Facing Your Fears

My uterus has an anterior tilt to it, and my cervix is “tricky.”

The things you learn as you go through life.

Last week I went to Planned Parenthood to get a new prescription for my birth control pills. While there, I mentioned I was thinking about switching to an IUD (intrauterine device). The pill has been fine, but I’m sick of having to think about taking it every day. The medical practitioner said my insurance should cover the device at 100% and they would be able to get me an appointment pretty quickly if I was interested.

I made the appointment for Tuesday. She gave me some instructions on what to do the morning of the appointment. I asked how long the procedure would take and was told it would only take about 15 minutes once they got me in the stirrups. I went on my way.

I arrived for my appointment on Tuesday without many expectations. I’d looked up the procedure and got the gist of what was going to happen. When they finally got me in the stirrups I was told it should only take a few minutes.

Um …. Not so much. This is about the time I learned I have a “tricky” cervix. Since I’ve never had a child, it didn’t really want to open. 

*Deep breath in, deep breath out*

As the practitioner tried to get it open, it fucking hurt. But I was maintaining.

*Breathe in, breathe out*

Finally, she got my cervix open wide enough to place the device.

*Just breathe*

Here’s where an anterior tilt to your uterus can be a problem. She couldn’t get the device to go in.

*Keep on breathing*

I estimate I was in the stirrups for about 30 minutes. For 27 of those minutes, I was maintaining by practicing deep breathing, something I can only thank yoga for. Occasionally I’d ask what was going on down there.

During the last three minutes, she jiggled something. It was too much pain for too long and the tears started flowing. I told the medical practitioner that if she was close to getting it in to keep going, but otherwise … Let’s not do this anymore.

She agreed and started removing the equipment. She apologized profusely. She gave me a hug. She said it’s rare that she has that much trouble getting the device to go in. She referred me to the Tampa office where they could do an ultrasound to help guide the device and could also numb my cervix. I made a new appointment for Saturday. They prescribed a drug that would help my cervix open easier.

Fast forward to this morning. I go to my appointment with many reservations. Between Tuesday and today, I sincerely thought about canceling the appointment. Facebook friends came out of the woodwork to tell me their IUD horror stories. I was really scared I would suffer the same as I did Tuesday. (For the record, there’s a small percentage of anything going wrong with it. IUDs are the most-used birth control globally.

When I was placed in my room, the practitioner came in. She said she wanted to try the procedure without the ultrasound. I quickly stopped her and told her I’d prefer if she used it considering what happened Tuesday. I started crying during this, with the fear of going through that intense pain again. She said she was going to do a physical exam to try to feel where everything was. Then she’d determine if she needed the ultrasound. “Can I do just a physical exam at first?” Sure… 

Then she chatted with me about mundane stuff. She asked about my “Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Pete” T-shirt. She asked about the leather cover on my Kindle. She complimented my rainbow toes. Somehow we were talking about where I worked, and that her children might go there someday.

What she did was talk me down from my stress and tears. She took the time to be a real person with me, something you don’t always get in a medical environment.

With all of the extras, the appointment was pretty uneventful. I got my first ever ultrasound. (I forgot to ask for a picture!) The procedure was still painful, but I’d put it at a 3.5 on the scale to the left. Tuesday it was about a 9.

I’ve been sore all day long. After the procedure, I went to my yoga teacher training. I did a lot of creative sitting and a lot of focused breathing to help when the pain felt intense. Though I’ve been tired and sore, I was still able to laugh with my classmates sometimes.

Some of you might be thinking, “I know way too much about your uterus and cervix now. Why are you writing this post?” Probably most folks wouldn’t post about such private stuff in such a public forum. 

But I think it’s important to share the less glamorous parts of our lives. I wanted to share how I dealt with the pain I experienced when I was at my appointment on Tuesday. I wanted to share the fear and tears I had this morning upon going to this appointment again, perhaps to face the same pain. I wanted to share my doubt about doing a repeat appointment, after hearing so many Facebook friends tell their own horror stories.

I also wanted to share that it might hurt more than you think to get one of these put in. I feel like that point was glossed over. If you are leaning towards an IUD, now you know you can ask for a numbing agent. You can ask for a drug to help dilate your cervix. I think most people don’t need these things, but now you know there are options.

And I suppose I’m also writing this in support of Planned Parenthood. I started going to them again last year because I’ve been having a hard time finding a primary care physician in St. Pete who will take my insurance. Some think they just perform abortions. They provide so many services, and I’ve generally had good experiences at the different offices I’ve visited over the years.  Even though Tuesday went terribly, I felt very cared for throughout this experience. Phone calls were made on my behalf to make sure today went better. Hugs were given when I was distressed.

So that’s my story. I hope someone along the way finds it to be useful.

*Just a note about word usage. I don’t remember everyone’s credentials along the way. Actually, a cool thing they did at both Planned Parenthood offices was that everyone went by their first names. Some folks may have been actual M.D.s, some may have been nurse practitioners. I’m using the generic terms of medical practitioner or medical practitioner to cover all bases.

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