Invite a stranger…

I recently read Wish Fulfillment Everyday’s article about annual smear tests.  Ladies, we all know it’s essential that we get tested regularly.  As Layla has eloquently reminded us why this is important, I’ll ask you to click through to her site please.

Personally, I’ve always insisted on an annual smear tests because I was exposed to DES when I was in the womb.  I have told people that I’ve had more doctors in my body than boyfriends.  I would like to say that in those days DES was considered to be the best medicine for women who had miscarriages.  Mom, in time for Mother’s Day in England, I’d like to thank you for taking DES: without it I may not have existed.

So what happens if your annual smear test is found to be abnormal?  Of course I’ve been there and got that T-Shirt too.  Luckily for me, the cells found were abnormal but not malicious.  I’ve had a colposcopy more than once and I can assure you it is uncomfortable but not nearly as unpleasant as finding something that can kill you that’s too far along to be dealt with efficiently.


A Brief Update

Luckily for me the surgeon agreed with me and has requested I have a laparoscopy.  While I’m under they’re excising my endometriosis, they’re going to put a camera into my uterus (I assume it’s small and won’t be accompanied by a team of photographers!) to see if I’ve got fibroids.  They’re also going to give my cervix a smear test to see if I have a type of virus that is frequently found in women with cervical cancer.  This precaution is in reaction to all the (negative) tests I’ve had in the past couple of years.  If I’m found to have it, I’ll be given a smear test even more frequently and, any problems caught early.

The bad news is that I’ll have to wait until February/March for the surgery.  I’ve not had the chance to discuss this with my office and won’t know more until I get the actual date of the surgery.


My Fourth Laparoscopy

I recently went to the surgeon who gave me a number of choices; I have come to the conclusion that a laparoscopy to clear my endometriosis is the best choice for me because a hysterectomy is too drastic a change for me and trying a drug to give me a temporary menopause is generally not well received (from what I’ve read).

My first laparoscopy occurred in May 2005 and I was diagnosed with endometriosis.  Back then I wanted to have children and was marred to the first husband.  My diagnosis and persistent symptoms – even after the surgery – was to prove another nail in the coffin of our failing relationship.

My second laparoscopy occurred in March 2007.  By this point I was waiting for my decree absolute; I lived in a sweet little flat and my boyfriend stayed with me immediately after the surgery – although I struggled with symptoms and depression I couldn’t have had better support.

My surgeon put me on HRT to help with my PCOS symptoms – which turned out to be a BIG mistake as it fed my endometriosis.  My pain quickly became debilitating.

My third laparoscopy occurred in November 2008.  I was recently remarried and we’d decided not to have children.  My pain was such that I was desperate for a drastic change and I begged for a hysterectomy.  Helios and my surgeon talked me out of it and I was transferred to an endometriosis and pelvic pain specialist.  The surgery was highly successful – I went from a 9 or 10 on the pain-scale to a 1 during my period and nil every other time.

Plonk me in a chair and send me home!!

Since then I’ve coped with my pain by using birth control (which contains some oestrogen because the progesterone-only pills make me aggressive – GRRRRRRR) and then I started tri-cycling my pills: I have a period once every 9-10 weeks.  Since then, upon talking to my colposcopy nurse, I have been trying to extend the time between periods even longer.  I’ve not managed to make it 6 months between periods yet but am looking into it.

I’m also grateful that I didn’t have a hysterectomy.  I was sorely tempted to have it in my deliberations for my upcoming surgery, but this time I have sought treatment before I’ve become frantic about my symptoms and it’s given me time to be objective about what I need.  It’s so much easier to contemplate the choices when you’re compos mentis!

Helios is coming with me to my appointment on Tuesday where I’ll tell the surgeons what decisions I’ve made; we can discuss what the next steps are and when I can expect things to happen.  I’ll be sure to update you as soon as I have more details.



