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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

159

What It's Like to Get a Biopsy

A few months before your 31st birthday you’ll be lying in bed holding Animal Farm with one hand and idly examining your boobs with the other. With a start, you’ll notice something that resembles a robin’s egg rolling around under the skin of your left nipple. You’ll play with it for the rest of the day, and when your boyfriend comes over you’ll ask him to touch it. He’ll say, “Yeah, hm.” He’ll dump you the day after you find out you need surgery to remove it.

You’ll make an appointment with your gynecologist, and she’ll have the same “Yeah, hm” reaction your dude did, only she’ll also hand you a slip of paper ordering you to go to the hospital for a mammogram. You’ve never had a mammogram, so you’ll be kind of freaked out but mostly curious whether it’s as bad as it sounds/looks like it is.

A month later when they finally get you in for an appointment, you’ll find out that yep! Actually worse than you imagined. You’re standing in jeans and a pointless hospital gown that hangs open in the front. Your breast will be completely smashed flat, impossibly flat, between two thick plastic plates. You’ll  wonder if the thing in your boob is going to burst from the pressure? What’s even in it? Can it burst? Can your whole boob burst? It feels like it might. This will go on forever, just smashing your boob this way, smashing your boob that way. “Can you crouch down a little for this one? Like I just need you to squat a little and lean to your left. Hold your arm out of the way. Just stay in that pose for a minute while I step out to take the picture.” Your knee pain will distract you from your boob pain after a minute.

A few days later they’ll call to tell you the test was inconclusive, because you have fibrous breast tissue and from now on you’ll need ultrasounds, not mammograms. This will be the best news. The next thing they’ll say is that they need to do a biopsy. “Don’t worry, it’s a quick appointment. We just use a needle to take a sample of the lump in order to figure out what it is.” You’ll repeat this to your therapist, and she’ll order you to bring a friend because she has secret knowledge of what is about to happen to you.

At the appointment you’ll be so grateful your friend is there to hold your hand while a technician uses the ultrasound wand thing to aggressively smash the lump down and hold it in place while she jams what appears to be a thin liposuction needle in and out if the lump, which is now, months after discovering it, the size of a ping pong ball. This goes on for about three minutes. You’ll watch the needle going in and out, in and out, on the black-and-white ultrasound screen. You’ll feel the tugging, get nauseous, and silently cry. The tech will say, “Well, it’s not a cyst, or liquid would’ve come out.” She’’ll tell you to come back in a week for the results.

Again, the test will be inconclusive! It is a tumor, not necessarily not cancer. They’ll tell you they want to remove it so they can examine the whole thing. You’ll get a sheet of paper to take to another part of the hospital to make your surgery appointment. This part of the hospital will have the word “Oncology” written on every door and wall and window, and will feature a glass display case containing two mannequin heads modeling beautiful wigs, a few bras that look like Ace bandages, and a variety of prosthetic tits. You’ll call your mom and she’ll promise to come stay with you until you’re better.

You cannot eat or drink anything starting the night before the operation; not even water. You love water so much! Like you're pretty much constantly drinking water ever since you quit smoking, unless you’re drinking wine, but even then you usually also have a water going. Your coworker who sits nearest the water cooler once told you that he's pretty sure you drink more water than everyone in the office combined. This “no water” rule will be psychological torture.

You’ll go to the hospital first thing in the morning, and they’ll put you in a gown and slippers and have you wait two hours in the waiting room. You'll sort of start to cry from anxiety and thirst. Your mom will laugh at you and call you something adorable. Finally they’ll call you into another office with glass walls and everyone there will ask you “What's your name? Where's the lump?” to be sure they don’t mix you up with another patient. You’ll meet your nurse, your anesthesiologist, and your surgeon, who'll want to know if you’d like it removed the easy way by cutting you open right over the lump, which will leave a good-sized scar on the side of your boob. You have side titties and you are proud of them, so you don’t love this option. They’ll tell  you there’s another way: They can cut around your areola, which will leave a much less noticeable scar, but once they get in there they may find that they need to cut into the side anyway so you could end up with TWO scars if they go that route. Up to you! You decide to chance it. Then they’ll ask you to follow them.

You’ll kiss your mom bye and walk yourself down a long hallway into an operating room. You will not be expecting this to be such a serious-looking operating room. There’ll be a huge metal table, giant spotlights, and about eight people buzzing around in scrubs and gloves. You’ll lay on the table and the dude will put a needle in your arm. Your surgeon will ask you what music you want on, you’ll say rap, and he’ll say they only have Eminem, “Is that OK?” You’ll pass out. That afternoon your mom will tell you that while they were waiting for you to come to, the doctor briefed her on the surgery and said, “We really had to dig, but we got it. I think.”

You’ll spend the next two nights sleeping upright on a couch because every time you lay on  your side or back, your boob — although completely bandaged — will flop a little, and a shooting, searing pain that feels like the whole thing will split apart jolts you back upright. You’ll take Vicodin for the pain, forgetting every time that it makes your stomach hurt and disrupts your sleep and generally makes everything but your boob feel awful. You’ll spend a week trying to avoid getting the bloody bandage wet in the shower. Once they take the bandage off and say that your scar is “looking good!” even though it's totally not looking good, it's looking like a bloody, twisty half circle, occasionally really pokey stitches will come out of the side of your nipple. The doctor will tell you this is normal. He’ll also tell you the lump was an adenoma and nothing to worry about, except you’ll probably get one again, so come back for checkups every six months or so.

At one of these regular checkups a year later they’ll do a pap smear. A week after that an operator from the phone service the hospital uses will call saying it came back abnormal and:

“You need to take down this number and call and tell them you need a coke.”

“A coke!?”

“A colt.”

“A cold?”

“A colp. COL-Peh. A colposcopy.”

You’ll decide to look it up online later rather than keep chatting like this. You find out a colp is a cervical biopsy. You make the appointment.

You’ll be in the stirrups like normal and your doctor will come in with some long stick-like things in plastic bags. She’ll ask you to scoot your butt down closer to her. No, closer. She’ll insert a speculum like normal in order to open you up and get a clear view of your cervix, only she’ll open it way wider; much wider than usual. This will hurt. The second thing she’ll say is “what are you doing?” You’ll answer “playing Angry Birds.” You’ll wish you’d said, “I’m being fucking NORMAL on my phone. What are YOU doing?” The nurse gives you a wink; your doctor rolls her eyes. Next she says, “OK, now this stuff I’m putting in will come out later today, so you’ll need a pantyliner.” She’ll take one of the long stick thingies from the nurse and then you won’t know what she’s doing for the next minute. Then the nurse will hand her another long stick thing that looks very similar to a large Slurpee spoon-straw, only it’s metal. Then the doctor will ask you to cough, which you’ll find weird. Later you assume it was to distract you? Anyway, you do as you’re told, and as you cough suddenly your whole stomach will tense up like you just got punched and you’ll feel like you’re going to throw up. You’ll think, I bet this is what contractions feel like. Your guts will start to ache back behind your belly button, and you’ll get pukier-feeling. Then it’ll occur to you that she used that spoon-straw thing to punch a hole out of the back of your cervix. You’re not even sure where or what your cervix technically is, but you can imagine the rough, bloody edges of the wound somewhere deep inside you, and the piece of your insides she’s placing in a cup to send to the lab. The thought of this will make you feel even barfier. She’ll stand up and say, “That’s it! Take it easy today; you might not feel well.”

