This post is for all my ladies. Not because I want to single them out, but only because this is a very biological topic. Gentleman read on for understanding and support for the women in your life.
We have these annoying exams called a Pap every other year and while they are uncomfortable, they are absolutely necessary. Last year I received my first abnormal test result and was told to get a colposcopy. No, not a colonoscopy that involves your butt. I was scared and started overthinking what does abnormal mean? I texted the one person I knew could help, my mom. She said it was normal and routine. She had one and it wasn’t scary at all. Ladies it’s really not! It’s like a Pap that last a few minutes longer, they rub vinegar on your cervix to “highlight” the abnormal cells and there is a slight pinch when they sample the tissue for the biopsy.
Thankfully, my colposcopy came back clear. Once you have an abnormal result though it’s highly recommended you come back the following year for monitoring. As opposed to the suggested every 2 years.
This year my Pap was not nearly as abnormal, but I was surprised when my doctor advised for another colposcopy. Wait, what? But I’m better than last year, why? Her response was “for precaution.” Fine, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
This year my colposcopy came back much worse. My primary care doctor immediately referred me to an OBGYN to discuss next steps and surgery.
What the f*ck?! What happened within a year? How was my Pap better, but my colposcopy worse? I read the test results through my online portal and it said “squamous mucosa” and CIN III. A quick WebMD search mentioned cervix cancer.
My heart dropped. Then I started breathing fast and my vision blurred. Ladies let me be the first to tell you, DO NOT google shit. If you are anything like me and start creating stories in your head your anxiety will skyrocket. While my search was accurate, descriptions online tend to give a blanket explanation which is not the same as talking to a doctor and getting facts for your situation. Everyone is different and it’s best to consult your physician.*
I immediately scheduled a follow up with an OBGYN. Day of my appointment the doctor was AN HOUR LATE. This only made me more anxious and fidgety. But I absolutely loved him as he spent the next hour answering questions and explaining everything thoroughly.
No, I don’t have cervix cancer. No, I wasn’t at risk for ovarian cancer which took my grandma-one of the stories my brain created when I saw the “c” word in my WebMD search. My body could take care of it on its own, but it takes time and extreme monitoring.
Most doctors suggest removing the abnormal cells. One of the procedures is called LEEP where they go in and remove the abnormal cells off your cervix. It’s approximately 95% effective, doesn’t affect fertility, and is done within minutes. The doctor said I was about 10% risk of cancer, but the scary thing about abnormal cells on your cervix is there isn’t really an increase before one gets cervix cancer. Like you can’t wait till you are 25% abnormal and then decide to do the procedure. It’s usually you have abnormal cells or you all of a sudden have cervix cancer. They don’t know why some women get it and others do not.
Wow. This sounded terrifying.
I discussed the LEEP procedure with my mom and boyfriend. Both strongly suggested I ease my ever so busy mind and have the surgery. Don’t mess around.
I’m normally a believer of letting my body heal itself. As a woman that loves and understands numbers 10% is not high, but when cancer is mentioned in the same discussion, it’s far too high for anyone. Especially since cancer runs in my family and in many forms; ovarian, breast, and throat and that’s only my maternal side.
Fast forward to exactly four weeks ago today-procedure day. I schedule the appointment in the early afternoon so I could rest post op at the recommendation of my doctor. My boyfriend picked me up from work, drove me to the hospital, and stayed with me for the remainder of the evening.
All in all the procedure was quick; I was in and out of the hospital within an hour. Ladies again, it starts the same as your Pap. Then he administer a centralized anesthesia which pinches a little. What happened next did scare me. My heart started racing out of control. The doctor warned me it might feel like I drank a cup of coffee. I don’t drink coffee or anything with caffeine! I’ve never done a drug in my life (aside from weed, are people still calling that a drug??) so for me this was scary. Actually, Redbull makes me feel that way. No, thank you. I do not want wings.
Moving on, after the anesthesia kicked in I felt period like cramps. Then he shaved off the abnormal cells. This part only lasted a few minutes. I will confess my right butt cheek was twitching uncontrollably. It was a combination of the anesthesia and feeling scared. I was fully awake and occasionally felt stronger cramping, but not sure what was going on down there which is a strange sensation. #vulnerability.
Thank g-d my boyfriend was there. Gentlemen if I haven’t lost you yet, take note. Chivalry is not dead!
He held my hand from the second the doctor told me to lean back, well past the surgery ending, and once the doctor left. He rubbed my head because he knows it’s my favorite thing in the world and in true fashion, cracked jokes to distract my mind. Toda Neshama!
Post procedure was easy. I felt period like cramps again for a couple days along with very isolated and acute pain where he performed the surgery on my cervix. Walking was a bit uncomfortable for the remainder of the day. Don’t plan on being able to do intense workouts for a week, as it may affect healing and cause worse bleeding. I was immediately treated to ice cream then cooked one of my favorite meals for dinner. Pasta with caprese salad duh!
It’s a month later and I can tell you I’m finally healed! Period came and went. I’m back on my normal workout regime. In three months I have my first checkup and every three months after that for the next year. Good thoughts that everything is in the clear!
So ladies, if you are at the beginning of this journey needing a colposcopy, breathe. I pray that everything is normal and it’s precautionary. We are lucky to have modern technology to detect things early. If you need the LEEP procedure, I hope you found solace in this post. Make the appointment for the afternoon, go home after to relax and spoil yourself. Men take care of your ladies and be patient during this time. It’s a stressful, uncomfortable, and a bit of a scary situation.
Let me know if you want any more details or have any specific questions!
*Disclaimer: This was my personal experience and my interpretation of what I went through. As mentioned above people and situations are different. I specifically did not link any WebMD links for this reason. Please consult your doctor with any concerns. I’m just here to assure you that you’re not alone.