So the day finally arrived, my six month follow up. I’ve wanted to get this over with for about a month now, but I was also really afraid of what they might find. I was pretty nervous, but it was more from association, as I now associate the Foothills Hospital with bad things (this isn’t normal for me and hospitals). It was a busy Friday at the clinic, while I was there three people were prepped for a LEEP, and thinking back six months about my LEEP added to my nervousness. I guess I haven’t really gone through a standard appointment at the Women’s clinic, so let’s do so while I talk about my appointment.
You can see my file in the picture, at some point one of the nurses grabs it and takes you back to an office. I’m fairly used to this process now, and less nervous about what will be said. My first appointment I was a shaking, crying mess to be honest, especially because they go into detail about what might be found, and what caused the issues. The nurse went through my whole file, all the biopsies (I’m now at 10 biopsies in 14 months), and had me sign the papers that said in bold detail “COLPOSCOPY WITH POSSIBLE BIOPSIES“, which cleared any uncertainty I had about what might happen. After that, I finally got to ask the question I’ve been struggling to have answered since the LEEP, was it necessary? Please don’t get me wrong, I believe it was the right thing to do, but my family doctor wasn’t so sure, and really I’m not sure she’s the best person to give me advice in this area. I know that things got better for me afterwards, and that I’d rather those cells out than still in me, but many feel the procedure is an abomination. The nurse and I had a good long talk about how if I was 21 they would have allowed me to go longer with abnormal cells, as my body was more likely to clear it, but at 36 years old, you don’t clear this kind of thing as easily. She also said that had it cleared, there was a high chance that it would come back in the future, and very likely at an advanced stage. I know the doctors at the clinic have way more experience with dysplasia, cancer, and LEEPs, and I trust their judgement completely. Hearing what I was already thinking really helped me, and I finally felt like I was getting some answers. I was also commended on getting Gardasil, as it’s been shown to reduce the number of future visits for people in my situation. I know there are people who believe it kills, and it’s something terrible, but I personally would love to not see the clinic much over the next 35 years. As well, if I had a daughter (or son), I’d rather they didn’t have to attend an appointment like this in the future.
I was then taken back to the waiting room, since there was a bit of a backlog with the number of LEEPS that day.
There are many people who think that colposcopy means biopsy, and nothing is further from the truth. A colposcope simply views your vaginal wall and cervix in high definition (the horrors of HDTV be damned), and allows the colposcopist to see any abnormalities. It’s only if they see something abnormal that they will take a biopsy. As with any pap smear, you have to strip down below the waist and scoot down on the table until you are almost falling off, with your feet in some lovely Tinkerbell patterned fleece covered stirrups (I’m told this is not the norm for most stirrups :p ). I had to wait for the doctor for some time in that undignified position, so the nurse and I chatted about anxiety, travel, and the lovely Calgary weather. The anxiety chat came from the fact that you can actually watch what the doctor does during the whole appointment on a TV. I’ve always felt this was a bad idea, even though I am curious, and I think having a panic attack with a speculum inserted probably isn’t a good idea. The nurse got tired of waiting for the doctor and went to look for her, the nurse came back quickly and said it would be another 20 min or so, and to have a nap (I asked for my phone, as I wanted to take some pictures for the blog). I can’t say sitting in that position for 30 min is in any way dignified, but at least they have covered the previously exposed windows (no, I’m really not kidding about that)! I had wondered if they were one way glass, guess I have that answer now too!
Dr. Lam finally made it in, and we got the procedure underway. It’s become a bit more uncomfortable with the scar tissue, and stenosis, but I honestly can’t complain, the situation could be a lot worse. She did a pap, and then started the vinegar test, which makes abnormal cells go white, at most it stings a little. There were no abnormal cells that she could see! But there are a number of cysts in the area, likely due to my healing cervix, and she did take a biopsy of one. Everyone has cysts, most just aren’t aware of them, they are usually benign, and generally cause no trouble, but she wanted to biopsy as a precaution. I also figured correctly, that they would do an endocervical cutterage biopsy (ECC) as they can’t see what’s going on in my uterus during this procedure. That one is always very uncomfortable, but again I really can’t complain as they are just being cautious. Lastly, she applied the Monsel paste to stop the bleeding, which she always calls “fluid”. That always strikes me as odd, but I know doctor’s are used to using words that are somewhat vague.
The appointment ends
The doctor was really pleased with the results overall, and of course I was as well. It usually takes me a few minutes before I am ok to sit up, as I get a bit dizzy after, and so the nurse discussed the appointment with me while I drank some juice to get my blood sugar back up to normal. We discussed the weekend while I got dressed, and usually after my appointments, I take it easy and go home to watch Netflix in bed. Though I have for the past month really been wanting to be around people, which is really odd as I’m a fairly big introvert. As well, the after effects are never pretty, especially with Monsel paste, but overall it’s just a little cramping. These appointments can be nervewracking, but they are not to be avoided, same with a pap. They may be awkward and embarrassing, but I would think it more embarrassing to not go for say 15 years, and then find out you are dealing with a worst case scenario.
It was a long few hours there, but I’ve been home and had a lovely nap. I will get the biopsy results around the end of the month, but it feels like a huge weight is off my shoulders, and though I’m not ready to totally celebrate until those results are in, this is the best case scenario I could have hoped for…..and as many know, I needed good news this week. I know I am a very lucky girl (maybe not in dating, or being graceful and not clumsy), and things could be a lot worse, and I really do appreciate my medical team, and every friend who gets me through this challenging time.
Onto November! And my one year follow up! And so I can make you all laugh…..the best selfie ever! And yes, I do take the worst photos ever, not photogenic at all, much more attractive in person. If anything, I would suspect that Jay Leno is my father…..