She’s right! You’ll have a hard time walking the few blocks to work, will feel like barfing, and will have an achey stomach cramp all day. The stuff she warned you about coming out of you is dark brown and goopy. You’re mad she didn’t totally describe that part to you, but not as mad as you are three days later when you go to the bathroom and something that feels incredibly similar to that one time you had a miscarriage happens: a chunk of fleshy, blood-clotted tissue about the size of an actual wadded up tissue falls out of you and makes a splash in the toilet. You quickly get online and search for “bloody tissue after colposcopy” and find nothing, not even on WebMD. You only see discussion board posts by other women freaking out about having a miscarriage or something similar the week after getting a “colp” and “Please! Does anyone know what this is?” You think about maybe writing something really honest and gross for the internet about just a few of the ways ladies can expect to be hole-punched and torn apart, bit by bit by bit, as long as they stay alive long enough.

Jane Feltes produces the radio program "This American Life."

159 Comments / Post A Comment

ironhoneybee

Oh Jane. I'm so sorry you had to go through this—I've been through some of what you described, on both ends. And it is decidedly no fun. I think I speak for lots of ladies when I say thanks for the frank and honest—and super well-crafted—telling of your experience. Also, your dude who dumped you when you found out you needed surgery to remove a breast lump? I can't help but think you just dodged a serious bullet. An unworthy, Newt Gingrich shaped bullet.

sal291

Oh. My. God. BEEN THERE. My colposcopy was EXACTLY like that. The cough and everything. Plus I had mono at the time. Which I got from an ex-boyfriend who was probably the reason I was getting that colp as well. Boy oh boy do I feel ya.

Ophelia

@sal291 Totally with you! "minor discomfort" my a$$.

adriana

@Ophelia It hurrrrrrrts!

littlebopeepshow

Came here to say two things.
1. Jane - even though I don't KNOW you, I FEEL like I know you from obsessively and repeatedly watching your eyeshadow tutorials. So I feel oddly comfortable saying to a a stranger on the internet: Girl. I am so sorry. That sounds horrible. You are a warrior.
2. I DO NOT want to minimize Jane's experience, but I DO want to offer an alternate narrative for any Hairpinner who reads this and then in the next year or two finds out she needs a "colp" and can only remember this harrowing tale. I have had two colposcopies - both for irreg paps, like Jane - and both were uncomfortable at the time but untraumatizing. And I had no barfy/painful/bloddy after effects. I'm SURE that Jane's experience was real and horrendous, but please don't freak out if you have to get a colp. Hopefully yours will be like mine - not fun by any stretch, but not horrible either.

km1312

@littlebopeepshow thank you! jane's tale is extremely valuable, but now I'm SO scared of any of this, nice to know that other, more positive experiences are possible.

Lauren Hallden@twitter

@littlebopeepshow I'd also like to chime in with empathy for Jane, but also with a little bit of hope. I've had a lumpectomy and 5 additional breast biopsies so far (yipes!); all my surgeons/radiologists have been wonderful, the scars I have are barely visible (I got the areola incision), my pain has been minimal, and all things considered I'm very un-traumatized. I'm not thrilled that my body appears to be a tumor-making machine, of course, and I'm REALLY not thrilled that my various docs don't have a better idea of why this is happening, but the procedures themselves have gone very smoothly. Hang in there, hairpinners.

messofme

@littlebopeepshow
I'm sad, bc my colposcopy WAS like Jane's. I should have brought a friend to drive me home. :(

reburkel

@littlebopeepshow I totally agree. Maybe part of it depends which area of your cervix they take the biopsy? I had to get a colposcopy last week and I was really scared because I happened to read this article when it first came out (wish I'd read the comments!). Although I'm super squeamish, while the process was uncomfortable, it was not painful for me at the time and I'd been expecting IUD insertion level pain, which was excruciating for me. Afterwards I just felt period crampy. I would recommend bringing a friend, though, just in case. My boyfriend was nice enough to take the afternoon off of work and I really appreciated it. Also I took a couple painkillers an hour before, which may have helped.

I also opted not to look at the screen because who needs to see any of their internal organ magnified that large?!

heb
heb

I changed my mind! I don't want to be a girl! I don't want to be a girl!

Choire

@heb Seriously, I'm thanking the baby Jesus for boy parts right now, my God. Obviously this is not the first of these stories I have heard, and yet still, I may have to lay down for several hours.

Also this is incredibly and effectively told and really rewarding to read.

dabbyfanny

@Choire Ah, you sound really nice, so I hate to break this to you, but wait for that first sliiiiightly elevated psa score that leads to a prostate biopsy. And yes, you should opt for the full knocked out anesthesia, do not try to tough it out in the doc's office. You're welcome!

raised amongst catalogs

Ugh, yes. My ex dumped me in the midst of my breast-lump scare of 2004. Ugh, ugh, ugh. This entire piece took me right back to that place. The mammogram wasn't the worst part of it for me; it was the fact that my mystery lump was apparently SO mysterious that they needed to call in every person in the hospital to gawk at me. They kept wiping off the ultrasound gel, finding someone else who wanted to come see lump girl, and then reapplying it. A man who didn't identify himself offered to cut me open that same day and said he'd cut a strip of my breast skin, "a slice like a string of spaghetti." I declined.

Lily Rowan

@vanillawaif WTF is wrong with these exes?? I guess it's good they became exes.

theharpoon

@Lily Rowan If there's one good thing that comes out of terrifying health scares and incurable diseases, it's weeding out the juiceboxes.

gimlet

"just a few of the ways ladies can expect to be hole-punched and torn apart, bit by bit by bit, as long as they stay alive long enough."

Welp, now I want to cry at work. Thanks, Jane.

No, seriously, thanks. This was beautiful and I'm happy I read it.

mysterygirl

@Riff Randell Yep, I was hanging in there until that line, and then the waterworks kicked in.

A wonderful piece, Jane. And a pox upon the jerk who broke up with you during such a difficult time.

kitten_witawip

The hardest part of my biopsy was waiting. I only did the mammo because I was quitting my job and the HR lady suggested I do all my doc visits before my end date. So after they told me they found an irregular growth every night when I was driving home I would cry thinking that I might have to beg my boss to let me stay.

My colposcopy wasn't so bad. But my gyno called and left a scary message that they something was wrong with my test and then I couldn't reach her for the next 2 days. So I didn't know if I was going yo die. I went to another doc for the next round and she told me a lot docs make a mistake taking pap smears and it looks irregular but it's not.

