Category Archives: My Life Now

What Is It Like To Have A Hysteroscopy?

My appointment for my NHS hysteroscopy was set for 10:00am. I arrived in the hospital waiting room at about 9:50am but then had to wait until 10:30am before I was finally called into a side room. It was a terrifying delay of half an hour as I was already scared about the possible pain and the possible sinister findings, but somehow I got through it although at one point I did have to get up and pace.

I was weighed and measured and then shown into an operating room where two nurses were busy gathering equipment, wiping trolleys, and moving paper towels etc. I sat with a specialist nurse at a desk (I think that was how she described herself, I was so petrified I could barely process anything anyone said to me) who took my gynae history, previous operations details, and explained what was going to happen. I signed my name under the list of awful side effects, dangers, and warnings of dire consequences they always give you before a procedure that scares you half to death, then, behind a curtain screening off a corner of the room I undressed from the waist down.

As directed, I lay on one of those horrible beds with the high leg stirrups, a sheet just about covering my nether regions, while one of the nurses raised the table so that my private parts would be exactly eye height to anyone sitting in the chair placed directly between my legs. At this point all dignity is gone, so the dazzlingly bright lamp next to the chair is just one more hilariously awful fact to endure. The specialist came and sat in the chair and put a local anaesthetic into my cervix because I’m sensitive there (it’s not routinely given!) and then the first thing she did was a cervical smear test. I was due anyway and it made sense since she was already right there. We’d discussed whether I was due for a test during the talk beforehand.

So far I felt no pain or discomfort because of the local anaesthetic, even as she inserted a camera into my womb to have a look round. For some reason I remember a lot of water being involved at some point – which subsequently had to drain out of me. That was a weird feeling. There was an impulse to cover (pointless), to cross my legs (impossible) and to wipe (unnecessary) but since none of those options were available I just had to let it gush out into the poor nurse’s face (well, not actually splashing I hope).

I was still feeling no pain at all, but that changed dramatically when she did the biopsy. This gave me some uncomfortable cramping but I chatted to one of the nurses about pet insurance(?!) to distract myself, which actually worked.

Then everything was finished. I lay on the bed for a few minutes with the cramping getting worse and sat up only when I felt brave enough. I was leaking a bit of blood but not too much to be uncontrollable by the usual methods. I’d already taken paracetamol before coming to the hospital (as advised) but that didn’t seem to be helping. I needed ibuprofen as well, and soon after, an anti-sickness tablet.

After I got dressed and had a debrief with the specialist nurse, I was able to walk away from the room, albeit bent over like an old woman, and my lovely friend who’d been waiting for me in the hospital all this time accompanied me to her car and drove me home. But by now the cramping was absolute agony and I was strongly nauseous.

As soon as I got home I clamped a hot water bottle to my abdomen, made myself a cup of tea, and nibbled a couple of ginger biscuits. Thankfully, within an hour the pain had faded and I was able to watch Netflix without having to brace against it. I didn’t need pain killers again that day, and the morning after there was no increase in cramping or bleeding.

With regards the findings, she specialist nurse said she saw two small fibroids (10mm and 5mm) in my uterine muscle wall which she left in place. Apparently they can’t be removed unless by hysterectomy, which is obviously too extreme at the moment as they’re very small. The uterine lining was 7mm I think she said?? But at that time the cramping was so painful I could barely concentrate on anything.

Apparently they will write me a letter with the results of the biopsy which I should get within the next couple of weeks. So now it’s back to the waiting game.

The Waiting Game and the Mind Games

I’ve got cancer, I’m going to die a horrible death soon and my kids will be orphaned.

I don’t have cancer. It’s just a thickening due to hormones. I can have treatment and get on with my life.

These are the two conflicting ideas I can’t stop my brain from debating every single second, including when I’m asleep. They’re extremes, especially the negative one, because getting cancer isn’t an immediate death sentence these days and there are lots of treatment options open to an early-caught malignancy. But it’s hard to stay positive. I feel as if disaster looms over me like a storm cloud which will break on Tuesday when I have my diagnostic hysteroscopy. These days while I wait for the appointment are slow and difficult. I’ve lost my appetite and I can’t sleep.

