Before we get into the serious stuff, I just wanted to take the time to say a MASSIVE thank you for all your messages about my first post here on Gash Gossip. Without getting too emosh, I cried happy tears for the first time in a long time. Me and the vag felt a lot of love. I really did appreciate you all taking the time to read it and offer your feedback and suggestions. It meant the world. Keep the messages coming and let me know if you have anything you’d like to chat about. Now on to Part 2!
Does anyone else get the sweatiest of pits when they have to speak to the doctor? My best friend ran the marathon a couple of weeks ago, the hottest marathon in history I might add, and I can guarantee I broke more of a sweat listening to the dial tone on my phone waiting for the doc to pick up, whilst my bezzie looked cool as a cucumber at mile 26.
It had been 4 weeks since my colposcopy which meant the results were in! I could have rung on the Monday morning but I chickened out 4 times. Something about waiting for results completely freaks me out, I don’t have the courage to open the letter or hear what the doctor has to say because I always think the worst, so, I put in place my best avoidance tactics and bury my head in the sand. It’s madness I know, I just prolong the misery and torture. But Tuesday morning was D-Day. I had the boyf and my friends bugging me to “just do it for goodness sake.” As I held the phone to my ear I shakily asked the receptionist at the surgery to read out the results. I started pacing up and down the work office. I needed a nervous poo desperately and the sweat was dripping. This was probably more of a job for the doctor, but mine was away until Friday and I couldn’t wait any longer. She started opening the letter, very slowly, it was like waiting to find out if I’d answered the right question on a quiz show. Then at the other end of the phone she said, “So you’re pregnant?” I nearly choked on my own saliva, “NO?!”, I bloody hope not. Is a 24 year old waiting on colposcopy results not normal I thought? And then I thought, in the words of Pamalaaaaar from Gavin & Stacey, “OH MY CHRIST!” Am I pregnant?!/I haven’t prepared for this news at all/I don’t have any money/My room is too small/I’m going to pass out/I can’t even afford to buy branded cereal/I don’t have ANY savings/I don’t have a credit card/My Dad is going to kill me/My Mum is going to cry/My Dad is going to kill me some more if I’m not already dead.
I’m not pregnant. Turns out a 24 year old receiving colposcopy results was a little unusual for this particular receptionist and that was just her initial response. The results themselves, well, these are the only words I heard down the phone: “satisfactory”, “HPV”, “low grade cells”. I asked the lady to please repeat them again, hoping to hear and understand more, but again, “satisfactory”, “HPV”, “low grade cells” seemed to be the only words coming out of her mouth.
I said thank you, she said “No problem sweetheart the doctor will ring you on Friday to discuss”, I said thank you again, she said “No problem sweetheart”, again, and that was that. The reel of thoughts after this phone call was a tangle of negativity I’ll be honest. I couldn’t help feeling crest fallen, a part of me was hoping they would find absolutely nothing, this would all be over and my vagina and I would skip happily away into the sunset. Then I started feeling resentful. This has been an ongoing battle for 9 months, waiting for swab after swab, returning to the chair with my legs wide open, pointing at my bits and saying THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG IN THERE I KNOW IT, pleeeeease do something about it and I was right! Yes! I knew there was something “wrong”. I knew in my gut more tests should be done to double check everything. Trust your gut ladies. As I’ve said before, we know our bodies, we should have the confidence to stand up to anyone who tells us otherwise.
And then, as with all medical related news, there was the inevitable wave of irrational thoughts. “How long before I die?”
1. Satisfactory: What does that mean? Acceptable not outstanding is what it means. My cervix is not perfect, but at least it is up to scratch. It’s reasonable. When I googled satisfactory for some more specific definitions, this came up, and I thought it was quite apt: “(Of a patient in a hospital) not deteriorating or likely to die.” So that’s good. Very reassuring.
2. HPV: So what do I do now? How long have I had it for? Can you treat it? Why didn’t this show up on any of the swabs? Will my body fight it off? What even is HPV? I seriously don’t know what it stands for. Is that bad? I know nothing about it. Zilch. How long before I die?
