These are the words that I could never imagine myself writing, right now I’m crying my eyes out and shaking like a leaf. I feel so sick and scared and I just really need a hug and for somebody to tell me that everything will be alright. Yesterday was my 28th birthday, when my phone just rang I was expecting it to be another belated birthday wish as I’ve had cards and presents surprising me in the post all day, but hearing the doctors words on the phone absolutely crushed me and I feel like I can’t breathe.
On 5th October 2015 I visited my GP twice for a blood test and smear test as I have been feeling so weak and sick. At the start of this year I noticed my periods changing, they’ve always been a little lazy lasting extra days, being super heavy and sometimes being a week or two late as ever since they started aged fourteen they’ve never been regular. I went a couple of years with no periods at all when my bodyweight was too low, and as my mother had difficult and painful periods it just seemed that it was an hereditary condition that I had to put up with as the doctors could never help her but fortunately after she went through menopause in her mid fifties she no longer has to deal with her painful periods.
I have always been an active, energetic and outgoing person, as a single mother to my two children Millisent 8yrs and Gabriele 3yrs I need all of the strength that I can get to go at life alone and it’s certainly challenging but I’m the proudest mummy in the world to be blessed with two kind and loving healthy children. I’ve been on my own for almost three years now after my engagement ended five days after I had a breast reconstruction when my silicone implants collapsed and leaked, later being exposed as PIP and made from illegal non-medical grade silicone which broke as a European scandal. So when I overcame a broken heart I also fixed my stitched up body and began bodybuilding; having being a vegetarian since the age of five I turned vegan at the age of twenty-seven and lead a very healthy, non-toxic lifestyle because I want to set a good example for my children as they grow.
Over the past several months I’ve experienced bleeding in between my periods which has lasted several hours, a few wipes or even a day at times but not always and nothing routine which made me think I had my period but it didn’t arrive until a week or two later. I also bled for a month straight after just having had my period and the doctors put me on medication to stop the bleeding, explaining that my body had mis-ovulated and failed to release an egg so the blood didn’t shut off. Since then I’ve noticed a massive drop in my energy levels, from working out for two hours straight in the gym doing cardio I am now breathless from walking up the stairs. I feel light headed, dizzy, weak and visit the toilet constantly with a grizzly stomach and wanting to wee. I get the feeling like I’m having a period only minus the blood and I want to ball my knees up and hug my stomach tight to ease the ache but it won’t go.
I was told my blood tests would check my iron levels and B12 as my doctor agreed that I may be anaemic and that I should get my results in seven days time via a telephone call. Less than 24hrs after my bloods were taken the doctors called me to say that my levels were extremely low and put me on medication immediately, I now take four tablets a day and have been advised this is a lifelong necessity or my levels will drop if I fail to take tablets. My doctor is going to retest me in three months time to see if my levels have reached normal by then and if they have he can reduce the amount of tablets that I take as I won’t need to catchup on the deficit anymore but instead maintain a healthy amount of iron.
I normally walk the children to and from preschool and junior school each day, six trips a day five days a week which is two hours of walking each day come rain or shine. But I’ve been so weak that I can hear my heartbeat in my ears and become so out of breath that I find it hard to speak when I so much as walk up the stairs. Fortunately a friend drove me to and from my two doctors appointments as I had my blood test in the morning and my smear test a couple of hours after. I had my first smear test aged 25 at my GP’s and my results came back normal and this was a routine follow up three years on. I know that smear tests usually take a few minutes, you lay on a bed, take a deep breath and have your womb swabbed. After having my two children I’m pretty used to being checked and having blood taken and I currently have the copper coil as a contraceptive which was fitted directly after my son was born and lasts five years for which he’s not long turned three. So when it comes to checks and tests I always have them done and think that a little discomfort is worth the reassurance to know that everything is good and well.
My smear test this time was different to my last in the fact that it took two nurses to do it and was much longer and complicated. I sat on the bed just as before, the nurse inserted the speculum and I waited for her to swab as I looked up at the ceiling but she paused and sounded confused. You know when you get that ‘oh’ moment you suddenly panic and think something must be wrong because there’s normally not an ‘oh’ it’s just a routine “all done, we’ll contact you in a couple of weeks if we need to.” So I asked if everything was ok and she hesitated, repositioned her speculum and told me she would start again. After around twenty minutes my friend came in to say that he would collect my son from preschool as my five minute appointment had overrun by almost half an hour already and I wouldn’t be done in time to pick him up. So the other nurse came in and they both attempted to do the smear, this time the second nurse managed it and said that my cervix wasn’t where it should have been so it wasn’t obvious to find. I was a little worried that it wasn’t as routine as my last test but I brushed it off as perhaps the first nurse being less experienced or my body having changed since having my second child and the coil fitted. You know you kind of convince yourself that something out of the ordinary isn’t anything to be alarmed about, the nurse kindly explained I may get a little bleeding following my test but it wouldn’t last long and I should get my results in two weeks time.
It’s 11 days since my smear test and this afternoon I got a call from my GP to inform me that my results came back as ‘abnormal’ and I’ll be receiving paperwork and an appointment by post for the hospital where I’ll be having further tests which is decided upon whoever has the shortest waiting list. She said that the hospital appointment will be for a colposcopy to examine my cervix in more detail and take a biopsy to send away to the lab. Hopefully this test will show wether I need treatment for the abnormal cells or if they will simply go back to normal on their own. She asked me if I was ok and if I had any further questions and I choked up with tears and didn’t want the children to see me getting sad as I was halfway through cooking the dinner and doing the dishes and didn’t have the time or privacy to speak in depth. She was simply informing me of the appointment before the letter would arrive on my doorstep and told me to try not to worry as I could be perfectly fine but it’s best to get checked to make sure. Before she went she asked me if I had any concerns and I told her that my children are my world and I can’t leave them so young, I’ll do or have done whatever it takes to be around for as long as possible. And now I have to wait.
Yesterday I had a tattoo on my leg saying “family lives forever” in Hungarian which is our heritage and it was completely out of the blue but a spur of the moment decision for my birthday and I love it so much. Today I’m now crying my eyes out at the thought of not seeing my children grow up and get married or have children of their own. It’s made me realise how fragile life is and how we should never take a single day for granted. I pray to God that my appointment comes quickly and that everything is ok. Like every worry-pot I’ve been googling for answers and after searching “What does an abnormal smear test mean” I’ve found this page from Cancer Research which helps to explain things but also makes me panic like hell.
In a nutshell:
–Cervical screening takes place in England for women between the ages of 25-64 and the smear test is carried out every 3-5yrs depending on age and risk of the individual.
-The smear test involves taking a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix which is carried out by a swab inside the vagina. The swab is then sent off to the lab to be examined under a microscope for abnormal cells with the results coming back within two weeks.