The other problem is that if I do get good news – the all clear – I’m unlikely to believe it and still want preventative treatment of some kind. Scans, tests, and cameras can’t detect microscopic particles that can implant and grow elsewhere. Recur. Pop up a couple of months or years later.

It’s all so terrifying, and it seems so easy to get. A thickening of the lining of the womb. That’s all it is at the moment – that’s all it’s known to be. But it’s suspicious, and is often an indicator of cancer or pre-cancer, especially at my age. I’d be delighted with a diagnosis of pre-cancer, but I think I’d still want a hysterectomy.

Oh I don’t know. I shouldn’t guess at what I might or might not want IF I get a bad news diagnosis. I should try and get my mind to live in the moment, take each day as it comes, concentrate on the now (and other cliches easy to say and almost completely impossible to do). I should, I should… I can’t, I can’t.

Wait. I have to wait.

The best way to wait is to keep busy. It’s the weekend and I’m seeing friends on both Saturday and Sunday and there are the children to look after and the ex-husband to chat with. My ex-husband has been kipping on my sofabed for the last five weeks since he split up with his girlfriend and had nowhere to go. It’s very odd but it’s actually quite nice having him around, especially now as I’d be more lonely and worried dealing with this on my own.

Back to waiting.

The Doctor Phoned & It’s Not Good News

SIGH.

And SIGH again.

A few days ago I had an ultrasound on my womb and it showed some fibroids and a thickened lining. I don’t know by how much, but this is not good news. I get the feeling that it’s quite likely to be cancer. It was such a horrible shock to get the phone call. You can tell when a doctor knows something is serious by the words they use and their tone of voice. This was serious. She wasn’t making me any promises. My world reeled about my head and my breathing became shallow. I knew what she was going to say before she said it. I had a sense of a gulf opening up, a crossing over into another world, the world of medical problems, appointments, treatments and severe anxiety.

In a few days’ time I will go for a hysteroscopy where they will investigate further and possibly take a biopsy. For the last 24 hours I’ve been in a horrible state of terror. I have no appetite. My mind has gone into overdrive catastrophising all sorts of painful suffering, early death, and grief-ridden, orphaned children. Last night I couldn’t stop the thoughts coming, wave after wave of them, frightening me ever more and more.

I didn’t sleep a wink. The demons crept all over me until 5:00am. I went to the loo four times, ate a yoghurt, went on social media, read the news, did Wordle, drank water, tossed and turned in my bed… It was horrible.

I’ve now had 24 hours to let it sink in, so although I’m still very, very anxious, I’m not completely overcome by the fear as I was last night.

For any women reading this, wanting to know my symptoms, this is my timeline so far:

18/05/2018    Started HRT patches for first time

10/01/2021    Stopped HRT patches

14/04/2021    Cervical screening showed HPV virus

18/06/2021    Hot flushes so severe I restarted HRT

15/09/2021    Coil removed, stared using ‘Utrogestan 100’ progesterone tablets instead

08/12/2021 – 14/12/202    BLEEDING

17/12/2021     Doctor’s appointment to discuss bleeding, presumed to be menstrual cycle breakthrough bleeding, told me to have monthly 3 days off progesterone, and she’d refer me for a scan but it wasn’t urgent (not two week pathway)

07/03/2022    Ultrasound of womb showed thickened uterine lining and a couple of fibroids

09/03/2022    Referred to hospital gynae team

15/03/2022    Hysteroscopy and biopsy(?)

I Don’t Have Covid [Any More]

I have now largely recovered from having the Omicron version of Covid. It wasn’t a mild experience for me. I’m 52 and have no underlying health problems but my symptoms were unpleasant and lasted a full two weeks. It was a proper flu. I don’t know why I had it so strongly when plenty of people much older than I had it more mildly. But that’s how Covid-19 works – it kills some, and others don’t even know they have it because their symptoms are so mild.

