"When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about." ~ Albert Einstein
It all started out innocently enough. Just over a year ago, I went in for my annual physical, which of course included a pap test. (Those who squirm at that sentance may want to hold off on reading the rest...) Now I've been having this done for the past 20 years. So no biggie. I always expect to get the letter in the mail saying 'All is well! Carry on for another year!'. Except it didn't happen.
I got a note saying, you have some abnormal cells - call your physician. Huh.
So I did, and I went in and was reassured that this was normal. That the abnormalities were 'low grade'. 'Don't worry', she said. Come back in six months and well do another. Likely it was just caused by stress. Have you had any stress lately? Well, I did complete an Ironman race this year?
Six months passed and I went in again. I figured all would be well by then - afterall, I'd taken up meditating and living mindfully. Surely that would put all those nasty cells back in their place? Alas, another note came along saying abnormal cells. I was starting to wonder what was going on.
Again, my physician reassured me that this was normal and not to worry. They'd schedule me for a colposcopy (a biopsy of my inside girl bits) to confirm it was low grade and determine what was up. I had a six month wait before I got in, and in February I went.
I must say, the staff at the Women's Health Centre at Foothills were great. I went in and had a wee chat with a nurse - the usual background stuff. Then she went on to describe in detail what I was going to be experiencing when I went into the exam room. As with my physician, she reassured me that I didn't have to worry. The cells were low grade and that's nothing to fret about. If they were high grade, that's when we get concerned...
The exam/colposcopy room is like most ob/gyn rooms. They had the pre-requisite sailing/ocean/surf posters on the ceiling. These are put there, I assume, in an attempt to get a women to be relaxed as she has a male strangers head between her knees. Okay, granted he has the label of 'doctor', but still! I'm used to only female doctors.
That day I was wishing I had a female doctor. I think they have a better understanding of what goes on 'down there' and are more delicate. Unfortunately the male physician I had was mistaking me for a turkey. Yeow! I was tempted to give him a little tap on the side of his head with my foot as a suggestion to lighten up. Thankfully, there was a wonderful nurse who held my hand and reassured me all was well.
And that was that as far as I was concerned. I would get my results in a few weeks. See, nothing to worry about.
Last Monday I got the phone call. There was a nurse on the other end of the line informing me that they had found high grade cells on my cervix. I would have to come in for a L.E.E.P. They knew I was moving so could I come in soon. I didn't hesitate and asked to be booked in as soon as possible - they got me in the following Friday.
After I hung up the phone a million thoughts went through my head. These thoughts were fueled by all of the stories I had heard in the past year about friends or friends of friends getting, having or dying from cancer. It seemed like everytime I turned someone else was getting, having, or dying of cancer. Not to mention - they were all in my age group. This included my close friend Terry. Then one big thought popped into my head...
Was I next?
High grade cells are just a step down from cervical cancer. What the heck was going on inside my body??? There was only one thing I could do. Call the parental unit! I needed my Mommy.
I called and got both of them on the phone as I tearfully explained what was happening. Thankfully I am a somewhat rational person and added that I'm sure everything was going to be okay, I just needed a moment to cry and panic and then I would be fine. I must say, Dad did really well on the phone considering we were discussing female health issues that dealt with 'down there'. At least until Mom brought up a question that made me say 'Okay Dad, you can get off the phone now.' I could hear his sigh of relief, which made me laugh, which is always good medicine.
The rest of the day was spent meditating. Literally. I sat for a total of 2.5 hours and afterwards I felt more calm and sure that everything really would be okay. Afterall, this is why we get checked, so that we can catch things before it becomes something really bad.
The next few days I continued doing what I do. I made sure I practiced some sitting meditation every morning too. This, I realized the last few weeks, keeps me very grounded and calm. I'm not sure how or why, but it does the trick.
Friday morning arrived. I made plans to attend the Little Tea Temple for some sitting meditation. I figured being in a peaceful community would be a good start to the day. Thankfully, my dear friend Garney, who I have unofficially adopted as my big brother, came with me. I was so grateful to him because a) it meant leaving our wee town at a very early hour after both of us had late nights, me at climbing and him at the lodge, and b) he would have to sit in meditaoin for 40 minutes. Something he's never done. Still he was willing to help me in whatever way I needed. One couldn't ask for more in a big brother!
After our sitting, of which Garney did amazing I should add, we went for some breakfast at the Lazy Loaf cafe. Both the meditation and the company were the perfect way to get me in a very happy, peaceful state of mind before going to the hospital.
Soon enough it was time to go in. The waiting room is typically full of fear energy - this morning was no exception. Another reason to go with a friend! I checked in and shortly after was lead to a room to chat with a nurse. I had a list of questions to ask. This was part of my 'keeping things in perspective' mode that I had taken on. The big question - was this going to spread and could there be nasty cells in other parts of my reproductive system that we don't know about yet??? How do we know this will take care of this issue?
The nurse was amazingly patient with me. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the health care system. She explained the entire procedure, using diagrams so I knew exactly what was up and made sure I knew and understood what was going to happen. I'm quite proud I didn't dry heave looking at the diagrams. I have issues with 'insides'. Blood, no problem. Insides, problem. She also answered all my questions and reassured me in a way that I knew all would be well. I just had to get through the next bit...
Once again I found myself staring up at a beach scene. Oh to actually be there. The nurse in the room got me all set up, this included placing a huge 4"x4" grounding pad on my butt cheek. Oh, I should explain....L.E.E.P. stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. As there is electricity, the need to ground me. It was at this point I started my meditational breathing...
Then the doctor came in. I was thankful it wasn't the same one I had last time. This fellow had a charming Yorkshire accent, which was reassuring for no apparant reason. He was fantastic at telling me exactly what he was going to do as we went along. No surprises or sudden movements - always a good thing when one has their hoo hoo exposed and there is electricity involved!
The next step was to freeze my lower insides, a process which uses adrenaline mixed in with the freezing. Here's the fun part - try keeping still while they have an electrical loop inside you, bascially doing a cervix circumscision and your heart is racing from adrenaline! Oh and did I mention my thighs and butt cheeks felt like they were doing a jiggy booty dance?? Yikes.
I shall spare you with the remaining details as the worst was over at that point. In no time at all, it was done and I was good to go. Well, once I could sit up without feeling like I was going to fall over or shake to death. That adrenaline is quite the rush!
The recovery part so far has been good. Some discomfort but nothing I can't handle. The day of the procedure I just laid about doing nothing. I hurt and was wiped out. Likely from the emotional aspect more so than the physical. As I'm not allowed to lift heavy stuff I decided to take advantage of the time and do some walking with friends on the weekend.
I'm not worried anymore about things - at least not this thing. I go in again in six months for another colposcopy to check it all out. See how things are. I'm thankful we have procedures like this now. So many women have died from cervical cancer because they didn't have access or didn't go in for annual check ups.
Hopefully this is the last of this journey for me. Time will tell. At the very least I have another good story to tell.
Peace out my gorgeous friends!