-If there was a problem with the results and they can’t be read it could be down to not enough cells being in the sample, an infection, inflamed cervix or period blood making the cells unclear in which case the test will be repeated in three months time.
-If an abnormal result is recorded the cells can sometimes go back to normal by themselves but in some women if it’s left untreated they could develop into cancer in the future. The two types of abnormal results are classified as borderline or mild cell changes and moderate or severe cell changes. In borderline or mild cell changes the sample is tested for the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is a very common virus found in most women at some point in their lives, and the body usually get rid of the virus without you ever knowing you had it which makes it sound like a common cold only minus the symptoms. It can be passed from person to person during intimate sexual contact and certain types of HPV can increase the risk of cervical cancer. If a sample shows a type of HPV that increases cervical cancer risk a further test called a colposcopy is carried out to determine if the abnormal cells need to be treated. If no HPV is found then the cell changes are very likely to go back to normal and routine screening is carried out as usual every 3-5yrs.
Based on what I’ve now read and knowing that a colposcopy is given if HPV is present I think this is the cause for my abnormal cells and when my paperwork arrives I’m expecting it to perhaps state that my results show borderline or mild cell changes. Girls aged 12-13 have been vaccinated against HPV since 2008 to help prevent cervical cancer for which I missed the threshold, and it’s recommended you check for any abnormal bleeding, unpleasant discharge or pain after sex seeking medical attention if your body changes. I’ve suffered from abnormal bleeding but wouldn’t classify my discharge as unpleasant as it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been and I don’t have any pain or discomfort as such just a dull period-like ache in my stomach day to day but not enough to cripple me or take pain killers I just feel a bit blah and weak but it could be from my low levels of iron and B12.
So here I’ll be keeping a log of how I get on in the hope that I will have some good news and everything will be normal again. But on the other hand and the worst case scenario this could turn into a treatment diary and hopeful recovery. I just can’t think about anything like that right now because my head is whirling with a million different outcomes and I don’t like the sound of any of them in all honesty. I’m scared witless and mourning for my poor babies at the possibility of them losing their mummy at a young age. I wish I never got that call from the doctor today yet on the other hand I’m glad that I picked up the phone to be notified so that they can do something about it as quickly as possible. I can do now is wait and breathe and take each process one step at a time. I hope that my experience can help others going through the same unsettling time and together we can find comfort and hope.
UPDATE: 16/10/15 My NHS Letter Has Arrived
Today I received the letter from the NHS about my cervical screening test results that I was pre-warned about by my doctor. This was printed on 14th October and advises I will receive notification of my hospital appointment directly from the hospital in due course. The letter states “The report from the laboratory showed borderline changes. This means that there are changes to some of the cells in your cervix. These changes sometimes happen, they are not cancer and in most cases do not lead to cancer. The cell changes can indicate infection with high risk human papilloma virus (HPV) which may cause cervical abnormalities. The laboratory tested your screening sample for HPV and reported that there was evidence of HPV infection. A further investigation called colposcopy is needed to determine whether any treatment is required.”
They also included two booklets titled Cervical Screening What your abnormal results mean and Cervical Screening The Colposcopy Examination which I’m burying my nose in right now to understand as much about it all as possible.
I’m feeling calmer about the situation now that it’s had a bit of time to sink in and after reading through both of the booklets and letter I feel that I understand it a bit more as the initial shock of finding out is not gradually subsiding towards the awareness of my follow up test. I’m guessing if you’re reading this right now then you’ve been alerted to abnormal changes yourself and are panicking and crying as much as I was, so I’m going to break down the information from the NHS booklets now so that you can see their advice and relax a bit until your paperwork and follow up appointment comes through too.
The NHS Cancer Screening Programmes booklets advise:
-cervical screening picks up minor changes before problems develop
-1/20 women show abnormal results
-it is rare for an abnormality found to already be cancer as cancer of the cervix takes many years to develop
-the name given to cell changes in the cervix is dyskaryosis, these mostly return to normal on their own without treatment
-HPV is transmitted via sexual intercourse with over 100 types of the virus linked to causing cervical cancer. Most women are infected by HPV at some point in their lives which disappears without need for treatment. It is possible to have HPV for many years without knowing as there are no symptoms
-many abnormal results display borderline dyskaryosis for which the cells that have changed are known as cervical intraepitthelial (CIN) which is graded from 1-3. Low grade CIN1 cases may go away by themselves, moderate to severe CIN2 and CIN3 usually need treatment.
-a colposcopy exam decides whether treatment is required, this is like a smear test but involves a magnifying device to assess the changes more closely
-treatment is simple and virtually 100% effective by a colposcopist and given as an outpatient at your local hospital where the area of abnormal cells are removed under local anesthetic, 6 months after treatment the cells are retested to ensure they are normal. If HPV is found again you will be referred for another colposcopy, if results are clear you will be screened again routinely in 3yrs
-sex does not make cell abnormality worse, you cannot pass abnormal cells to your partner, if you have treatment you can have sex a few weeks after to allow the cervix to heal
-abnormal screening results does not affect fertility
The NHS Colposcopy Examination advice:
-with a colposcopy the doctor can determine the type and area of abnormality in the cervix and decide if treatment is necessary
-the colposcope is a large magnifying glass or microscope with a light that remains outside of the body during the examination which is identical to a smear test. Various liquids are dabbed onto the cervix to identify and highlight the abnormal areas, abnormal cells appear white
-if an abnormal area is identified a biopsy will be taken which is a small pin prick to collect tissue
-the doctor can usually inform you there and then of the results and if treatment is needed
-if you have had a biopsy you may experience light bloodstained discharge and should refrain from sexual intercourse for five days, the results may take up to two weeks to arrive
-to grade the cell changes CIN1 indicates one third of the cells are abnormal and may or may not need treatment, CIN2 indicates two thirds of the cells are abnormal and will need to be treated, CIN3 indicates all of the cells are abnormal and treatment will be needed
So now I just have to wait until my colposcopy appointment arrives to determine if I need further treatment. I feel a lot calmer about the situation and realise the chances of me developing cervical cancer because of this are very very slim. I’m relieved that these cell changes have been picked up early so that future illness can be prevented now.
UPDATE: 24/10/15 Confirmation Of My Hospital Appointment
My hospital letter has finally arrived this morning and I have been booked into Wycombe Hospital Gynaecology & Antenatal Outpatients on Wednesday 18th November at 11:15. Wycombe isn’t my local hospital so I guess they’ve sent me to the soonest appointment available which is in 25days time. I’m hoping to arrange a family member to collect my son from preschool on the day as he finishes at 12:00 and the letter states each appointment can last between 1-2hrs so I won’t be back at time but can drop him off and pick my daughter up after school – the joys of being a single parent!