Bittersweet

@kitten_witawip: Apparently there are a slew of false positives on pap smears, and if you wait 6-8 weeks and go back for another one, it's usually normal. Avoids the nightmare Jane described above.

noodge

i've had 2 colps: one was like the one described here, the other was decidedly less horrible, but still much less than awesome. i think the worst part was this weird sense of being violated - having something that far inside of you, taking pieces of you, feels pretty awful.
don't get me started on uterine biopsies... why can't they do local anesthesia for this stuff?

Ophelia

@teenie Totally. I think it's this weird disconnect between the fact that they don't have to actually surgically cut you open to reach things, countered by the fact that it's invasive, and it's not like they're nicking a piece of skin off your leg...

monicamcl

@teenie I've only had one colp, and it wasn't bad either - BUT, I was lucky to have a good nurse. When I called to make the appt, she told me to take at least 4 advil an hour before I came in. I did, and I didn't feel a thing. The doctor asked me around 500 times if I was ok, and obviously didn't believe me when I said I was fine. "Are you sure?" Dude, I'm good, JUST GET IT DONE.

So girls, advil beforehand. It helps! And thank god for nurses.

On a side note, they let me watch the whole procedure onscreen. Gah.

Ella Quint

@teenie - No, I didn't get the advil advice, but found I was pretty good to go regardless. Either a cervix of steel or high pain tolerance threshold. I wasn't too sure what to expect but when I saw the dentist-looking chair with the the stirrups, I knew it'd prolly suck ballz. After the biopsy, I had to go get my bits lazered - I's got to watch the procedure on the screen for the first one - and of course began to laugh a lil' hysterically when the laser part began to crisp up my cervix like bacon. Which of course was making the nurse all nervous-like...ahhh, good times!

dabbyfanny

@Ella Quint Holy. Shit.

Jazzy

I'm the kind of person who wants to know what the worst is to expect, and then maybe it'll be better. I feel like this is a decent reference point. I'm sorry you had to experience all this trauma and THANK YOU for sharing the experience, however harrowing.

BethH

If this happens when you're 19, they skip the mammogram and go straight to the sonogram. But not before you go to the gynocologist (your mom's, because you're a late bloomer, and not sexually active, so you don't have one of your own, and did I mention it's one of your classmates dad's?), and he'll feel you up which is really awkward, and then turn around and SURPRISE! big long syringe in your boob but nothing comes out, so oops, guess it's not a cyst, and you'll need to find out what it is, before you have to go back to college, so, emergency booking at the local breat care center!

Then you get to have another five people feel you up, and get your ultrasound, and yeah somethings in there, so, you could just be sedated and have a little peice of it drilled out of you, BUT if it is Cancer (I mean, we're pretty sure it's not, but hey, you never know) they have to go back in, so best to just have it all out at once anyway right?

So you get to have surgery (p.s. finding a surgeon who specialized in both oncology and plastics is very important), and your pre-op nurse is another high school classmate's mom, and now way to many friends parents have touched your boobs, and you have to go buy new special bras, and you won't be able to lift anything or go swimming for the first month of summer. But YAY IT's NOT CANCER, so everythings happy and wonderful and rainbows and unicorns.

Until you find another lump. Rinse and Repeat process every 1-2 years.

Napoleon

@BethH
I hope your boobs are okay. :-((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

[redacted]

@BethH I'm almost 27 and still don't have a gyno. I'm not even that late of a bloomer (in other regards), just terrified of pain and finding out I have cancer and 85494 other STI's. CANT WAIT for that inevitable first visit!

lavender gooms

Oh, I so feel you on the lumpectomy, down to the massive increase in size between discovery and when it was finally dug out of me. I even got the "this will probably happen to you again, because you have Fibrous Breasts" speech.

Worst part is that the scar tissue on the inside of my boob feels lumpy, so I keep thinking there's a new lump. (There isn't, I've gone through the whole mammogram/grope test since then.)

hungrybee

Colpo solidarity, ladies. The first one was fine - so fine I couldn't believe it! - and I spent the rest of the day drinking wine and hanging out with a good friend who came with me in case things were not fine. It was shocking, then, when I went for my second one. I went solo, and I was going to run a bunch of work errands afterward, and instead had to get into bed and cry from the WTFness of my body's response.

We need more real talk about this stuff. Thanks, Jane.

lagreen

@hungrybee Yes! more real talk is exactly what we need. Hear, hear.

lagreen

This post made my stomach hurt with sympathy for all you went through, and with anxiety knowing that I could have to go through the same exact experience some day since I have a)breasts and b)a cervix. I'm so, SO sorry that you had to go through that, and I'm so sorry that our medical system is so harsh, unfeeling and impersonalized. Like that gyn couldn't have made a personal connection with you? Is that really too much to ask? But I know from my brief, nontraumatic experiences with the medical profession that it does seem to be too much to ask. You're amazing, Jane.

Bettytron

Thank you so much for writing this, Jane. I'm so sorry you had to go through this trauma, but your sharing the experience was incredibly moving and anchoring. That last line has me tearing up at my desk.

mabellegueule

You'll write about it on a blog where readers who were already a little in love with you because of your wit and flair fall a little more in love with you because of your honesty and thoughtfulness. And also you'll make them experience serious sympathy pain...

docstrawberry

My colposcopIES came with TWO biopsies each! :'(

hungrybee

@docstrawberry Ack! I have another one soon, and I am hoping this is the one where I get the all clear. No more scrapeytime! Hugs to you, girl.

wee_ramekin

Jane, I hope that everything turns out okay. I'm so sorry that you're going through this. You are in my thoughts.

peachy lefever

awww, Jane. I'm giving you a virtual hug right now.

Lisa_RedRowFarm

I so hear ya! I've had 3 lump removal surgeries on the girls (I am SO glad to hear everyone else abhors the fiber-y breasts talk) and a colp that resulted in a LEEP and then a thing they do after a LEEP, perhaps involving lasers. Yup, I've had lasers up my ladybits. Awesome. Still, no cancer so I'm supposed to jump up and down, right?

Rosebudddd

@Lisa_RedRowFarm Uh, YES. You DON'T have cancer, so yes, jump up and down. From a breast cancer survivor.

paisami

you are one hell of a writer, my insides are in a ball after reading this. you are crazy awesome, i am so sorry you, and all the other ladies in the same boat as you, had to go through that.

punkahontas

I read this whole thing without realizing it was "our Jane" writing it, until I got to the end. Holy shit, girl. Thank you for sharing, I'm so sorry you had to go through all this.

agba

Ohhhh Jane this is awesome. I mean awful. I mean awesome. You know what I mean. I just have one question: what are side titties? Do I have them? Should I be proud of them? I just want ONE GOOD THING to think about right now other than the future of poky-proddy cutting-open misery that awaits me as a lady.

boyofdestiny

@agba I had the same question? And also the same statements about how I hope everything works out and how well-put and enlightening this piece was.

