Fear and Loathing in Pittsburgh

Tomorrow at 11:45AM EST, I will be meeting with my OB/Gyn for my surgical consultation that I’ve put off for three months. And I’m more scared of this than I was of my induction of labor.

Tomorrow, I face my biggest fears.

I face a serious surgery, no matter how benign it may sound. I don’t like doctors. I am terrified of hospitals as a result of my most previous experience. And, I’ve never been put under before.

The surgical procedure alone presents enough potential threats. I have had a life-threatening reaction to an epidural. What will I do once I’m hooked into an IV? Will my blood pressure tank again? Will the anesthetic wear off? I’m not sure I can endure that pain.

Then, there’s the aftercare. The complications are numerous. Do I face a serious hemorrhage? Anemia over the Pittsburgh winter is unbearable. I may not be able to get back on my feet as soon as I’m expected to. How can I possibly take care of my son? Who can I call on to help? I do not have a great support network.

And then, there are future complications. I may have deep scaring. The surgery may cause me permanent future pain. And what about getting pregnant again? Studies indicate a small percentage of women have one of two fertility issues after having the surgery. In one scenario, I may suffer scarring that causes me to be incapable of natural fertilization. In another scenario, I may suffer miscarriages and / or premature births. If I can get pregnant, then I may never be able to carry to term.

And what will happen if this surgery fails like the last one did? How much many more times will I have to go through this? And what’s the next step after that? Hysterectomy, if it gets any worse. Can I stand the idea of losing any hope of having more children? I’m too young to lose my reproductive organs. I can’t be menopausal in my late 20’s. Do I face hormone replacement therapy for the next 15 – 20 years? How would that serious chemical shift affect my BP?

Worst of all, I have to face all of these unknowns alone. C.S. and I decided it would be more wise to save his PTO days for after the surgery. I didn’t agree as much as I had to accept. I am so scared of being alone for this.

I am terrified of being alone. If the news is bad, I’m going to be alone in that office. I am embarrassed to cry in public. But there I’ll be, in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, on the streets holding back. I’d be holding back from the office, to the stop, all the way back home, where I’ll have to face my parents. And when I get home, I’ll have to hold back some more. For my son’s sake.

But inside, I’ll be falling apart.

And that’s all before I even go through with the surgery.

At the very least, I have the whole day off to soak it all up, and likely cry it all back out.

Leep-Into-Cin – Part III

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.

All 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 . . .

Leep-Into-Cin II – Part I

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.

One Bad Apple . . .
Twelve years ago, almost to the day, the relationship with my first love started.  We had gone circles for over six months.  He eyed me, and I fancied him.  We spoke almost daily and we had become great friends.  There were many late night conversations, spilling out our hopes, dreams, fears…  But, he was forbidden fruit, the tastiest of them all.  He was my best friend’s boyfriend.  After over a month of clandestine meetings, secret phone conversations, secrets, and lies, I came clean.  And within six months after that, we were no longer friends at all.

That is not to say that my relationship with this boy (because that’s what he was at the time), didn’t continue.  It did.  And it thrived.  We were a blissful couple, filled with promise and hope for our future.  We planned to attend college together and marry young.  We’d start our lives together the minute we were adults in the eyes of the law.  It was he and I against the world, against our parents, against everything.  And the only thing that mattered was that we loved each other and love was enough to keep us together forever.

If you call three months shy of four years together forever, then sure, we were together forever.  But, we didn’t love each other and love was not enough.  Not to him, especially.  He was cunning with a tongue of silver and a touch of gold.  And when I took off those rose colored glasses many, many years later, I saw everything for what it was.  Us, huddled together for warmth the February afternoon – him laying me down on a dirty mattress, in an abandoned house to fuck me for thirty awkward and unsatisfactory seconds.  Two lovers kept at a great distance across the city – a conveniently placed “long distance” relationship so he could screw around with any girl who looked at him sideways.  Tender words to a broken soul – patronizing speeches for manipulation of the body attached to the desperate ear.  Long, painful separations due to family obligations and travel – paid time off from the relationship.

Everything looks better at a distance.
His final, parting words to me after we made love only twelve hours earlier were, “I will always be you friend.”  It wasn’t until I discovered the Manslator (every woman has one, some women call it their bullshit radar), many years later, that I realized this heartfelt and endearing sentence had a word missing.  I will always be your fuck friend.  And he meant it.

Plus Another Bad Apple. . .

Off an on for a year after that, “Beck” had me on a string.  I was young and naive.  I can actually thank him for emotionally abusing the nativity out of me.  And that he did.  He would build me up to be the one he almost let get away, and then condemn me for being his greatest mistake.  It was a painful game of cat and mouse, only with emotions.  This all went with the waxing and waning of women and genitals that came in and out of his bedroom – and life.  Of course, I didn’t know this.  I still had the antiquated idea that relationships were exclusive and monogamous!  I was his only girl . . . that night.

Eventually, I wised up a little and walked away from that madness.  I was an adult now, and I didn’t have to take shit from anyone.  After that relationship, I wasn’t about to.  I dated around, and discovered what I considered to be a diamond in the rough while I was in college.

