Recently, I had a cancer scare. I’ll preface by saying that I’m fine and in the end, they didn’t find anything, but on the way there, things were a little tense. When these big things happen, I tend to get quiet, listen, no thinking and okay a lot. I did it when I had my first child:
There seems to be a problem.
We’re going to –
That didn’t work. Emergency c-section.
This is when my don’t question authority, your elders know better than you mindset kicks in. I think some of that is generational, but more than that it is growing up in polite-don’t-rock-the-boat society.
And so when a routine ob-gyn visit turned less than routine, I faced it with my usual aplomb. I told no one at first, not until the biopsy was scheduled and then I told my husband and my closest friend.
As many of you know, while a routine visit isn’t the most pleasant, but it’s only once a year. I haven’t gone in more time than I should have.
Part of the yearly exam is the pap smear, and then the questions about your period.
This is where it might get tmi, but it’s better to know than not to know. I grew up in a great darkness that surrounded my body, its functions, sexuality and the like and it is better to learn early rather than when you have no other choice.
So, anyway, where was I? I have not had my period in months. There are probably many causes of this. I’m a little young for menopause, but you never know. Your body will do what it wants to. I also might be undiagnosed PCOS – I seem to have many of the symptoms but not enough to get the actual diagnosis. There is also my weight, which causes all kinds of body issues that spring up (and that could be solved, but that is another topic for another day).
Very nonchalantly, my doctor asked me to get some bloodwork done. It’s not an emergency. Just whenever. If your lack of a period is not related to menopause, it could be related to uterine cancer so we should check your hormone levels.
(See what I mean?)
I get the bloodwork done about a month later. I’ve waited for when I need to go for bloodwork from my other doctor and I was trying to save money by doing them together.
The bloodwork says I am not menopausal.
Yay. Yay? What about the uterine cancer?
Oh, that. Well, the doctor is on vacation, but we’ll schedule the biopsy for when she gets back.
In two or three weeks.
I go for the biopsy, which is about as pleasant as it sounds when you say that you’re going to put a giant q-tip but not up to your uterine wall and scrape some of it off. You might get cramps. Did you take Advil before you came like I said to?
That won’t be enough. Here, have a Motrin, too.
And yes, I needed both.
I won’t hear anything for at least a week, maybe longer because the doctor’s going on vacation again.
Okay, I say.
What else is there to say?
I get a call LESS than a week later. I know that’s not a good thing.
The biopsy, it turns out, is inconclusive.
Now, I need to go for a pelvic ultrasound, and if the uterine wall is too thick to see anything, then I will need to go for a D&C in the hospital. This is a less pleasant option than the biopsy which wasn’t pleasant at all, and involves anesthesia. I feel as though I am holding my breath.
I schedule the ultrasound for the next week.
When I get there, it turns out it is not a pelvic ultrasound; it is a vaginal ultrasound. That full bladder that you brought in with you? You’ll need to go empty it now. But this is a much more pleasant ultrasound as far as those go.
The technician isn’t supposed to tell you anything; that falls to the doctor, but my doctor is on vacation. The doctor will still have to officially read the ultrasound pictures and make the final determination, but the technician doesn’t see anything; it all looks good.
I confirmed this a couple more times with her, and then I leave, consigning much of my previous weeks’ anxiety in the waiting room.
The imaging center took over an hour to drive to. The ultrasound took less time (ten minutes start to finish).
This is your reminder: Even though everything worked out well for me, and I am extremely thankful, get your annual exams. Do not skip them. As with anything, early detection saves lives.
I’m not sure how we will pay the bills when they start coming in for these tests and office visits, but regardless it was important to have this done. There is only so much I can postpone because of money concerns and deductible problems. Who knows? After all of this I might reach my deductible this year.