Jane Feltes

@agba thank you! i do know what you mean and i appreciate it :) side titties are the opposite of boobs that have cleavage; often the sides of my boobs show in a dress or tank while the middle of my chest is flat.

faintly_macabre

I've been around those crappy, not fun blocks before. What could be better than going to the gyno, being told you have a breast lump, and then just a few days later, being told your Pap was abnormal? I concealed all of this from boyfriend and family because at the time I felt depressed that I was so lumpy and disease ridden. The colposcopy came back normal, and the lump was decided to be benign.

alpelican

Thank you for writing this, Jane.

iceberg

Oh, this was heartbreaking.

Also: Whyyyy do the doctors like to keep everything from us so our only source of info (outside of business hours I guess) is terrified googling? Does this shit happen to men too or is it just with lady business?

dabbyfanny

@iceberg It's either a) a power thing, or b) they totally forget, b/c hey, it never happened to them, or c) they said it to their first five patients, then got bored with the repetition. It drives me up the wall, too, when my honey got a prostate biopsy, they gave him a detailed, written sheet of what to expect... How hard could that be?!!

Lily Rowan

@dabbyfanny I got a whole sheet like that on my way to a colp, but I don't think it said anything about a clotty situation later....

dabbyfanny

@Lily Rowan The mystery thickens. Going by these posts, it's fairly common and extremely alarming, so why not warn people? The hell?

Lily Rowan

@dabbyfanny Of course I can't go back and check, but I'm 90% sure the only future warning was the dark and goopy stuff, not the days-later stuff.

Anyway: YES. and Blech.

thebestjasmine

Oh Jane, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Note for others about Vicodin: it also makes me super sick to my stomach, which is worse post surgery because of course you haven't eaten and have no appetite, so it's awful. Two things you can do: 1) tell them that it makes you super sick to your stomach and get anti-nausea pills in advance, they really really help; 2) ask for a different kind of medication! I've had Tylenol 4 for the moderately bad pain, which I like so much better than Vicodin -- no stomach issues at all -- and then Percoset for the post surgery pain, which is heavy duty but mostly just put me to sleep and knocked out the pain and didn't give me the same horrible nausea that Vicodin did.

contrary

@thebestjasmine hell to the yes about anything that isn't vicodin. I was on some serious pain meds for a spinal injury last year, and goddamn, is vicodin want-to-vomit/actually-vomit city (which is totally counterintuitive when you're trying not to bend at all but also only really feel okay if you're bent a minimum of 45 degrees over the toilet, because you don't want to throw up in bed and then not be able to clean it up). With percoset, depending on how much I took, I would either just sleep, or sit on my couch and pet cats/watch netflix/be kind of okay with the whole whacked out spine situation.

parallel-lines

I'm going into medicine and a recent experience with IUD insertion really woke me up to the attitude of "you're a woman and it sucks and this shit hurts so suck it up and DEAL!" that goes with women-focused medicine. There's a difference between scaring someone and letting them know things they can do so they can prepare themselves both mentally and physically for a painful procedure.

Ophelia

@parallel-lines maybe you're not supposed to give advice yet, since you're still a student, but it would be totally awesome if you could write a prep column - like, what to know/do before you [insert uncomfortable lady procedure here].

the ghost of amy lee

@parallel-lines omg I totally second this. My IUD insertion wasn't particularly bad, but they never gave me enough information about how it would feel after it was in. It was super painful after sex, but the gyno acted like it was something wrong with me and not the IUD. Then I went to another gyno and found out that I have a really short vagina and the IUD is not the greatest option for me.

Your mindset about making sure people will be prepared will make you a great doctor. Good luck!

parallel-lines

@Ophelia I'm totally not advice giving ready yet but when I worked in surgery, we made little check lists for people beforehand so they knew what might happen afterwards and wouldn't be scared - just like, yes you will bleed and it will hurt but you can do these things to minimize it and call us if you're worried. With the IUD, I trusted my NP to tell me if I need to be dialated first, if I need pain meds, if I needed an escort - and she really failed on all fronts and it was a horrible experience. Some things are going to be unpleasant and painful - you can't make squishing someone's boob between two plates not hurt - but you can talk them through it and give them breathing advice and supportive words and that makes such a huge difference.

parallel-lines

@parallel-lines Also, don't trust that someone knows what's best for your body just because they're a doctor. If you need something for anxiety or pain, get it*! You know your body better than anyone else and there's nothing gained out of suffering needlessly.

*as long as it's kosher w/ the procudure

noodge

@parallel-lines i'm also going into medicine, end goal being a nurse midwife, because it seems like there is a real genuine need for compassionate, informative, helpful lady-health care out in the world. especially in this country. it's the closest thing i've ever felt like a "calling". articles like this, and all the feedback i hear from the other readers, reinforces it for me. thanx, hairpin.

acefreakly

@parallel-lines ugh yes - the "your a woman, get over it" attitude suuuucks. Things are scary and I never feel prepared for appointments. I'm 29 and just now getting comfortable with my yearly. blurg.

lagreen

@teenie Thank you for heeding your "calling," teenie! As someone who sees a nurse midwife as their OB/GYN, I hope you, or someone with your attitude, practices in my area. There should be a site rating medical professionals on their compassionate-ness...if that's a word.

Ophelia

@lagreen totally agree...to all of this thread!

lizaboots

@teenie My problem wasn't exclusively lady-related, but I just want to second the need for woman friendly medicine. I went in to the ER awhile back with horrendous chest pain, got told it was "heartburn" and spent the next 24 hours in agony and thirst. (Couldn't suck on an ice cube without vomiting.) Went back (and was really embarrassed about it) and found out I had pancreatitis. "It's good you came in, because untreated that's fatal." WTF "heartburn"! Now I'm on this crusade of telling women: Don't let anyone make you feel like you're crazy/overreacting. Ever. Like @parallel-lines says, you know your body best.

noodge

@lizaboots that is THE WORST!!! i'm so sorry you went through that but i'm so super glad you trusted your gut. the idea that women have hysterical health complaints that need to be appeased with a cup of peppermint tea and a xanax makes me want to destroy shit. our health needs are different!!! and important!!!

Avey

@parallel-lines Yes, IUD insertion pain came as a huge shock - they kept saying it would be "quick and easy" and somehow my brain inserted "and painless". Not so. Awful pain during and I threw up in the doctor's office afterward. Apparently it's called a vasovagal response? Jane's description of it as stomach clenching plus nausea was spot-on. It would've been easier to be stoic if I wasn't taken by surprise.

noodge

@Avey yes, i passed out during my IUD insertion - i'd already had 2 colpos, and one uterine biopsy in my life, so i knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. The medical assistant was awesome, holding my hand and talking me through it. big ups to medical support staff - they can make all the difference.