I feel that having Covid has made my migraines worse. I’ve had more than usual lately, four or five since becoming ill. That was horrible. So much pain. Also, the anxiety was always there: will it get worse? How bad will it get? When will it end? The Alpha and Delta versions of Covid were known to seem to get better after about a week to ten days and then suddenly get a lot worse, leading to those poor souls having to go into intensive care. This doesn’t generally happen with the Omicron version but I was still worried that I might prove the exception. I didn’t though.

I’m now coughing up the last bits from my chest, it’s my only remaining symptom two-and-a-half weeks after first becoming infected. I strain to clear my throat but I’m on the up. It’s slowly leaving my system and I feel relieved that I will now have natural immunity (on top of my waned and largely ineffective three vaccinations). I believe my natural immunity will be more fulsome, more multifaceted, than vaccine induced immunity and will last much longer.

Here’s to a brighter future?

I Have Covid [Day 8]

So I have had exactly eight days of Covid symptoms. It began on Day 1 Wednesday 16th February when I woke up with a sore throat. Jack, my young son, had Covid at that time – it was his Day 6 – so I know exactly where I got it from. It seems schools are an absolute caldron of infection with the children passing infections around like sweets. And those sweets always end up with the parents of course. If ever there’s a more deadly version of Covid I’m taking my kids out of school immediately. It’s where all our illnesses come from.

Yesterday I had a raging, awful migraine. It was so frightening because of how rapidly it hit. I’d say it was about half an hour from feeling okay to feeling in a lot of pain. They don’t normally come on so quickly. A few weeks ago I had a private consultation with headache specialist Dr. Shazia Afridi, after a disappointing and very unpleasant NHS appointment with my (male) GP who sneered and shouted at me for daring to ask questions about migraine treatment. During the course of our excellent 45 minute discussion Dr. Afridi told me that Covid makes migraine worse. I was so glad to have had that talk with her and to know this about Covid because I’ve had two migraines in six days, which is frequent even for me. Six days prior to testing positive for Covid I had also had a migraine so in total that’s three migraines in two weeks, which has been truly awful. It’s difficult to distinguish a real proper migraine from the normal Covid headache at first because pain is everywhere in your body, but when it starts to morph into agony just above the eyebrow you suddenly realise what it is and rush to swallow a triptan. Sadly by then it’s a bit too late and the stomach is already in gastrostasis meaning the tablet won’t get absorbed quickly because the stomach’s not digesting effectively any more. It means longer in agony and longer to battle the rising panic before pain relief slowly ebbs in.

After taking the triptan yesterday, getting to bed early and sleeping long and well, today my Covid symptoms have dramatically lessened! I can say that right now, 9:30am, I only have mild tinnitus, congestion and a cough. The congestion is all in my head stuck solid, but there is loose congestion in my chest which I cough up regularly. But that’s it for now. No other symptoms. In the old days I’d easily go to work or the gym with just congestion, but I’m still in self-isolation. I tested positive on my LFT this morning and it’s my legal duty – until tomorrow!

Yes that’s right, self-isolation laws for Covid come to an end tomorrow, my Day 9. I will still be coughing and will almost certainly still test positive. Today’s test was strong and immediate so I doubt it will suddenly be completely gone tomorrow, but legally speaking I can go out and mingle again – get my shopping, go to hospital, visit my parents… But of course I won’t be doing any of that. Just because there’s no law against it doesn’t mean to say I’m doing it. I wouldn’t dream of going near my elderly parents and I’m going to continue to stay at home, go nowhere, do nothing. It’s boring now, after eight days, but my infection was so strong that I would be very concerned about giving it to someone else if I treated tomorrow as my ‘Freedom Day.’

At least the most awful suffering part of the illness has passed and my appetite has returned. I’m convalescing. It’s curious that I never got the fatigue that a lot of people complain of. That wasn’t part of my experience – just the predictable tiredness from lack of sleep.

So that’s my dispatch for today. I may wait a few days and file my last report about my Covid when I feel my symptoms are over so that there’s a record of exactly how long it went on for and how long I continued to test positive. If there’s any relapse or anything bad happens I’ll write about it when it happens. In the meantime, I’ll go back to my ironing and watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Versus The World’ – the ideal antidote to dreary Covid isolation days.

