For years I have had abnormal pap smear results. Mostly mildly abnormal and for years I have not worried about those results. For years my doctor’s assistant called me like clockwork every six months insisting that I come in for my biannual test. I would dodge her calls for weeks, sometimes months. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to have a pap smear or a colposcopy but they are really awkward and a little arduous.
I successfully evaded my doctor for eight months before she personally called me to tell me to get into her office; she sounded serious. I scheduled my appointment but couldn’t get in for another month.I finally came in three months later than I should --- I know better even if I don’t know better.
My doctor told me this horrifying story about how a patient of hers, very much like me, had an abnormal pap and decided to wait to make an appointment. She waited for three years. When she did come in it was discovered that she had cervical cancer and it was inoperable; she was the mother of a three year old. She was diagnosed as terminal. I sat in the patient room really listening to my doctor understanding, for the first time, the true gravity of my procrastination and stupidity.
Less than a week later, I received the all too standard “your pap came back abnormal we need you to come in for a colposcopy” call. I had taken my doctor very seriously during our last appointment and very promptly scheduled my appointment.
I mentioned I have had a colposcopy before; more than one. In the past there has not been a reason to do a tissue sample / biopsy because my results were so very mild. I’ve been very lucky in that regard. My luck changed this appointment. My doctor took six biopsy samples and let me tell you they are painful. She proceeded to tell me that my results are no longer mild and that she was a little worried about what she saw. She’d have the results rushed and call me as soon as she found out anything.
Three days later, it’s 7:00 a.m. on Saturday and a random number calls my mobile. I don’t answer numbers I don’t know and particularly on Saturday’s at 7:00 a.m. Hell, most Saturday's I'm still sleeping at 7:00 a.m. There was, of course, a voicemail from my doctor telling me to call her and leaving her home and mobile number for me. I knew at that moment whatever she had to tell me wasn’t going to be great news. Do doctor's call with good news on Saturday's? With my heart in my stomach I dialed her mobile number. She picked up after two rings.
“Wendi, I’m so glad you called me back. I did get the results from your biopsy and your cancer cells are at a level that we need to operate. It needs to be done in the next month, may be two at max. If we don’t hurry it will spread. If we do hurry we can probably stop it completely.”
The conversation lasted for fifteen minutes, me stunned on the other end of the phone trying to struggle to put together coherent questions. I wasn’t stunned by the results, I think I knew somehow right after the colposcopy. I was stunned that I got so lucky. That it hasn’t spread. That it isn’t terminal. That if this surgery goes well I won’t have to have radiation or chemo. That my doctor and her assistant cared so much about me and my health that they called me, harassed me even, every six months.
So, I’ll be a little absent here the next few weeks, probably until after my surgery because I have to make myself happy, just in case. I have to see my friends and family as much as possible, just in case. I need to dance, laugh, drink, and be genuinely silly as much as possible, just in case.
By far the worst part of this has been telling people (so thank you for letting me vent this out to you all). I don’t know how to do without just blurting it out without a cushion or consideration for their feelings (I mean look at the title of this post). I had the audacity to blurt it out to someone in the middle of the street a few nights ago without any context or foreshadowing at freaking 3 a.m. Nothing, just straight diarrhea of the mouth from me. So I think I am writing this because I feel like it will make that cushion for people. As soon as the “C” word comes out… no not that one!... people instantly freeze up. I know I do the same thing when it comes to my own friends. You wait, holding your breath, wanting the terribleness of the news to be over. Don't worry, the news is over now.
|On my way to Mile High Soul Club to celebrate my friends and my life... Just in case|