Mingus_Thurber

Jane, I have been both those places and can say that you've described them perfectly.

What's weird is getting a biopsy of the roof of your mouth. It's all the weirdness of a mammogram and needle biopsy and colposcopy rolled into a big ball with the surgeon taking an hour rather than the ten minutes he planned on because the damn tumor is just coming to pieces under his instruments, plus repeated lidocaine injections, plus that damn "Soul Sister" song over and over on the office radio. I felt like Kafka had decided to script that day.

In partnership with the Marx Brothers.

One tip from one who's been there to the ladies who have not: If you end up needing a repeat mammogram or sonogram or colposcopy or whatever, go to a place that does ONLY that thing, like a breast center or a Planned Parenthood. It makes all the difference in terms of your comfort and the practitioner's skill.

batgirl

I had a colposcopy when I was 19. I had no idea what an irregular pap was, let alone a colp. They didn't warn me when I made the appointment, they just told me to come in so I had no idea what to expect. And I very clearly remember the pukey feeling and then stumbling up the street when I left, because I hadn't asked anybody to come to the appointment with me because I didn't know it would be anything other then a routine pap smear. Also the gloopy stuff really freaked me out... It was really very traumatizing and upsetting all around.

the ghost of amy lee

Thank you for writing this. It is nice to read this from a voice I feel like I kind of know. Hugs!

insouciantlover

I skipped a work thing because I was so nervous about my colp that I was crying, and I got up early the next morning to do it. I got there bright and early and sore like somebody had poked my belly button way too hard and then I drove into a garbage truck.

And when I got my IUD inserted my shitstick boyfriend got home and ignored me for an hour and then laughed at me for crying, because I took a vicodin, hadn't I? Then what was the big deal and why wasn't dinner ready? I broke up with him shortly after.

iceberg

@insouciantlover WHY WASN'T DINNER READY? Because fuck him, that's why!! Gaaaaahh I am retroactively angry on your behalf now!!!

Napoleon

@insouciantlover Any person who is that insensitive to their partner's pain doesn't deserve to be loved by said partner. SORRY, SHITBRAINS OF THE WORLD. Hope you're doing better now without him.

sophduck

JANE! Why would ANYONE dump you?! Especially at such a time. I literally can't get my head around ANYONE DUMPING JANE. He's clearly small fry.

"Man" aside, I hope you're ok now, and that you never have a horrible health incident again, ever!

City_Dater

Thank you for writing this, Jane. Not to get all superwomany, but this is exactly the kind of thing we need to do for each other -- information shared is power! (And your writing is as awesome as your eyeliner application.)

Tammy Pajamas

Thank you, Jane, for writing this, and to all the previous commenters. It's nice to know that one is not alone in freaky invasive procedures.

Also, I'm thoroughly convinced that no woman in the history of gynecology has ever scooted her butt down far enough on the first try.

wharrgarbl

@Tammy Pajamas
I managed it once. Then gyno sounded really kind of ashamed of herself when she asked me to scoot back up because I'd scooted too far down.

ormaisonogrande

Aw Jane I love how you can write about super frivolous unimportant things and about things that are terrible and kind of disgusting and scary and make them both compelling and interesting to read.

dabbyfanny

Second all of the above, plus, holy hell, who INVENTED the mammogram machine?! I picture a fifty year old virgin who meant well, but had been kept in a closet for large chunks of his childhood by his Mommy, so still has some unresolved "issues". I mean, would some rounded edges kill them?! My thought is it would be way easier to get a good image if you could bend over and drop your girls down into the machine. Right?

yellowthings

i'm scared for when this day comes, but really appreciate the honest outlining of both procedures.

beecaveroad

Wait, they can just... punch out a part of your cervix, no big deal? No painkillers? Whaaa? I thought I was pretty friendly with my cervix but now I don't even know.

Napoleon

@margaret_r "AHHHHH AHHHH WHAT IS THIS WHY DID YOU READ THIS MAKE IT STOP" - My cervix, just now

mouthalmighty

I agree with the previous commenters: this is powerful stuff, for so many reasons, and I thank you for sharing.

Cakebot

I wish there had been an internet when I had my colp so I could have read this. It wasn't that bad, but it would have been nice to know anything about what was going to happen. Or how to spell it. Anything, really. Thanks, Jane!

Legs Battaglia

I hate having medical news deliverd to me by some random operator phone lady. I had one tell me that with my test results, "if it weren't for my age, they would just go ahead and do a hysterectomy." I think I started to cry and throw up at the same time when that happened.

daylightspool

I had to get my colp at Planned Parenthood and they were sooo incredibly courteous, kind, patient, and gentle. I asked if they had a stress ball I could squeeze and they gave me one. I would recommend this to anyone else in a similar situation. Planned Parenthood has consistently provided compassionate and thorough service, while all my experiences with private doctors have been horrible...what nerve do Conservatives have even suggesting defunding such an important organization? Really makes me angry. But I digress.

Mine was not nearly as terrible as Jane's. It was uncomfortable, but not as awful as I had expected (Maybe cause I had imagined worse?). My boyfriend took the bus with me, waited with me, and then took me to get lunch afterward. I would also recommend bringing along a support system...having someone in your corner is really comforting.

Tina Steele Wiltzius

@daylightspool It makes me cry violent, angry tears that there are legislators trying to make Planned Parenthood inaccessible. I'm glad the care they provide you was so compassionate.

I just found out yesterday I have two cervical polyps and that is why I've been bleeding between periods. Reading this article makes me feel a little better. I haven't had them removed yet, but I know it's not as invasive as what you went through Jane. I can do it. I'll download Angry Birds first. :) Thanks.

Feminist Killjoy

WHY DON'T DOCTORS EVER TELL US THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

blee

Echoing everyone else who has thanked you for sharing this, and I'm sorry that you had to go through it.

lizaboots

Yes. Thank you and so, so sorry. A thousand virtual arms giving digital hugs. Your writing is even more beautiful than you/your eyeshadow art/your amazing fingernails.

daisyface

I just made an account so I could thank Jane for writing this!!!

Since February, I've had 2 colposcopies and 1 LEAP procedure (the next step after the colposcopy results come back bad), and have been searching the internet for a safe/normal thread to share experiences -- and couldn't find anything. Thank you hairpin!!

And to echo what others said, my experiences weren't as bad as Jane's. The worst part for me was feeling self-conscious and not having anyone to talk to who had gone through it before!! We should be able to talk about this stuff.

mooseketeer

I had my colp after moving across the country and breaking up with my long-term boyfriend so I felt so so alone and ashamed on the table. Then the doctor cut a blood vessel on accident and I was dripping blood before she even finished. The nurse gave me a big hug and I sat alone in the office for 20 minutes crying before I could get up and leave. The worst part though was that I didn't learn for years just how many of my close friends had to go through it too, and how not alone I was in this awful experience. We definitely need more honest sharing about these procedures, because it is so unnecessarily isolating.

TooCool4School

you know what hurts worse than the colpo i had? sitting in the insurance brokers office hearing that'll ill be denied for individual health insurance because of my hpv

laurel

Yeah, I'm sorry that these experiences are often terrible, but glad that Jane and other posters have access to health care, such as it is. I wish everyone did.

Lily Rowan

@TooCool4School Are you serious? Who HASN'T had HPV???

Jesus effing christ.

missedconnections

JESUS H I wish this had been around before my colp. I was so unprepared and nervous. It did not help when my doctor casually mentioned that the instrument he was using is called a 'Kevorkian.'

Rae-rae

AAGH! A colposcopy and cervical biopsy are JUST LIKE THAT. They told me I would feel a little pinch and that I might see a little spotting. I felt like i had been gut punched and every muscle in my pelvis was clamped down. They gave me a pantyliner the size of half a square of toilet paper which was seriously inadequate for the mess of betadine and granules of clotted blood. Nobody mentioned that all the skin might slough off my cervix and most of my vagina. Would it kill them to be honest up front? They shouldn't be surprised when women are a little lax with their follow ups.

kayjay

I had two colpos, one when I was around 21, and one right after my daughter was born (two or three months, maybe? It's a bit hazy). Luckily, I had recently experienced drug-free childbirth, so I had something more painful to compare it to.

Which was cold-ass comfort, because both colpos were shockingly, nightmareishly painful. I wasn't warned, either. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a way to uncurl my toes after reading this.

loudmouthedgirl

Jane, thanks so much for writing this. It actually made me make an appointment I had been putting off. I found a lump last year and had to get and ultrasound, and while the experience was not horrifying at all, being told that "well it's PROBABLY just an adenoma, and you PROBABLY shouldn't get a biopsy, but come back in six months for another ultrasound just in case" was not super reassuring. So have just called the doctor and will be getting the second ultrasound next week. Fingers very much crossed.

Jane Feltes

Thank you everyone for reading and all the kind words and the virtual hugs!! I will take your comments with me next time I have an appointment like this ;) I was a lil worried about how this would be received so it means so much to me. Health-wise I'm totally fine as of right now but not letting my guard down given how often this crap keeps happening haha... again THANK YOU I LOVE YOU.

Lola

I've actually had three, and only experienced the significant pain and side effects Jane described the last time. The first time I had a colpo was definitely the worst, even though it wasn't that uncomfortable. I gave the med-school equivalent of an intern (resident? I don't know, someone really inexperienced) permission do it with my regular doctor's supervision and he DROPPED THE SAMPLE ON THE FLOOR while transferring it to its little plastic tube. So, they had to do it again and I had to look at the little bloody piece of my insides on the floor. Ick.

contrary

@Lola OH. MY. GOD. this is the exact kind of situation that drove me to medical research instead of medical school, because I don't think I could ever forgive myself for making someone go through a painful procedure twice because of butterfingers. I hope they were apologetic about it.

Lola

@contrary Yes, very--I almost felt worse for him than for myself!

amusedgirl

WELP now I'm more freaked out than usual for my colpo this Friday. Should not have read this.

mynamebackwards

@amusedgirl don't be freaked out! I've had several of these, and only my first one made me shaky-kneed and sick to my stomach...and I honestly think that's because I didn't know what to expect. call your gyno and see if they recommend that you take some ibuprofen before you go in (some offices tell you to do it, some don't. I think it helps). you'll do great! I like to have a girlfriend lined up for post-colpo cocktails or ice cream.

amusedgirl

@mynamebackwards This will be my second colpo.. I just easily freak myself out by talking to girlfriends and reading stories like this. I pushed back the appointment time and am taking a half-day at work. I have a really great boyfriend who volunteered to go into the room with me (UH thanks, but..no.).. and I'm going to get some post-colpo NY style Za!

every tomorrow@twitter

I feel you so much on the water thing and I don't even drink that much water. When I had surgery I wasn't allowed to eat or drink from the night before, and I couldn't even swallow any water when I brushed my teeth. Which was okay when the surgery was going to be first thing in the morning, but it was delayed for several hours, during which I was still not allowed to drink and so I spent that time DYING OF THIRST.

The first thing I asked for when I woke up was more pain meds and the second thing I asked for was a drink. They would only give me ice chips on a stick though, the bastards.

pjammy

Holy crap, I just had my first colpo last month and thought it was a nightmare experience, but at least my gyno explained what she was doing! The stuff that fell out of you was probably Monsel's--it's a paste that's applied to the cervix after biopsy to staunch the bleeding. When it falls out of you a few days later, it looks like bloody paper towels. This is what my gyno told me would happen, and it's exactly what happened. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR DOCTOR?

Miss Trixie

Oh man. I had a similar experience with my colp a few months ago. My doctor didn't mention the goop or the nightmare clot. When I passed the clot, I stayed up all night googling increasingly harrowing combinations of keywords. Finally--after hours--I found myself on some kind of hysterectomy message board reading hundreds of panic-posts by women who went through the same thing. One woman described how she and her husband BURIED THE NIGHTMARE CLOT IN THEIR YARD because they were convinced she had a miscarriage. It was the most haunting thing I've ever read.

The fact that many (most?) doctors fail to inform women about what to expect following this routine procedure is infuriating, horrifying, and just plain mean. And the fact that the only stuff you can find about it online is buried ten threads deep on obscure message boards is so disappointing and wrong. And while I applaud and appreciate the ladies running the hysterectomy website I found, I really wish I could have found info in a context that was a little less...charged?...while I was trying to ID the nightmare clot and waiting with bated breath for the results of my procedure. I thought about blogging about my experience, but in the end I was too freaked out about letting people I know reading about my vagina. Like, I know it's nothing to be ashamed about. I really do. But also: gah!

Thank you for being so open. Fucking A.

Lauren Bishop@facebook

Being gay-for-Jane was easier when she was single. LE SIGH.

Sorry to hear about all this suckage, but thanks for sharing. 'Twas a beautiful read.

Then again, I'm studying to become a midwife and regularly talk about women's bodies in detail. Sometimes people are cool, but lots of them make their faces all scrunchy and weird. Like, ISN'T IT SHOCKING THAT WOMEN ARE ALIVE AND HAVE BODIES THAT DO BODILY THINGS?!

noodge

@Lauren Bishop@facebook i hear ya - when i tell people that i'm going to be a midwife it seems the reactions are split 50-50 between genuine appreciation and weirdness - like "why would you want to be DOWN THERE???"

peagle

Thank you, Jane! I had a colpo and biopsy last year, and I wish I had been able to read this beforehand. The terrible wrenching belly-button, pukey feeling was spot on. I also did not have the best recovery - besides the physical stuff, the whole not having sex and overall feeling really uncomfortable about my body stuff kind of sucked. Did anybody else feel that way afterward?

Although, my wonderful nurse did supply me with trashy magazines and warn me about the peanut-butter like (SORRY, GROSS, but really) aftermath, so compared so others, I feel lucky.

blue barracudas

Ugh, Jane I'm so sorry. I read the entire thing not knowing you wrote it and feeling so sorry for this woman, and then I saw your name at the bottom and thought, poor Jane! I'm 16 and I watch all of your makeup tutorials because I never had a big sister to teach me about makeup, so I feel like you are that big sister I never had. Maybe you should read this piece in This American Life, I think it's great.
I hope nothing bad happens to you,
Zoe

Napoleon

@blue barracudas A fellow Hairpin teenager? Hello!

panznkm0

just fyi. the tissue/blood clump is actually what is called monsel's solution and it is used to stop bleeding. it acts like a scab and then falls off in a few days. other discharge, like the thin brown discharge is lugol's solution, which is an iodine solution used to make the lesion more visible. also, if you get a colpo, the ob/gyn will use a vinegar solution to make the lesion more visible as well (which i thought was totally strange the first time i had a colpo).

kate.m

@panznkm0 Thanks for naming these things. I just wrote a letter to my doctor to ask her to hand out an information sheet. Specific things with names are SO much less scary than "weird discharge," which is what my [apparently incompetent] doctor told me to expect.
In other news, my first comment on The Hairpin is about vaginal discharge. I'm awesome.

biubiu

I had the same experience with the big wad falling out of me about three days post-colposcopy. I called the clinic and the gyn said she'd never heard of such a thing and to come in if I was in pain. I wasn't in pain, and wasn't excited to give the big hospital any more money, so I declined. After about an hour of googling I came across probably the same discussion board thread that the rest of you ended up at.

At my follow-up colpo this spring (no biopsy necessary this time!! I know peoples' bodies kick HPV on their own all the time, but I still can't believe my good fortune) I told the (different) gyn about my experience, and SHE said that she'd never heard of such a thing either. Were any of you ladies able to bring it up to your doctors? I just can't imagine how this could be happening to so many women but doctors don't have a clue - or are playing dumb for some reason. This might be misanthropic of me, but I presume neither of the gynecologists I saw are now warning women about what happened to me, even if a good number of them will end up having the same experience.

schmelly

Holy mackerel. I read this article the same way I watch horror movies: through my fingers, hands over my eyes. I'm both traumatized and incredibly thankful to read your frank account and all the comments.

hot mess

I've been pondering this post all day. Find a doc that's your protector during these things. It's your right and will make what is such a horrifying experience so much better. My doc was my savior. We had pre-game meetings and he would draw me pictures of the craziness that was going on. Denial helps too. I tried to schedule surgery around concert dates, asked for a lightning bolt shaped scar and I could do all of that because I was in good hands.

After the major surgery and staying in the cancer ward and 2 years of paps every 4 months, guess what? You get to move away to the city of your dreams and start a life that you never imagined. You'll own a bar and live on a block full of characters and hear brass bands when you walk home at night. When you go to the doctor in a town where medical services are still scarce after destruction and you tell your story, the new guy will tell you exactly what you want to hear. "Wow, that sounds awful. But you're better now, everything looks good and I'll see you next year."

sweetleah

Ugh I'm going for a colp on the 14th, and I'm glad I read this although I'm dreading it more than ever now. I just wish I had any idea what I will do if the colp comes back bad :(

daisyface

@sweetleah It's ok, mine came back bad ("high grade") which basically means the cells have changed enough for it to be worrisome (the body can fight "low-grade" and the doctor will most likely just let it go and watch it). High Grade does NOT mean you have cancer. Remember this!!! And don't google, it will only make your mind spin in crazy ways!!! If it comes back "High-Grade", you'll need to have a minor procedure to remove the lesion -- in my case it is called a LEEP procedure. It's an easy in-office / out-patient procedure (like the colp), but you get local anesthesia on your cervix. The anesthesia made my heart POUND like crazy, which I guess is normal, but there was absolutely no pain in my nether-regions. Then you're DONE!!! The recovery is a whole month of panty-liners and no sex (BUMMER), and the whole thing is annoying but painless.

So if your colp comes back bad, it will be ok!!! I think modern medicine is amazing that they can catch this stuff and remove it, it's a blessing really. Good luck on the 14th!! Ask your doctor (or the hairpin thread!!) if you have questions!!!

Sarah Beach@facebook

Oh sweet buttery Moses. Jane: I add my thanks to the many thanks of others. I love your writing, and I have had that exact. Same. Thing. (weird colposcopy clot). I feel so comforted, somehow, that a bunch of total strangers (though some of you probably know each other) are sharing this experience.
Along the lines of "Aren't Some Doctors Total Ass Hats" with a side order of "And Then There Was This One Who Was SO FREAKING AWESOME:" A long time ago I opted to have that birth control that consists of 5 little foam matchsticks, inserted beneath the skin and into the subcutaneous fat (ilgh) of my upper under-arm. Right on what is currently my Batwoman Cape (I'll save you, Gotham City! flapflapflap). This was early days for that particular birth control method, and I would be the first patient my (female) ob/gyn had ever done this to, so she gave me a big price break, if in exchange I would allow a group of (male) ob/gyn associates to observe the operation. It was to be done with a few deep shots of novocaine, then she showed me the Edwardian-looking silvery plunger/thruster device into which she would be loading each foam-stick and shoving it into my arm. Gulp, okay.
On the day of the operation I was a bit surprised to see not two or three, but SIX men standing around the room to watch. My doc gave me a reassuring smile and suggested I not look as she swabbed me with betadine and prepared to give me five deep shots, but I was sickly fascinated and kinda had to. The needle was LOOONG. It went in so far it made me sick to my stomach, so I did turn my head at that point. When the shots were done I was given about 7 minutes to "get numb" and then she made a small incision. That didn't hurt at all, but when took the plunger and started to shove those foamy sticks beneath the skin/into the fat of my arm - oh god, it hurt.. it pinched, and pulled. It was not the smooth glide I'd somehow expected. Unfortunately, then I remembered stuffing chickens under the skin and the ripping one has to do to advance the stuffing into all the parts... it was just awful, and painful, and uncomfortable/squidgy-feeling as hell. So I did what any normal person would do: I made a face. I didn't scream or cry, I just winced. And one of the (male) doctors bent over me, patted me on the head (!!) and said: "You do KNOW that you're not in any pain right now, don't you?" I was just gobsmacked. How the f#@*k do YOU know, I wanted to say, and then my incredibly cool doctor sat up and gave him such a scathing, withering stare on my behalf that he backed away and apologized. She winked at me and we continued on. The foam sticks worked for 5 years without having to do anything else for birth control (though I did gain about 40 pounds). I will never understand the arrogance and insensitivity of some doctors - regardless of their gender. Anyway, great post, Jane; thank you SO much for making me feel less alone in my weird-colposcopy-clot-having-had. Ishness. -

Napoleon

@Sarah Beach@facebook Big belly laughs at "I'll save you, Gotham City! flapflapflap" and the absurdity of a person *telling* another person they're not in pain. WHAT IS THAT EVEN THAT MAKES ZERO SENSE.

Sarah Beach@facebook

Napoleon - Thanks! I never did have those slender, Natalie-Portman-stick-bug-arms, and always wanted them when I was younger. But now I'm 40+ I have grown fond of them. Left one is Sylvia, right one is Chloe, and they can flap all they like... and I KNOW, RIGHT??? about that freaking doctor. That kind of arrogance just makes my brain come to a complete baffled halt... I did love how my ob/gyn gave him the hairy eyeball until he cringed, though! Good times...

barnhouse

Wow, Jane Feltes what a beautiful and terrible story. Comments too are so good, thank you all.

I just wanted to add: I used to work for a crazy gynecologist years ago (really good doctor but super insane person) and saw so many women experience the most horrific nether snafus with such mess, goo, bits removed, bits falling out, and you're like this is TERRIBLE but then they would heal so beautifully and be fine, just leap off like a gazelle, perfectly restored. So I hope you won't feel like these perforations and whatnot are permanently damaging because no, you are so lovely and good, and so I hope you will feel just marvelous again soon.

panznkm0

i left my first colpo feeling really nasty, but i've had several since and each time it's less traumatizing. you can pre-medicate if you need to with ibuprofen or aleve, which should avoid some of the cramping. if yr ob/gyn is just doing a cervical biopsy without endometrial curettage (actually biopsying the os of the cervix) it should be less painful. i can't imagine that any ob/gyn who has been in practice very long has not heard of a clump of monsel's falling out after a few days... that seems quite strange.

wharrgarbl

Oh, sweet jumped-up jebus, I'm sorry you had to go through all that, Jane.

My colp wasn't that bad--it probably helped that both the doc and the nurse were narrating everything so I knew what was happening and what to expect next--but I also wish they'd warned me about the brown, clotted, iodine-and-iron-smelling mess rather than "intermittent thick discharge for a few days." I was expecting kind of a short period-ish type thing based on that and instead spent a few seconds thinking "omg my cervix just fell out." I got the bigger clot a few days later, too, only the smaller clots never really stopped between the day-of and then, so I didn't separate the two things out into discrete events until reading this.

MsChilePepper

I'm sorry you've had to go through all this, Jane. Thank you for writing about it, so other women can be informed. I've gone through a metric fuckton of gynecological issues in my life, and I think it's sort of a calling to really be open and honest and help inform other women.

I had an endometrial biopsy (snipped out a bit of the uterine lining) when I was 19, and holy SHIT did it hurt! I had no idea what to expect, and after I mentioned the upcoming procedure to a friend of my Mom's, she told her nurse daughter about it. Friend's daughter and said I should ask for a Valium or something beforehand, and if they told me it wouldn't hurt much, they were LYING.

Well, they wouldn't give me a Valium, so I had to make do with a couple of ibuprofen, which certainly weren't very effective, because son of a BITCH it hurt! I am a very tough broad with a high tolerance for pain, and I will freely admit that I screamed an agonized yelp. I'm pretty sure they purposefully scheduled me for the last appointment slot of the day for just that reason. Worst pain I've ever experienced, hands down. All that to diagnose endometritis, an infection of the uterine lining, which was causing me to bleed like a stuck pig and pass huge clots. Ugh. Really, I should've just had the hysterectomy then, rather than waiting another 22 years. :-/

texaskim

i LITERALLY just had a colposcopy YESTERDAY and you described it exactly how i tried to describe it to my friends. the most uncomfortable thing EVER during and painful afterwards. i waddled like a duck out of the doctor's office. i almost passed out on the table. results in two weeks. THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing this, jane.

mmwm

@texaskim 2 weeks? that wait seems so cruel.

contrary

Oh Jane. Oh Hairpin ladies (and Hairpin dudes too), I am so sorry for any terrible health related thing that you have to go through, be it alone or with other people. This was really a very beautiful piece and I sincerely hope that you're feeling better (along with everybody else coming out of the woodworks in comments).

You are all amazing. For real.

Frankie's Girl

The weird punched in the gut and nausea almost-passing-out feeling when they did the cervix punch is called a vasovagal response and it sucks donkey balls. I have had the colposcopy and it was actually easy-breezy (and the doc was a lovely gay guy with the most awesome shoes I've ever seen on a man).

I've been through infertility testing and the HSG procedure (to check to see if your tubes and ute are good) was horrific. They clamp onto your cervix, shove a tube into your uterus and force radioactive dye up there to check the spillage. I nearly passed out, felt like throwing up and then had some of the most intense pain ever from the actual procedure.

Also, mammograms are uncomfortable and strange, but they don't always hurt. If they are mooshing your boob so much you feel like it is about to pop - that's a bad technique. Lucky me got to start those at age 30 since I have major boob cancer in my family, so I've had a few and I have giant boobs and never had them so mashed.

I do hope your tests come back clear. Sounds like a pretty awful experience (but love your writing!).

Cheese Triangle

Last month I had to get a breast ultrasound for a suspicious lump, and between scheduling that and actually doing it I got an abnormal pap reading that required a "coke," too. I spent a lot of freaked out days crying and instructing my husband just who he could and couldn't marry if I were to die. All is ok it turns out, but man, I wish I would have read this a month ago.

Keeping on top of lady-health sucks. I'm so glad you're ok.

DM@twitter

I had to get a colposcopy and I'm only 23. They only take a biopsy if you have patches that turn white after they splash vinegar/ iodine in your vag (which is what they do first). I didn't have any abnormal patches, so they didn't do it, but I have to get another pap in October and if it's abnormal again I have to have another colposcopy.

Point being it is kind of scary and kind of sucks.

elsa

A (maybe?) reassuring thing to know about colps/biopsies of one's cervix is that they usually put a liquid bandage of some sort up in there. I was told to expect black remnants of that to fall out for up to a week after my colp. What ended up coming out of me was a fleshy-looking wad of something, which I definitely would've have mistaken for (and freaked the fuck out about) being actual parts of my body, had I not been warned about it.

kiki

Ms Feltes; "You quickly get online and search for “bloody tissue after colposcopy” and find nothing, not even on WebMD. You only see discussion board posts by other women freaking out about having a"...
so you did go online seeking an answer to your nerve-racking situation? Perhaps you were scared or confused by information overload?
I too have had two biopsies (not a big deal women!) scary? You bet! Painful? No. Nerve racking waiting for results? Yes-indeedy but you too will get through it.
So here I am several years later and guess what?!I'm going for some plastic surgery and I actually like 'Make Me Heal'!!! the website is enlightening,(digest the informative , delete the obsessives).
Please Ms Feltes, next time you wish to debase a website, remember, one day that may be you....looking for an answer.

jlee620

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