Thursday, March 25, 2010

Part III - The LEEP

I guess I'm kind of a pussy about my vagina.

I mean, if there was in infection in my inner ear and a doctor had to look into my eustacean tube with some flashlight thingy I don't see myself getting all weepy about it on the examination table.

But there's something very special to me about my vagina and stuff. Which is that it is my vagina and stuff.

Leading up to my LEEP, which is a day surgery, all I did in every doctor's office was blubber. But by LEEP day I kind of had my head wrapped around the whole HPV thing. I'd done a lot of research and had some conversations with friends that made me realize dysplasia (abnormal cells on your cervix) is really common and really treatable. And I was just glad that it was something they'd be able to take care of with their thingies and stuff. Yay modern medicine! I say this without irony -- if not treated dysplasia can turn into cervical cancer which is a huge killer of women in the developing world.

Also, my baby was six months old at this point which meant I was worlds saner than when he was three months old. They say it shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks for your weepy-go-nutsy hormones to pass after childbirth but for me it definitely takes longer. Much longer.

A LEEP is a loop electrosurgical excision procedure. They are for removing abnormal cells found on your cervix. A doctor uses a super-electrified loop of wire to burn a kind of cone-shaped chunk out of it. I had a pamphlet that explained it all to me. The pamphlet urged that while it wouldn't hurt a bit (because of the anesthetic) I should take the rest of the day off work.


No problemo. We packed up the wee ones and headed to the hospital where my daughter was promised ice cream and chocolate milk if she'd wait nicely with daddy in the cafeteria while mommy got a big needle.

I was already familiar with how to put on the gown and get through the medical history and yadda yadda yadda.

And it was fine. The smell of burning flesh was definitely disconcerting but other than the poke of the anaesthetic needle, I felt nothing. If you're reading this now because you've googled LEEP and are about to have one done I'd like to caution you that they put the anaesthetic needle directly into your cervix. I know, right? It's kind of obvious if you think about it, but who would think about it? Heebeejeebeejibe.

Afterwards the doctor made me promise not to have sex for two weeks and I was, like, "No problem."

Then he added, "and no other physical activity whatsoever."

I knew our sex life wasn't what it used to be when my mouth dropped open in horror and I spluttered, "You mean NO HOCKEY?"

"No. Definately no hockey."

"For TWO WEEKS?"

"Yes."

"And no running?"

"No running."

"But I can go cross-country skiing, right?"

"No." It was then that the doctor and the nurse exchanged a "well this one is kooky" look.

"Really? But it's so gentle...."

"Really. You don't want your wound to tear. You don't want to rip and hemorrage. I want you to just do nothing for two weeks."

"So no housework, right?"

"You can do light housework, sure."

On the drive home I explained to my husband about the no sex and the no housework of any sort for two weeks. And as we headed down the freeway the aenesthetic wore off. And as it wore off it kind of struck me how the doctor had removed a fairly large piece of my flesh. And it started to hurt. And it kind of hurt for the next week or so. Mostly just when I stood up or sat down. But it was allright. I was allright.


It was just before Christmas and I was a little heartbroken to miss the sporty parties I'd been planning to go to with my stroller running group and with my hockey team. But I just made do with the regular kind where you eat too much baked brie and too many truffles while watching everyone else get blotto around you and your nursing baby.
I didn't really tell anybody about "my gynelogical procedure." Except one friend. It didn't go well. I kind of casually mentioned it over a plate of antipasto. And I was going to say it wasn't a big deal but my voice kind of cracked while I tried explaining that it was no big deal. And then I was embarassed and she had no idea what to say and her toddler tripped on his own feet so she leapt up to comfort him while I wiped a quick tear away and had some antipasto.

And that's the thing. If it was toe surgery or nose surgery or something in my eye or my ear, I would have told more people. It would be a pretty good ice breaker at a party. And I wouldn't get all leaky and cracky talking about it.

But I'm kind of a pussy about my vagina and stuff.

Down the Rabbit Hole: An HPV Story
by Betsy B. Honest



3 comments:

  1. I don't see how you can really bring up a gynecological procedure in light conversation. Well, I mean, you COULD, but I probably wouldn't. So I can see where you're coming from.

    And I hope you got out of a lot of housework.

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  2. How can you mention it? I have similar problems discussing my colonoscopy. I didn't really tell anyone the full details. I'm just erasing it from my memory.

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  3. That second illustration made me get all weepy for you. That's quite the chunk taken out!

    I even felt awkward telling people about my son's surgery to look for an undescended testicle. Because it has the word "testicle" in it. Also because it felt kind of disloyal, like I was proclaiming to the world that my 1-year-old (at the time) was only half a man. Saying just "minor surgery" felt incomplete and cagey, but saying the actual surgery tended to stop conversations dead. There's just something about those parts...

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