Sunday, February 23, 2014

Going through a LEEP

Towards the end of last year, my annual Pap revealed that I had cervical dysplasia. This is an accumulation of abnormal cells on the cervix which can, if not treated, lead to cervical cancer. This was a result of my having the HPV (the doctor said I’d probably had HPV for a long time). Treatment for this condition is a called a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP). During this procedure, the doctor removes the abnormal cells from the cervix. There is no guarantee this will prevent a recurrence – in fact, a recurrence of the HPV could happen, and there are alternative treatments available for when that time comes.

After I did my own research on the LEEP, I freaked out because it looked so invasive and even a little painful. I took this situation to Facebook, where my family and friends came together to offer support, encouragement and ideas. Some of them even shared their own stories of similar procedures. This really helped a lot. I went and got a second opinion, as one suggested, and received the same medical advice. I looked into alternative treatments and did A LOT of soul searching on this whole thing. (It’s scary when you have to go through something that LOOKS like it will hurt and you can’t really know what to expect.) I even talked with someone who has gone through this, too. I talked with my husband, as well.

And all the while, I had a reminder hanging over me: If I did not treat this thing, I’ll have cancer. So it was either go through with this thing and face the laser or go through chemotherapy!

I was a little disappointed that going through with the LEEP meant that I could not have more children all too soon (I had hoped to have at least one more), but I let that go in the end. I am just grateful for the two children I DO have. (My doctor said it takes 2 years for the cervix to heal completely from a LEEP. Future pregnancies are not advised because the cervix would not be able to close all the way and the baby would likely end up being born pre-term.) 

So I decided to go through with it. Just get it over with.

During the week of the procedure, however, I was starting to stress out. I was really nervous, stressed and just really uncomfortable about it. I tried to distract myself with wrapping up some last-minute business but was not able to get some things done in time. So I spent the rest of the week just enjoying things and connecting with people. Watching movies, playing with the kids and reading. But as the day drew closer, I got REALLY stressed all over again. And again, I hit Facebook. Again, friends and family offered their support and encouragement. One of them even brought a bit of humor to the table.
(Thank you so much, guys! You are awesome! Love you all!) On the day of the procedure, I was actually in a good mood. I totally had a “let’s DO this!” attitude about what lay ahead. (I really believe the Facebook purge is what did it. I had to get that stuff OUT of my system. Thank God I have such understanding and supportive family and friends!! Their comments really helped a lot.) I guess it helped that something funny happened that morning and I kept chuckling about it later on. It just lightened the mood!

At my appointment, the interpreter, nurse and doctor were in a preppy mood, too. The doctor even made a joke about the machine she would be using.

Now, I had thought all this time that the procedure would hurt. But you know what? It didn’t. The procedure itself DID NOT HURT. It was when the doc used the speculum on me and gave me the shot for the local anesthetic that hurt. (Well, in the first instance, she readjusted it and it was just uncomfortable.) But it did not hurt at all. It actually felt a little strange. The anesthetic made me a little dazed and shaky, but other than that, it was not entirely terrible.

After it was over with, though, THAT was the ordeal. I was a little shaky until the anesthetic wore off (and I’m glad my husband was able to drive me home). I was also a little clumsy if I tried to walk around or do things. It was better for me to just stay in bed and rest. There was some pain, but Tylenol helped take care of that pain. The next day I was a little disoriented and slow (I had this whole ‘My God, what HAPPENED to me??’ kinda feeling), but the pain was not as severe.

And today, two days after the procedure, I feel normal again. Well, mostly normal. I still need to take it easy for a couple of weeks and go slow until the area they worked on is completely healed (2 weeks), but other than that, I am coherent and have more energy again. I still have this whole “I survived a LEEP! Yay!” kinda feeling, and the Very Big Thing is that I feel soooo much better that I don’t have to worry about cervical cancer anymore. Well, for now, anyway. That is such a huge weight off of my shoulders. If there is a recurrence, we’ll deal with it in that time. But for now, I’m celebrating missing the Cancer Bullet.

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