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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

perspective, and oh yeah, screw you, interwebz

A couple things you need to know before you decide to read this blog entry:

1.) It's a Boring Medical Story and only tangentially related to the subject matter of this blog.

2.) Lord knows I'm down with the black humor, but some of this just isn't funny, so if you only read my shiz 'cause it cracks you up, you should probably next this muthafucka. I'll do better next time.

Something you should know if you do decide to read this blog entry, but you don't already know it:

I have a wee, tiny ::cough:: bit of an anxiety disorder, and one of the ways this manifests is in occasional bouts of cyberchondria.

Basically, with the help of the internet, I'm pretty much able to convince myself that the worst case scenario of any possible diagnosis is in fact imminent.  Even though I know I have this tendency, it isn't enough to a.) convince me in my heart of hearts that I'm not going blind from eye chlamydia and that that weird rash isn't probably scabies or b.) get me to stay the fuck off WebMD.  In fact, during a bad patch I once more or less begged someone who cared about me to forbid me from googling my symptoms, because I didn't have the strength to refrain from it myself.  

Note: Instead of agreeing to act as my Cyberchondriacs Anonymous sponsor, my loved one instead sent me a clip from The Big Bang Theory wherein Sheldon asks for a full body MRI. Why yes, people do tend to find my crazeeness hilarious.

Further Note: Just FYI, I have never turned out to have either eye chlamydia or scabies. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen. God.

Okay! Disclaimers and prelude outta the way.

As I have said to everyone who has heard this story so far, when your doctor calls you on a Saturday to discuss your test results, it's never anything you want to hear. And so when the gyn called me while I was at work this past weekend, it was with trepidation that I called him back.  He told me that there were atypical cells and hyperplasia on my endometrial biopsy and that, instead of the in-office procedure we had already scheduled, I was going to have to go into the hospital and have a d&c, so they could get more tissue to look at.  And then, after, most likely, a hysterectomy.  "Is that cancerous, pre-cancerous, what?" I asked.  Pre-cancerous.  I told him both my mom and my grandmother had endometrial cancer and, as far as I was concerned, good riddance to my uterus, it's a ticking time bomb anyways. "We need to get more tissue, make sure we're taking out the right organ," he said.  "Most of the time this is treated surgically. Sometimes medically, but usually surgically. But we'll talk about that..."  And responding, I guess, to the tone in my voice, he told me it was good that I had reported my symptoms, that we had found this.

I was kinda stunned. I had assumed, despite my jaundiced view of my womb, that this was going to be just a return of the polyps I had removed 3 years ago or else just my hormones outta whack. I didn't expect anything serious.  After all, my mom died in her mid-60s after ignoring her symptoms for far too long. My grandmother made it into her 80s before her uterus rioted. I thought I had a good 15 or 20 years before I actually had to worry about this.  And when my mother was dying, I had asked her MD about the family history and if there was anything I ought to do. She told me that, because it was an estrogenic cancer and fat women have more estrogen, I should try not to let myself get fat.  And I haven't!  That was another response, after my initial shock: I was fucking pissed off.  

I haven't let myself become obese or, at worst, more than borderline overweight, and now I'm what most people consider thin. I'm fit, I exercise hard and often, I go to my medical appointments and get every damn test they tell me to get, I eat my fruit and vegetables, I've never smoked, I don't use recreational drugs other than (despite my joking about it) very moderate amounts of alcohol, I can count my lifetime number of sexual partners on two hands and have fingers left over (and I'm old, yo).  I practice good health habits, damn it.  I do mostly everything right.  Wah, wah, it's not fair!

And then I was depressed when I realized what these two surgical procedures meant in terms of my lifting.  I was already depressed that I have to rest my piriformis for a week or two.  The prospect of not lifting for months?  All my muscles were gonna atrophy.  There went my goal of squatting 185 before my birthday or pulling two plates by the end of July. And, needless to say, bulk over!  No lifting, no eating. I felt so sad over this.  Just when I was starting to get kinda sorta legitimately strong.

Because I did not have the actual pathology report, I couldn't do much googling beyond "abnormal uterine biopsy" and some of that was reassuring.  Endometrial cancers grow slowly, or so I read...somewhere.  Four or six weeks after a hysterectomy before you can lift anything heavy.  See above.  Then last night I started actually googling hysterectomy itself and that was a little more alarming.  It was more like, four or six weeks before you can do anything.  Wait, wut?  Like, go to work?  Like, function?  No way, I can't do that.  And 3-5 days *in the hospital* after the surgery?  I didn't think anyone got to stay for that long these days.  And I have no one to help me. I'm single, my parents are dead, I have no siblings, my only child is disabled himself, my ex-husband/father of my son is beyond useless, and my close friends all have jobs and responsibilities and none of them live really close.  I pretty much rely on myself for everything.  I'll admit I went to bed and cried a little last night.

