Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Feeling the Pinch

I haven't talked about this with any of my friends besides Max yet, and this isn't exactly the place for it. However, I'm going to tell you about the biopsy I had today.

At my annual gyn visit a month ago, I had an abnormal pap test. I was told over the phone that I tested positive for HPV, the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus. I was also told that I needed to have additional tests done since it seemed irregular even for the HPV.

First off, the sexually transmitted part of this is a horrible thing to think about. Neither Max nor I were virgins when we met. So, somewhere along the way, one of us got this virus. The totally unfair part of this, as far as I can tell, is that symptoms don't manifest themselves in men, there is no test for a man to be able to tell if he's a carrier, and there is no treatment available for men. So basically, men can have this without knowing and continue to pass it on. For women, on the other hand, HPV can eventually lead to cervical cancer. That doesn't seem quite fair, does it? Most HPVs usually 'disintegrate' over about two years. That is the hopeful outcome here.

So, today I went in for a colposcopy ... basically a closer look at my cervix. The 'colp' part of the word comes from 'womb.' I've been doing my research. First, right there in the room, they did a test of my cells which came back as positive for some unknown something. Then, they pinched out some of my cells as a biopsy to be sent for further testing. I should know something in about 10 days.

I've spent a lot of time crying. First, this makes me feel like a dirty whore. Second, I'm worried about what I've done to my body and how things might be affected in the future (childbearing, cancer, etc.).

It's slightly comforting to know that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It's also slightly comforting to know that one of us may have had this in our bodies for years and it's just manifesting itself now. It is not, as my doctor explained, a recent transgression from my boyfriend like other STDs would imply. However, the truth is that if I'd never had sex, I would not have this virus and these possibilities.

Max has been awesome. He took me to my appointment today and has promised me that we'll get through this. I'm confident that he's in this for the long haul, and that I have his total support. I have cried, huge sobbing shaking-shoulders tears, and he has been there. For weeks. The worst part has been waiting. It's been nearly a month since I made today's appointment.

I'll share this with some of my friends when I know something concrete in a couple of weeks. For now, it's just so good to get this off my chest without having to inundate Max with my tears AGAIN. He's so cute and clueless, but he's been totally amazing. I'm lucky to be with him. It's sad that he's blaming himself for women that he slept with before me. We've made the decision that since we can't tell which one of us had this in the first place, we've got to move on from blaming ourselves.

As for weight, I'm pretty afraid of Wednesday's weigh-in. I've been snacking a lot just because it keeps me from thinking about what I've got going on inside of me. That's a terrible excuse, so I'm going to make a true effort to not have those types of eating 'episodes.'

On a totally unrelated topic, can you believe it's July already? I decided to use some of the money I made from teaching summer school to buy a new digital camera. I can't wait to go pick it up tomorrow! New pix soon!


Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It really hits home for me. My mom who is a nurse has stressed the potential dangers of this STD. She has seen a lot of untreated women from rural parts of WV. So I am glad you are taking care of yourself. I am also glad Max is so supportive of you.

I know it isn't a cure and doesn't protect from all strains of HPV or protect from any other STDS, but if any readers are still under 25, I highly recommend getting the HPV vaccine.

Fatinah said...

holy noodle! I really hope this all works out for you. Thanks so much for sharing...

It also reminds me that I need to call my doctor to 1) schedule a checkup for myself - it has been way too long and 2) get my daughter vaccinated against HPV!

gaga said...

I was going to respond to this yesterday but needed to process it. I went through this about 10 years ago - the notification of pap results, several biopsies, a freezing procedure, and finally a burning procedure. Guilt for my past stupidity. Fear for the "C" word. So truly truly I feel for you and I do know exactly what you are going through. And it WILL be OK. Oddly, a few years after I was pronounced clean and clear I met and (unfortunately) married a man. Took a year to find out he had a history of genital warts (HPV) which he thought was not a big enough deal to ever mention even though he knew my full history. So I was exposed during marriage more than I ever was before. You are NOT a slut - it happens in all situations.

jodi said...

i know it may not help but it's good to talk about things and to know that you're not the only woman who has been thru this... the same thing happened to me (in my early 20s) and i was upset and terrified but did what i had too (i chose the LEEP procedure where they sliced-off the surface of your cervix)... i never had any symptoms or breakouts but i was lucky - some women/men are not... all you can do is be thankful that you found this out now, rather than later, and it helps having such a loving and supportive boyfriend... you'll get thru this, just try and stay positive! :o)

( HUG )

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Honey, you're not diry; you're no different from the rest from the of us; you just got unlucky. I'm so sorry to read this---I know how stressful the waiting is. Be gentle with yourself while you're waiting. I'm glad to see Max is being gentle with you during this time.