Today I have an horrendous period which has left me feeling so weak and horrible as I’ve lost a lot of blood in such a short space of time and just bled through a freshly changed super absorbent tampon, granny pants, jogging bottoms, a dressing gown and onto my sofa cushion which was unexpected, it’s literally like somebody has thrown a bucket of blood into my lap when it happens and it’s been happening all the more frequently across the last several months where I randomly bleed through all my clothes in public without any warning of signs of having a period.
I’m feeling a little more relieved now that I finally have a date and I hope hear the outcome of this all whilst I’m there. It’s now half term for the children and they have a week off so I’m keeping busy with plenty of fun and games and trying my best to put this to the back of my mind. I guess we never expect to hear anything bad about our own health as it’s one of those things that we always convince ourselves will happen to somebody else so I really wasn’t prepared for how I would feel. I think the waiting initially scared me because I had so many unanswered questions but now that I’ve been reading up on abnormal cells of the cervix I feel like I’ve exhausted all that I can know and I just have to wait to hear what condition my insides are in when I get to my hospital appointment.
On the other hand I received a kind of 1980’s style black and white NHS booklet with my appointment which is titled: The Colposcopy Examination and has a rather interesting diagram of what the procedure will look like and it made me chuckle over my morning cup of tea. My first thought when seeing the cartoon was to wonder if the nurse could take a picture of my cervix on my phone so that I can see what they see under the microscope; I guess fighting off a silent invisible assassin makes you want to know what you’re up against so that I have something to chuck darts at when I’m feeling so rubbish.
UPDATE: 18/11/15 My Colposcopy Exam
Today I had my colposcopy exam at High Wycombe Hospital where I made my way to the gynaecology and neonatal outpatient department for my appointment. I was due in for 11:15am but arrived twenty minutes early for which the staff very kindly took me straight in as there was nobody waiting before me so I actually finished by the time that my appointment was originally due. What really struck me was the vibrant waiting room that felt more like a spa as it was clean, fresh and modern with a CD player and selection of soothing music that you are welcomed to choose from. It has to be a first for a hospital to play music as I’ve never seen this before but it broke that awkward silence of listening to a clock ticking or over-thinking and getting nervous, it was a lovely homely touch that set a calming atmosphere.
For my appointment there were two members of staff present throughout; a lady who showed me to the changing room and a man who carried out the examination. I was invited to a private room where we sat at a desk and discussed what would happen. The male examiner told me that he was going to be looking at my cervix under a microscope and asked about my general health and smear test that resulted in an abnormal reading. I explained that I’d had irregular bleeding outside of my period and that I generally felt period symptoms day to day. After a couple of minutes chatting the lady showed me through to the treatment room which had a small changing room off of it where I was asked to remove my leggings and underwear and wrap a towel around my waist.
Once undressed I re-entered the treatment room and got into position on the bed with my feet resting in the stirrups and my towel covering me across my lap. Both members of staff remained present throughout and they were warm, welcoming and friendly which really put me at ease. I think a common misconception of hospitals and NHS treatment in particular is that the staff are often moody, tired, short-tempered and overworked but for my first visit to High Wycombe Hospital it felt more like entering an airport for it’s modern and fresh layout, cheerful atmosphere and compassionate staff.
As the examiner explained the procedure throughout I never felt panicked or distressed because the staff actually took the time to talk to me like a human rather than switching to auto-pilot and rushing me through like cattle. As a result of this I took a positive and relaxed approach to the colposcopy and it made for a very minor and quick treatment. With a TV monitor on the side I was able to watch exactly what the examiner could see from deep inside of me as he inserted a speculum before aligning the microscope to point at my cervix and abnormal cells on screen which was absolutely fascinating to see. Being as I’m on my period he first wiped my cervix with wet cotton to remove the excess bleeding so that he could view the area more clearly and I remarked at how similar the cervix looks to an open mouth.
The examiner explained that the white dots on my cervix indicated the HPV area for which my abnormal cell result was recorded and I had already been informed of, I have highlighted these HPV dots in the picture above using a red circle. He then explained the whitening on the right of my cervix which I have highlighted in yellow is the area of abnormal cells that shouldn’t be there. From first inspection he advised my abnormality may be CIn1-CIN2 and my treatment will be dependant on my biopsy results.
The biopsy itself involved inserting a metal claw-like rod into me which took a section of tissue away when I was asked to cough as it cut it out. My stomach was already cramping and sore from my period so I can’t say that it was painful in itself as I was already in discomfort and had I not have being on my period then I may have felt nothing. It was a small achy feeling deep inside of me that was over with in a second and I turned my head to the female member of staff so that I didn’t see it happening on the screen because I didn’t want to panic.
Within a handful of minutes my biopsy was complete and I was asked to get dressed again with tissues, wipes and sanitary towels in the changing room. The examiner advised I may bleed a little more and that I should avoid using tampons, he also gave me an information sheet to take home with me.
I must now wait five weeks for the biopsy results and in which time there is nothing more that I can do but put it to the back of my mind and forget about it. In myself I feel pretty normal, a busy worn-out single mother aching from my period and perhaps my stomach feels a little extra achy now but I wouldn’t say painful enough to take painkillers as I hate tablets, I just want to ball up and hug my stomach. So I’m wearing my sanitary towel to catch any spotting and will heed the aftercare advice given to me by the hospital. For now I shall busy myself with Christmas and await contact from the hospital once my biopsy results are in. Despite seeing my abnormal cells today the examination and reassuring staff have taken the fear out of what’s happening and I know that I’m in safe hands.
UPDATE: 08/12/15 My Results
Today I got a letter the NHS stating my biopsy results which reads: “The recent small biopsies taken in the colposcopy clinic showed no evidence of cancer, but changes in the skin amounting to CIN 2. If left for a long period of time, usually many years, these changes may become more severe and there is a risk of developing cervical cancer in some individuals. We therefore believe it is advisable for this to be treated by loop excision as described in your Colposcopy booklet. An appointment will be sent to you for this to be done.”
As mentioned in my booklet: “CIN 2 means that up to two thirds of the cells in the affected area are abnormal. Treatment will usually be needed to return the cells to normal.”
The NHS abnormal cell treatment information states that abnormal cells need to be removed by taking away an area of the cervix approximately the size of a fingertip to remove the cells and minimise damage to healthy tissue with a 90% success rate. This treatment is called LLETZ and may also be known as loop diathermy, loop cone, loop biopsy or loop excision. In some cases it can be performed at the same time as a colposcopy and uses a thin wire loop that is heated with an electric current to burn the abnormal cells away, feeling similar to period pain after a local anaesthetic is injected into the cervix to numb the area.
So now I wait once again for my treatment appointment and I’m not expecting to hear anything back in the run up to Christmas because the hospital staff told me that they were exceptionally busy this year with ladies abnormal results when I went for my biopsy.