I Have Covid [Day 5]

Every day of having Omicron so far has been suffering, pain, exhaustion, anxiety and discomfort… until now, Day 5. I haven’t needed to take any pain killers today for the first time in a while and I feel brighter inside, less trembly and weak. I’m not weighed down with pain. I feel optimistic. I’m still coughing all the time and have a sore throat and a headache, but the intensity has gone – the disease doesn’t dominate me any more.

Since getting Covid I haven’t been able to sleep at night, whether through discomfort, anxiety, or some mechanism the disease has on the brain keeping the mind alert and bouncing around the ceiling as the body languishes exhausted on the bed.

The night before last, I’d gone to bed at 9:00pm, slept between 12:00am and 2:00am then stayed awake struggling and exasperated in the dark until 7:00am when I finally got to sleep in broad daylight until 10:30am. That was following several nights of only getting a few hours sleep and I really couldn’t take it any more. So yesterday I asked someone to buy me a bottle of Night Nurse and I took a swig before bed which enabled me to finally sleep (in two halves) for a combined total of eight hours, and that has made a big difference.

Today, Day 5 I have a sore ear, constant tinnitus, a headache, a sore throat, coughing and fatigue – with the sore ear being the worst discomfort. In order to get a good sleep tonight, which I think is essential for the body to heal, I will take another swig of Night Nurse and with any luck will be able to report on yet more improvement next time.

I do feel sorry for the Queen who, at age 95, has now tested positive for Covid too. I truly hope she doesn’t have it as badly as I did, but if she does at least she’s lucky enough to have on-tap top medical advice (something that’s impossible for us regular citizens). Doubtless she will not have the same level of suffering and anxiety as those of us left dealing with the illness alone.

Here’s to everyone’s GOOD HEALTH!

I Have Covid [Day 3]

Well this is horrible. Worse than I expected. For me, it’s not been a question of simply having a couple of days in bed and then slowly getting better. On Day 3 I feel I am still getting worse. I now have a stomach ache which I didn’t have yesterday or the day before, and a feeling of slightly constricted breathing. I have diarrhoea. My right ear is blocked and I have tinnitus. I have a headache, a sore throat and a cough. I’m completely congested in the nose, and blowing my nose often and sneezing too. I haven’t had worse colds. This really is the flu. I can’t sleep much. Back ache woke me at 4:30am (this is my usual back ache from prolapsed discs) then the Covid discomfort was too great for me to fall back to sleep despite swallowing paracetamol. I feel delicate, kind of jittery and too hot. My chest is heavy, my throat sore. It’s scary. I’m anxious about it all. I’ve had three jabs but they don’t seem to be making it mild for me! At least I know for sure it’s Covid Omicron because I had a positive PCR result today as well as my two positive lateral flow tests.

Today, on this wild day of Storm Eunice, I feel worried, alone and pretty unwell.

I Have Covid [Day 1]

I got a faint positive lateral flow test today. It finally happened. Intellectually, I know it’s extremely unlikely anything bad will happen to me especially since I have had three vaccination jabs, but I’m still anxious. My symptoms include the feeling that a small fire is burning in my chest, I have a runny nose, migraine, sore throat, sneezing, and a cough. The migraine and tight chest are the worst symptoms at the moment and I’ve had to take a triptan for the pain, but most people who’ve had Omicron say it wipes you out for a couple of days and then you start to feel better and are left with a lingering cough and sometimes fatigue (although fatigue isn’t currently one of my symptoms). This is the case with my son. He was pretty ill for two days and then spent the remaining days with a cough that’s slowly getting better. Ho hum. Illness here we come. I’m already up to the hilt with paracetamol, ibuprofen and my triptan. I don’t want to get any worse.

The Great Parking Fine Con in the News

Throughout my time of writing ’50’ I was involved in a long-running battle with Euro Car Parks about a parking charge notice (aka “parking fine”). Right from the beginning, I wrote that it felt like a con, a money-making scheme, a honey trap for the owners of the car park and nothing to do with me parking in a prohibited place.

