I am totally exposing myself in my first ever blog post but I feel it needs to be done.
Too many people are suffering in silence or don’t know that they are suffering in silence!
By reaching out and sharing my story I hope that I can help women understand that, we have nothing to be embarrassed about, the importance of listening to your body, getting second opinions and asking questions.
Be strong to who you are. We are not alone in this, the more we share the more people will care!
So here goes my story…
… At the end of 2016, I went to the doctor with post-coital bleeding (bleeding during/after sex). The event in itself was uncomfortable, worrying and a little embarrassing.
Unfortunately, some men don’t know how to express their shock in an empathetic way. I suppose it’s hard (when they don’t bleed from that area monthly) for them to understand (or give a shit). Anyway, I booked an appointment with my GP. It was awkward explaining what the appointment was for, however, it needed to be done!
I was seen by a male Doctor who asked me a few questions. The questions were questions that you would expect and all relevant to why I was there (so I thought). However, the response was not what I expected! Firstly, he had already asked me if I had been tested for STI’s to which I had answered “yes” and that I was in the clear. In fact, I had a message on my phone that had been sent a few days earlier confirming my all clear. The Doctor insisted that I go away and get tested again. He said that if the results come back clear, he would book me in for an ultrasound. No observations were made at this appointment, only verbal communications about why I was there. Because I had had a smear 6-9 months before this visit, which was clear, he didn’t want to send me for another one. The Doctor was adamant that this was an STI problem and made it clear he wanted me out of the room. Something really didn’t feel right, I pushed back and asked him to book me in for an ultrasound whilst I got the tests done from the clinic. That way I wouldn’t have to waste time booking another appointment to see him. It felt horrible walking out of the surgery. I felt judged for having sex, being a woman or dare I say it… Owning a vagina!
A few weeks later I had the ultrasound, just a simple abdominal ultrasound. A few weeks after the ultrasound I called the surgery for the results. Sex was now a thing of the past and my mind was taken over by the constant thought of WTF is going on?!?! The Doctor called me back that day confirming small polyps on my ovaries. Apparently, these are normal and nothing to worry about. She did, however, probe into the reason I went there in the first place. After explaining everything to her which was easier the second time and because she was a woman. She told me that I had been given an incorrect examination and needed another appointment ASAP. so, I booked an emergency appointment right away. It was with a female Dr who gave me an internal examination. My trust was broken after the first appointment, I felt nervous and my confidence levels before this appointment were very low. If I am really honest, I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to go. I wondered, would it be easier to go through life without having sex and ignore the situation? Deep down I knew it would be irresponsible for me not to go, so I went.
The Doctor booked me in for colposcopy at the hospital, they took a closer look at the cervix with a camera. During the colposcopy, they took 2 small biopsies, said there would be nothing to worry about and sent me on my way. 4 weeks had passed and Christmas was getting into full swing. I hadn’t heard back from the hospital and had no idea what was going on with my lady bits. It was an absolute nightmare!!! I rang the hospital what felt like 100 times in a week to find out what was going on. I had many answers from them but not an answer I wanted. I was metaphorically losing my s**t! Firstly, the person dealing with me was away on holiday and there was a backlog as he didn’t organize and distribute his workload. Then they said they had lost my results, then a few days later, found my results, then my results were in an MDT meeting (AN MDT MEETING! WTF!). Being told this over the phone with no follow up as to why and what was going on sent my mind into a vortex of FML’s and WTF’s. I had to compose myself, I had no choice as I was not getting anywhere. All that could be said over the phone was don’t worry and everything will be fine. I was stuck in limbo. during this time ARGHH was literally my theme tune.
A few weeks passed and still, nothing. I started to feel really bad pains in my lower abdomen, so I went to A&E at a different hospital. They did a few checks, said everything was ok and sent me home. Coincidentally, as soon as I walked out of the hospital, I had a call from the hospital that I was being treated by giving me an appointment for surgery on my cervix. I asked what for and she couldn’t tell me over the phone because she wasn’t qualified. Again, I am told not to worry and that everything will be fine. I really am beginning to think that the word “fine” in the medical profession means something else. I received my letter which noted that I was having a cone biopsy and the steps I need to have in place before and after the surgery. Without question, I went to the appointment. It was day surgery in the outpatient part of the hospital. I couldn’t have anyone with me, only pick me up. I had no idea what was going on with my body. It was all too much to handle and my head was all over the place. I did get a good sleep under anaesthetic. Before I knew it, I was at home in bed. 7 days after surgery my stitches reopened leading to an emergency cauterization of my cervix…This was just an additional kick in the vag for me. After that, I was so careful. I didn’t lift anything with the slightest of weight in it and was even afraid to fart! Having a slice in your cervix burned together without any painkillers or anaesthetic is no joke! Whenever I talk or think about it, I can still smell the smell of my poor burnt cervix.
I promise, my story does get better… Since surgery, I have had a couple of biopsies, a few colposcopies and smears to make sure whatever it was, doesn’t return. I have asked the specialists what I had and was told, cervical cancer from a couple of people and then abnormal cells from another. In both cases High-Grade HPV was present. Regardless of what it was, it isn’t there now and it is being monitored so if it decides to return, we can catch it early.
Without having the smear tests, colposcopies and biopsies, if I had allowed that first Doctor embarrass me and belittle me, I may not be writing this today. I ended 2018 knowing that I am on 12-month smear tests. 2 years of complete hell but worth it to be able to live the rest of my life.
From this experience, I will never be made to feel ashamed of what and who I am or what I need to do to make sure I am safe!
It is time to take the power back and own our lady parts (snap fingers twice)!
My journey may seem long and unpleasant, but had I not gone through it I would be suffering or had lost my life. In comparison, it was a walk in the park. Ladies please go and get all the checks you need. Stop at nothing, your life is important!!!
Check out Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for support, statistics, fundraising and much more. Click the link for more info https://www.jostrust.org.uk/
My personal tips:
- Listen to your body and gut!
- If you think something is wrong say it!
- Talk to others that you can fully trust!
- Don’t feel like you are alone and reach out!
- If you are uncomfortable being seen by a man, request a woman!
- Smears and personal check-ups seem worse in your head than in reality!
- Take someone you feel comfortable with you!
- If in doubt, get a second opinion!
- Ask questions
- Keep track of your appointments!
- Don’t feel silly, embarrassed or ashamed ever!
- This is your body and your life! OWN IT (snap my fingers)
Stay Safe Ladies!
Glitter, sparkles and unicorn light to you all xx