Monday morning I got up at the usual time and went to London where I met my friend at Waterloo and then we walked to The Hilton at Park Lane for our spa treatments.  This is the friend who has a hard time saying endometriosis and instead turns it into a word that Mary Poppins would be proud of!

On the one hand it was a great spa experience because it was relaxing and the masseuse got rid of the knots in my shoulder; on the other hand it wasn’t nearly as good as I’d hoped – we were in the basement, there was only one toilet for the four gals who were doing the treatments so we had to take turns, and there was a bit of building work going on outside so it was a little difficult to relax with all the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMPING.  Also, I was expecting us each to have our own treatment rooms but my friend and I shared a room and we had a therapist each.  The room itself was a bit hot and very cramped.  I didn’t like it not because I find it uncomfortable being naked in front of a woman (I used to attend a gym.) but because one of the therapists would talk and one of us would answer.  It just wasn’t right because I didn’t feel comfortable saying this or that for fear of interrupting a good experience for my friend.  As frustrating as it was, I did enjoy it.

We spent the rest of the day walking through London – we went to Piccadilly to do a spot of Christmas shopping at Fortnum & Mason only for me to discover that the prices for everything there was really too far out of my reach.  I got Helios a jar of marmalade, vowed never to spend £5 for a single bar of chocolate and we continued our adventure.

We made it to Covent Garden and had a very nice lunch with some wine.  While I was there I discovered a tea shop and, I’m proud to say, I got some delicious jasmine tea!

After that we walked back toWaterloo, said our goodbyes and went home.  What a lovely day!  We walked about 5 miles and I’ve got very small blisters on my baby toes but it was worth it!

This next bit contains explicit details about my doctor’s appointment.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  This morning I got up again at the usual time and drove to the local hospital for my appointment with the specialist.  I got a minion for the appointment but was very pleased with how thorough she was in examining me.  Firstly we talked about how my pain had been increasing over the past cycles.  She was surprised when I told her how my flow had been incredibly hard at certain times of my cycle – my birth control should eliminate heavy periods.  She’s given me some tablets to try to minimise the flooding.  I told her that sex itself wasn’t painful but that I got a backache afterwards.  She mentioned that she was a little concerned that I appear to have a history of smear tests that are less than perfect and, noting that I was exposed to DES, she wants to test me for scary viruses on my cervix.  Should anything be found, a small portion would be burned off or removed.  I’m good with that.  I cannot imagine long-term side effects from it and I’d probably benefit from the lack of worry after every smear…

She then decided that she wanted to see my internals so I hopped up on one of those tables and I notched up another doctor being in there.  I did tell them that I’d had more doctors in there than I’d had boyfriends.  The nurse chuckled as the doctor poked and prodded me.  I find the sonogram on a stick a bit uncomfortable but not agonising.  It’s easy to tolerate if you relax, lay back and think of England.  (!)

I was delighted by how she searched for things because she talked throughout the test.  I was told that my womb is leaning towards my bladder – something I never knew.  She was unable to find my right ovary – but said that at this point in my cycle it would be difficult to find.  So I said that she wouldn’t find my left one – I’d hidden it in my left shoe.  So when she found my left ovary I said that I’d have to try harder next time!  As she examined me, she told me what she was finding and why that’s abnormal.  In particular, my womb is very solid and didn’t move very well when pushed.  My left ovary was also solid and without movement when pushed so she presumed that the right one would have the same problem.  I can only surmise that my endometriosis is covering certain areas and leaving them sticky again.

So, as always, I have three options: 1) pain management with drugs.  She would like to put me on the mirena coil and I flatly refused.  She suggested the drug-version of a hysterectomy.  I’m curious but want to be sure that I won’t fall pregnant with it.  2) laparoscopic surgery to clear away any endometriosis found and 3) hysterectomy, including the removal of ovaries.  I have a follow-up appointment on 8th November where I can discuss my options and schedule a surgery if required.

