Thursday, April 30, 2015

On being an athlete. With a uterus. And over-the-top graphic descriptions of a doctor's visit.

So life's been busy. Training, working. Went to a couple Washington National's game (hello, awesome - its been a LONG TIME since I lived close to any semblance of a professional sports team). And this week I decided to get those pesky doctor's appointments out of the way - primary care, dermatologist, and GYN. Ahhh, the GYN.

disclaimer to my non-existent following: If you don't wish to read about the adventures of my uterus (you heard it here folks), then you might want to stop. right. here. no, seriously.

I've been on the pill for the better half of my adult life. And I've been good about taking it as directed for approximately 1/15th of that time period. I'll at least say this - Mom, you aren't a grandmother, though you'd probably like to be. But I'm calling the last 15 years a win for me.

I sat down and had a conversation with myself the other day. It started out like this: Self, you're awesome (I usually like to start these conversations on a positive, complimentary note). And you might consider procreating in the future. And I mean in the near-er future, not the very far-away future because let's consider science. Also, Self, you're really having a good year so far and pregnancy would alter the current trajectory of your triathlon "career". Do you want kids? Maybe. Today? No.

So after our life chat (which occurred in the shower of all places), I decided I needed to up the ante on the birth control game. Because pregnancy is not game I wish to win. Or lose? Hm.

I did some research. I read things. I also came across a semi-interesting blog post about how menstrual cycles screw around with training/racing (this never occurred to me and in my three minute retroactive study that is the last year of my life, I couldn't come up with an logical period/triathlon relationship). The IUD sometimes causes a cease in actual periods too so I was all for that because racing/training with a period can straight up suck.

I arrived at the GYN armed with a few printed out lines of information about IUDs. She came in, we chatted about life for a quick minute and my less than perfect PAP smear record (still not dying yet). Then we got around to talking about divorce and how for the last 15 years of my life, I've been unable to get on a schedule where I take a daily pill. Cue children talk. Then - hey, I have a wacky idea, how about that new IUD? She was totally on board and was like, oh hey by the way, lets do it today.

Sign me up doc, I like your thinking, lets get this done with. I'm getting a bit chilly in this salmon-colored-sheet-with-strings-that-I'm-sure-are-meant-to-be-tied-but-I-haven't-quite-figure-that-out-yet-so-I'm-wrapping-it-around-me-like-a-weird-kimono.

She hits me with "we usually have you take handfuls of motrin before the procedure because it can hurt and be quite uncomfortable for awhile after it is inserted."

I hit her back with "I'm tough, I'm sure I've been through worse and I've lived to tell yet another sarcastic joke so lets just set this up RIGHT NOW, shall we? Quit wasting time, you're scaring me."

They end up bringing me 2 packets of motrin (I thank the good lord for any relief this later provided me) and a cup of water which I downed quickly so as to get the show on the road.

We do the normal female exam bit - speculum, swabs, feeling around for ovaries (yep, they're there. nope, not painful). Breast exam (so what if it only took 3 seconds, I'm streamlined for speed!)

For reference, I laugh about my small boobs often. They don't bother me a lot but I'm a little self-conscious about them, so I make jokes. That being said...

We've now arrived at the IUD portion of the show. Here's how this works - you "ideally" need a uterus that is 6cm long for this to be placed correctly. Mirena is bigger in size than Skyla so I went with Skyla (also because Skyla is good up to 3 years v. 5 years, though you can remove them at any time if you choose to forego a childless existance). She has a special ruler that she uses to measure the length of your uterus ONLY AFTER SHE TELLS YOU TO COUGH SO SHE CAN CLAMP DOWN ON THAT PESKY CERVIX.

"haha, the cough was just a cover up so I could grab a piece of your already messed up reproductive tissue."


I realize it was just a quick pain and then we were good again, so it was time to measure some organs.

It felt.. like cramps. Which quickly escalated into a pain that I can only compare to a red hot poker jabbing into your abdomen. I actually made an audible cry when that happened and she pulls out the ruler and says, "huh".

I mean, I'm no gynecologist. But seeing as I am an actual doctor, I don't believe my clients want to hear me say that at any time during the exam. Or ever.

We're barely reaching 5cm. GOAL=6cm. She then insults my poor aching uterus by calling it "puny" and "short" and "tiny". At that point, the thought crossed my mind that not only do I have the boobs of a preteen girl, but I've been walking around in public with the uterus of a preteen girl. Am I really 30 years old? Mom? I'm pretty good at basic addition and 1984 seems to have occurred roughly 3 decades ago. Yet, for whatever reason, my body really wants to hang out in the immediately post-Y2K universe.

There was some more speculum work and hemming and hawing about the logistics of giving this child-like creature in front of her long term birth control. I started to feel pretty light headed and nauseous, so she made an appreciable snap decision.

This is the part where I really started to appreciate my new GYN and found a kindred spirit in her. Basically, she says, fuck it. We're doing this anyway and if it works, great. If it doesn't, then when you come back in a month, we'll fix it for you.

The actual implantation of the IUD was uneventful. My uterus was already burning so this didn't really do more than add a few twigs to the existing fire.

After that, we were done. I felt like throwing up and she assured me that this and the horribly intense cramping was normal. I walked out bent over at the waist at a reasonable 90 degree angle (it hurt to stand up straight) while no one gave me a second glance.

I limped down to my car (because now my whole body felt like it'd been through a UFC fight), got in and sat. Uncomfortably. Luckily, I live a mile or so away, so I drove home without passing out (success) and proceeded to lay on my couch moaning in agony while Jazz slowly crept toward me, obviously concerned that she was about to be orphaned.

Luckily, I had already done a semi-intense brick workout and had a less-than-intense swim workout planned. That plan immediately went in the trash when I passed out on the couch for two hours. I woke up feeling marginally better. Good enough that I could drive, ride the metro, and go to the Nats game. The fact that I ate pizza, cheese fries, and 3 beers only means that I was not, in fact, dead. When I stop having an appetite, its probably time to put me down.

The moral of the story is this: despite the agony of the experience, the whole IUD song and dance was completely worth it. And if the icing on the cake is no periods, then fabulous. That makes training and life easier.

I feel like we've all become closer now that you've heard about my gynecological struggles. Thanks for the support! Until next time...

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