I’ve been reading this forum for a few weeks now but have had yet more upsetting news to the point where a nurse recommended I post here. Apologies as I know some of what I am about to say has been extensively covered, but I just didn’t want to hijack anyone else’s thread by talking about myself.
BACKGROUND: I have never missed my smears and have always attended when called. My smears (until now) have ALWAYS been clear. Last year I was unlucky enough to be due in May, the very first Covid-19 peak. I thought nothing of it and managed to get a smear test in November 2020. As all my previous smears required no further investigation, I was expecting the same again. Just after New Year I received a letter stating that I had tested positive for HPV and cell changes had been observed. The letter stated that I would be called for colposcopy within 8 weeks.
Obviously that didn’t happen. The pandemic has snarled things up quite badly in my part of the world. I called the nurse at my GP practice and was assured my changes were “very minor” but naturally I still felt out of sorts over the idea of having to wait longer and the nurse sympathised. She added a note to my file saying that I was very worried and would welcome a short-notice cancellation.
Several weeks elapsed and I’d heard nothing. I phoned the hospital and got told they were prioritising cases based on severity and as my changes were “minor” I’d be further down the order. I accept this as I’d want this to be the case if the shoe were on the other foot but we were into May now (a full year since my smear test was last due) so I was yet again feeling very distressed.
On recommendation from the hospital I phone my GP surgery asking to speak to the nurse again for some advice and…was made to feel like the worst human alive by the receptionist. She asked what I was calling for and accused me of not knowing there’s a pandemic and snapped “we can’t speed up the hospital!” In the end she relented (only just) and told me to phone back in 30 minutes and she’d put me through to the nurse. I didn’t bother because the way she spoke to me meant I actually spent the next 20-30 minutes crying in my husband’s arms and I really didn’t want to go through all that again. I haven’t been in touch with my GP surgery about this since.
FINALLY in early July I had an appointment with colposcopy. By now it was over 25 weeks since my referral. I actually had to go in on a Saturday the backlog was so bad. The nurses and the doctor at the clinic were all lovely and did their best to put my mind at ease. I was a little nervous because I have never had an exam of this nature with a male doctor before and my husband wasn’t allowed in with me (because of Covid) but a nurse was with me the entire time so it was fine. The equipment wouldn’t work at first so I had the awkwardness of sitting there with my bits out for a lot longer than anticipated but it’s ok, I coped.
I only had a biopsy, no other treatment. The nurse said the doctor wasn’t worried and I’d get my results in a few weeks.
Keep in mind that I’d been told all throughout this that my changes looked moderate/minor, I was hoping for CIN1 but prepared for CIN2.
I got my biopsy result on Saturday just gone and it said CIN. No grade mentioned. I also had a leaflet for the loop treatment AND cold coagulation so I was a little confused as I know I can’t possibly have both.
TODAY: I called the colposcopy clinic and asked to speak to someone. The nurse was (yet again) lovely but dropped the hammer blow. I have CIN3. I’ll definitely be getting the loop treatment. My appointment is in three weeks.
I’m distressed but I’m also angry. I don’t understand how I can go from nothing (after regular on-time smears) to CIN3 in four years. I begged to be seen earlier than July. I called the appointment line about four times and each time got told that there was a waiting list and I shouldn’t worry because my changes are minor.
I know CIN3 isn’t cancer but I still can’t help crying constantly since I had that result confirmed. All my screening has been delayed by the pandemic and I just can’t help wondering if this severe change has been sitting in my body for most of the last four years.
I know HPV can be caught by anyone and any time and can be dormant for several years but I also can’t help thinking: why now? I’ve been with my husband for 12 years and only had a couple of brief relationships before then. I try not to think of it this way but can’t help wondering what I did to deserve this happening to me when everything was messed up by a pandemic.
Appreciate this is a lot of words to read, so thank you anyone who got this far. Needless to say I am scared of the loop procedure and the recovery and “what if they don’t get it all?” But I think I’ve typed enough for tonight. Thank you for listening.