For once, I’m reluctant to consider the hysterectomy option – not because I want children but because I like myself at the moment and don’t want to consider the personality changes that a hysterectomy may cause.  If I may be blunt, I don’t want to lose my sex-drive now that I’m finally in a happy and healthy relationship.  Oh sure, I’ll be given HRT and it will be mostly progesterone so my endometriosis won’t grow back but I don’t always do well on progesterone birth control pills so there’s no telling what havoc I could cause if I don’t have my ovaries.

The drug option would be good if I weren’t already content with my personality at the moment.  So it looks as though I’ll be requesting another laparoscopy.  I have plenty of time to think about it…

I did feel a little sore after my appointment but that’s passed now.  I’m off to bed soon.  Good night everyone.


Life imitates humour

I had my most recent cervical smear this week.  It’s never pleasant but I was shocked at how my life imitates my humour.  Some time ago I kept going back to the doctor for another smear and yet another smear.  They never seemed to get enough cells for a proper sample.  I joked that the real reason they couldn’t get a proper sample was because I’d hidden my cervix in my left underarm.

This time I went and when the girls who were taking the samples had a hard time finding my cervix I told them that I’d hidden it from them.  I’ll bet they’ve never heard that one before!

There was an event of note during the exercise: they said “It’s moving!  It’s moving!”  Trying to relax while you have implements in there is difficult enough but I probably prolonged the agony when I imagined they were chasing my cervix around the room!  Note to self: stop giggling!!


This entry was posted on September 17, 2011, in Colposcopy.

Nine Weeks

During week seven I had some pain on the Wednesday: the usual period pain but not nearly so strong.  Unsurprisingly the next day I had a bit of spotting which left me in my usual panic – do I have a period or not.  I decided to wait for another week in the hopes that my spotting would stop.  My right ovary is very uncomfortable – it’s as if it’s stuck against something inside again.

Luckily the spotting and pain has stopped.  Both ovaries are uncomfortable.  It’s not all the time and not severe but when I feel it I can’t help but wonder.

Week eight has passed without incident.  My bloating has abated; my PMT has nearly disappeared.  I’m starting to wonder if those few days of discomfort during week seven was actually a “ghost period” and now I can get on with stretching my time between periods even longer.  Who knows?  I may stretch it to once every six months like the doctor at my colposcopy suggested!

Speaking of biopsies, I got my test results after the colposcopy.  The biopsy came back negative.  I have another follow up in September for another smear test.  I’ll mention the ovarian pain again and get any reassurance I need for just two periods per year.

I will admit to being very tired.  Last weekend and this weekend I’ve found myself needing a nap at least once or else fall asleep uncomfortably on the couch.  Of course if I find the fatigue too much, I’ll give myself a period and see how things go from there.

Today is another Bank Holiday in England so Helios and I are watching movies and relaxing.  Helios is ironing and I’m trying not to fall asleep on the couch again.  My right shoulder is still sore.  It’s been sore for a number of days – or even weeks.  While over the counter painkillers and Deep Heat help, it’s never long before the pain comes back.  Particularly beneath my shoulder blade has a number of painful knots.  I’m debating going to the doctor or just getting a proper back, shoulder and neck massage to see what helps.


More Manchester Fun

A work colleague suggested that I take the afternoon off work and come toManchesteragain to see a testimonial game for Gary Neville’s retirement.  Before the days when a professional footballer earned more money than was really sensible, a testimonial game was given for retiring players and the proceeds went to the players.  These days the games are more symbolic and proceeds raised go to charities.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go.  Helios unfortunately was unable to get the time off and I really missed him on the night.  I’ve only ever been to Manchester with Helios so in a strange way I felt as if he was with me even though he was still south of London.

However, in some ways it was nice that he had to miss it because my work colleague became a friend over the evening…  It takes just under 4 hours to get there and back from where we live so on the way to the event I heard her life story and on the way back I told her my life story.  Luckily she’s not the sort to judge and the time was spent simply reliving the old days.

