Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature. It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences. Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this. Use your own discretion.
Bringing in the Big Guns
After the experience where I was left stranded on an operating table, I had grown animosity toward that doctor that performed my surgery. I refused to see her, and I refused to go through any more procedures. It didn’t matter. I had lost my insurance again and there was nothing I could possibly do. The only other option was to return to the clinic so that they could slowly kill me with their negligence.
I did break down and go to the clinic, but only for a required Pap to receive birth control. I took the call when it came. ASCUS, same news, different month. I couldn’t face it. I didn’t want to do it all over again. But as usual, Planned Parenthood didn’t really take this news seriously. I didn’t plan on going back anyhow. The nurse practitioner butchered me during that routine exam and left me bleeding for a week afterward.
Finally, I had good health insurance and went to Magee Hospital Womancare. By chance, I was given to a doctor that specialized in woman specific cancers. Upon our first meeting, I didn’t care for her. She was cold, calculating, and blunt. She reviewed my records, took a pap, and sent my samples off to an Oncologist – the first time a real cancer doctor had ever seen my file. I was relieved, but I couldn’t stand her bedside manner. Her words were few and her work was rough and quick. At least it was quick.
I got the good news of my first negative pap in years! I celebrated! The dysplasia was gone! I rejoiced at having that burden lifted from me. No more would I worry about growing more cancerous cells, as day after day passed. I could live without constant concern of death.
Until April 2011.
I had neglected to get my six month pap and was coming upon my yearly pap. The office tried to contact me and I missed several appointments. I was very busy now. I had just been accepted into my first teaching job and was responsible in the spring musical as the Music Director. The very night of the show, Womancare tracked me down. I paced backstage and scheduled my appointment for spring break. I realized the urgency and knew I was running out of birth control anyway.
The pap was bad. ASCUS, again. There was no infection or alternative explanation. Another colposcopy had to be done to confirm all of our fears. I scheduled it for the first week in June 2011. I knew I would be laid off by then and would have plenty of time for recovery. But, as you know from previous posts, I had developed the flu which turned into pneumonia. I missed the appointment, and rescheduled for July 15, previously noted in “All the Pretty Things”.
What I didn’t mention was the nervous bus ride into the city. Nor did I mention the walk alone through Downtown, only mitigated by my bravery to do it alone after C.S. once again failed to attend at the last minute and serenity found at the fountain. I laid on the table in the familiar position – feet in stirrups, staring at the ceiling. I felt the vinegar sting the tissue inside of me. I sighed. Then, there was a feeling of a stab, twice that of a shot, and enough for me to lose my breath. I heard the doctor say, “That’s not enough of a sample.” and then came another unbelievable stab that had me seeing stars. I cried out in pain. Just keep breathing, keep breathing. The tears flooded to my eyes and another slice that felt like a twisting knife in my insides. Breathe. Keep breathing. I told myself over and over, but I was choked with tears from the incredible amount of pain.
The doctor was uncharacteristically sympathetic. She asked me questions, but I could not speak. I could not catch my breath to tell her that I just needed a moment. She offered me a cool towel and I declined. She offered me a cool drink and I accepted. I tried to get up, but she insisted that I lie back down for awhile. I needed time for the apoxy to take hold to cover the internal wound. I needed time for the cramping to go away before I should move. She knew more than anyone else in my life that all I needed was some time. I sipped the water, caught my air, and said to her, “I don’t remember it being quite that painful. Then again, I don’t remember it being quite that fast either!” I was trying to save face, but it didn’t matter. She had seen the twisted look on my face with my eyes squeezed shut. She asked about my condition and I told her I was OK and that I still needed to catch my breath.
I was still choking back tears. I was ashamed that I couldn’t handle the pain and cried. I was so alone. I was furious that C.S. had not made more of an attempt to be with me. But more than anything, I was sad that I had been let down again. And I knew I would have to drag all of that physical and emotional pain down the streets of Pittsburgh, back home with me, and into my home to face my son alone.
The Anticipated Call
The office assured me that we would have a result by Friday. I knew what they were going to say. I had hoped that they would say that it was CIN I, and we could wait. But I knew it wasn’t. Just like I knew in the beginning that I would be in the 10% where this doesn’t resolve on it’s own. Just like I knew after the cryosurgery that this wasn’t the end of it. I wanted to believe differently, but in my bones, I knew better.
Friday morning, I took the call. I was in my mother’s kitchen while T.D. was downstairs watching Spongebob for the gazillionth time. CIN II. This time they wanted to perform LEEP because of my advancing age, history with this disease, and my current grade of dysplasia. Seemingly, it was progressing faster this time. Or else, the cryosurgery just didn’t take. I knew all of these things, because I often have the power of foresight. At least when it comes to my body and my mind. But, there is nothing that can actually prepare you for the news. There is also nothing that can prepare you for what you are facing.
The nurse I spoke to wanted to schedule a surgical consult before we proceed. I was puzzled and felt some looming threat. I had never been offered a surgical consult before. Apparently, the doctor and I have a lot to converse about. In the meantime, I am left my with racing thoughts and full internet access.
A Rock and a Hard Place
Each surgery presents the problem with damaging the cervix with scar tissue. If enough is amassed, that may pose problems for future fertility. The statistics say that cervical stenosis, the narrowing of the cervical canal, is about a chance of 1-2%. But the statistics are a little more unclear when it comes to cervical competency to bring a fetus to full term. The more they take of the cervix to remove affected cells, the thinner the cervix becomes, which destroys its integrity. In summation: If I have this procedure, can I have the second child that I’ve been trying to plan for?
But what are the chances if I wait to have the procedure until after my second child is born? Will I develop invasive cancer in the meantime? Will they have to take my uterus if I decide to wait? What is the risk?
It would break my heart to lose the second child I so desperately want. But it would destroy my body if I were to have a hysterectomy, or worse, to face death due to cancer.
Another waiting game lies ahead. I do not have my consult until August so I cannot have any of my questions definitiely answered until then.
The sword of Damocles hangs over my head.
All because of two complete assholes that I trusted and loved.
To be continued . . .