Girly Post alert. This one is all about female anatomy and my feminist sensitivities, so if you don’t want to read on, please don’t!
Ah, I don’t know quite why, but I’ve been a bit tearful lately. Probably my hormones (the Bobby D calls them my ‘moans’… can’t think why). And today I had an encounter that had the tears springing up fresh. Silly, because I’m a tough ol’ bird. I guess there are some things that make you feel a bit sensitive. Criticism about any aspect of my girly bits makes me a little reactionary.
I remember when I was due to have my first baby, the Obstetrician had some concerns about my cervix. It was covered in scar tissue. She was worried it would be problematic when the cervix had to efface. It took more than thirty hours from induction. And I delivered a beautiful little Bee, followed three years later by a whopping fella, Zed. Then, a few years ago, I had a significant gynaecological surgery. See, a couple more years of bowel and bladder dysfunction had damaged the walls of my vagina, front and back. I still feel aggrieved that I managed to get my vagina through two pregnancies and a very large second baby, intact, only to have the muscle walls breached by a retentive bladder and overloaded secum. Unfair, she cried!
Anyhoo, during the surgery, the rectocele and the cystocele were repaired. My “telescoping uterus” (I imagine her as a fearless buccaneer scanning the horizon) got hitched up and stitched to my spine. A further surgery was necessary two months later, when my post-operative pain hadn’t gone away. I had exposed nerves in the granular scar tissue caused by the initial surgery and nerve pain from the hitch-and-stitch. It was climb-the-walls painful. I had steroids injected directly into the site and settled in to what would be my new normal. As time went on, the pain crept back. Eventually, my pelvis just always ached. I didn’t even consider that strange. But more intense nerve pain would break through the ache and travel down my legs, burning and stabbing as it went, making walking increasingly difficult. Strangely, I didn’t even relate this pain to the earlier surgeries. I worried that my gait issues and pain problems were signs of a neuromuscular development in my diagnosis.
Getting high dose steroids this year to suppress my immune system had an unexpected side effect. The anti-inflammatory benefits of the steroids knocked out my pelvic pain. I was walking normally within days. I’ve only had to use the cane a few times since the steroid treatment began, it’s been amazing. And finally, without all that pain down there, I’ve caught up on my overdue smear.
My GP is a really lovely woman, and normally I love her straight talking manner. She has this new smear taking device with a built in light. Vastly different from the old metal cranking devices. Ow. But the new-fangled thingamajig was great. And she clearly got a good view.
“Oh! A few nabothian cysts up there! Nothing to worry about… gosh, your cervix is not exactly a pretty little pink thing is it?”
“Probably not,” I said “…she’s been through a fair bit, I reckon.”
As I walked home, freely swinging my legs in their hip sockets, those words echoed over and over in my head. The tears sprang up. So I laid my hand on my tummy and had a wee word of encouragement to that old girl stitched up to my spine. You might not be a pretty little pink thing, dear Uterus, but you have done great work in your time. You cradled my two babies all the way to term, you get assaulted every month by the injustices of menstruation and still you rally. You have been tied to my backbone and still you carry on. In my book, that makes you a thing of wonder, strength and resilience. You are beautiful, just as you are. Battle scarred, pock marked and cysty. You’ve been doing the hard yards and I salute you.
I might be feeling just a tad defensive of my girly bits.
Hmmm. Why is there even such a thing as a ‘pretty’ cervix, for crying out loud?