A Womb With a View

I went through a rough couple of weeks worrying about a thing that could have been big, bad, and scary but turned out to be big, banal, and mostly embarrassing–so the story ends happily ever after, kind of.

(My fairytale life turns out to be something a whole lot different than my childish self ever imagined.)

The moral of this story is short and to the point: DO NOT GOOGLE SYMPTOMS EVER!

There is some mention of disgusting female-related bodily functions in this post; therefore, the men might want to scamper out of the room like the timid little bunnies they are.

Right, now that they are gone, ladies, let’s talk about the one thing we never mention–even to each other–period! Or rather: PERIODS!

After I went through the breast cancer scare back in 2019–I was put on a drug called Tamoxifen. It is intended to prevent a recurrence of the disease by blocking estrogen in some magical way and one of it’s lovely side effects is that it puts women straight into menopause. No more periods! Ta dah! After months of no sign of Aunt Flo returning, I gave away all of my feminine hygiene supplies and did a little dance of barren delight.

And then, almost a year later, the big red wave struck.

About two weeks before Christmas, I was doing my business and discovered that Aunt Flo hadn’t gone away for good. No. Not at all. Instead she was back with a crimson vengeance.

(I can see Bruce Willis saying something biting and witty, like “You want to see some blood? I’ll show you blood!” while shooting up a sound stage in the movie trailer–if they made movies about stuff like this.)

Because I hadn’t expected this to happen, I became concerned and called my gynecologist who scheduled me for a fun-fun thing involving a magic wand that goes up your hoo-hah. I think it was called a transvaginal ultrasound. If you ever wanted to know what it would feel like to have someone knock on your ovaries with a gavel, I highly recommend this procedure. Wear your good panties for this one.

As a prep for this procedure, I did what every woman I know would do. I shaved my legs and Naired my down-there sideburns. It was the first time either had been done since the pandemic started in March. I dulled my razor for a good cause. After all, one likes to look one’s best when your legs are in the stirrups.

Getting through the procedure wasn’t the easiest thing, but I was glad to have it over and done with. Then all I had to do was wait for the all-clear that everything was normal and I could enjoy my holidays.

A week before Christmas–the doctor called. On a Saturday.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a doctor call me on a Saturday with good news.

Instead, I was told that there was some signs that were concerning–she mentions cysts on the ovaries that weren’t a worry–and then some thickening of the uterus that was. She tells me she wants to bring me in for a biopsy. Could I call the office on Monday to schedule the exam?

I spend a weekend trying and failing not to panic. Monday rolls around and I get an appointment for an Endometrial Biopsy in two days. So, the Wednesday before Christmas, Santa brought to me, another trip to stirrup land with the added fun of getting shots up my hoo-hah.

Look, I know the technical words are vagina and uterus. I just like the word “Hoo-Hah.” I imagine it coming from Al Pacino at his manic best in the movie Scent of a Woman. “Hoo Hah!” It sounds festive and it’s my fucking Hoo-Hah, so I’ll call it what I like!

(There may be some residual emotions from this experience that I am still processing. Please accept my apologies for the gratuitous cussing.)

Would you believe it, there wasn’t a clip on YouTube from the actual movie Scent of a Woman. Enjoy this instead.

I remembered an episode of House in which the titular doctor hits himself in the hand with a hammer in order to displace the pain he was feeling in his leg with the newer, more critical pain in his broken hand. He says something to the effect: “The brain can only process one pain at a time, plus the endorphins help a lot too.”

I translate this to mean “If I try really hard to think of something else, maybe I won’t notice the pain.

I even tell the doctor this. I’m sure she’s still laughing about it…and probably telling her co-workers about the nutcase she scoped that day.

So during my entire ordeal, I sing at the top of my lungs in every language I can think of. Russian. German. I hit high notes whenever something hurts. I peter out trying to remember a song in Spanish–but fortunately, by that time, the deed is done. Thankfully.

I stumbled through Christmas eve with mild cramping and gratitude that, at least, it was over. Now I could relax.

[Those of you who watch horror films are cringing because you know it is at exactly this moment when the heroine relaxes that the axe wielding psycho comes calling.]

The phone rings December 25th. The doctor called on Christmas Day people! I am both impressed by her work ethic and effing pissed at the news.

The cells were abnormally close–but, I’m afraid the sample size wasn’t big enough to actually make a diagnosis. We need to do a more detailed biopsy called a hysteroscopy. I’m asking one of my colleagues to do it. Call us after the holidays and we’ll get it scheduled.

My response: “Not a big enough sample? It felt like you scraped enough cells to fill a bucket.”

The doctor is both sympathetic and reassuring. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I’ll talk to my colleague and see if we can’t get this done right away.”

I like my gynecologist–even if she is perkier than an elf at Christmas and has more enthusiasm for spelunking my hoo-hah than I actually need or understand. But, I trust her and I do what she says.

