So back in October, I went in for a well woman exam, because I promised my doctor that I would do it. I hate well woman exams. I find them gross and somehow degrading. Plus, historically I’m always face to face with some nurse that insists she need to know the total number of people I’ve slept with ever, which is an answer I cannot provide. Kaiser doesn’t seem to care who I have slept with, though. I dunno how I feel about that, really… cuz they should care a LITTLE… but I digress. I hate well woman exams for a number of reasons, but the top reason I hate well woman exams is because I always, ALWAYS, bounce the pap smear.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with a pap smear, lemme give you the quick and dirty summary of events. They jam a spreader (speculum) in you, which my doc says they can’t use lube with because it taints the specimen, and crank your vag open, and then they use this brush to scrape cells off the cervix and put it in a vial, and then some lab technician looks at it to see if your cells look normal or fucked up. If they’re fucked up, you might have cancer. Now, that might not sound super awful to you, either because you don’t have a cervix or because your pap has never hurt you, but for some of us this feels like someone took tweezers, grabbed some tissue inside our lower abdomen and tore it off like a piece of monkey bread. So… never really enjoyed the process.
I’ve been getting pap smears since I was 12, because my reproductive organs have been trying to kill me since I was 12. Doctors are always horrified to hear this, since they don’t recommend paps until you’re 21 these days, but when you have fucked up organs you have fucked up organs, man. This means I know the drill. I know I’m going to fail. I know they’re going to repap. I know I’m going to get a coloscopy after that. It’s how it’s been for the better part of the past 18 years of my life, except the 3 years I took off because I was god damn sick of it. So, I wasn’t surprised when I bounced my pap. I was surprised we jumped straight to the colposcopy, though.
So today was my colposcopy, but yesterday I freaked out about it. Why? Because we’re dealing with the C-word… not cunt… well… kind of cunt… but Cancer. I meant cancer. You see, everyone in my (maternal) family gets cancer. My grandma. My grandad. My great aunt. My cousins. My great grandparents. Just everyone. We’re all gonna get cancer. So I was freaking out yesterday because I don’t want to get cancer and die. Last time someone told me they thought I had cancer I freaked out for a whole weekend and cleaned my whole house and started dividing up my things to leave to people… like I was just prepping to die in the next month. It was insanity. You’d think I’d develop a coping mechanism. You would be correct.
When I freak out about something that makes me think I might die, I do this thing where I obsess over something completely unrelated, and set in the future. Yesterday I decided I wanted to buy a new house. I’m not in a position to buy a new house, but that’s what I decided to obsess over so I didn’t have to think about dying. I picked the house (the Polygon is up for sale still) and started trying to figure out how I’d buy it and who I could move in with me. So I was running numbers and figuring the best rate we could maybe get on Mom’s credit, since mine is still low, and asking Chris if he’d wanna move in (which was the point when someone should have asked if I felt okay). And then the crying started. I just couldn’t get far enough into this obsession to block out the idea that I was going to have someone tell me if I had cancer or not….
Joke’s on me, cuz I still don’t know.
So after a terrible day and evening of freaking the fuck out over this procedure, I go from denial to angry numbness. I was just mad when I woke up this morning. I got up and I just didn’t care. I dared god to give me cancer because I am just sick of dealing with this infinite problem hanging over my head. Chris made sure he was up in time for me to panic text him through my appointment… and that’s what I did. I snapped him through the rude reception nurse and the nurse assistant taking my vitals and the long wait in the waiting room because they were behind. It was all nonsense, and being numb I wasn’t even scared anymore. I was just angry this was eating up my day… but I don’t know what would have distracted me without him.
Even when they took me back to the procedure room, I had a good fifteen minutes to dick around before I had to strip from the waist down or anyone came in. Now, I’m an adult, and I know you shouldn’t dick around with medical equipment… but I whipped out my Snapchat and took snaps of me investigating EVERYTHING including a suspicious bucket that I could not devise the purpose of. I always marvel at how in spite of our medical progress an examination room and its equipment still looks like the American government could dissect and analyze an alien there.