On November 12th 2019, I write: “I’ve decided to contest the parking charge notice. It came about because I parked my car outside, but adjacent to, a car park in town in an area where there were no signs about parking restrictions and no yellow lines of any kind. It was just a neat little space outside a car park, on the road. In front of it was a large planter for some kind of bush. Behind, two other cars were parked either side of a small barrier, neither of which were in the car park either. It seemed to be a well-known spot. I had had lunch with Lindsay in a café and when I got back to the car there was the dreaded yellow pouch attached to the front windscreen. I won’t win the appeal, no-one ever does, but if I have the courage to take it further and not back down when they threaten court action I could avoid this unfair fine. It’s a game of chicken. These car parking companies repeatedly menace and pressurise you, but if you don’t back down you have a chance especially, as in my case, when you haven’t even parked in the carpark that the fine applies to!”

I didn’t back down and for over a year ignored threatening letter after threatening letter – usually written in large print with red banners warning me of imminent court action, debt collection, and a greatly increased amount to pay. My ‘fine’ was tripled in price.

For months I felt harassed, bullied, and frightened, but because I strongly believed it was an immoral practice I refused to give in, I refused to pay up (although I did think about it a few times because the letters were so intimidating). Sadly, I’m sure the sheer persistence of the letters and the way they were worded so aggressively would have been enough to make most people pay. But somehow I found the courage to continue to refuse. I emailed Euro Car Parks several times and hand wrote them a letter until, a year-and-a-half later, the letters dribbled to a halt and they apparently gave up. I never paid the money. But I bet 95% of people who undergo such a horrible experience do.

And then this morning, three years later, I read this on the news: Minister Neil O’Brien said: “Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.”

It’s such a vindication, such a glorious paragraph to read, because it exactly sums up my experience. It’s wonderful to have it recognised officially that these car parking companies enact aggressive money-making schemes on often innocent members of the public. It’s so greedy and disgusting. I’m very glad the government is finally recognising this as a dishonourable practice, capping ‘fines’, and cracking down on the worst offenders. AT LAST!

Life Post Pandemic

Well, actually I don’t think there will be a true “post pandemic” in the near future, possibly ever. There will only be a “living with the pandemic” which, back in the day, was what we used to call “normal life.” I think from now on there will only be a new normal life.

Covid-19 was created in October/November 2019 in the cruel wet markets of the Chinese town of Wuhan, and it is with us forever now. It can’t be undone. In the future it will keep mutating and some of those mutations may be deadly, some mild. There’s not a lot we can do about this, although we can continuously create different vaccines to protect ourselves like we already do with the ‘normal’ flu.

So this is how I think life with Covid will be for us humans from now on:

During the peaks, the sensible ones will squirrel themselves away and spend time at home, if necessary taking the children out of school. And during the troughs we will come out to party, take holidays, drink in pubs, go to the cinemas, enjoy cultural events, and group mixing. Without Government intervention this is probably what will happen, although I fear the majority of people under 30 will take no notice whatsoever and do everything as they usually did, pre-pandemic. It will take them the most time to adjust. Us oldies will watch out for ourselves and our loved ones and try to keep the generation which still thinks of itself as invulnerable and carefree, safe.

I don’t think it’s right that the Government of this glorious liberal democracy that is the UK, lawfully make citizens obliged to do this and that, and not do this and that, with regards Covid. As a country we will need to do what we can to protect the underfunded NHS and vulnerable people in care homes, but we shouldn’t be dictating to the general population what it must do.

Covid is a gift for China of course because it’s the perfect excuse for the dictator Xi Jinping to further control the people he doesn’t like under the guise of lockdowns and “quarantine centres.” For China, the Dark Age has already arrived – the people live in a prison they can’t see. But for us in the West where we enjoy freedom, decision-making, and self-expression, we’re going to have to act a little more responsibly from now on in this New Normal of Covid, keeping ourselves safe – with moderate Government intervention where sensible and prudent.