3. Low grade cells: Cells. Cells. Cells. Cells. Cells. CELLS. Cells. Cells. Cells. CELLS! Bad bad bad cells. BAD! Oh god, this is bad… BAD.
Having now had time to digest the results and speak to my GP, I feel a little more relaxed. But now I play the same waiting game as I wait to hear from the Colposcopy Clinic themselves. The team at the clinic have a sit down meeting each month to discuss all results and put a plan in place for each patient. I believe from the results that I have contracted the HPV virus but will need more information from my consultant before I divulge further. I am going to refrain from reading the internet in the meantime! The low grade cells they have tested will either need to be removed or monitored every 6 months. Which is a positive! They will keep a close eye on me and everything going on down there and that is a small victory after all the pestering I have done. Although I have had to do a lot of persisting, I want to say that I am not sure anyone is to blame for what seems like a slow response. The NHS have been fantastic in supporting me; I couldn’t have asked for kinder nurses who talked to me about dogs and the Edinburgh Fringe, not that the two were related, to stop me crying. It has just taken us all a while to get to where we are now and that is why I cannot express enough how important it is to trust your instinct and ask for answers. I am so glad I did. To make it clear, the abnormalities they found are not responsible for the initial problem which was post coital bleeding. The bleeding was caused by the ectropion, most probably caused by the contraceptive pill. The cells they found have been found as a result of taking a closer look at the ectropion during the colposcopy, without which, I would have only found out about them during my first smear test, which will not be until I am 25. 7 months from now. 7 months too long in my opinion. As I mentioned before, I asked my local surgery for a smear test and given my symptoms I thought it would be a no-brainer, sadly given the age restriction on smear tests this was not possible. BUT there are other avenues girls, and we owe it to our vaginas and ourselves to pursue pursue pursue until we get all the answers we need. We may be under the age threshold but our vaginas are just as important!
In the process of writing this post I received the letter from the clinic explaining what happens next. I now have a decision to make. Either I opt for having the low grade cells removed or they continue to monitor them. To be honest ladies, I don’t know what to do! That feels like a big decision to make on my own with no real explanation yet of what is going on in ye old cervix! So I have requested a face to face appointment with the consultant at the clinic to get all the facts. I’ll be going in with my notepad, pen and of course my fanny side-kick, Mumma D, to really find out what an earth is going on. At the moment I am confused, a bunch of words on a page is not much help for me and my fanny to make a rational decision on what step to take next.
Seeing as I like to share, I thought I’d write down some of the notes from the official letter so we are all on the same page here. Look out for the key words I mentioned earlier, see if they jump out at you too!
“Colposcopy satisfactory, HPV changes low grade abnormalities, biopsy CIN2.
Management Plan: On a background of post-coital bleeding and a biopsy showing CIN2, you have 2 options:
1. Monitoring with colposcopy, smear, HPV test & biopsy in 6 months time. It is reassuring that 40% of women will clear the abnormality upon regular monitoring.
2. Loop excision treatment to remove the abnormal cells.”
Thankfully, I decided to start gossiping about all my gash related problems and maybe some of you have already been in this situation and can help a girl out. WHAT DO I DO? Has anybody else had low grade cells found and or removed? And although it may be a little personal for some of you, has anybody else found out that they have contracted the HPV virus? I was told by my doctor that it is extremely common and by the age of 40 most women will have come into contact with virus, but I have no idea how, when, why I have come in to contact. I thought because I had those vaccinations back when I had a side fringe and wore dream matte mouse, I would be protected from it. Apparently there are different strains of the virus and the vaccinations only protect against some of them. I wish I had been told that!
The more I learn about my vagina, the more I realise how much I didn’t know, wasn’t taught and definitely was not prepared for. I am really starting to question WHY? So I’ll be marching into that Colposcopy Clinic with my pen poised, my biggest big girl pants on, ready to pick their brains and then I’ll be back to share my findings in Part 3. But don’t worry, if you’re already getting sick of hearing all about me *drum roll* our first guest on the Gash Gossip is ready and waiting to share their story too! Watch out for a double whammy of goss coming soon.
Keep trusting that gut and don’t fanny about when it comes to your fanny. If you think something needs checking out, go and check it out!
Lots of pussy positivity,