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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.

Foxy

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Supercalafragilisticendometriosis

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.

Foxy

Not just Endometriosis but also DES

I’m showing my age now.  Between the years of 1950 and 1975 in the UK, women who had had miscarriages were prescribed diethylstilboestrol (DES).  DES is a synthetic oestrogen.  Unfortunately it had several side effects that were unknown or ignored at the time.  Those of us who have heard of DES sometimes refer to it as the “hidden thalidomide”.

The side effects include an increased risk of breast cancer in the mothers (the women taking the drug).  The resultant children have a higher risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complications, an increased risk of testicular cancer for the baby boys and an increased risk of vaginal cancer (CCAC) for the baby girls.

The sad fact is that the increased risk for clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCAC) was discovered in 1971 but the drug continued to be prescribed for another four years in the UK.

Mom has endometriosis.  Her symptoms weren’t as severe as mine.  Her endometriosis was discovered during her hysterectomy – she was in her 50s.  I think I’m right in saying that her hysterectomy has helped the few symptoms she had.  (This isn’t the case for every woman with Endo!  Bearing this in mind, I’m not begging for my hysterectomy just yet.)  For the record, she had her hysterectomy when doctors suspected she had cancer – it was the only time I’ve thought “Thank God it’s only Endometriosis!”

Bearing in mind endometriosis is a life-long problem for a woman, I suspect Mom’s endometriosis was the reason for the miscarriages she suffered before I came along.  Instead of looking for endometriosis the medical professionals in 1970/71 gave Mom DES to prevent another miscarriage.  I was the result.

I remember when Mom told me about her exposure to DES – she was terrified that she may have inadvertently hurt me.  My first reaction was “Well, if you needed the DES, then I’m grateful you took it!”  Now I’m angry that those idiots in white coats caused my mom distress.  I’m also angry at them for thinking that they’re above any ramifications that arise from their tinkering with women’s bodies!  How bloody dare you prescribe a drug to a pregnant woman without knowing the long-term risks!  Did you take the Hippocratic Oath?  How could you think that you were “doing no harm” if you didn’t know the risks?!?

If you have questions – check out the DES Action UK website at http://www.des-action.org.uk/des.html.

Foxy