“Avi” was not a sensitive soul with a delicate touch and soothing words.  Avi was a man.  A real man, by any standard I’d ever seen.  He was tough, muscular and stoic.  It seemed as if he were all but impenetrable.  With the exception that he had a soft spot for me.  He reeled with laughter and curiosity about me.  “I’ve never met a girl like you, ever before.  You’re so different.’  I was different.  I was a tomboy by male standards.  I spat, drank, swore, and cut-up with the rest of the men-folk.  I was tough and gave it right back to them.  I didn’t let anyone step on me and I didn’t let anyone stand in my way.  I had to be.  No one nurtured me into adulthood.   I used my nails to dig into the earth and crawl on my belly out into the world.  And I got a lot of hard-knocks on my way in and through.

Avi and I were on our own plane of existence for about six months.  We never fought, and always found each other fascinating.  I had never encountered a man like him, nor had he encountered a woman like me.  In the quiet, behind closed doors, in the dead of night, he would whisper beautiful things to me in my sleep.  He stroked my back and hair when no one was looking.  He was a gentleman who held doors, offered coats, and paid for everything, despite my pitiful attempts at declining.  I was a wild woman to him.  I could care less what anyone thought of my physical being.  I had thoughts and opinions that would not be silenced.  I feared nothing.  Both farces disintegrated quickly.  A year into our relationship, despite the fact that things were clearly falling apart, Avi and I were ready to start a life together and signed a lease on an apartment.

You never really know someone until you have lived with them.

Avi was charming to my friends.  He held a good job and kept up on his classwork.  We held the most outrageous, hilarious, and fun parties.  But behind those closed doors now, he was a madman, and I was a child.  Any mistakes were venomously criticized.  I was berated for the smallest things.  Our disagreements would blow up into full on screaming matches.  He would leave without saying a word, especially when he knew he was losing.  And I, being the child that I was, would chase him down.  And apologize.  And beg.  Then he would alienate me, keeping me at an arms length and blaming me for being over dramatic and harmful to our peaceful existence, and forcing me to comply.  He’d intentionally stay late at work.  He would pick up extra hours and be gone more than he was around.  He would stop answering the phone or texts.

Our friends stopped coming around.  One by one, he picked them off, made them the source of our domestic problems, and alienated them.  He couldn’t hold a job for longer than three weeks.  We were drinking, a lot.  And the more we drank, the less I remembered.  He would encourage it too!  Then there was a push, that led to a shove, that led to a slap, that led to punch, that led to him forcing himself on me . . .

I went to the only person left.  The only person who knew me better than anyone else.  I went to Beck.  I called for help, and he came.  He came with the only help he knew how to give – a stiff drink and a limp dick.  It seemed that several years of alcoholism didn’t do Beck very well.  I chugged a bottle of Jack and had three seconds of sex.  The other twenty-six seconds were Beck viciously fucking the carpet on the stairwell to my apartment.  And he was down by a second in his old age, too.  Not only could I be mortified that I had cheated, but I could be dually ashamed that it wasn’t remotely satisfying.  I stood at the top of the stairwell looking down on Beck as he departed.  And I asked him, “Would you at least call?  So I don’t feel like a whore.”  He agreed.  And the only word I received was a Myspace blog post declaring his love for another girl, three days later.

Another year had passed.  I was about to leave Avi.  I really was.  I had thought about it on my long walks through the ice and snow to work.  There was a lot of silence in my head and in that house to fill.  I had planned that we would go to our respective family places for Christmas that year.  And while he was gone, I was going to change the locks, change my phone number, change my address, and leave all of his stuff on the front porch with my father standing by with a shotgun.  I had decided this at Thanksgiving when he was gone.

He always knew.  Every time I had packed a bag in the past, he knew when I was serious.  That’s why most of the time he just sat idly by, calling me a stupid bitch, or a dirty whore while I threw everything I could into some kind of luggage.  But it was by the things that I wasn’t doing that he knew.  When I wasn’t coming home until I thought he would be asleep.  When I wasn’t talking about our relationship and instead about a new friend, especially male ones.  When I wasn’t talking at all.  He knew.

He came home from his family a new man.  There were smiles, hugs, communication, and quality time.  We watched movies together again.  We were sober.  We went on dates and made new friends.  It was like a new lease on our relationship!

Until, he came clean.  All of the time that I thought he held a good job was time he was using to cheat on me.  He held a relationship with another girl we both went to school with.  They had clandestine meetings in places that school that I held sacred to us.  That was the only in discretion that he ever admitted, although I could pin several more on him.  Three of my best friends and my sister all came to me when our relationship was finished to tell their tales.  And the rest ,a server at the restaurant, his boss’ girlfriend, another co-worker, a few more girls from his home town, and a half-a-dozen women from the internet, were all speculation.

It was through C.S.’s love that he gave me the courage of conviction to rid myself of Avi and Beck forever.  He gave me the courage to see the doctor again and get my life straightened out.

Ruins the Whole Bunch.  And Barrel.

It was only when I got those first test results back in July 2007 that I had only begun to know the damage that Beck and Avi had brought to my life.

Pap result – ASCUS.  Probable cause – HPV.

To be continued . . .