My Journey with Abnormal Cervical Cells
How my first gynecologist trip turned into the most stressful 6 months of my life.
From the title, you know that this is going to be an article not a lot of people have dove into. We hear bits and pieces about it, but never the full story. Well, I’m here to share mine.
I’m a 26-year-old woman, and before January of 2019, I’d never been to the GYNO. I’ve been sexually active since 18 but have been with women since I was 23. I’ve never had a pregnancy scare or STD. My periods are as regular as the next person’s, so it came naturally to me to believe that I didn’t need to go (That and the fact that I was uninsured).
I got married to my wife in 2017 and she put me on her insurance. After a year, I still hadn’t been to the doctor for anything. I hadn’t been sick, so why go? Well, when the time came around to discuss children, I knew it was about time for me to suck it up and go to the GYNO to see if all my reproductive organs were functioning properly. Needless to say, I was highly nervous about having someone dig around my lady bits, but I did it and thought nothing else of it.
Until 2 days later.
I received a call from the doctor’s office telling me that I had BV (Bacteria Vaginosis). I was kind of scared about that and felt a little icky, but my wife assured me that it was normal. So we picked up the antibiotics and went on our way.
Until 2 hours later.
I received yet another call from the doctor's office. When I answered, the nurse asked me if anyone had called to let me know my results. Thinking she was talking about the BV, I told her yes. However, that wasn’t the case. She was actually talking about my abnormal cervical cell results. She told me that they came back abnormal at a Grade 3 (on a scale of 1-4, 4 being borderline cancer).
I completely freaked out. I told my wife and spent the afternoon crying on the bed. My wife managed to calm me down telling me that she went through the exact same thing years ago and that I shouldn’t worry. After letting out all my emotions, I allowed myself to remain optimistic.
Two months late, my scheduled Colposcopy arrive. For 15 minutes (with a special liquid that highlights abnormal cells), they punched 4 or 5 holes in my cervix where the cells were most prominent to allow them to do a biopsy. It wasn’t painful, and was nothing more than a few pinches that made me flinch. Other than that, I laughed and joked with the nurse about how nervous I was. Afterwards, there was a slight cramping sensation, but nothing more.
After a few days, they let me know that I indeed had Grade 2 and Grade 3 cells that would require a LEEP procedure, which is just a fancy term for burning a layer of your cervix off, removing the cells for another biopsy.
A month later with my wife with me for support, I showed up for my LEEP and had a full anxiety attack. They almost made me reschedule, but there was no way I was coming back again for this. So, I stopped crying and crawled on the table. We all cracked a few jokes to lighten the mood and they began.
They proceeded to pry me open like they were using the jaws of life, causing more pain than the actual procedure. Seriously, the speculum was the worst part of the whole shindig.
After numbing my cervix with local anesthetic, they burned the layer off and applied this coffee ground looking stuff to my cervix to prevent bleeding before sending me on my way. The whole thing lasted about 20 minutes.
I went home under the rules of no tampons, no sex, no baths and no swimming for a few weeks.
Afterwards my wife took me shopping and let me get my fav food for dinner. She’s a saint.
I was due to come back a week later for a follow-up, and needless to say, I was very nervous to get the results of the second biopsy. When I was called back and put into a room, I was very much surprised when a young, very young, male doctor came in with a happy-go-lucky attitude to tell me that the doctor was busy with pregnant ladies resulting in him coming to talk me. He asked how I was feeling and I told him that I was fine. Now this is where it gets interesting.
He proceeds to tell me that my second biopsy came back completely negative for any abnormal cells. How the fuck did that happen? Did they magically disappear? Did my body just get rid of them? I don’t know, but I walked out of there with a smile on my face and instructions to make an appointment for a pap smear in 6 months (It’s already been 2 months since that day.).
Throughout this whole journey, I was a nervous wreck. Every google search led me to cancer, infertility, and even death. There’s always the possibility that the abnormal cells could come back, but my doctors handled me very well and I trust them to handle me if it happens again.
The lesson I learned out of this is to not simply go off of how you feel day-to-day because you never know what’s brewing in your body. Go to your annual check-ups. It’s scary, but it’s even scarier not knowing.