The Prelude

***Read First*** (if you haven’t already)

So to the start: October 2013 I had my regular pap smear. Boring. Results came back as ‘abnormal’, CIN1. What’s that? A virus on the cervix making a little merry. Don’t stress too much, it usually goes away on its own.  Come back in 12 months for another pap test.

I returned to the doc for the follow-up pap smear in September 2014…a little early but it worked for my FIFO weekends in Perth. Again it came back as CIN1. Odd that it hasn’t gone away so off to the gynaecologist, Doctor Wu, for a colposcopy (much easier to type than say I can assure you!). This is a visual inspection with iodine being wiped on the cervix and if they see anything they take a biopsy. In October 2014 the doc confirmed that visually it was CIN1 and that he’d taken a biopsy to confirm.
Eventually the biopsy results letter came through and it said that it was a small sample so the results were inconclusive but it’s just CIN1. Come back for another pap smear in 12 months.

[Insert more FIFO, Christmas, 31st birthday, a trip to Iceland, and the commencement of preparations for relocation to Denver here.]

Due to that third activity I headed back to the GP a bit early again, 13th July. I told her about my pending relocation and had my pap test.  She said it was good that I came in early just in case the results show abnormalities. She said that their office should have the results by Monday and in the interests of getting anything done if needed I should call Monday. I didn’t need to call.

I was three quarters of the way to Busselton for a night away on Friday 17th – exploring WA while I’m here, who knows if I’ll return – and I get a phone call. Being an unknown number and driving I’d not normally answer but a pull over bay appeared and I answered. Thankfully.

“Hi this is Doctor Mokala from Lindisfarne, we got your results in. You have CIN3. So if you come in as soon as possible I’ll give you a referral to the gynaecologist for a colposcopy. Don’t worry about this until you get those results.” or something to that effect.
I said some stuff in there but I’m not sure what and it wasn’t much.

Okie dokie. Don’t worry. Sure. I was transferred to the reception and booked for Monday morning, first available appointment. I allowed myself a bit of stressing time while continuing down to Busselton. Then I packed it away in the back of my head and ignored it. I did a little google research that late night when the packing came a little loose.

The CIN classification system goes 1 – low-grade, 2 – medium grade, 3 – high grade, then it can develop into cervical or other cancers. Yay. It’s moved from a one to three in ten months, I can’t find if that is normal or not though this site has a whole lot of interesting flow charts of how it progresses and is treated. Wikipedia tells me that progression, in 3-40 years average 15 years, to cancer occurs in 1% of CIN1, and ‘at least’ 12% of CIN3.  A few other websites cite similar numbers, so its there or thereabouts.  Most websites agree that between 20-40% of women get diagnosed with one of the ‘CIN’s. If not treated 22% of identified and tracked CIN3 cases turn into cancer.  So lets get this thing treated.
There are many options for treatment of CIN3, the most common being laser removal or leep (in Australia I’ve discovered its called LLETZ) removal. Laser is done under general anaesthetic and many don’t do it because with leep you get to test the stuff cut off. So leep is an electrified loop that they use to scrape the affected areas away, simultaneously removing and cauterising.
My googling says that once dug out it rarely returns. I guess time will tell.

Today, a week after the pap test, I had my referral meeting. I know from last year that Doctor Mokala isn’t a fan of going into detail on this topic. She just told me not to worry about it too much until the specialist gets a look, he’ll have more info. I guess from her perspective she’s a general practitioner, not specialist, and can’t really see it when she does the pap test. She did say that after the removal I’ll be good to travel straight away, so that is a win…not that I have a contract yet. I asked for a few names of gynaecologists so I could shop around for the earliest available appointment. Turns out I didn’t need to shop around, Doctor Wu has an availability on Tuesday morning, next week. So I wait for a week and go let a doc poke around in there again for the colposcopy. Bring it on.

I called mum this morning after the GP and told her. She sounded quite worried. Asked questions like she doesn’t know about it. So here’s to hoping that she is worried for nothing.
I went to work, had a good day of learning from Pat while he ranted about shitty client feedback and how to deal with it, and now I’m having a cider. I wanted to go no drinks from this week but honestly whatever. Maybe I’m a little worried afterall.

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