UPDATE: 25/01/15 Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
I’ve yet to receive my appointment for my treatment as it’s been several weeks since I received my biopsy results now and I guess they have a bit of a backlog of patients to catch up with. I have every faith in the NHS and feel that I am in good hands. This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are promoting the campaign #smearforsmear by encouraging girls to take a selfie with smeared lipstick in captioned “My #smearforsmear for @JoTrust. Attend your smear, reduce your risk of cervical cancer. Donate by texting ‘JCCT16 £5’ to 70070.” And they ask that you nominate a friend to do the same.
Here is my selfie to take part and help to raise awareness for this life-saving service and I nominate you all to do the, please spread the message and save precious lives. My heart goes out to everybody facing this and I will continue to keep you updated on my progress as and when I receive treatment.
UPDATE: 28/01/16 Press & My Appointment
So my letter for my treatment has arrived and I will be having the procedure as a Gynaecology & Antenatal Outpatient on the 3rd of February. The letter advises I should allow 1-2hrs for the appointment and as such my dad has taken the day off of work to very kindly collect my children from school and help me. Aside from that the letter is just a confirmation of the appointment and doesn’t give any other advice although I’ve got it on my shopping list to purchase some sanitary towels this weekend when I do the weekly shop because I’ll bleed afterwards and tampons aren’t allowed.
The Mirror newspaper have also featured my blog about women getting checked which I’m so pleased about because this is something we should all do automatically without batting an eyelid rather than putting it off or ignoring the invitation to get screened. Having this procedure will save my life and many more, let’s please be vigilant and share a kind word of encouragement with friends, cousins, sisters, aunts and mothers to make sure they have all had theirs. You cannot put a price on life and sadly no amount of embarrassment, fear or regret can ever bring you back from the grave.
I was very kindly invited to pose a question to Dr Hillary Jone’s on ITV’s Lorraine Kelly show today for which I asked: “Are there any early symptoms of cervical cancer that I can have myself screened for?” and Dr Hilary Jone’s replied: “That’s such an important question because the answer is don’t wait for symptoms. By the time you’ve got symptoms which could be bleeding after sex, pain in the back, abdominal bloating or pain, it’s already far advanced. The whole point of screening is you detect anything that could lead to those symptoms ten to fifteen years before it happens so screening early means that you can cure it. Waiting for symptoms means you can die from it. Don’t wait for symptoms, get your smear test straight away.”
Shockingly 1 in 3 women still refuse their smear test despite it being the most common cancer in women under the age of 35yrs. 900 lives are lost every year through cervical cancer but 4,500 are saved because of cervical screening so please make sure you go. At the age of 28 I never would have thought that something like this could happen to me, I thought irregular bleeding, period cramps that linger and back ache was just a sign of getting old and having children but it’s not. You know in yourself when something isn’t right and when your body isn’t behaving as normal. A quick smear test could save your life and I’m incredibly thankful that I had mine.
The message has spread to The Daily Mail and Independent who contacted me via email to ask for my permission to use my photos and quotes from my blog. I am more than happy to help to raise awareness in whatever way possible and appreciate the media supporting this campaign. I do not receive any fees or payments for these features but I have asked that they include links to the charities: Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Cancer Research when reporting on my experience.
UPDATE: 29/01/16 Wow
I am absolutely overwhelmed with the kind response I have received for sharing my smear test. I’d hoped that by joining in with the #smearforsmear campaign I could contribute to raising awareness for cervical cancer prevention week and I’m astounded that my pictures and words have reached almost every corner of the world.
I think it’s only fair to share openly my thoughts on this, what it feels like and how it makes me feel. I don’t know if the symptoms I have are entirely down to the condition of my cervix or outside influences like bugs and germs but I’ve had stomach pain for the majority of 2015. The likeness I can compare it to is being winded as if I’ve been kicked in the stomach and the space between my ribs and belly button feels hollow, empty and tender like extreme hunger only no matter what I eat it doesn’t touch it. I tried hot water bottles on my stomach which I used to use for bad period cramps but it burnt my skin and wouldn’t reach the ache deep inside.
I spontaneously get cold and shaky and it goes down into my bones, despite being indoors wearing a thick coat and jumper, scarf and a blanket in front of the fire with my central heating on full my hands are like ice. It makes me tremble and all I want to do is roll up into a ball and tuck my knees up to my chest to hug my stomach. I threw up from the pain this week, I spent an afternoon feeling like I was about to be sick and nothing I could do would take the feeling away. Then out of nowhere everything came out after I had my dinner and I really enjoyed my dinner which made it all the worse. I had a blood test the morning after I was bad as my doctor thought it may relate to symptoms of diabetes as I’m constantly thirsty and suffer loss of energy in waves. I’ve literally felt rubbish for so long that I don’t remember what it feels like to be human anymore.
But I should hopefully get my blood results today or on Monday if they were too busy to finish them up, and then I’m at the hospital for my cervical treatment on Wednesday so it’s thankfully a week of getting fixed. Today I’m pretty tired, I haven’t slept well in forever because my stomach cramps keep me awake and make it hard to get comfortable and relax. I go to bed tucked up under my duvet in a ball and wake up not long after with my legs stretched straight and my stomach hurting and shivering. But if I keep the heating on all night it dries out the children’s throats and makes them sore so I have to turn it off in the evening. My house is never cold but I randomly seem to be which doesn’t make sense because one minute I’m in a t-shirt feeling cosy and the next I’m wearing ten layers. I don’t know if this is because of my stomach or just a random unconnected issue but I thought I’d share it anyway.
If you’re going through the same perhaps you could share your symptoms with me and let me know how it makes you feel. It’s nice to know that somebody else out there knows what you’re going through and I’m here with a whole load of love and support for everybody who needs it. We’re all sisters and need to look out for each other. I hope you can find the time today to take five minutes to ask the ladies in your life if they’ve been for their smear recently or when their next one is due.
UPDATE: 03/02/15 My Loop Diathermy Treatment
I called in for my blood test results at the doctors and my sugar levels results came back as .4 which apparently is normal and indicates that I’m not diabetic which is a great relief. On the other hand my cervical treatment was today and I now have my period which is pretty bad timing as my stomach cramps are horrible and I feel pretty rubbish. But hey ho, keep calm and carry on.
My appointment was for 09:30am at High Wycombe Hospital but due to the rush hour traffic I left home early and my dad took the children to school for me. My mum drove me because they advised I bring somebody along and I’m so glad that she came. I arrived at 08:55 and was seen straight away as the person due in before me hadn’t turned up yet, so a wonderful nurse called Margaret asked if I’d like to come straight through and I rushed to the toilet beforehand because I was pretty nervous and had drank a glass of water before coming out. I already had stomach cramps and backache from my period as well as the horrible hollow ache and discomfort I’ve been feeling for the past several months anyway, literally if there was a worse time to have a procedure it would be today, but I’d rather have it done than leave it another few weeks knowing that it can progress into cancer.
