Smear Tests – the lifesaver ignored by too many!

Posted: April 24, 2014 in Tiffany
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Right. There has been a lot of publicity lately surrounding smear tests and cervical cancer awareness, particularly this morning on the early morning television show I happened to be watching today. I decided to write this post today (a quick diversion from my “Punters” series of entries – I will return to this!) because I have had personal experiences of this rather scary area of health, and I am astonished at how many women still do not get their smear tests done! I am going to write honestly and truthfully about my experience, in the hope that I can encourage at least one person to book their overdue smear…so here goes…
My very first smear text was back in 2010. It came and went with little incident, apart from the annoying fact that at the time, the only “after work” appointment time I could make was at the same time every month, slap bang in the middle of my period. After being told twice they couldn’t do it at that time, I then had to take time off work to get it done – annoying, but that was not so bad. The nurse carrying out the procedure mentioned that my cervix was a little elusive – it pointed off to one side – but it was located and the procedure carried out quickly and painlessly. It came back normal.
My following smear was in October 2013. I told the nurse about the slight problem the previous nurse had had locating my pesky cervix, and she said this would be fine. However, it took her a good 15 minutes this time – it basically had folded back on itself, so it points out towards my butt rather than straight down as it’s supposed to. This was massively uncomfortable and a bit painful, and she was rummaging around in there with a massive speculum (the small ones which they usually use on me, due to being quite tiny down there, weren’t big enough to basically “flip” my cervix back the right way round!)so I was not hugely impressed, but left with my feathers ruffled and soon forgot about it.
However, when my results came back a few weeks later, I was distraught to be told that they had found abnormal (albeit low-level) cells, and I would need to go to the hospital for a procedure called a colposcopy.
So basically I shit myself. My auntie had abnormal cells a few years back and had to have a hysterectomy, and I was convinced that something terrible would be wrong with me. Being a Cancerian, I worry and overreact quite a lot! My hospital appointment was booked for December, so I had quite a lot of time to fret and panic over it. I read the pamphlet I was given describing the procedure, and also spoke to a few people I know in the medical profession, who all assured me it would be fine and to not worry too much. Easier said than done!
My appointment rolled around and off I went to the hospital. Wound up and panicked I wasn’t exactly in the best frame of mind but what could I do?! Internal examinations are never pleasant, less so now I have a backwards-facing cervix and due to me being so anxious I was convinced you couldn’t even get a cotton bud up there!
To my disgust, not only was one of the parent helpers from my primary school on the reception desk (cringe) but the doctor carrying out the colposcopy was a dude. Now I don’t give a flying fuck how much training you’ve had – you are not a vagina specialist if you do not have a vagina! It would be like going to see a mechanic to fix your car, and finding out that he can’t drive! There were two lady nurses there as well, but I was NOT happy about this man doing the procedure. But again – what could I do?
I explained to him about my elusive cervix and he pretty much didn’t seem to give a fuck – his attitude was very much “shut up and grin and bear it”. I started crying as soon as I took my clothes off. I know – what a baby. I explained to the nurses who were a lot more sympathetic. One of them even held my hand throughout.
For those of you who don’t know, a colposcopy is where they use a camera to look at your cervix up close – they they paint different liquids onto your cervix to look for colour changes, and if they think it necessary, they take a biopsy as well.
A gigantic metal speculum appeared from nowhere and I sat up and crossed my legs – no fucking way was he using that! I said that the nurses at my doctors always use a small one (a child’s one in fact) because I am so tiny – again, he was very dismissive. I had no choice. As he’s trying to insert it he tells me to relax – I told him to FUCK OFF, how about you relax while I shove that up you!? You have NO IDEA how that feels!!!
The nurses laughed, at least. By this point I was full on crying – it hurt me, a lot. He then tried to get me to look at the screen (after another good 10-15 minutes ramming that fucking metal monstrosity up me trying to find the cervix I had already told him faced the wrong way), but I refused – I was in agony and the poor nurse who’s hand I was holding was starting to look a little pained, too.
They had to take the biopsy, as things still weren’t looking too good down there. Obviously without anaesthetic. I am not going to lie, it hurt, but then I have no tolerance for pain (with the exception of tattoos, piercings and yoga pain!) so some of you may think I am being a wimp!
Floods of tears, and bleeding a bit, I left the bastard hospital – after making my follow up appointment for a year later, having been told that now I will have to have a smear every year instead of every three now, unless my next lot of results come back completely normal, which can happen sometimes.
I got home and was in so much pain – it felt like period pain. I lay on the sofa with a hot water bottle after popping two paracetamol and just cried until my other half came home. He looked after me and by the third day the bleeding had stopped and the pain gone.
THANKFULLY MY RESULTS CAME BACK OK. Over a month later. Took them longer due to the Christmas holidays. Cunts. So all through that time of feigned joy and benign frivolity, I was worrying myself sick that it was taking so long because there was something really wrong with me and I was going to die. Literally sick, I wasn’t very well over that time period at all.
I hated every fucking second of that experience, the worry, the pain, the horrible attitude of the doctor at the hospital. I am a pussy when it comes to pain so for some of you, it wouldn’t have been that bad. Most of you won’t have wonky stupid cervixes or ridiculously mini minges like I do. Hopefully you won’t have a rude selfish man doctor either. Most of the other ladies I have spoken to have said they didn’t even really feel it or notice it! Lucky fuckers!
I would still rather go through all of that again than ignore that letter and get cervical cancer. Please, please, PLEASE – it could save your life. Don’t ignore that letter. And don’t let my story put you off either – I’d do that every day if it would guarantee me never getting cancer! I had a horrid time of it – hopefully my next one won’t be so bad! Pain fades, cancer doesn’t! I don’t know how much more simply I can put it – CANCER WILL KILL YOU. A few minutes of embarrassment and pain/discomfort will not. Do not ignore that reminder letter. You get it for a reason.
For information and support, I would highly recommend @Cervicalscreen1 on Twitter – they were ever so kind and supportive as I was going through all this!

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