Thursday, August 12, 2010

Boys Beware

This is, in fact, a blog about the Gyno.  If you're squeamish, go back to your techcrunch or gizmodo or farmville or whatever it is you use to pass the day til punch-out time. 

Everybody still with me, this is a little bit of how my  morning went.  Ah, the joys of being a woman in the post-modern era of technology and yearly doctors visits and birth control.  Whatever did the cave women do?

Their lives were considerably less complicated, I'm guessing.

There's one thing you should know about me.  I'm not sure how I developed this, but I'm a meticulous life planner.  I've always been pretty laid back and spontaneous about everyday things-- like, hey!  Let's get in the car and take a road trip this weekend!  Or my personal favorite, Forget cooking tonight!  I want Pietro's! But for the big things in life, I've learned to be fairly calculated.  I think this resulted from my younger years when I completely flew by the seat of my pants, started and quit jobs just for the hell of it, skipped class and did very badly in school, and was broke and irresponsible most of the time.  Eventually I saw the consequences those kinds of decisions were producing in my life and decided to turn this ship around.  Ever since, I've been extremely careful to plan and prepare.  I had a plan for my career and started down that road, I knew exactly when I wanted to buy a house and patiently waited for the right time, and I've also taken the same care to plan for having a family.  I've heard all the arguments for "there is never a right time," but for me there is certainly a better time than others, so P and I have taken the matter under careful consideration and have planned accordingly.  And this is where the story starts.

I've had high blood pressure since I was 19 years old.  Or at least that's when I was told about it.  It may have started before then, but I didn't regularly see the doctor, so I don't know.  I think it's a result of several things, but mainly I think it's the result of anxiety.  So over the last ten years or so, I've done different things to try to keep it under control.  One of the ways I've managed it was to be on birth control that does not contain estrogen, as estrogen makes your BP higher.  It also makes you moodier which, of course, does not help with the anxiety.  So when I moved to Texas and got a new doctor, we discussed my options for birth control.  She thought it might be a good idea to try an IUD.  It doesn't contain estrogen and it's very low maintenance.  Perfect for a woman who's not planning on having babies in the near future.  One little hitch in the system.  It's not recommended for women who've never given birth.  This is because the IUD actually has to be inserted THROUGH your cervix INTO your uterus.  And that can be quite painful for women who've never passed an eight pound baby's head through their bodies.  But we soldiered on.  Why, I have no idea, but we did nonetheless.

So I came in for my appointment to have it placed.  It was a little painful, but it was quick.  Until she said at the end of the visit, "I don't think I got it far enough in there.  I want you to come back tomorrow and I'll try to push it in some more."  Ummmm, ok.  There was no turning back at this point, so I came back the next day.  Same thing.  A little painful, but not unbearable, and then it was over.  And I was set for the next five years if I wanted to be!  Nary a care in the world in the birth control department for years!  It was like heaven!

Until about a year ago.  When things started going wrong on a monthly basis, if you know what I mean.  It was not pleasant to say the least.  But I let it go, because I enjoyed the non-hassle of not worrying about birth control.  And then recently it got worse.  And I decided it was time to get The Thing (that's what we call it) taken out.  So I called and made the appointment.  I went in, laid down and let the doctor get to work.  She was down there for a few minutes and said, "Hmmmm."  This is never good.  You never want to hear your doctor say, "Hmmmm."

"I can't seem to find the strings to pull it out.  They must've gotten lost when I put it in."  They must've gotten LOST?!  So she brought in an ultrasound tech to try to help locate The Thing.  And then she brought in another doctor.  They both stared blankly at the screen.  "That might be it.  Yeah, that might be it.  We're looking for a shadow."

You're looking for a SHADOW?  I'm sorry.  Have you SEEN an ultrasound machine screen before?  It's ALL shadows!

And then the pain started.  They were manually trying to pry open my un-babified cervix.  I nearly came off the table.  I was crying and hyperventilating at the same time while they were fishing around trying to gain entrance to my uterus.  The doctor stopped.  She said, "I'm not going to do this to you anymore.  We're just going to have to reschedule you and use anesthesia."  This sounded grand to me at the time between my tears and the butcher knife that was stabbing me in the uterus.  Until the nurse called the next day and said, "It's gonna be $400 up front for the doctor. And that doesn't include the hospital's part."

P said, "Honey, you're just gonna have to suck it up and take one for the team."  Um.  I'm sorry!  Have you ever had anyone rip into YOUR uterus?  I think not!  But still, I knew we didn't have $400 to spend on this silly IUD removal that normally takes about three painless minutes in the doctor's office.  So I called the doctor back and let her know that wasn't an option.  What else could we do?

INJECTIONS, she said.

So I went in for the dreaded appointment this morning, and P came with to hold my hand and remind me to take deep breaths and tell me that someone shoving needles into my cervix really won't hurt that bad and that everything will be fine.  So I laid down on the table and the party commenced.  I breathed.  I sweated profusely.  The doctor applied a cold compress to my head.  P squeezed my hand.  She told me to cough and then she gave me shots of lidocaine.  And it didn't hurt nearly as badly as I expected.  But I still concentrated on my breathing, and P still held my hand and I reminded him to focus squarely on my face, because I didn't want to see a look of terror on his face when he saw the instruments they were putting inside of his wife.  Not good for my anxiety.  And he did it like a champ.

The doctor searched around inside the cavernous wonderment that must be my girl parts for a good ten minutes.  Then she sent the nurse to get another doctor.  Oh great.  Here we go again.  The new doctor comes in and says, "Let me give it a shot!"  And she continues the search for another good ten minutes.  Then exhausted, at one point, I said, "Oh come on!  It's got to be in there somewhere!!"  And then all of a sudden, the doc thrusts the dislodged IUD triumphantly into the air (just like Simba in the Lion King) and shouts, "HERE IT IS!  YESSSS!! TOUCHDOWN!!"  And she reaches over to give P a high five.  And she says, "I just delivered a baby an hour ago and this is still the best thing I've done all day!  We need some champagne!"

I said, "You're not joking.  I NEED A DRINK."  And then she proceeds to tell me how she was thinking about me all last night and was hoping things went well this morning, and I said, "Well, we certainly have that in common then."  And she left me to get dressed and went triumphantly out among the nurses station to celebrate the long-awaited removal of my IUD.  Everybody cheered.  And now, my uterus is famous.  And not worse for wear, and a little wiser, I think.

I've learned that I don't want to surrender control of my girl parts ever again to anyone or anything.  I've learned that sometimes, it's good to let your body have a break and just function naturally like it's supposed to.  I've learned that if something isn't recommended for you, there's a REASON for that.  Follow your gut.  And I've learned that doctors don't really know everything, even though sometimes we think they do.  And sometimes they're just as nervous about our appointments as we are.  And I've learned, once again, that my husband is the greatest.  He goes to the gyno with me and even buys tampons, people.  (Rarely, but hey, it happened once!)  Are you kidding me!  Every girl should be so lucky.

I certainly am.  And I know that today more than ever.  :)