I was shown into the consultation room where the lady carrying out the treatment spoke to me about what she was going to do. She advised that she would be using a loop laser to burn away the abnormal cells and she asked a few health questions to determine if I was a smoker and when my last period was. I confirmed I’ve never smoked and stated that I was on my period at present which she said wouldn’t affect my treatment. I was then shown to the same room where I had my colposcopy examination for my biopsy a couple of months ago so I knew what to expect when getting undressed in the changing room and getting seated onto the bed with my legs in stirrups.
This time the nurse raised the bed up to head height and asked me if I wanted my mum in the room with me for which I was alone last time. I questioned if I’d need her present as I’m used to doing things on my own and didn’t want to embarrass her seeing as I was exposed with my legs in the air but I’m so glad that she was there with me. Just like when I gave birth to my two children my mother stood with me by my side holding my hand and couldn’t see anything that was going on down below and her reassurance was a great relief.
The procedure began with a speculum inserted to keep me held open and the nurse advised that my contraceptive coil would have to be removed before my treatment could take place as the wires were in the way and could get burnt off by the laser. I wasn’t advised of this beforehand and this wasn’t something I was expecting as during my colposcopy my coil was never mentioned. I have had the copper coil fitted for almost four years now directly after my son was born and was expecting to have it for another year before it would need to be removed and replaced. This now leaves me without a permanent contraceptive however as I’m single it isn’t needed anyway. She advised I could have a new coil fitted by my GP in 6-8 weeks time but would need to book a consultation for this and go onto the waiting list once my cervix has healed. To remove my coil she had to take it from my womb which in itself is a rather unpleasant experience made all the more delicate during a period and left me with clammy hands as I closed my eyes.
This was shortly followed by the anaesthetic needle which is a long metal contraption like something out of a horror film. As soon as I saw the nurse pick up the needle from the metal tray I started to panic because it was so long and medieval and made the procedure seem very real and scary, but I think it’s more the fear of the unknown that is damaging than the actual procedure itself. She reassured me I would only feel a small scratch as the injection went in and that it would be over with quickly which was a pretty accurate description as the needle was inserted inside of me and used directly on the area of my cervix that was being treated. She then informed me that the anaesthetic would cause my heart to beat more quickly which happened within about a minute after my injection and left my heart fluttering and my legs shaking despite them being in the stirrups. I’m not used to feeling so elevated and felt like I needed to slow my breathing down and try to control it because I had such a shaky rushing feeling in my body that I couldn’t control or contain. It’s an unsettling experience because it’s so unusual but I knew that it was to be expected and I was in safe hands.
The nurse then applied a very cold wired gel pack to my right thigh as she explained that an electrical laser is being used and this was needed to counteract it, I think in electrical terms this was her way of earthing me perhaps so that I wouldn’t get a shock? It looked rather similar to a blood pressure monitor but instead of going around my arm and being velcro’d on she peeled off the adhesive paper and stuck it to the top of my thigh with the wires running off the side of the bed. She then handed me a flexible tube to hold onto which she ran down my legs and was wired up to a machine much like an industrial hoover. She explained that the laser would burn the abnormal cells away from inside my cervix and cause smoke to come out so this would suck it up because I guess it builds up in a contained area and may affect her vision when treating me. The machine was pretty loud like a hoover typically is and as the procedure began I laid back and held my mums hand.
For the majority of it I could feel small pokey tugging movements and it was pretty numb yet achy, however a couple of times I felt a sharp shooting pain that at one point made my eyes fill with water but it only lasted a couple of seconds at a time and then it was gone. The final and worst pain that I felt was a deep inward pinch which made me squeak and I told the nurse something was hurting me on the left hand side of my body, she confirmed that she was using a ball-like device to burn the flesh closed in that area and seal up the section where the cells had been cut away by the laser. She kept the cells that were removed and put them into a plastic jar to send off to the lab which she said would be assessed and the results would come back in 6-8weeks time to confirm that the cells hadn’t developed any further since my colposcopy. She then used a swab to clear away the blood and my treatment was complete after around fifteen minutes. The bed was lowered and I was asked to sit upright and given a class of water as I was pretty shaky still and had shooting pains up my bum which made me feel like I was going to poo myself.
I was asked if I would like any further pain relief, for which I never take tablets but accepted two paracetamol to take away the discomfort and after a couple of minutes I was ready to get dressed. I was invited to use a sanitary towel and I also have a stack of them at home because I’m not allowed to use tampons. I then went back into the consultation room with the nurse where she gave me my paperwork and explained what she had done. She showed me on a hand-drawn diagram where my abnormal cells were and how she had cut away extra tissue from the surrounding area to ensure it had all been removed. She gave me a green form to take to my doctor which would allow me to book in for a follow up smear test in 6months time, as well as an aftercare sheet of post procedure advice. She said I will bleed now for the next few weeks and if I notice an abnormally heavy blood flow or unpleasant smelling discharge I should go straight to A&E at my local hospital as it’s possible to pick up an infection because of the wound to my cervix.
The advice I have been given following my treatment is:
-Avoid sexual intercourse for the next 4weeks
-Only use sanitary towels for bleeding not tampons
-Take Ibuprofen or Paracetamol for pain relief but avoid Aspirin
-If excessive bleeding or clots occur contact the Surgical Assessment Unit of the hospital directly
-Complications may occur in the first 24hrs following treatment or 10-14days after
-Avoid strenuous exercise for at least 1-2weeks
-Discharge may last for 3weeks but should decrease after 10days
-If a follow up appointment is deemed necessary following the results from the lab this will arrive by post within 6weeks
My mum then drove me home and I’m so grateful that she did because I don’t think I would have been as alert or mobile as I’d need to be should I have had to do an emergency stop or react quickly. This may sound a little strange but the only thing I can compare this sensation to, which I’ve obviously never experienced nor would I ever want to, is the feeling of having a hot roast chicken breast inserted into my vagina. I have a heated swelling feeling inside like the speculum is still pulling me open and I’m very tender. I’m slow to walk and feel pretty crippled and shaky as the pain of my stomach before the procedure is still present only with the added ache and soreness of what I’ve just been through. In hindsight it is a very quick procedure that I am so pleased I have had done because to have left it untreated would have made me far worse. It’s not something nice to go through but it is necessary and saves your life. I would advise bringing somebody along with you because it really helped me to have my Mum present and likewise travelling home wouldn’t have been possible on my own.
I’m balled up on my sofa at home under a duvet right now with a cup of green tea as I write this and although it’s been an inconvenience to my busy life as a single parent I realise how fortunate I am to have gone through this procedure and not something far more involved if they hadn’t have caught it so soon. As I’m unable to lift or take exercise it makes looking after my young children a bit difficult as I walk around 2hrs a day to do the school run and carry my son when he gets tired. But I don’t want to put myself in any danger and cause a heavy bleed that may lead to complications so I’m begrudgingly resting up whilst my parents have come over to help with the dinners and school run for the next couple of days.
