CW: female body discussion, medical issues, anxiety, fear. If these topics may trigger or upset you, please hold off on reading this. Take care of yourself.
When I was 19 years old, I went to the gyno for the first time through the state to get free birth control pills. For the initial visit, they do the full checkup, including a Pap smear. The doctor that did it was also the parish coroner, and his bedside manner reflected this. He wasn’t mean, or cruel, or abusive – but the amount of words out of his mouth to me could have totaled about 20 or so, from when he walked in the door. His hands were like ice, even with the gloves on. Speculum, scrape, check other things, and out the door he went. The nurse sighed and shook her head, apologizing for him, saying that they always had a lot of patients on these initial visit days and so he just moved really fast to get through them all. When he left, I cried. I don’t know if I’d call my visit traumatic, per se, but it was definitely not what I expected for my first gynecologic visit.
Two weeks later, I got a call from the clinic. They’d detected abnormal cells in my Pap smear. MY VERY FIRST EVER PAP SMEAR. The followup biopsy found that I had “precancerous cervical dysplasia”, which meant that if I didn’t take care of the abnormal cells, they could develop into cervical cancer. I had a LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) done, and after a couple years of normal checkups, it was all good and I’ve had normal annual exams ever since.
Fast forward to yesterday.
My doctor informed me that my annual pap smear detected abnormal cells, and even though it may be nothing, my doctor wants me to go in for a pelvic ultrasound and a biopsy. The ultrasound is scheduled for today, the biopsy is in a week and a half. The doctor said that these cells are normal to see in women my age, but they still want to err on the side of caution and do the followup testing to be absolutely sure.
As I just stated, this is not my first rodeo with abnormal Pap smears. Hell, this isn’t even my first rodeo with abnormal annual checkups. A few years back they found some odd things in my annual mammogram, checked it out, and it was nothing. I know from going through all this that there is no point in worrying until they tell you it’s something to worry about.
But I’m more anxious about this now than I was at 19. It’s hard not to worry. I’ve had anxiety-inducing dreams for the past couple of nights, and last night I kept waking up from bad dreams. I don’t remember them all, but I woke up feeling fear and anxiety, sweating, heart racing, the whole bit. Every time I’d reach over and pet Daisy and Mia, and fall back asleep within a few minutes (thanks, Ambien).
I’m hoping it’s nothing. I’m praying it’s nothing. Just because I don’t want to go through all of the mess and constant doctors’ visits and spending tons of money even though I have good insurance. I’m not even worried about the body parts, honestly. Like I’m 46, they can just take the whole kit and caboodle out of me and I’d be fine with that. We’re not having kids, I know I’m forever going to be a pet mom. It’s more stress at the financial side of things and how it’s going to affect all the plans I have for the next few years.
But again – there’s no point in worrying until they tell me there’s something to worry about. I keep repeating that, hoping the mantra will eventually stick and the anxiety will be carried away on those words.
Let’s hope that happens soon.