Monday, I again call the office. I want this over with now! I would at least like to have a good New Year to celebrate. Unfortunately, all the doctors had the same thought. There are no appointments available that week.

Our New Year Eve celebration involved my son sending me to my bedroom at 8:00p.m. for reasons only his brain could understand. (The fact that I had been binge watching Korean Soap Operas for weeks, and his bedroom wall is the same one that the tv abuts from the other side, might have had something to do with it!)

100 Days My Prince – check it out

I’m scheduled for the big excavation to take place January 8th. I arrange for someone to watch my son–can you even imagine trying to do any of this with an autistic teenager in the room with you? A day before my third round as an urban cowgirl riding the stirrups, I get a text from the sitter canceling with a brief “I’m sorry I’m not going to be able to do Friday morning…

I thought I knew what panic felt like. I believed I had dealt with enough stressors in my life to handle just about anything. I was wrong. I practically sobbed at the thought of having to cancel and reschedule my hoo-hah exam, and just as I was working up a good frothing hysteria, he texts, “No, wait. I talked to my supervisors and we’re good to go!” I wanted to both kiss and punch this person so hard.

Friday arrives. I’m up, dressed, and out the door with an economy of energy and at a speed that suggests I am not going to something I am totally dreading.

The processing of getting ready is starting to be quite familiar at this point–except that the exam room is much smaller than any I’ve been in before–and there’s a lot of weird stuff on a metal tray that the nurse warns me strictly not to touch!

Before she heads out, she asks one more thing.

There’s a resident who would like to attend this procedure. He’s a man.” She says this almost apologetically. “Is it okay if he joins us?

Yeah, sure. Fine. Let him in. I honestly don’t care.” I say. And it’s true; I really don’t. It is also true that I want to dash out of this building and avoid anyone shoving a camera up my intimate insides, but that is just a childish impulse and I squash it like the cockroach of cowardice it is.

As I’m getting my self situated–buck naked from the waist down and clutching a sheet that makes me look like a shrinking violet on her wedding night–I can’t help but joke with the team of people who are herding into the space barely big enough for four people and the equipment they’ve unwrapped for today’s adventure.

I can’t imagine this is going to be any fun for any of us. I suppose it’s a good thing to get the worst procedure over with at the beginning of your day.” I laugh to show I’m trying to be funny. But the doctor takes me seriously.

“Oh no. This is exciting stuff. We don’t get to do this kind of thing every day. We’re really looking forward to this.” She has a bright smile as she says this. Honestly, she practically twinkles.

That makes one of us.” I manage to say.

The male resident chimes in that he’s seen these procedures done in the O.R. and then he adds, oh so helpfully, “But in the O.R. usually the person is unconscious! We don’t typically get to interact with the patient.”

The doctor asks me if I understand what they are going to do today and I tell her in my brief laymen’s grasp of medicine:

You’re going to stick a camera up my hoo-hah and then, if you see anything questionable, you are going to use a long stick to chomp a few samples for the lab to examine. Please take enough samples that I only have to do this once!” I’m dead serious about this point. No ‘fourth times the charm’ for me!

We will.” She assures me, and then she asks, “Do you have any questions before we begin?

Yeah. What exactly is the IV for?” I point at the stand as if the doctor might have missed it somehow. “That’s saline solution, right? What’s the saline for?” I knew I wasn’t being put under, so it truly had been puzzling me.”

The doctor lights up–truly, here is a woman who loves her job.

Oh, that’s so we can fill your uterine cavity and expand it to make it easier for the camera to see what’s going on inside.” She points to the large screen nearby, “We’ll be able to see everything the camera is projecting right there.

What’s to stop the water from flooding all back out of me?” I ask, because honestly, I am picturing something like what happens when you going down the final ride at Splash Mountain–water gushing everywhere!

Oh, don’t worry. There’s a bag to catch the overflow.

The doctor asks if I have any more questions and I figure I’ve put this off as long as I can.

I suppose it’s time for me to lie back and think of England?” I say, remembering something my friend said as we talked about this eventuality.

The doctor laughs and gets the shots ready. She’s calm and reassuring, and then asks me something that actually distracts me from the moment:

So, what makes you think of England? Have you ever been?” She warns of a few pinches and, yes, they come and then blessedly are followed by an increasing numbness.

Um, yeah actually I have. I went as a teenager and then again when I was in the Army.

While the doctors do their thing at the other end of the sheet, there begins the oddest conversation I’ve ever had while in stirrups.

Did you ever attend a high tea?” I can’t remember who asked this, but the question starts all of us off on a Mad Hatteresque discussion of the various tea-related adventures we’d been on.

