This is a post that I have debated with myself about sharing. But then I thought, you know what, if this helps anyone else negotiating the complicated and confusing world of healthcare (or lack thereof) – I want to share my story so you feel less alone.
However be warned. It involves vaginas.
Over the past nine years I have been experiencing some unfortunate aches, pains and strangeness which have escalated (particularly over the past three months) until reaching my current situation.
My ongoing symptoms:
- Irregular periods / bleeding between periods
- Pain during sex
- Occasional pain in my lower back at night
- Bloating in my stomach
- Feeling extremely tired and lethargic
- Sporadic Nausea
- Abnormal smear tests
- High level HPV previously found in my system
- A lump on my cervix that turned white, has been biopsied and is being monitored
The following are either new or have worsened significantly over the past three months:
- Regular pain in my lower back at night
- Pain in my pelvis during the day
- Night sweats and trouble sleeping
- Bloating in my stomach
Something is NOT right. At all.
I’m seeing the gynecologist in February, because (thankfully) the new GP I am seeing isn’t too happy about my current state of treatment. Which has been blasé to the point of negligent.
The medical professionals I have seen are very dismissive and ageist when it comes to my concerns. When (as you can see from the above list) I have every right to voice them and be taken seriously. You know, considering that after a quick Google search most of them can be found on the Macmillan Ovarian / Cervical cancer symptom list…
This is because I have a baby face, so people generally think I am in my twenties when actually I’m thirty two (FYI, the highest rate of cervical cancer occurs in women aged between 30–34). Without fail the doctor takes one look at me, pooh-pooh’s my concerns as “nothing to worry about at my age” and I have to point out that actually I am in my thirties – so when is the right age to be taken seriously?
Which is when they suddenly sit up a lot straighter in their chair and take a closer look at my file.
When the doctors couldn’t explain the pain during sex and the bleeding that I occasionally experienced afterwards, they continuously pressed me about my sex life as if they wanted me to say “Actually, now you mention it, I do regularly use dildo’s with razorblazes attached – that explains everything!” As they couldn’t blame my symptoms on either me or my lifestyle they would then halfheartedly take a smear test and blow me off.
It couldn’t be serious because – I was so young remember!
Another method used was to psychoanalyze my motives when I pushed for answers or any form or diagnosis. Going so far as asking me if I wanted something to be wrong with me because I kept coming back to them for answers. As if I was a hypochondriac and these symptoms weren’t very real and something to be legitimately concerned about.
They just shamed me until I went away.
One doctor even told me that as she had no course of action for me to take, I should try drinking lots of green tea to see if that helped.
- I’m 32 now
- It’s the start of a new year, and
- 2018 is the year of getting answers
I’m glad I stood my ground because now I will be seeing a gynecologist for the very first time in my nine year quest for answers. I mean – Finally. Someone who knows their ovaries from their Oreos. A specialist who can answer the billions of questions nobody else seems to feel qualified to help me with.
I will obviously need to prep for this appointment as if I were sitting an exam. Far be it for me to be unprepared with any facts, figures or dates that they might expect me to know off the top of my head. Like the date of my very first period, the date of my last period, when I first became sexually active etc…
Pertinent things that might help figure out what in the buggary bollocks is going on.
It will be a relief to fix this once and for all. I’m tired (frequently), fidget at night because I overheat or have back pain that wakes me up, pass out on the sofa 15 minutes after consuming dinner, bloat up like a water balloon – and Christmas was spent enduring my second period in a month (the previous one having taken place two weeks before and spanning 19 days) swaddled in hot water bottles / electric heat mats or taking Codine for the pain. I had anemia and iron deficiency to the point my nipples were flaking.
It was miserable.
I didn’t know what to say to my friends and family during the holidays when they commented that I seemed out of sorts. What could I say? Granted, my new doctor was taking me more seriously than the others but nobody was giving me a straight answer. It felt like just because they didn’t find the word CANCER when they looked down a microscope they were happy to send me home without any answers or any follow-up treatment plan. But then, all they had done were smear and blood tests. Surely there was something more thorough they could do to help me?
All I got was a “You’re too young for it to be anything serious” and a “make sure to monitor your condition.”
Um, excuse me, isn’t that what you should be doing? And what condition should I be monitoring exactly??! Nobody will tell me what’s going on goddamn it!
So, I’m still fighting the good fight and drinking green tea while I do it.
Because tea solves everything – right?