Friday, June 26, 2009

So much blood...

*warning* this might get a little graphic and/or just plain icky to some readers.

I have a condition of some sort. The line from a song (who did that song, anyway? Maybe I'll look later) "I'm not sick but I'm not well" keeps playing through my head...

It started about 6 weeks ago. My periods have been weird for a couple of years now, but I have some pretty sketchy history of bad things going on with my girly bits, so I thought little of it. Also, with no insurance and no money to speak of it's not like anything could be done about it even if something were wrong. (PLEASE, we *need* universal healthcare in this country NOW!) But my period in May just didn't end. It got a bit lighter, but there was blood in varying amounts every day. That scared me. Finally I made an appointment at the local Planned Parenthood and went in for a Pap. Ugh, hate those things, but so necessary for a woman's health. It turns out that where I had precancerous cells removed a few years ago there is some sort of something growing on my cervix. The nurse practitioner, a lovely and warm woman who beat breast cancer a few years back, had never seen anything like it. She said it looks like endometrial cells are growing on my cervix and they are what's causing the bleeding.
I've suspected for several years that I suffer from endometriosis. I have all the symptoms, but without surgery nothing can really be done. It goes again to the lack of insurance. A lot of pain, debilitating cramps, pain (and bleeding) during and after sex, menstrual cramping in weird places, extra heavy bleeding. If you're not familiar with endometriosis, let me tell you about it. It's a bizarre condition where endometrial cells (which are the kind that are supposed to grow only in the lining of the uterus) start growing in other parts of the body. Most commonly they grow in the abdominal area, but I've also read that they can grow in places as foreign to them as the lungs and even the nose and eyes. So I am very lucky that mine isn't that severe. The thing is, because endometrial lining is shed with fluctuating hormone levels, it happens with these misplaced cells, too. And you get bleeding and pain.

So I began doing some research on cervical endometriosis. There is very little info out there that I could find online, but some of what I did find led me to think that this is almost certainly what is going on with me. Several years ago I was diagnosed with severe high grade cervical dysplasia and went through a LEEP (Loop Electrical Excision Procedure, I think). Basically, they electrically cauterized the bad spots on my cervix. One of the few articles I found regarding cervical endometriosis stated that while it is very uncommon, it does tend to grow where LEEPs have been performed.
I'm supposed to make an appointment for a colposcopy, but those aren't performed at my local Planned Parenthood and I don't know how we'll be able to afford it. Colposcopies are horrible things where they stick you in the stirrups on the table then take a look with a huge lighted microscope. The worst part is that they use iodine (although apparently they can also use vinegar, but my experience in the past was with iodine... man, that stuff BURNS!) all up inside. Of all the procedures I went through during my last gynecological mess the colpo was the one I hated most. Also, I'm still waiting for the house to close, so I don't want to be stuck with a microscope between my legs when I need to be buying my house (July 3rd is the new date on the contract extension for closing to happen by).

So I'm still bleeding. I'm frequently weak and woozy and dehydrated, but part of that may well be because it's so freaking hot and I don't cope well with summer heat. I'm a little scared; I'm not losing all that much blood at a time, but can one bleed indefinitely without there being consequences for the body? I am so tired of bleeding. Every pair of panties I own is now ruined. If I am particularly active the bleeding is heavier, so getting everything done on the house could be problematic.

Other than that, things are going well. M and I are happy and excited about the house and he's working a side project or two that's bringing in a little extra cash. And I've been doing a little knitting. I intend to take pictures later of my latest brimmed summer hat and stole, so I'll post those when I get them done.

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