At Old Trafford, Gary Neville started playing for the club in 1995 and many of his old team mates came to play for his retirement game.  Of note, David Beckham played and still has a bit of the old magic.  Wayne Rooney scored the only Man U goal but we lost the game: 1 – 2 Juventis.  As it was a friendly, the current big names were there but they didn’t play for long as the final game of the football season is soon…

It wasn’t quite 2:00 a.m.when I got home and I was still so excited about the day that I had a hard time getting to sleep.  I had a final visit to the bathroom at 2:45 a.m. so I know I got about 4 hours sleep last night.  Therefore tonight will be very swiftly to bed!  I’m making fish and chips with peas and will go to bed almost immediately afterwards.  No point in being a martyr and staying awake just to be grouchy with Helios, is there?

In other news I passed the eight week mark without incident.  I am not having any spotting and am not in pain.  I’m still suffering a bit of discomfort with my right ovary.  It’s not painful but I can feel a slight pulling on the inside every so often – if I’m stretching for example.  It feels as thought there’s a stitch in there that doesn’t give me any symptoms until I try and manoeuvre it free.  It reminds me slightly of when I’ve had a recent surgery and I’m trying not to move a certain way.

The other news is that my recent biopsy results came back completely clear.  I’m scheduled in for another smear test in September but I figure that’s only a good thing that they want to monitor me closely.  With any luck I’ve dodged The Big C totally!  Touch wood.



Seven Weeks

It’s been nearly seven weeks since my last period.  The delay between periods gives me some minor discomforts.  For instance, I’m going back and forth with the size of my stomach.  Some days I look 4 months pregnant and some days I’m just a bit wobbley.  Carrying around a bit of extra weight isn’t a difficult thing – but it was disconcerting to see my actual size in the holiday photographs!  When I look at myself in the mirror I didn’t think my stomach was THAT noticeable but I was clearly wrong!  The other thing about the bloating is that I’ve had the odd occasion where I feel my womb.  It’s not painful, I just happen to know precisely where it is at a given moment – usually when I’m walking downhill.  It’s not uncomfortable but it is odd that I can feel it.  I’m not concerned because I am close to needing to give myself a period so am putting oddness down to my bloating, etc.

My PMT is currently being held in check with Milk Thistle.  OK, I know Mom doesn’t like me taking it but, as a doctor recommended I try it in the first place, I take it once or twice a day when I start to feel the usual shortening of my fuse.  So far it’s been a tremendous help at work – especially since my first week back from a holiday feels particularly long!  Also, the good thing about prolonging my cycle is that I only need painkillers if and when I get a headache!  For those of you who don’t have endometriosis, you have no idea how much money I can easily spend on painkillers and other potions to try and keep my pain in check.  What a relief to only worry about my agonising pain once every 9 weeks (or more)!

The nurse who did my colposcopy mentioned that I don’t have to have a period for six months if I really didn’t want to.  As good as that sounds, I’m also wondering just how bad my bloating will be after six months!?  I’m also wondering if I’ll have PMT symptoms for the next few months?  I’m contemplating going longer between periods this cycle than my prescribed 9 weeks.  So far I’ve not managed to get through a whole 9 weeks without giving myself a period.  I get a bit down with feeling fat and cranky.  I’m still hoping that the longer I go without a period, the easier the next “longer” cycle will be.  I think this cycle is the first time when I’ve been at week seven and thought “Let’s go for a full six months!” but I’ll probably change my mind in the next couple of weeks.  Up until now on the longer cycle, I’ve decided to have a period just shy of the nine weeks because I feel drained.  No.  Drained is a good word but it’s not quite accurate.  I feel as though I’ve not slept in a million years even with a good night’s sleep.  I’m normally a very warm individual but I could stand in the snow and not feel the cold.  It’s not a depression but it’s a definite low.  Sorry, I’m obviously not expressing myself very well.  I’m not feeling the need just yet but know when it happens it will be as strong as ever.