Sadly, I did not drink tea at the time. So I never experienced a full British tea.” I admit. I was forgetting the time I was loaned out to a British listening post during a military exercise, but I suspect it lacked the elegance of a full-fledged high tea to qualify. I add, “I missed my cup this morning, so I am planning on having tea after this is all over. I might make a whole pot!

Someone–I think it was the resident–mentions attending a high tea at a friend’s house while he was visiting England.

Well you’ll just have to invite us to your tea sometime.” He is a rather charming young man and easy to talk to–which is odd given the circumstances.

Apparently his role in this room is to do his best to distract the patient so that she isn’t tempted to kick anyone in the head. And, at this, he is quite adept. Especially considering most of his clientele to date has been unconscious. The fact that he has a sister with two autistic children is something we could bond over–when things aren’t being actively probed, that is.

Soon, the cameras are in and everyone is busy learning the ins and outs of my uterus. It also seems that they must be trying out new equipment. One of the most surreal moments happens when they are trying to figure out whether or not it can take pictures.

Give me my phone. I’ll take some pictures!” I say.

(Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ll take pictures any time, anywhere. Even if nobody wants me to.)

The nurse obliges her weird patient and pretty soon, I’m clicking image after image while the camera captures the weirdly luminescent scenes of my uterine lining. The Resident finds the camera control knob on the machine and they are all amazed at the screen shots they can get at the push of a button.

I watch the ‘biting’ tube poking at my insides repeatedly and have to say, I’m really glad the doctor gave me that last shot because I suspect I wouldn’t be half so calm if I could actually feel what was happening.

Yay Lidocaine!

Well, I think we have enough samples, but would it be okay if the Doctor/Resident could work the equipment?” The doctor asks.

Yeah, sure. Go ahead. Take a sample if you like.” With the end in sight, I’m feeling positively magnanimous. It’s weird giving someone permission to basically stab you. I have to wonder if it’s weird on their end as well.

To all you neophyte wanna be doctors out there…remember this…if you take the time to talk to your patient and be polite and friendly, they are much more likely to invite you onto their playground to try out the new jungle gym!

And, like that, my time as a human pin cushion is over.

The doctor asks me one more question before she leaves.

I hope you don’t mind, but could you tell me what it was like? As mentioned, we don’t usually have patients who are awake and can tell us how it feels during the procedure.

Um, it wasn’t as bad as the last biopsy I had. The pain was similar to cramping I’ve had during a period. I think it really helped to give the pain killers time to kick in.” I had stressed this going in, so she isn’t surprised.

She thanks me and they all leave. I clean myself up, get dressed, and I go home to wait.

The next two days aren’t as much fun as the injections wear off, but it’s nothing I can’t handle…until the constipation from the iron tablets and ibuprofen causes trapped gas to thunder through my colon like stampeding stallions. [Enjoy that visual.]

I spend a few days causing unnecessary anxiety as I look up medical terms and read myself into a state of panic trying to understand hyperplasia and all the other potential side effects of being on Tamoxifen.

The call comes in Tuesday morning, just as I’m logging my son into his morning class. I apologize, and duck into the bathroom to take the call.

Hi, this is the doctor’s office. We’ve got your results. Everything is benign. So, you’re fine until your next physical.”

I spent four weeks bleeding and worrying and being stabbed repeatedly for nothing. The bleeding has stopped. And now I go back to life as normal.

So if anyone out there was wondering why they didn’t get a Christmas card from me, now you know. They got lost in the panic-stricken menses of my womb with a view.

*****

(You can thank my very good friend that I have posted none of my photos taken during the procedure. But here’s a pretty flower for anyone who is disappointed.)

Bleeding Hearts seems appropriate, don’t you think?

20 thoughts on “A Womb With a View

    1. If I can’t laugh about it, then I’m not trying hard enough. I think I am wired for humor more so than any other emotional state. It isn’t always the most helpful attribute, but if I can laugh at it, the danger isn’t as terrifying and life is more manageable.

      The world should fear the day I lose my sense of humor, for then a monster might emerge that nobody will dare laugh at. (Keep the jesters and clowns handy for emergency interventions, if that ever happens.)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Is it awful that I was laughing while i read? What an ordeal! But you dealt with it with humor and grace, which most of use would have a hard time achieving. Well done! Glad all turned out well, but sorry your holiday was more stressful than usual.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think my way through the pain and trials of life is to find a way to appreciate the humor inherent in the situation. Sometimes, it’s a dark, bitter kind of humor that has a sharp edge that cuts you while you laugh, but even then, it helps to release the pain that is behind the words. I think that is what writing is to me–a surcease of sorrow. (I don’t remember who I stole that last line from–maybe Shakespeare? The Bard did know how to throw down some wicked beats!)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear…I hope you prefaced sharing this post with a warning of the graphic nature of the content. Some poor person just wanting to read uplifting material on the subject of Spectrum-Related matters might be horrified to find out what I am babbling about in such a personal way!