I would like to say a very big thank you to everybody who has helped me with the diagnosis and treatment of my abnormal cervical cells, the kind hospital staff, doctors and people I have met along the way, my wonderful parents and last but not least my wonderful readers who have shown me such love and support. I hope that in reading my blog you know what to expect if you are going through the same, I think it’s important to be open and honest about our health and not mislead others into thinking something major is very minor or vice versa. I don’t want to scare anybody but just share my experience with you and I believe the majority of women don’t feel any pain at all but it all depends on the individual as to where the aesthetic is inserted and the size of the area treated. I will keep you up to date on how my follow up smear goes and if and when I am able to have a new coil fitted as I have a consultation with the nurse to discuss this tomorrow. Sending my love, thoughts and prayers to you all x
UPDATE: 04/02/16 24hrs After Treatment
So I felt pretty rubbish yesterday when I came home from the hospital and I literally turned white and looked like a ghost. As the painkillers wore off I felt like I’d been hit by a bus and thankfully got an early night as my parents took care of my children for me. This morning I woke up feeling like an entirely different person, it’s just turned 24hrs since my treatment and I feel amazing! The pain from all of those months is gone, not just slightly better but as if it never happened. I have no aches or cramps, no weakness or deep hunger pain anymore and my bleeding has lightened off to almost nothing, just a little pinkish red colour when I wipe.
I’m keeping a sanitary towel on at all times because I don’t know how much blood to expect but it seems to have stopped my period which was just beginning as I had my procedure. It now makes me question if this is my period or not as it could have been just another random bleed from the symptoms of having abnormal cells. I’m seeing my doctor at lunch today to talk about having a coil fitted again so I’ll keep you up to date with how I get on and just wanted to tell you all how amazing I feel right now, I’m finally free of pain and it’s the greatest sense of relief and freedom ever, I’m still a little weak and constantly want to poo myself but I’m hoping that will subside soon!
UPDATE: 07/02/16 4 Days After Treatment
I almost passed out when I saw my doctor and she made my sit on the bed and rest because I felt like I was going to faint, my bones felt soft and my body so heavy. For the past three days I’ve had very little energy and keep wanting to fall asleep. I managed to do the dishes and hoover the floor before I became white and shaky again and spent the next several hours in bed recovering. I don’t have any pain but I’m losing quite a lot of blood and sanitary towels are a whole new experience for me because I’m used to using tampons keeping my blood hidden, so seeing it outside of my body makes me realise just how much I’m losing. It’s hard to compare my blood loss to my usual amount as sanitary towels and tampons show the blood in different ways.
I’ve been using a hot water bottle on my stomach to help with cramping which started two days ago and find hugging my stomach helps. Although the shooting pains in my bum have stopped I’m still going to the toilet more often which is common period procedure, I just can’t tell if the bleeding is from my treatment or period because I’m always irregular with my cycle. My doctor advised I could have the 10yr copper coil fitted in April as my cervix needs to heal, but depending on how my body heals from my treatment it may have scarred or pulled the skin too tight for the coil to be fitted so I’ll have to see on the day I go in for my coil if its possible, if not I’ll have to look into another form of contraception that doesn’t affect my hormone imbalance which I don’t think there is anything else!
UPDATE: 10/02/15 1 Week After Treatment
Today I stopped bleeding and changed my sanitary towels for a panty liner instead as I’m still getting spotting and discharge but it’s greatly reduced. I notice when I wipe that I get a few dark dots of blood that look like burnt clots and are a funny kind of dark brown/red colour as opposed to usual black/red clots from a period. This makes me think that this could be from my insides healing, perhaps the scabs coming away from the areas that were burned?
I’m wearing a panty liner because I have random bursts of clear discharge a bit like how I would have lost blood before. It’s around a teaspoon at a time and has no unusual odour or anything to cause concern, there’s just enough of it to warrant wearing a liner. In myself I feel almost human if not a little bit tired but I think I’m more tired because I’ve been resting up and it’s making me lazy. I’m always so active at home looking after the children on my own so having my Mum kindly make the dinner and do the school runs I really don’t know what to do with myself! I’m reading books and napping and getting a bit chubby! I’m looking forward to being back to normal ASAP and working out again, it’s amazing how fast the body heals and how easy it is to overcome something potentially life threatening like HPV with the proper treatment and care.
Update: 21/02/16 Rushed To Hospital With Severe Bleeding 18 Days After Loop Diathermy Treatment
So that was a turn of events that I really wasn’t expecting. After my bleeding died down to spotting shortly after my treatment I then began to bleed like a regular period would, or what I thought was a period. I filled around six sanitary towels throughout each day and waited for it to end, only it didn’t end for 14 straight days and on Saturday night I took myself to bed feeling totally washed out and vowed to call the doctors first thing on Monday morning to check if it was normal to have been bleeding for so long when things took a turn for the worse and I needed help.
Just before going to bed I had a friend over and I was laid on the sofa feeling lousy and protesting that I didn’t have the energy to go out for a drink at the weekend because I felt too tired at 9pm and really needed an early night in. I then felt a high pressured drenching sensation in my underwear as blood rose up out of me and stained through my sanitary towel, underwear, trousers and the sofa cushion which is very unusual when laying down with my legs up as it would normally keep it all in. So I went to the toilet and as I pulled down my underwear the blood literally free poured out of me like a trickling tap. It was bright red and fresh and I had no way to stop it as it lasted several seconds and all I could do was stand there and try to catch it all. My friend asked if I was alright and I called back down the stairs and said how creepy it is seeing blood come out like that because I’m so used to using tampons where it’s all taken away without the mess. But then a giant clot of deep red/black blood literally exploded out of me like a small balloon bursting and drenched the toilet, my legs and the wall, it was everywhere.
Before having my son I sadly had a miscarriage and this was a very similar experience which left me a little shaken and scared and I didn’t understand what was going on. I’ve only ever bled like this when losing a baby but it never crossed my mind that I could possibly be pregnant, despite having my coil taken out a couple of weeks ago for my loop diathermy I have remained celibate and avoided tampons and bathing just as I was advised. So as you can imagine it was a very stressful and worrying time but I cleaned up the mess as best as I could and changed my sanitary towel to take myself to bed feeling drained and tired and thinking it was over. Within minutes of being in bed the same thing happened again, I bled through my heavy-nighttime sanitary towel and another huge explosion of deep red blood came out in one go and it was around the size of a fist, unlike my usual period clotting of a 20p size.
