A few months ago, I wrote about the experience of my first colposcopy. It was painful and very upsetting, although very, very necessary. I’d like to continue that story now.
“I tried to stay calm, but behind the scenes I was a bit frightened”
Following the biopsy, I fully expected the best. I expected the letter to say ‘we’ve checked, you’re fine, thanks for the swabs.’ Or, you know, something more professional. But the letter didn’t say that. The letter used words like ‘Severe Grade’ and ‘Anaesthetic’. This seemed more serious than before, a bit scarier. I tried to stay calm, but behind the scenes I was a bit frightened. I called the nurse to ask about the anaesthetic, who told me it would be local, but if I was too concerned I could have a general anaesthetic – but this would require consent forms and the like. I also (in a rather crazy move) suggested to my work that I’d try to put off the appointment because it was on a Wednesday, and we would be short-staffed. My colleagues pointed out how insane that was. Thanks colleagues.
“This was a bit of relief, because, to be honest, I was just about convinced that it was a time bomb with a short fuse”
My mum took me to the appointment – as I was fully preparing for the worst – and I went back to the clinic. The doctor arrived to see me with a trainee doctor at her side. Now, some people might be concerned about an extra pair of eyes looking at their nethers, but actually it was quite fortuitous. The qualified doctor explained absolutely everything that was going on to the student and, at the same time, to me. She explained that the abnormal cells were not so much pre-cancerous, but pre-pre-cancerous. That, if left unattended, in a few years they may become pre-cancerous cells. This was a bit of relief, because, to be honest, I was just about convinced that it was a time bomb with a short fuse. She started the procedure, and I started to feel the pain. It wasn’t as bad as before, but still pretty painful.
The kind nurse held my hand and chatted to me as I began to shake. Tears were streaming down my face as I tried to explain about my recent holiday (they’re like hairdressers, these nurses – obsessed with holidays). The doctor told me I’d feel a scratch as she anesthetised me. A few minutes later she told me I might feel some heat as she removed the cells. “Wait!!!” I almost yelled, “I don’t think I’m numb yet!!”
“What I didn’t realise was just how ‘local’ the anaesthetic was… “
Now, at this point, I should let you know that the only experience anaesthetic I’ve ever had is getting numbed for the dentist. You know the type of thing, where to get a filling you entire face gets numbed and feels weird. I fully expected my entire pelvis feel like I could be smacked with a hammer and feel nothing. But I could still feel the equipment the doctor was using. What I didn’t realise was just how ‘local’ the anaesthetic was…
It literally only numbs the but the doctor wants it to numb.
“Um… I’ve finished….” The doctor said, obviously thinking I was a bit crazy. I was done. It was over. She told me I’d need a smear in 6 months, but she was hopeful that would be clear.
“What in the name of Donald Trump’s feathery wig was the word ‘colposcopy’ doing on my precious all clear letter?”
Again, the confidence kicked in, and when the letter arrived it was flimsy and thin – the sure sign of an all clear. I don’t think I even read it properly. ‘Clear of abnormal cells’ it proclaimed! Huzzah!! Wait… what was that? ‘Colposcopy’. What in the name of Donald Trump’s feathery wig was the word ‘colposcopy’ doing on my precious all clear letter? Well, the abnormal cells were gone, but there was a sign of viral infection, so I needed to be checked out again. I’m delighted to say that this particular colposcopy (carried out by the same amazing ladies that did the first one) was not as painful, and I even managed to work from home following the procedure.
Thank you, thank you, thank you awesome NHS people one and all. I am heathy and confident that I will remain that way, thanks to the work you do. You will have 100% of my respect forever.
Some helpful links about smears and colposcopies: