I should have asked for a photo
Posted on April 26, 2009
It’ll probably come as no surprise to those that know me (yeah okay, I admit it, I’m a pessimist) but since my practice nurse told me she could feel a lump in my lower abdomen I’ve pretty much run through every worst-case scenario I can think of.
Even though she seemed confident that what she was feeling was a fibroid, that hasn’t stopped me scaring myself by contemplating all the possible alternatives. Things hadn’t quite got to the point where I was planning my own funeral (meh, who am I trying to kid: loads of people, so many in fact that the service will have to be broadcast on big open-air screens for the hordes who turn up and can’t fit into the venue; no wearing black; lots of fun and laughter, and a single female trumpeter in doc martens playing the last post for the finale), but it was getting close.
So anyway, yesterday morning, finally, after what seems like forever, but has in fact been only 7 weeks (oops, not 6 then?) I turned up at my local all-singing all-dancing PFI hospital for a pelvic ultrasound, all ready to hear bad news.
Before I left home I had to subject myself to some fairly horrendous water torture, which consisted of me having to glug down 1.5 pints of the stuff an hour prior to my appointment. Yes, I know it’s good for you, I get all the arguments about why I should drink x amount a day, but no matter how hard I try to make myself like it, no matter how much I consume “for my own good” I still bloody hate it; it’s my least favourite drink. If they’d asked me to knock back the same amount in coffee or wine, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but water? Yeuch.
But I did it. ‘Cos I had to. And then I had to keep it all in. For an hour!
About five minutes after I’d drunk it I turned to Dave: “Can we leave now?”
“It’s a bit early”
“I know, but I’ve got all this liquid making it’s way to my bladder, and there’s loads of speed bumps between here and the hospital. I’d rather be sat in the waiting room when I’m desperate for a pee than bouncing about in the car.”
So off we went.
After giving my name to the woman on the reception desk and seeing her glance at the clock while no doubt thinking “Blimey, you’re a bit keen!” we went and sat in the smallest waiting room in the world. There weren’t even any of the usual crappy dog-eared magazines to take my mind off of why I was there, so while the other couples sat in silence, looking more and more apprehensive as time went on, Dave and I got into an animated (although whispered) discussion about the cost to the NHS of hospital chaplains: it never ceases to amaze me the things I can find to talk about when I’m feeling under stress.
At one point the door to one of the radiology rooms was flung open, and a woman raced away down the corridor: five minutes later she came back, looking a lot happier. Dave turned to me: “What do you think that’s all about…?” “Hah! I bet she’s had to do the same as me, and they’ve let her go and have a wee.”
I thought about it a bit more, wondering if they’d let me do the same: “Dave, if you suddenly see me making a bolt for it, don’t panic. If they say I can wee, you won’t see me for dust.”
And then suddenly it was my turn.
Dave had already decided he was going to sit this one out in the waiting room, so I left him guarding my bag: “I don’t even know why I brought it.” “No, me neither.” Although I did know really. In one of my imaginary worst-case scenarios the radiologist took one look at her screen, exclaimed “OMFG! I’m sorry Cath, but I can’t possibly let you go home with THAT growing inside you!” and admitted me on the spot. So I’d brought along some supplies, and some money for the Bedside Entertainment unit, just in case.
But I needn’t have worried. The radiologist was great; she knew exactly what she was looking for, she seemed to be an expert on gynae problems, and better still, she treated me like an actual human being.
“Do you bleed in between periods?”
“No.” Then I added, “Not yet anyway.”
She didn’t need to say anything, I could tell from her face she was thinking “Hmmm. It won’t be long before you are.”
When she’d finished she put everything down and gave me her full attention: “There’s no need for me to do a vaginal ultrasound today, I don’t think it will give me any more information than I’ve already got.”
I nodded in agreement, thinking all the while “Christ, I hadn’t even realised that was on the cards today! It wasn’t in the letter! Thank fuck I’m not having one!”
And then she went on to tell me that she’d found two fibroids, a big one and a smaller one. Apparently there might be more than that, but the big one’s “taking up so much room there could be some hidden behind it.”
I’m not sure what she thought of me grinning away while she told me all this: no doubt she thought it slightly odd that I appeared to be pleased with my diagnosis. But I was simply illustrating the upside of being a pessimist: which is that if you live in expectation of the very very worse things happening to you, and then they don’t, anything else is good news. So I’ve got fibroids, which are horrible, but in comparison to what they could have been, and what I’d imagined they were, they’re really not that bad (although wait until this initial relief wears off and I’ve no doubt I’ll be singing a different tune).
I thanked her and opened the door to leave. “Good luck Cath!” she called after me. Somehow I resisted the temptation to go back in and ask why she’d said that: did she think I needed luck? Was there something she wasn’t telling me? Or does she just know that fibroids can be pretty debilitating, and that I’ve now got months of medical appointments, and fighting to get some kind of treatment sorted out, to look forward to….
The drive home was fun.
“I fucking hate getting old!” Dave yelled at the passing cars.
“Me too. But this is it now isn’t it? It’s all downhill from here.”
“Yep. I wonder what’ll go next…”
But we were both laughing. In fact I think I detected a faint whiff of mild hysteria coming from the both of us.
And now of course I’ve remembered all the things I meant to ask but forgot to, like what kind of fibroids are they, subserosal, intramural, or submucosal? And what does she think my chances are of avoiding a hysterectomy? But most importantly of all, I forgot to ask for a photo. Well, it’s the same equipment they use for scanning pregnant women isn’t it, and they get a photo to take home, so why shouldn’t I?
It’s too late now, but as L has pointed out: there’ll come a time hopefully, when I’ll have Freddie the bastard (yes, of course he’s got a name already!) pickled in a jar, and then I can sit him on my mantelpiece and hurl abuse at him. So why worry about missing out on a photo, when one day I can have the real thing?