My gynecologist brings out the best in me

You may have noticed—or not—that I haven’t posted lately. So did I. I guess time slips away from you when you’re thinking about other things. And what I’ve been thinking about has done its best to suck the creative juices right out of me.

Let’s do this in the least painful way possible. I’m going to type in some words, and you have the option to read what I type or not. It’s personal, it’s private, and it’s making me queasy as we speak (I’m not a medical person like my siblings). This could fall well into the category of “too much information,” but I’m willing if you are. If you’re uncomfortable with reading about female medical issues, you might be better off moving on to the next post.

Still here? O.K. Here goes.

On October 17 I had my yearly PAP smear. While I was there I told my new (actually my “old” and I went back to her; it’s complicated) doctor (who I adore, by the way, that’s why I went back) about my funky periods. The first days after I start have been epically wicked for years now. I called them my “exploding days.” I won’t get into details, but they were fun on days where I had to go to work (“fun” in the most sarcastic use of the word). And then, as if that weren’t enough, they pretty much lasted the rest of the month. I could count the days on one hand where something wasn’t blooming.

To get the party started, the PAP came back irregular. They sent it off for further testing, but that didn’t result in anything more. So end of story there. Ish.

In light of the period thing, the doctor decided to send me for an internal ultrasound. That’s the way I like to refer to it. You may have heard of it by it’s political name: “Transvaginal Ultrasound.” You can read on your own about how they go about giving you one. So for my 48th birthday, I got myself an internal ultrasound.

My follow-up appointment the next week came the morning after I met Neil Gaiman. (Yeah, I know. I’m not sure which incident impressed me more.) The doctor told me they found some issues with my ultrasound, and advised I get a D&C and hysteroscopy. Again, I’ll let you read about what those involve on your own. We scheduled that little scooping out procedure for the following Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving.

Of course, every procedure needs a follow-up exam, and that happened last Wednesday. Before we get to the follow-up though, I should probably introduce you to my family. My maternal grandmother had four sisters. My grandmother was the only one of the five who didn’t have to have a hysterectomy. My maternal aunt passed away last year from uterine cancer. My mom had had wicked periods and had her own D&C around the time she turned 54. She passed away suddenly a little over a month later (unrelated circumstances), so we’ll never know for sure if a) the D&C worked or b) she would have developed her own uterine cancer and needed a hysterectomy.

So. My follow-up.

During the D&C, the doctor removed a lot of junk. The biopsy they did on some of that junk resulted in NO cancer. What they did find were cells that could become cancer: atypical hyperplasia. Or, to be more specific: Complex Endometrial Hyperplasia with Atypia. Of course it had to be complex, and of course it was atypical, because it makes life more interesting that way.

Bottom line, I’ll be getting myself a hysterectomy for Christmas. Scheduled Dec. 21 for Winter Solstice. It will also be the 10th anniversary of my wedding engagement. I have an idea for an illustration of an operating room with a Shop Vac hooked up to my belly button.

It wasn’t until the follow-up appointment was over (we had spent at least 45 minutes working things out; I got a parking ticket) and the doctor shook my hand to leave that I understood the seriousness of the situation. She stood up and said, “This isn’t cancer. We can handle this.” She paused for a second. “We removed a lot of tissue. I was worried.”

I can only relate her words, but I doubt I can relate the tone with which she said them. Just know there was a seriousness there that said more than any words that came out of her mouth. When I retrieved the parking ticket from my windshield I was shivering a little.

On a positive note, when my doctor and I were trying to figure out when the best time would be to schedule my hysterectomy, I mentioned that I would be heading to New York at the end of January for a conference. She wanted to know what I did, and I told her I was an illustrator and writer. Her eyes lit up, and she said, “I want to be you!” That took a little while to sink in with everything else I had to process.

Yeah. I’m pretty lucky.

So. After having created no art for months, I started a new drawing the next day. My gynecologist rocks.