My friend became worried and said that I should call a doctor for help and advice but being out of hours I didn’t fancy spending the night sitting in a hospital waiting room when my children were both sleeping in bed so instead I insisted that I’d be fine if I went to bed and called them in the morning if I wasn’t any better, I’d lost such a large amount of blood in such a short space of time so surely there wasn’t anymore left inside of me. About fifteen minutes later another huge clot came out and between stumbling from my bedroom to my bathroom and back my friend had called the out of hours doctor and passed the phone to me as I sat shaking and white. The operator asked me if I was in any pain which I wasn’t, when my last period was and I said definitely at Christmas but I thought I’d been having my period for the past two weeks but couldn’t be sure if it was symptomatic bleeding or healing after treatment as I’ve always been so irregular. They then asked how much blood I thought I’d lost by stating 1, 2 or 3 mugs and I guessed at a mug or a little more but was unsure of how to measure the amount as it all rushed out of me so quickly and mixed with the toilet water.
As I was on the phone answering questions about my general health and if I had a fever or sickness, which I didn’t, the doorbell rang and a medic arrived with a kit to test my heart rate, blood pressure, temperature in my ear and pricked my finger to read my blood. I was so weak at that point that I had to lay on my side and close my eyes whilst he did it and I told him I thought I’d ran out of leaking blood and could sleep it off because I wasn’t in any pain and didn’t see it as an emergency. But as I spoke to him I felt another clot go off in my underwear and stumbled back to the toilet. A minute or so later an ambulance arrived and they walked me down the stairs in a pair of jogging bottoms and a jumper, my hair was a mess, I had no makeup on as I was ready for bed and with my phone in my hand I left exactly as I was within seconds, it all happened so quickly and was a bit of a blur. Arriving at hospital at midnight I was taken straight to a bed and my blood pressure was checked again, I was asked to provide a urine sample which was literally all blood and they attached some sticky magnetic tabs all across my chest, shoulders, stomach and hips to give me an ECG to check my heart. They also fitted an IV into my left arm and took several tubes of blood to have tested, gave me a plastic cup of water and two wristbands one with my name and NHS number and one with my allergy to amoxicillin.
I think it was around four hours that I laid in the dark in the corner of the room as the skeleton team of night staff tended to all of the people around me. Every time they asked me if I was in pain or discomfort I said I was fine, they asked if I had any other symptoms or felt unwell and I said no, I was just losing a lot of blood so they left me be as they waited for the doctor to get around to me as I didn’t seem to be an emergency compared to those that were injured and I didn’t want to make a fuss I just wanted to get checked and go home to the children who were waiting with a relative.
At home I had soaked through a 20 pack of heavy duty nighttime sanitary towels, lost more blood to clotting down the toilet and drenched through my jogging bottoms and underwear along with four adult nappies in my hospital bed as I waited to be seen. I was given a blue gown to change into by the nurse because my clothes were absolutely covered in blood and this time when I went to the toilet I took a video clip of my blood to inform the staff as nobody had examined me yet or asked about my condition just monitored my vital signs and given me water which I didn’t want to drink because I have such a small bladder and every time I went to the toilet I lost more and more blood. Shortly after the doctor came to see me and asked if he could see the video I’d taken, he was immediately concerned that I shouldn’t be bleeding like that and after listening to my heart and checking the pink/red prickly dots that had appeared up my arms he said he would be sending me to the gynaecology department ASAP. It was about 4am by the time I was wheeled through the hospital on my bed and everything was dark and shut off with the only light being at the end of a long corridor and a lady sat waiting at a desk under lamplight. It was like a horror film where a zombie apocalypse has cleared everyone out being in a hospital at that time of night with nobody around. She took me into the treatment room and advised that the doctor would be on the way shortly and laid me on an examination table against the wall much like in a GP office. I fell asleep because I was so tired and hadn’t been to bed since Friday night and it was now Sunday morning and I saw the gynaecologist at 5am.
He filled out a folder of notes and a checklist as he spoke me through my bleeding, my menstrual cycle, my health history and events leading up to my bleed. I’ve always had heavy and irregular periods and hadn’t done anything strenuous today to cause a bleed, no heavy lifting or racing around as it’s the weekend. It was a few days past my two week bed rest and for all intents and purposes I felt fine in myself just tired from a lack of sleep and a little dizzy from losing so much blood so quickly. He confirmed that I have low blood pressure and asked if he could examine me to which I agreed. Much like a smear test I removed my underwear and bent my knees as he inserted a speculum into me and the blood just flooded out all over the bed, the floor and up the wall as another clot splashed onto the towels. He told me that there was far too much blood and he couldn’t see clearly to even begin to determine where I was bleeding from and that he’d need a more senior member of the team to try again. A little while later a lady arrived and woke me up again as I had drifted in and out of sleep and I answered all of the same questions over again and couldn’t stop yawning as a bubbling sensation travelled across my stomach like a goldfish blowing bubbles. It happened once and didn’t hurt but it was the only remarkable thing that I could say that was out of the ordinary to how my daily discomfort had become for the past eight months. The lady doctor asked if she could feel my stomach and pressed her hands down across my hips, belly button and ribs and everything felt fine, I had no pain just a little tenderness around my left ovary but it could have been down to her pressing so deep.
This time she used several cotton gauzes on a rod inserted inside of me to mop away the blood first as it continued to pour freely out of me in waves and she had to keep removing and emptying the spectrum to get rid of the blood so that she could see. She explained that she had retrieved my cervical cell results from my loop diathermy that stated all CIN2 cells had been successfully removed and the treatment was complete but where the area had been burnt shut the scab had dropped off and pulled the wound back open again for which my period blood was building up inside of me and going stale this had caused an infection which contributed to the bleeding which built up inside of me before dropping out in one go and then refilling just like a rain cloud.
Despite the fact I had no pain or symptoms she said that my cervix was infected and I would need a course of antibiotics and treatment to fix it. I told her I had followed the hospital guidelines by not using tampons, avoiding intercourse and only taking showers instead of a bath and my discharge hadn’t changed or become pungent in any way but she said it happens very commonly and if I’d have had my coil refitted that would more than likely have caused the very same problem, it’s just bad timing for my cycle. Rather than using the hot ball to burn me shut she said she could stem the bleeding with silver nitrate cautery to my cervix which looked like two incense sticks that she wiped inside of me one at a time through the speculum. I didn’t feel any pain and it was over with very quickly as she explained that my bleeding should slow down and I would be medicated to make it stop.
After that I was put back into bed and taken into the hospital ward to have my medication at around 7am. Here I was given a pink gown to change into and my IV fitted with a syringe of antibiotics, a fluids drip and second bag of medication as well as two big white tablet to take with water to stop my bleeding. I was given a menu to order my food for the day and told that if I responded well to my treatment I could go home at 10pm tonight, almost 24hrs after I arrived. Being wired up to my drip on a stand at my beside and having my blood pressure monitored to ensure it came back up again I tried my best to nap between needing the toilet and changing my sanitary towels.
