Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Absorbing it all

There has been a lot of stuff in the last six months that I have had to absorb. Some of it has been really good - like counselling practice that I got in July 2016, team leading opportunities I have had in August and then again starting in early October (which is still ongoing). I have had to absorb a lot of knowledge in a relatively short amount of time. But it's all been good, and good for me.

Back in May 2016 - some six months ago now - I got a new family doctor. After years of not going to my old family doctor and finally getting fed up enough to switch, this new guy made up for lost time - and scheduled me for all kinds of testing: blood, pap, other stuff. The result of all of it was a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes (and I am now taking medication to bring down my sugars ... and they are under control - he and his team literally saved my life), a referral for a mammogram (another story for another time) and a referral to a gynecologist due to some abnormal cells on a pap smear. 

During my initial consult with him, when we mutually decided that it would be better for me to go under a general anesthetic to do a cervical biopsy rather than try to do it in the office, I happened to mention to him a little thing I'd been noticing for a few months ... I had stopped having periods a year previous, but I was noticing some spotting on a pretty regular basis. He therefore decided to add a second procedure to the surgery, one that he had not planned on doing but he thought it best to include it "just to be safe" - a dilation and curettage (also known as a D-and-C). He would then biopsy the uterine lining that the D-and-C would give him. I underwent this procedure on October 12. 

Today, just a few hours ago in fact, I sat in his office and he told me the results of the biopsies, in detail. I won't go into as much detail as he did.  But basically my cervix is fine.  However, the D-and-C biopsy showed "pre-cancerous" cells. Since there is no way to monitor the interior of the uterus, he informed me that "we have to whip it out." It took me a minute to grasp what he meant... a hysterectomy - a removal of the uterus and of the ovaries. 

I was floored.  It took me a couple of minutes to absorb that information. I was frankly not expecting the news - I knew that some of the results might be "off" but ... I never made the connection between pre-cancer and the removal of my uterus. It had just never occurred to me. So ... that was a lot to take in at once.

"We want to do it sooner rather than later.  Weeks, not months away."  Again, a powerful reminder that this is serious stuff. More stuff to absorb!

He answered every question I had. Every. Single. One. And I had a LOT of them. He told me that he was hoping to be able to do it via laparascopy. That is, to have a small incision just under the belly button, and two similar incisions (one on each flank where the ovaries are). Failing that, he would go in through my old Caesarian section scar and do it that way. Depending on the technique, I would spend two to three days in hospital. 

When I told my boss/mentor about it later (she's a nurse), she told me that I would be recovering at home between three and six weeks after the operation, and would be off work during that time. (WEEKS? I have fifteen MINUTES of sick leave left!) We discussed my options - she set my mind at rest for the most part, and told me to ask for the "worst case scenario" for sick leave, and if it was shorter, it would be less time to pay back. ... and that the important thing was my health.

So today has been an "absorbing" day. I'm still sort of getting my head around it. And what do I do when I am trying to make sense of things? 

I write. (Aren't you lucky!) 😀

I have also been absorbing some pretty amazing things about my situation that I have been (and still am) very grateful for.

First, I am grateful that I am such a wimp about pain.  It's because I couldn't handle the discomfort of the initial office procedure (and the gynecologist was unwilling for me to be in pain) that I opted for it to be done under a general. 

Second, I am grateful that, as my gynecologist and I were discussing the procedure that he would do under the general anesthetic, and he mentioned post-op bleeding, that I thought to mention the spotting I'd been having.  If I had not, he would never have done the D-and-C. And I would be oblivious to the fact that I had pre-cancerous cells in my uterus. And ... it might have been too late by the time I DID find out.
Photo "Doctor In Surgery" by taoto at

Third, I am grateful that the hysterectomy will not only completely remove all chance of uterine cancer (well, um, the uterus will be gone!), but removing the ovaries will also reduce my estrogen production down to zero - and with that, any chance of causing cervical OR breast cancer. 

Fourth, I know this man's work from personal and recent experience; he's excellent and I have absolutely NO worries about his skill or the skill of those on his team. I am in good hands with him and with everyone on his surgical team (including the anesthetist). And I am so grateful for that.

And fifth, I am so very grateful that "we" caught this early, before those cells had a chance to become something life-threatening.

And that is just the medical stuff that I'm thankful for.  There is so much more - it's taking me a while to absorb all of that too.  What I mean is the phenomenal support and the love of my family and friends, their positive vibes, their prayers, their words of encouragement. I'm blown away by all of that. I am so blessed. SO blessed. 

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