but i’ve always been abnormal

karma, n. 1. Hinduism, Buddhism. action seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation. 2. (loosely) fate or destiny. — karmic, adj.

It’s only fitting that after mocking my gynecological exam last week that I should get the phone call this morning. That’s how things work, you see. You mock something to the American Public and it will bite you on the ass. They have found abnormal cells in my pap smear. They don’t know what that means, exactly, until they run some more tests. They will run these tests in a few weeks. That is when they are next free. They are going to perform what is called a colposcopy, and then they will know more if these cells are pre-cancerous, and then what treatment I should follow. They left me with more questions than I had answers and a knot in my stomach that cursed the gorditas I had just eaten before answering the call.

So, all this sent me into near hysterics this morning, and I left work shaking and confused and I spend $50 on office supplies to make me feel better. I got nice new pens and paper that comes in a carrying case and new ink for my printer and a new notebook to start working on my new play. I thought that playing with staplers and yearning for scanners would keep my mind of things. It did, until I got home, and I was alone and I was still confused. I had friends tell me that it’s probably nothing, but I can’t shake in my head that this kind of thing never happens to me, I’m not usually really sick in like a hospital sick kind of way, and I’m terrified of chemotherapy (having seen my father go through it) and then I got myself all worked up again.

Sally Jessie Raphael this afternoon was about women with cervical cancer that cured themselves with homeopathic remedies. Sesame Street was about how important it is to take care of yourself when you are sick.

I was scared. All afternoon I was scared. I have to wait an entire month to know any more than I do now. So I went online, and I started doing some research as to why I’m getting this procedure and what it means.

Here’s the best explanation, from Planned Parenthood in Houston:

Colposcopy Facts

Your clinic has just called to say that your recent routine Pap test for cervical cancer has an “abnormal” result. What should you do? How should you feel?

A few women may panic at this news because they think “abnormal” means something very serious is wrong [That would be me, Ma’am]. Fortunately, most women know this is not true. It does means two things:

1. Further tests are needed to find out where these abnormal cells are and what kind of cells they are.

2. She should have another checkup soon, even though she feels just fine. Quick action will help prevent any serious problems from developing and will also relieve any worry.[Tell that to my physician, who’s making me wait a month.]

Since, as a screening test, a Pap smear may not give the complete picture, her clinician may order a colposcopy. With the help of an instrument called a colposcope, a biopsy (tissue sample) can be taken. This greatly improves the accuracy of diagnosis

More info and answers can be found here.

Then I found this site:

What is colposcopy?

Colposcopy is an office procedure performed by your doctor to evaluate the exact meaning of an abnormal pap smear from the cervix. It can also be used to more accurately evaluate abnormalities of the vagina, vulva or external genital area.[yummy.]

Why is a colposcopy recommended?

Colposcopy is usually recommended if you’ve had abnormal Pap smears, or if an abnormality on your cervix was identified during your pelvic exam.[suddenly I realize that my last doctor was lying to me. I don’t have a beautiful cervix. She was just sweet-talking me. I feel so cheap.]

What happens during the procedure?

You will lie on an examination table, just as you would for a Pap smear. Your doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to hold it open, just like the procedure for obtaining a pap smear. Then, a vinegar and water solution [HEL-LO!] will be applied to the cervix to make the abnormal areas more visible. You may feel a slight tingling sensation at this time.

Next, your doctor will use an instrument called a colposcope, which provides magnification, to evaluate the cervix. With your permission your doctor then may decide to biopsy your cervix and endocervical canal to evaluate any areas in question. Some medication may be applied if there is bleeding from the biopsy.

Colposcopy takes between 15 to 30 minutes and is performed in your doctor’s office.

After the procedure, you may experience light bleeding or mild cramping from the biopsy which can last for several hours.

It is best to avoid sexual intercourse for a period of one to two weeks following a colposcopy procedure. [damn.]

For most patients, it is safe to return to work and resume other activities such as driving and exercising as soon as you feel able.

And if you need to know what all this looks like, this site was kind enough to show you what your insides look like.

Then I found some scare tactics:

Examples of alternatives [to colposcopy] are:

1. conization (removing a cone of tissue ) of cervix.
2.doing nothing and risk dying of cancer of the cervix.

Then I found a picture of the actual instrument:

And I guess that’s when I started calming down about the whole procedure. It’s just a test to see what’s wrong. And what’s wrong is in such an early stage that they can fix it. They’ll freeze something or blast something or coax something out of there and I’ll be fine. So, nine hours after finding out this news, I’m feeling better. I’m not crying at the drop of a hat (I was crying at A League of Their Own this afternoon, for Christ’s sake!), and I don’t keep hugging my cat like it’s for the last time.

I urge you, if you are a sexually active woman, or a woman over the age of seventeen, get an annual physical every year. I go every year, and all of a sudden there’s something they’re worried about. Early prevention is critical in so many of these diseases. Please contact Planned Parenthood, or your Primary Care Practitioner or your family doctor to get your annual. It’s good for your body, and it’s good for your peace of mind.

I’m fine. I’m going to be fine. I’m upset that I had to do all of this research on my own, and that my doctor wasn’t the one telling me that all of this was fine, and she had this apathetic tone of voice, throwing out words like “biopsy,” “cancer,” and “abnormal.” It took my own research, and the stories of my friends to reassure myself that I’m just going through a minor medical trauma, and that I’m gonna turn out fine.
I wish I didn’t have to wait a whole month to find out any more info. I wish that we had a better health care system. I wish I knew what was wrong with me.

Time to sit and wait. Keep myself calm, and focus on the important things in my life. I just hope those cells sit and wait until their big day, and don’t try and dress up or impress the doctor or anything. I’m sure my cells are big show-offs too. I can’t believe there’s another part of me that’s abnormal.

I swear, sometimes I’m just one big joke.

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