Cut to today.  Oh, I got home and in the mail is the pathology report from the gyn.  I have ATYPICAL COMPLEX ENDOMETRIAL HYPERPLASIA/ENDOMETRIAL INTRAEPITHELIAL NEOPLASIA WITH EXTENSIVE BREAKDOWN.  Yeah, it's bolded and all caps like that. Woohoo. Back to google I go.  It's like one of those horror movies where you're yelling at the slutty teenagers to, for god's sake, not go back into the house, right?

Because I had the technical words now, I got more medical/less laymen-oriented results.  After I searched the first half of that slash "atypical complex blah blah" the first study I pulled up told me that slightly less than half of the women who had that on endometrial biopsy turned out to also have cancer found (either on d&c or when the actual uterus is yanked).  Pissah.  Hence my MD's "we need more tissue to look at." Okay, it makes sense now.  Fifty/fifty. Flip a coin.  Either cancer is growing in me right now or it's not.  Then, somehow, I came across a page that listed which of a number of uterine pathology results should be considered cancerous or not. And there, squarely in the cancerous column, was the second half of that slash, "endometrial intraepithelial neoplasia."  Okay, stunned again and sick.

Why would my doctor lie to me and say pre-cancerous if it's not?  Why was his office taking their sweet time about setting up the d&c?  What if I need chemo?  Who the fuck will help me with that? Am I going to die?  What will happen to my son if I do?  (I instantly started making a list in my head of all the things I would have to do in the next few weeks to settle my affairs if I was gonna die.)  Should I call/text/email one of my friends while they're at work and say, "Hey, apparently I have cancer"?  I didn't. I baked a cheesecake.  I petted the new cats.  Then I googled the "endometrial intra...blah blah" itself.  Whereupon the first two results told me very clearly that EIN (it's got an acronym, yo) is precancerous.  If you have it you're 45% more likely to develop cancer, but it's NOT cancer. So, fuck you, whatever website made me think I'm gonna die sometime in the next few months. And my gyn didn't lie to me. Whew.

Of course, it's still 48-52 that I have cancer anyway, but that's better than a 100% chance.

I'm not worried about growing my lats anymore, I am even less concerned than ever that I have cellulite, and I'm not pissed I have to rest my piriformis.  Perspective.

Send some white light my way that I'm in the 52, not the 48, category, and that I don't need to be outta work for 6 weeks after my hysterectomy.  And that my fear of cancer and imminent death will turn out like the eye chlamydia and scabies stories.  In return I will post up pictures of the reduced-calorie, high protein cheesecake I made with the recipe and macros later.  That seems like a fair trade.  Namaste, bitches.



  1. Just found your blog on fitocracy. That's a huge deal! Single mom to single-mom, I can understand how alone and scared things can be. This is something I'm not even willing to imagine about. I'm sending good vibes your way. I really, truly hope that you are OK.
    And thanks for your blog.

  2. Cyber-hugs are probably as useful as cyber medical advice, but here's at ya, anyway. Scary things are scary things, and good stuff happens (like I've beaten CAD w/o surgery for 15 years). The 52 can-will-prevail.

  3. Maria, thank you for your support and thank you for stopping by. Please come again. It's not usually this depressing around here :-)

    Uncle, you rock as usual. :-)

    1. I know you have a good selection of lifelong friends around heah, but I am nearby and you need something while this is going on, please let me know.

  4. Retrospective white light. What a scary time that must have been. Assuming/hoping, all turned out right, since I've found your blog and it seems you are still doing what makes you happy and strong. I will NOT sneak any peeks ahead and will suffer through the sequence of blog posts as they were written.
    The internet info led to my father's decision to ignore the advice of the colorectal oncology dept. at NYU. Incidentally, we had to pull every string and called in every favor, to see him within 24 hrs. Dir. was correct, my father's cancer metastasized right on schedule (under 3 years). Lesson learned. Next time he followed medical advice. At the moment he seems fine. The + and - of Internet info...becoming informed, ok. Making medical decisions...not so much.

  5. hmmm yeah, did it again. That SHOULD have read "retroActive white light sent your way".

    this captcha reads 'joysag". No, really, it does!