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Archive for October 22nd, 2002

Me and My Uterus

October 22, 2002

I went for my first ultrasound today. Before you rush to send me congratulatory “when are you due?” e-mail, read the rest of the entry. Or, if you have a low tolerance for gynecological details, stop reading right now—though really, I’m sure the title has already put you off.

I went to my doctor on Friday, having had quite enough of my belly hurting for no reason I could figure out. It had done this a month ago, but I’d attributed that to traveling messing up my schedule and my eating habits. This time around, I couldn’t think of what it might be. It didn’t feel like any urinary tract infection I’d ever had. I wasn’t having any problems eating or pooping. It didn’t feel like menstrual cramps. I didn’t have any weird discharge from any orifice. I might have toughed it out another week to see if it would go away like it did before, but this time I had a fever. That made me think I might have an infection that was treatable, and that I’d get better faster if I went to get it checked out and got a prescription. Plus, I was eating Advil and Aleve like candy (I exaggerate, but only a little), and thought that was probably not a good long-term coping strategy.

Of course, between the time I made the appointment and the time I saw the doctor, my fever pretty much disappeared. Man, and here I thought I was doing so well to get an appointment for the very next day. My doctor asked some questions and prodded my belly and had me pee in a cup. My urine turned out to be fine, surprising neither of us, so she moved on to a pelvic exam. It wasn’t too long before she stood up and said, “Well, there’s something in your uterus”. What? That doesn’t sound good. I didn’t put anything up there—where did it come from? What do we do about it? Without knowing more about it than she could feel, she couldn’t answer most of my questions. She suspected it was a big fibroid, but it would take an ultrasound to tell for sure.

Thanks to the persistence of the staff at my doctor’s office, I was able to get an ultrasound appointment for this morning rather than several weeks or months from now. I wondered if I’d get to watch the exam on a monitor or get blurry black and white photos to take home with me. I could show them around the office; I’ve certainly looked at enough of my coworkers’ ultrasound pictures to have earned their indulgence. Besides wondering about the visuals, I worried about whether I’d pee on the tech. The instructions for a pelvic ultrasound said to finish drinking four 8-ounce glasses of water an hour before the exam and to not urinate until after the ultrasound was over. This evidently means they can get a better view, but I’m not exactly Ms. Cast Iron Bladder and worried that all that pushing against my overstretched self would lead to embarrassing dribbles. I tested the instructions on Monday and wow, that made for a very full bladder indeed. I decided that I could achieve the required internal liquidity with a little less water a little closer to the time, figuring the worst that could happen is they’d make me drink more once I got there and I’d have to wait a bit longer.

As it turned out, my slight cheat on the water intake worked out fine. The tech could see what she needed to see, and I wasn’t particularly uncomfortable when she moved the ultrasound wand around and pressed here and there. I did get to watch on the screen; “there’s your uterus”, the tech said at one point. If I’d seen something really striking, I would have asked for a print to take home, but it was all pretty much blurry grey and black blobs to my untrained eyes. Two things I knew I wasn’t seeing on the screen were my ovaries, but only because the tech told me they were hiding. Oh, those tricky ovaries. Thanks to their mischievous ways, I got to experience a bonus vaginal ultrasound. For this, I got to empty my bladder and get wanded on the inside rather than the outside. My missing ovaries turned up when viewed from that vantage point, so I was free to clean up and get dressed and go. I’m not sure what the tech would have done if they’d kept hiding—send in a search party?

So now it’s a waiting game. Waiting for the lab to fax the report to my doctor, waiting for her to review it, waiting for her to call me with news. There’s no point in worrying about it, so I’m trying not to and doing pretty darn well. If it is something bad, I can always freak out later. My biggest worry is that it’s something that will require surgery. It’s not the surgery itself that I’m concerned about—it’s the possibility that the recovery period might interfere with my ski season. We’ve already got airline tickets bought and reservations made and it would make me very unhappy to have to cancel them. Of course I will if I have have to, but I’m really hoping it won’t come to that.

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