It’s now 6pm and I’ve been here for 18hrs and have only walked to the bathroom beside my bed and back again. My bleeding has very nearly stopped and I’ve been given two rounds of antibiotics and had my blood pressure on my arm with a finger peg and ear thermometer taken every five hours and the signs are looking good for me to leave tonight. A nurse came to bring me some medication for home which consists of two forms of tablets Co-amoxiclav and Metronidazole which I have to take three times a day for the next seven days and after my final drip this evening I should be free to go. I need a shower and my own bed so badly, I can’t wait to sleep for England.
UPDATE: 22/02/16 Back Home
Today I woke up and took a shower. I got back from the hospital at 9pm last night as they sped my drip up so that I could come home and I went straight to bed and closed my eyes. It was such a relief to have the drip out of my arm so that I could lay on my side in bed and sleep properly and having a hot shower and wearing fresh clothes was beyond amazing. I’m only getting a little bit of brown blood now, just enough to make wipe marks on a panty liner and I feel fine in myself as I had done before. I have no discharge, no odour, pain or discomfort and I’m back up on my feet and getting on with things because it’s a hectic Monday morning. I was told that I didn’t have to rest up for two weeks like before when I had my loop diathermy and that I could continue life as usual so I am. It feels like it all happened in such a whirlwind and this weekend never existed as I’m back to my daily routine again.
I hope that in seeing my videos and reading this blog that you can understand what is and isn’t normal and if you’re also losing blood that you will GET HELP NOW and don’t leave it or think that it will go away like I did. It isn’t normal for me to use sanitary towels when I bleed so I was in the dark with how much my blood loss should have been but genuinely believed it was my period that caused the bleed, which it may have been but definitely not the amount I started to lose. I very narrowly avoided having a blood transfusion and if I hadn’t have got to the hospital for treatment when I did then I may not be here today. Please listen to your body, see the warning signs that I’ve shown you and always take the advice of others when they tell you something isn’t right. I’m not one to go to doctors or make a fuss but I always attend my health checks, because I didn’t have symptoms I thought I was ok and felt fine in myself but it goes to show that sometimes when you’ve got symptoms it’s already too late.
UPDATE 05/03/16 My Cervical Cell Removal Results
It’s two weeks now since I was rushed to hospital with excessive bleeding and thankfully my medication finished after the first week and my bleeding shortened down within four days to just a light brown spotting. For the past two days I have been bleeding again but this time I’m pretty sure it’s my actual period – how many times have I said this now!? I have stomach cramps, lower back ache and bloating as usual and I’m getting smaller blog clots that I’m used to seeing with my period as they’re about the size of a 20p piece.
This morning I received a letter from the hospital where I had my cells removed to tell me the results from the lab as they’d advised, but as I was rushed in with bleeding I already found out my results when I was kept in and my treatment wound cauterised. In short the letter states: “The tissue we removed (from the loop diathermy)showed no evidence of cancer, but simple changes in the skin amounting to CIN2. You have now been discharged from this clinic. You will require a further smear and HPV test in six months at your (GP) surgery. The cervical screening programme will notify you when the appointment is due.” I’m treating this period with the same precautions as my loop diathermy as it’s two weeks since my cautery so I’m still using sanitary towels instead of tampons to avoid keeping old blood inside of me. In myself I feel fine and no different to before so I’m happy to wait six months for my routine check up at my doctors surgery. I will let you know if I have any other problems, fingers crossed I’ll heal fine!
UPDATE: 29/06/16 An Invitation To My NHS Cervical ScreeningIt’s now been almost half a year since my treatment and I’ve received a letter from the NHS asking me to book in for my cervical screening again as they have to be sure that my cells haven’t begun to change back. I think this is an automated letter that goes out to everybody on the database and as such it doesn’t reference to my previous history, but it provides general information about why it’s important to get tested along with a booklet titled ‘NHS Cervical Screening Helping You Decide’ It baffles me to think that there should even be a decision about something that could save your life, but clearly sending out booklets with the invitation is necessary which shows that awareness still needs to be raised.
Some points that I found particularly prominent from this booklet are:
-Cervical screening saves 5,000 lives from cervical cancer each year in the UK
-Cervical screening is offered to all women ages 25-49 every 3yrs and 50-64 every 5yrs
-Most cervical cancers develop between the ages of 25-64
-Cervical cancer happens when cells in the cervix grow uncontrollably to form a lump/tumour for which these cells can spread to other parts of the body
-Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by the HPV virus and most people (men and women) will be infected with it at some point in their life without any symptoms
-Out of every 100 women who attend cervical screening on average 6 have abnormal cells
-Women who go on to fall pregnant after removing abnormal cells are more likely to give birth prematurely
I called my GP this morning and have to wait four weeks until they can fit me in – the countdown begins!
UPDATE: 27/07/16 My Check Up Smear
Today I attended my cervical smear and as it’s the summer holidays my two children are off of school so I had no choice but to take them with me. The appointment was very quick and routine and my inquisitive son who is 4yrs old decided that he didn’t want to wait behind the curtain and read a book with his big sister as he wanted to hold my hand instead to make sure that I was ok. It made me laugh a little but the nurse was very understanding and didn’t mind him standing beside me as she performed my smear under the paper sheet; knees up, ankles together, swab and it was over.
She asked me when my last period was which was around a week and a half ago and although she removed the swab quickly I think it looked a little pink on the end which I don’t know if that’s normal as I don’t remember seeing the end of the swab before. It could have been a little blood or it could have been what every cervical swab looks like but it stuck with me a little bit today and has been at the back of my mind that I shouldn’t be bleeding. But there’s nothing more I can do as she advised that I would receive a letter in two weeks time informing me of my results by post and providing all is clear I will come back again in 3yrs for a routine check Fingers crossed and I’ll keep you updated once my results arrives!
UPDATE: 05/09/16 My Checkup Results
Seeing as I hadn’t had my results back from my 6month check up smear I telephoned my GP just now and spoke to the receptionist. She said as it wasn’t a routine smear test -attended every 3 years- perhaps this is why I hadn’t been informed of the results by post. I was concerned my sample hadn’t been sent off or processed or that I’d need to repeat it and wait even longer to hear back but fortunately my file showed that the results had already been processed in July and were logged as ‘negative – no action required’ which is a relief.
As the receptionist gave me the results over the telephone I didn’t get any further information on when to expect my next smear test but I presume it will be three years from my recent check up which will arrive by post as an invitation to book in with my GP as my other tests did. If I have any future symptoms, pains or discomfort in the meantime I won’t hesitate to get checked. I wish you all the best with your tests and want you to know that I’m here for you, I’ve been through the worst of it now and am so thankful that I can continue to lead a healthy active lifestyle after healing – as can you! Please never miss a test!
If you have any questions, thoughts, feedback or experiences of an abnormal smear yourself then please feel free to get in touch by leaving a comment below. Remember to check back soon for my progress, may God bless you all.