When NP Slaughter (my nurse practitioner was named Slaughter… classic) came in, I was ready and looked very calm, even though on the inside I was burning with unbridled, frenzied rage, the likes of which I don’t even have a word for. Like, I was so irate that I was giggly. You ever been so angry you laugh? You ever been so angry at GOD and your cervix that you laugh? I have. Anyways, NP Slaughter, brought the vitals nurse to assist, as well as a Czech NP from another department who was learning how things are done in Gynecology. (I know she was Czech because we were talking about schools at one point and she went, “I went to communist Czech school…”) She went over what would happen, and who was in the room. I’d done a colposcopy before, so I wasn’t that concerned.
A colposcopy is a lot like a pap smear, in the sense that someone is going to jam a speculum into your vag and crank you open. I mean, if you’ve been cranked open once, you’ve been cranked open a million times. Where it differs is that instead of taking tissue samples, they coat the cervix in vinegar and iodine and then stare deep into your cervix to see what it tells them. Why? Because cancer cells absorb vinegar faster than normal cells. The iodine helps you see what’s going on, as well as sterilizing the area. So, they swab me up, and NP Slaughter is staring deep into my womb, when NP Slaughter, the nicest NP I’ve ever met in my life, asks if the Czech NP can view my cervix for educational purposes. I agreed on the grounds that I could take a snap of all of them peering into my vagina. They thought I was kidding, but I definitely took and have that picture.
I used Snapchat to distract me from most of the procedure. I have a deep set cervix and a narrow pelvic bone opening… Meaning getting the speculum jammed that deep in there hurts, and cranking me open hurts. The whole fucking thing hurts. They do their best, but you can’t really prevent most of it. So they’re looking around and identify the probably problem area, and that’s when something happened that’s never happened to me in a colposcopy before. She took biopsies. I know that in reality it was like a 10 minute procedure, but it felt like she was in there digging out tissue forever. It hurt. It felt like I was being stabbed deep inside myself. It’s a Lovecraftian kind of pain; I would not have flinched if suddenly a door to another dimension had opened inside me and I was swallowed up into eternal pain or something.
In the past, my doctor has looked at my cervix and told me I’m fine before sending me on my way. This time I was told we’ll know if I have cancer in 5-7 days and sent on my way in pain. I was told that I’d probably bleed from the biopsy for about 7 days, and that the stuff they use to help stop the bleeding was also gonna come out and look like coffee grounds. It was revolting to hear… later it would be worse to see… I made it to my car before I broke down crying in pain. I called my mom and told her about the biopsy and how much it hurt. She said to take my time coming back to work, maybe get lunch, but I just didn’t even feel like playing hookie for a few hours to recoup. I made it back to work, but as the pain increased I realized I couldn’t stay at work. It was too painful. So, since I drove both mothership and I to work… I called Chris.
This man, my suspiciously supportive, thoughtful man, drove out to my work, picked me up, AND HE BROUGHT COCA COLA FOR ME. Then he let me hold onto his arm the whole way home. He didn’t even blink at coming to get me. To his credit, he’d also offered to go to the appointment with me. If I’d known we were taking biopsies I’d have let him. He took me home and I went to bed with a Percocet.
So it wasn’t a great day. I might have cancer. I’m in pain. I had to miss work. My coworker and friend who took me to Vegas, Cat, has noticed I’ve been to the doc a lot recently. She’s now worried I’m dying, and going home in visible pain today did not help that. But… I have Chris… and he’s great. I love him.
In other news, my meds have changed again. I felt okay on 20 mg Cymbalta and 1/2 a Wellbutrin, so we decided not to get rid of the Wellbutrin. With that, I’m now on Ritalin. As my doc put it, I’m the dosage for an 8 year old. So it may or may not do anything. I FEEL like it’s doing something, but I can’t be sure yet.