4 weeks ago, this Thursday I had my colposcopy done at my local NHS hospital.
It has taken me a while to be able to put this into words. I have felt sullied and violated to say the least.
Fortunately for me this hospital has a designated women's clinic however it's located next to the place where you have pregnancy scans which is a little insensitive if you ask me.
The day started pretty much ok. I slept very well the night before and Mr B and I woke up knowing we had the usual motions of getting up and taking big bean to school.
Surprisingly (considering I am a self confessed control freak) I was coping ok. My feelings about this process have been that, although I don't want it done, it has to be. I can't stick my head in the sand and ignore it or it *could* kill me. I knew it would be unpleasant, (I mean, who likes going for a smear?) but there is no other way for me to get round this other than to open myself up to the world of science. No matter how degrading to my personal space issues.
Mr B was a bit of a wreck. Not outwardly, but inwards. I could sense it, although he was clearly trying hard not to show it and be strong for me. The more he tried, the more conscious of the fact that the implications of today would affect not just me, but my whole family.
It seems quite a few people were unwittingly nervous on my behalf as I was constantly asked "are you ok?" or "how do you feel?" and I think some were irked at the fact my response was a consistent "I'm fine". Because I was fine. I was fine with the fact that this HAS to be done. I don't have a choice. Choices come later. Once we know the facts.
My brother in law turned up, as planned(!), at the time he was supposed to, to look after middle and littlun and I busied myself with getting ready.
Wear a skirt, bring a sanitary towel, don't forget letter, directions etc.
I felt a little awkward asking BIL not to give us a lift as I didn't want the children knowing what was happening or where I was going. I'll deal with that when or if I have to. They are too young to understand all this and I don't want them to know.
So we set off by public transport and arrived at the women's clinic. We were ushered off to a very sad waiting area. The purple "rooms" walls added to the sadness of this area. It wasn't quite a room, more a corridor and it was used frequently as a cut through. A section of no mans land which is emotionally where I felt. Apt.
The clinic was running late so the anticipation built. I was one of two women waiting for treatment and there was another lady who was waiting for someone.
There's only so many times you can avoid the surroundings of utility supply area, dirty utility (located next to the supply cupboard) and the disabled toilet. After 40 or so minutes a HCA came out of the room to my left and proceeded to get supplies etc to replenish the treatment rooms.
I began to get a bit concerned when she dropped a wrapped up pack of surgical equipment and the fear of god set in when she went off asking for help because she didn't know how to set the cryo up. I prayed and crossed everything that she would not be assisting in my procedure!! My silent prayers were obviously heard as the lady next to us was called into that room and then I realised I had in fact been holding my breath!
5 minutes or so later I was called into the treatment room that had been to our right and leaving my husband outside I took a few steps to my predetermined fate.
My colposcopy nurse was lovely. Tracey her name was and she was really kind.
We talked through the procedure and what would happen. She asked "if" she confirmed my diagnosis whether I would like her to perform treatment there and then or if I would require another appointment to have the procedure carried out. I said I'd rather have it done while I was there. Who'd want to put themselves through this again.
So now for the TMI: I got myself undressed from the waist down and positioned myself in the stirrups and the HCA readjusted me a few times before hitting the plunger that sent my head end down and my bottom end up, with hips thrust forward and legs splayed. (not unlike a very vulnerable sexual position. Only without the pillows and the fear if "fuck me, I hope he gets the right hole" *poor attempt at humour*)
At first it was all rather interesting as I was directed to watch the screen whilst the colposcopy camera was inserted, followed by the "dye" and thus having the treacherous areas of precancerous cells visually pointed out to me. Up until this point I was fine. This is exactly as I had expected it to be. Like an over-exaggerated smear that took 15 times as long to perform.
Tracey explained that "treatment" was necessary and confirmed that I was happy for to go ahead. I was, well not happy as such as at this point all my bravado and scientific interest swiftly disappeared.
Tracey explained that she would inject local anaesthetic to the area before performing the procedure.
I think this was possibly the worst part. Having injections inside your vagina is quite painful to say the least. Needless to say I was no longer interested in watching on the screen. I was concentrating very hard on staying REALLY STILL lest the bitch with the needle slip.
After a few minutes the numbness took hold and the HCA slapped an earthing kit to my leg. Freaked. Moi. NO (yes).
The treatment procedure was rather odd to say the least. There was a special hose attached to the top of the instrument and I was informed that this was to suck any fumes out. It didn't work.
Tracey took to removing my precancerous cells with a metal wire that basically cut them out by burning them. The hot wire is necessary to seal the area where the tissue is removed from. Thus removing 3 layers of precancerous tissue and a further "cone" biopsy of tissues whereby if they determine changes I would receive an invasive cancer diagnosis. It didn't hurt but you do have to remain really still and ignore the surge of adrenaline that volts through your body and sends your heart rate into orbit. The smell of burning flesh is quite harrowing but this was the only indication of what was being done.
The procedure took less than 20 minutes and I was helped up, left to get dressed and feeling quite lightheaded.
It was then explained that I would bleed for anything up to 6 weeks. The flow would change between 10-14 days as the burn scabs left my cervix. I must avoid tampons. I must not have sex for 6 weeks and then only afterwards with a condom for 6 months. I would receive a letter within 4-6 weeks detailing the next stage in the process.
I was then sent home to deal with the wearing off of anaesthetic, the labour like tummy cramps and a blood flow like no other I have experienced in the 19 years of menstral flow.
The good news was however, she managed to save my coil.
Thank you for reading
Mrs Beans x