everything is just fine. I will have a follow-up smear and colposcopy in six months and see what happens from there.
If I do hear from them before that, it’s probably going to be bad news. If the letter comes quickly, it’s definitely bad news. There are a couple of worst-case scenarios – the margin of the bad cells isn’t within the biopsy they took and I’ll need to have a repeat procedure. Or the pre-cancerous cells they’ve found will show signs of actual cancer and I may need further treatment…. such as a hysterectomy. That’s probably my worst-ever case scenario. I don’t want to talk about that right now.
So now, I’m just kinda hoping I don’t ever hear form the team I saw again. Well, maybe in like a couple of months time to say that all is OK, they got all the pre-cancerous cells out, and I will just be called back again in about six months time to get checked out again. I don’t want to think about the alternatives – the worst case scenarios. I’ve pushed the symptoms I had to the back of my mind, I’m just going to breathe and take it easy. I can’t worry about having cancer again, despite how much of my cervix appeared to turn white under that acid, and how much of my body he actually removed. After only getting the all-clear from bowel cancer just a month or so ago, I feel that life has dealt me a very cruel hand right now. But I’m hopeful and positive that in just a couple of months time, I can laugh about this one too.
Going back to the colposcopy and I was told that I would experience bleeding on and off for around three to four weeks. 24 hours later, I’ve had no bleeding at all. There’s the tiniest bit of weird browny, jelly-like, almost clear stuff coming out (sorry for the TMI but I really need to talk about this!) but he put some antibiotic gel up there so I assumed it would squelch out of me at some point. You’re not allowed to wear tampons for four weeks, however, which is a big fucking deal for me. I have never used sanitary towels before in my life. I didn’t know which ones to buy and needed to go on a shopping trip with my (useless) mother (because she doesn’t use them either) and ended up taking the advice of my younger sister (embarrassing) to buy the longest, ugliest things I’ve ever seen in my life. Big pants are in these days, it would seem. Oh yeah, I never wear big pants either. I’m a thong / g-string kinda girl during the day because I hate a VPL.
So after waddling home with what feels like a whole role of toilet roll in my massive underwear, I chill out for half an hour and discuss my ordeal with Bestie and in a split second, I go from slightly sombre, scared chick, to screaming in pain, crazy-eyed freak. I was in so much pain I literally couldn’t sit still. I’ve never had kids so I don’t know but that’s totally how I imagine labour to feel like, with wave after wave of pain coming from somewhere right in the middle of me. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t stand up, it was so painful that wriggling my toes seemed the only logical option. I took two paracetamol and then half an hour later when the pain still hadn’t subsided, I took one more. I can’t take anything stronger because of the diverticulitis. I had a hot water bottle, and then I lost all hope, gave in and smoked a spliff. I couldn’t cope with those cramps and that pain. Mild discomfort my ass. There was nothing mild about that.
I’m starting to feel like I’m fighting a losing battle here. I have invasive procedure after invasive procedure with no real end in sight. I have no holes left to poke and prod, no orifice left alone by the godamn NHS. I have no dignity left. I have no faith left either. I came out of the bowel cancer a much stronger (or getting there) woman and I started to feel like I was getting somewhere. That rug has been well and truly ripped out from under me now. Cervical cancer scares apparently aren’t that much fun either. I don’t really understand why life keeps spectacularly falling to pieces around me like this.
I don’t really know what I’ve done to deserve all of this bullshit.