Wow, has it really been 10 days since my last confession? Sorry for the silence, I’ve had a nasty cold and have done almost nothing but sleep for close to a week.
But one thing I did manage to do was meet the gyno-oncologist on Thursday. Surprise, surprise: it was weird. So welcome to Part III in my series on un-jacking my junk in public as a service to the women of the internet. If you’re grossed out by all this vagina talk, now’s a good time to click away. I can recommend any of the delightful options in my blogroll to the right, or here is my pin board full of cute to scrub your brain: http://pinterest.com/illusiongrl/d-awwww/
Okay, last chance. Here we go:
So. First of all, I totally get how the lighting is supposed to be soothing and all, but the waiting room was lit only by dim lamps and there was no natural light. It was dark and depressing and I don’t think if I actually had junk cancer I’d want to visit a cave every time I needed a treatment.
But there I was in the Sick Vagina Cave with a bunch of women decades older than I, all eyes fixed on a soap opera (which surprised me most of all – I didn’t know they still aired those things?) except mine and the supportive husbands flipping desperately through the magazine piles to find one that did not feature the latest trends in home decorating or handbags. I kind of see their point: I mean, if you’re going to be awesome and come along to your wife’s junk cancer appointment, you should be rewarded with access to a swimsuit issue, or at the very least National Geographic. Come to think of it, I would have preferred that myself.
I was called back blessedly quickly and handed the requisite paper sheet. I did the stripping below the waist drill and began my rounds of reading everything in the room while waiting for the doctor to come in. This time I noticed that there are many clever names for gauze products, and my doctor seemed eager to collect them all. My favorite was “avant gauze”, which is also the only one I can remember. I probably should have taken a picture. But in that moment I realized that it is somebody’s job to come up with catchy names for things that absorb blood, and that I wished that were my job. And then I got bored.
I should really just bring my phone with me to the table when I take off my pants and sit under a paper sheet, because doctors clearly have some kind of code that says that no less than fifteen minutes shall pass between when the patient gets under the paper sheet and the doctor enters. But I didn’t, so I carefully wrapped the paper sheet around me and shuffled across the room for my phone…and in sitting back down, sat upon the paper in such a way that it separated the fibers and left a rift between my legs. So then I had to make the horrible choice between being modest and having my butt cheeks exposed in a cold room. If you ask me, if you’re looking to make cancer patients more comfortable? A room that’s warm while you’re half naked is WAY more important than a dimly-lit waiting room. If there were any justice in the world, I would be a consultant and get paid $800 for that advice. Also, note to self: wear long cardigans to paper sheet appointments.
The doctor was awesome and I wish she were a regular gynecologist because I would look forward to seeing her once a year, but it seems like all the cool vagina doctors are specialists. She made me take a pregnancy test before she would do the polyp removing, though, because she didn’t want to be responsible for killing any babies. I tried to comfort her by explaining that I didn’t want any more anyway, but I think she must be religious or something because she made me do a pee test anyway.
Which meant 15 MORE minutes of waiting. But THIS time I not only had my phone, but I had a gown to wrap myself in like a blanket so that I would neither be cold nor expose my vagina before it was time. Hell yeah! I am like the MacGyver of the gynecology office. Extreme sudoku-solving MacGyver. Hell. Yes.
People, you will NOT. Believe. what happened next: she came in grinning and said, “congratulations!”
As my stomach began to consume itself, I replied, through a mostly-closed throat, “WHAT.”
And she goes, “You’re not pregnant! Congratulations! I was just messin’ with you. But you totally thought you were for a second there!” I genuinely didn’t know whether to high five her for such a well-played prank or walk out without any pants on. I guess you don’t get a lot of opportunities to joke around when you’re dealing with vagina tumors, so I kind of don’t begrudge her, but OMG, what the hell kind of bedside manner is that? Exactly the kind I would have, is what.
Next, we all assumed the position, and she said unto me those magic words you never, ever want to hear from a doctor: “this is going to be a little uncomfortable.”
Me: You know what? I’ve been to enough doctors to know that “this is going to be a little uncomfortable” is doctor speak for “this shit is totally going to hurt”.
Dr: …………..Yeah, it is. This is totally going to hurt.
Me: Thank you for your honesty. I’m ready.
I immediately forgave her for the pregnancy prank because I like it when doctors don’t beat around the bush (which is a weird unintentional pun in this case, which we shall all tastefully overlook). But before the pain, the surprise bleeding:
Dr: Wow, you really ARE a bleeder, aren’t you? Uh. You’re filling up the speculum. [to the assistant] Could I get some gauze?
Me: yeah, that’s what I was saying – I bleed in a stiff breeze.
Dr: I don’t know if I can get this under control enough to finish the exam. Talk about elevated blood pressure! [to the assistant] I need more gauze. NOW.
I don’t know if I can really adequately describe what it’s like to be packed with gauze. I’ll go with “dry”. Which conveniently also describes the feeling you get when you realize your body is behaving so unusually that it’s making your seasoned professional CANCER doctor have a panic attack.
Finally things were packed in dryly enough that she felt we could move forward, so I took a few deep breaths while she inserted a long, white plastic stick into my uterus and wiggled it around. It was a little uncomfortable, but it wasn’t too bad, really. It totally didn’t hurt. For some reason she felt I deserve an award for this.
Dr: Hey, you’re doing amazingly well! Usually there is a lot more shouting during this part.
Me: It’s really not that bad. Remember how I told you I had warts burned off my vagina when I was seventeen? THAT hurt. This is not burning-your-lady-bits-with-acid pain. Nor is it childbirth. This is like the more gentle menstrual cramps.
Dr: You’re very special then, because this usually hurts a lot. This next part should be no big deal at all–
Dr: Huh. That’s weird. You are exactly opposite of most of my patients. Usually it hurts when I scrape the uterus, not the cervix.
Me: sigh. Of course I am.
Dr: …Um. I can’t get you to stop bleeding. I snipped off a piece of polyp and it’s really gushing.
Me: No worries [yeah, that’s me, reassuring the doctor]. I bleed all the time. I have a pantyliner.
She asked her assistant for some words that didn’t make any sense to me, but I gather she couldn’t make up her mind between two options. She finally went with what she later explained was the more potent clotting agent. Because I was bleeding that much.
Dr: It’s going to look like coffee grounds in the toilet tomorrow.
Me: I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it because I would have just thought I had way too much coffee, but thanks for the warning.
Dr: Nothing at all should be inserted into your vagina for a week: no tampons, penises, douches, etc.
Me: What about my physical therapy?
She looked at me in mute bafflement.
Me: you know, she sticks in a finger and I have to squeeze it?
Me: It’s just my PC muscle, it’s not very far in or anything.
Dr: OH! I thought you meant like for your knee or something and I was all “what does that even have to do with your vagina?” Yeah, no fingers either.
I have to go back in after the biopsy results come back, and after I have a vaginal ultrasound, which I can’t get for a week either because I’m pretty sure they stick the wand in. Next time I’ll be sure to take pictures of gauze.
Good lord, I’m promising gauze photos to lure you back. Why do you people even read this stuff?