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An HPV Scare: Part I

Article by an Ova Lady

Edited by Tiffany Aquino

I’m writing this blog series for the Ova community, so that way you can follow my progress, what happens, what it means and, most importantly, so that we can learn together. I’m sure I’m not the only one reading this that has been in this situation, nor will I be the last. But I truly want to make sure that you’re not alone while you’re going through this.

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I just got out of a yoga class, drank a steamy mug of coffee and ate a delicious breakfast at a cute little cafe in the North East neighborhood of Minneapolis. I’m not from Minnesota, I’m from Ohio, but I’m in town for a bit decompressing and visiting one of my dearest friends. It’s been a lovely trip to the cities. It’s super chilly yet the sun is shining, and we are sitting at this cafe as I am trying to figure out my post-masters-degree-life-plans that will be coming around the corner in May. And then in the midst of all this loveliness, I check my email and BAM! My GYN PAP test results are back from last week:

“HPV-DNA ASSAY LAB RESULTS: VALUE: Positive for one or more of the following high/intermediate risk HPV types: 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68. Low risk HPV types are not detected by this assay.”



Positive? POSITIVE? Eeeek! Life-stop, what the heck does all that mean? It looks like the winning Powerball numbers, but it feels like quite the opposite. Tears well up in my eyes. Ten minutes ago, my biggest worry was my post-graduation plans. Now, I have to decode this potentially life-altering message from my doc. I scour through the lab notifications, desperately searching for answers but nowhere in the midst of the numbers is there any indication of next steps.

So, of course, I turn and ask my non-health-professional-best-intimate-health-blogger-friend. “What does it all mean?” And she responds in the goofy yet intelligent and reassuring way that she tends to tackle most situations. “This happens to a lot of ladies, it’s common, but you should follow up with your doc.”

But, I still don’t feel reassured.

“Ok, cool,” I thought. “It happens to a lot of ladies...I got the Gardasil shots, I’ll be fine. Right?” But the more I try to reassure myself, the more worried I get. I text my mom next, who is currently a snow-bird hiding away in the warm Florida sunshine.

“MOM, when do you come home next? I need to drive from Columbus (where I live) to Cleveland (where my family and doc reside) for a follow up with the GYN. Got a positive PAP :-/” Immediately she calls me, but I ignore the call because I’m still in the bustling cafe and I don’t really want to talk about my cervix in earshot of the rest of the world. So I text her “SRY mamma - still at cafe. I think I’m fine, still gotta go back in for a follow up tho”. Anyways, she’s not going to be home till the end of February so I’m going to have to tackle this on my own.

After about three hours of phone tag with my doctor, I finally get a few answers. I need to return in a few weeks for a Colposcopy, which is a cervical exam that uses a vinegar wash to detect abnormal cells. If areas in my cervix turn white after the wash, they will then have to go in with an octopus shaped-arm-contraption and take a biopsy. Apparently this part is very painful and will send my cervix into massive menstrual-like cramps, so taking a midol or ibuprofen beforehand is encouraged. Though I'm anxious about the procedure, I am hopeful it will give me answers, and a quick conclusion to this story.

TO BE CONTINUED.

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I truly hope that by sharing my story, I can shed some light on this situation and procedure for a few other ladies that have also been given this frightful message. The next blogs in this series will have more statistical data and medical information (and hopefully less blind fear) about the why’s and the how’s of this whole thing or now I just wanted to get out my emotions and thoughts as this bomb has been dropped into my life. Although there is no immediate need for me to worry, I am emotional and dramatic and I tend to worry. And, sometimes the best way to calm my fears is to write about them, so here I am, talking about my cervix for the whole world to hear. Stay tuned for my next update after I get out of my procedure in a few weeks! Eek! Wish me luck!

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