      But thanks for sharing. (See, I may not have autism myself, but I definitely screw up in the social niceties of ‘thanking’ people and lecturing them at the same time. I probably lose more followers than I gain because of this idiosyncrasy.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to go back to Dr. Leary Gynecologist soon. I am passed due to have a removal procedure, but since James is in school part-time trying to get to any appointments and to have enough energy to go and have it done makes me put it off, because it was absolutely very painful when they did it over 5 years ago. I don’t know if you just gave me courage or just scared the $?!!!xx out of me. You are so tough Kiri! By the way when they did the procedure they chose to do a biopsy too which ended up being nothing and I thought all that pain besides the IUD being faulty and having to start over. I think I scared everyone out of that office. That’s why I have my reservations on getting it removed. I wonder why God keeps challenging us Kiri? I will have to call you soon about our other CMH challenges! Thanks being so strong-willed & reminding me that I need to make an appointment soon. We do put our health second because of our kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. May this be the absolute last time Aunt Flo pays a visit. Enough already.

    I applaud your writing. The part where you are all chatting about high tea… has a dreamy, surreal quality, which was of course, the exact situation, but you’ve captured it perfectly.

    I have had a somewhat similar experience. Much writhing and painful utterances when an intern inexpertly examined my hoo-hah. Up until that point, and after two decades of annual, pain-free exams, I was blissfully unaware that things could go, um, sideways, in that department.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Sideways” is right. At one point, I jumped and asked why I was feeling something in the middle of my stomach. “I didn’t think there was anything there to look at.” I think that’s what I said. The response I got from the ultrasound tech was that “The ovaries like to move around.”

      Holy hell, how did I get to be this age without knowing I have free-floating anxieties AND ovaries?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. There’s so much to unpack here… where to begin?
    1) So sorry you had to go through all this, but awfully glad you’re “benign”
    2) Anytime the doctor calls (rather than a nurse or assistant) is never a good sign, but on Christmas Day?! Yeesh!
    3) Hoo-hah! I shall hereby be using that word whenever I feel so moved. Thank you. (Loved the Al Pacino clip)
    4) The question the doctor asked you at the end made me chuckle. It put me in mind of the Princess Bride when Wesley is getting tortured. Remember that? Count Rugen says: “I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. (…) What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?”
    5) Finally, Bleeding Hearts is the perfect ender. Here’s to a better year ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my gawd, yes! Best survey-based, Princess Bride quote ever. Thank you. I wish I’d thought to include it in my post. Thanks for your diligent unpacking. I’m officially putting you in charge of the groceries I bring home! (Otherwise, they sit on the floor of the kitchen until I get tired of stepping over them.)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. And now you have the text of next year’s Christmas newsletter.

    Kind of reminds me a little bit of when I had cryosurgery of the hoo-ha gate. The doctor talked to me about circuses, as I recall. It certainly took my mind off nearer things.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh man. I needed to read this, and I am so glad you made me laugh about your pain, so I can think about the funny shit when I’m in pain. Your humor is VITAL here, to me, right now. I always appreciate you, but this one *pounds chest*
    I had one real and two tiny ‘periods’ last year. According to my panels, that’s right and good and the factory’s closing. Except, in January, my uterus shed the blood of a thousand years and I was INDISPOSED for near two days. The pain was nothing compared to the mess and panic.
    I am to see the dr on March 25. I don’t worry so much that I could have cancer again, I worry about the pain of biopsy. It is CRUEL. I don’t need the womb. I don’t have time to properly maintain a womb that is completely unnecessary. My sincerest hope is that if anything is wrong, they’ll remove the literally bloody thing, because one recovery from surgery is so much better than the series of painful tests and again, mess, and stress.
    I am so glad you’re okay and I hope you do not endure another 4 week menses. (((HUGS)))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very glad this found you in a time and place you needed it. I find it healing to run across things at a specific moment of synchronicity. (Is that a word? Oh heck, who cares. I’m making it a word. *Checks Google: oh, I misspelled it is all.)

      The hardest thing about going through health scares of such a personal nature is the social unwillingness to engage in conversations about the gory details. Admittedly, I’m squeamish and definitely don’t want pictures to haunt my nightmares, but I also don’t want to be alone with my fear.

      I have to wonder if you could just ask to have your uterus removed based on the painful transition? I know that it helps hold up other organs, so I tend to worry what happens when the ‘stopper’ is removed. But, apparently doctors have figured a work around for that.

      Good luck with your tests. Yes, biopsy isn’t fun. But, if you stress that you want enough shots so that you don’t feel the ‘scrapey bits’ it goes much more smoothly. Report back after March 25. I would like to know if you get good news and are happily tripping your way toward menopause!

      Liked by 1 person

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