Work is going OK at the moment.  Normally I don’t have so much work to do that I’m stressed out.  This week is busy but not fraught.  The complaint of the week this week is that all of us appear to have forgotten just how long a 5-day week feels.  No doubt next week will be easier – once I’m back into the swing of it.  In a lot of ways it’s a shame that we have to go back to the daily grind, isn’t it?  Wouldn’t it be nice to win the lottery and I could look after my family the way I want: Helios and I could pay off the mortgage, give my mom and my sister some money, give Helios’s parents some money, set up trust funds for Apollo and Maia, get some building work done on our flats, send Helios to University on a film course and start a business so he can get paid for his opinions about cinema.  I’d probably find a part-time job somewhere (perhaps a charity) just to keep a bit of normality in my life and the rest of the time I’ll research endometriosis and blog about what I find.  If only we could win…

This weekend will be spent in the garden with the neighbours and a BBQ.  I hope the weather holds out!


Colposcopy Update

I’m not in what I would call pain anymore but I am uncomfortable and still bleeding.  (!)  As I would have expected to have stopped bleeding by now, I’m ringing the doctor tomorrow to ask them exactly how long they think this should actually last and when I need to come in to be seen again.  In the meantime, I have been taking the odd paracetamol just to blot out that dull sensation.


Colposcopy – how it went and what to expect

I had my colposcopy.  In the end, I did ask Helios to come along.  I don’t like the thought of being weak but I asked him to come.  I felt I could use the moral support and I was calmed before the appointment knowing that he was coming along.

My appointment wasn’t until 3:40 so I had most of the day to stew about the upcoming appointment.  By 3:00, I felt rather shaky and I asked my boss to go.  She was great and sent me on my way.

I got to the supermarket where I met Helios as planned.  We walked across the road and into the hospital.  I reminded Helios that the last colposcopy I had was a little painful so he asked me for an “attack word” – in other words he wanted to know when I was in too much pain so that he could hurt the people hurting me.  You may recall that I think men are like dogs?  Helios was my guard husband today.

The appointment itself went well.  I got the answers to my questions.  Make sure to bring a list of questions: when was the start date of your last period?  Do you have any other symptoms?  Do you have any questions?  For me, there were a number of other people in the room – for me it was three nurses.  As there is nothing dignified with what’s about to happen, I figure you may want to consider inviting some long-lost ex-boyfriends as well, just to complete the humiliation!

Then they get you in the chair.  As you know this chair is not like other chairs.  It’s a much less dignified version of a stair lift.  You ultimately find yourself on your back, legs apart, and your bottom feels just a little like you’re about to fall off the contraption.  As if in a museum, your best feature is on display for everyone’s admiration.

The usual appliances go into the usual places.  This is uncomfortable but not painful.  I’m not going to lie to you, the next bit isn’t a picnic. The doctor gets set up and then asks you to cough.  The first time I did it, I felt a sharp sensation so I didn’t cough hard enough which meant I had to cough again.  This time I made sure to cough hard, which was painful but not agony.

Then came the worst bit: they need to cauterise the wound and they put what felt like a concentrated hot fire onto that little pinprick of an area.  During my first colposcopy, it carried on for a bit longer than I really wanted and I told the doctor to “Get out of there!”  Normally I like to feel that, should anything go wrong, I can always kick the doctor in the head.  When this happens, the best thing to do is breathe deeply.  I find that breathing out, in particular, helps tremendously.  This time, with my attack husband by my side, I tried to keep my cool and it seemed to be over much more quickly.

After the procedure I was stunned to find I was unable to move my legs properly straightaway.  This is normal.  They’ve been poking around where only doctors should go.  Ask for a drink of water and let your legs recover – this should only take a few minutes.