It all started with two little pills – one from above and one from below …
There are not often medical stories in my life that end up in giggles, smiles, and rainbows, but I am proud to say this one did!
In my adolescent years of spinal cord injury I developed several pulmonary embolism’s causing me to take blood thinners for several years. As a result, high levels of estrogen in my blood (found in many contraceptive pills), which have the tendency to cause blood clots, would forever leave me in a situation where estrogen could quite literally kill me. This posed a challenge for me as I became sexually active several years following my accident.
In my particular case, becoming pregnant would very likely result in my untimely demise. Needless-to-say after being killed by several medical professionals years earlier due to a cockup with a certain medication; I was not particularly keen to repeat this experience nor have a little bun in my oven of my own.
So, I worked with several gynecologists to find an alternative method of contraception involving the hormone progesterone instead of estrogen. In 2015 we decided a Mirena IUD would be the best course of action. For those unfamiliar with a Mirena IUD, it is a small T-shaped device inserted into the uterus, which slowly emits low levels of progesterone over the course of five years. After five years the device loses its effectiveness and you have to get it changed.
Well, this past week my five years were up. To prevent little mini Ali’s from taking over the world I made an appointment with a marvelously funny, professional, and diligent OBGYN to have my IUD changed. I wasn’t quite clear on the process on how this would be done, but a nurse at the office first called me in a prescription to take to soften my uterus to make it more pliable in order to take out the old one, and put in the new one.
To my comical surprise I picked up the prescription and the directions said the following:
“Insert one pill vaginally the night before the procedure and take another orally the day of the procedure in order to soften up the uterus.”
I must say it was a first for me having to put a little pill inside from down below. Now, mind you I’m no stranger to having every orifice of my body poked and prodded with having to deal with enemas, bowel programs, and so many other things. I felt like Alice in Wonderland having to take a pill – not to make me larger or smaller, but make to me softer.
To all the women out there, I know you are intimately familiar with how these teeny tiny little gynecological tables are situated. Now, since I am paralyzed from the chest down I don’t have the ability to get on these tables myself, so it pretty much takes a village of helpers to maneuver correctly me in order to not roll off the table. It’s almost as if these small gynecological tables were developed for women hundred pounds or less.
Nonetheless, I prepared for the day by bringing my caregiver, my mom, and armed with the knowledge that I would have an assistant or two at the office help me contort my body in the right position just as those in Cirque du Soleil do. In the most oxymoronic sense … I transformed into a paralyzed Acrobat for the day.
Upon entering the room I was instructed that I would have to, not only get on the table, but somehow scoot my bum all the way to the edge while putting my feet in these stirrup like devices while my gynecologist explored the great beyond & the inner workings of my reproductive system.
I informed everyone that we were going to have to approach this maneuver with thoughtful strategy, a sense of humor, and a delicate balance of helpers holding all of my limbs.
My caregiver transferred me onto the table, but that was only step one. Once on the table, I had my mom and caregiver on each side of me grabbing my lifeless legs, my gynecologist grabbing my bum from below all while the ultrasound tech pushed my body down from the shoulders.
Oh was it tricky, so so tricky. I was flat on my back with both my legs being held in the air, spread-eagled and naked from the waist down. I couldn’t help but giggle at the absurdity of the situation. When I finally got to my desired location on this little medical table, each foot was put in a stirrup, but my mom and caregiver had to hold each leg so they didn’t go tumbling to the ground.
As I was in my assumed position, and ladies you will be all too familiar with this, these giant forceps were placed inside me in order to widen the Vagina to get a good look at my cervix, and uterus.
Prior to going into the uterus the gynecologist wanted to get a good look at exactly where the old IUD was inserted from the last time. Since I don’t have normal sensation and I feel pain through pins and needles, my doctor wanted to have the ultrasound tech pull up a picture of my uterus on screen to ensure proper excavation of this tiny little wonderful pregnancy preventing device.
As the ultrasound machine pulled up a picture of my uterus, my ultrasound tech started grinning from cheek to cheek. I couldn’t understand why looking at a uterus, which she undoubtedly had seen thousands of, was so amusing to her. She gleefully looked to me and exclaimed that I have one of the most perfect uterus’s she’d ever seen! It was straight, perfectly proportioned, exquisitely positioned, and absolutely marvelous. She added that my bladder was full at the time, which apparently most patients do not have while undergoing a uterine ultrasound, but that it made the picture even clearer. I have a catheter system that allows me to close off a little clip and only open it when I actually have to pee and I designed it myself. Another one for the win column in keeping my bladder healthy over all these years!
Listen, I don’t often have many medical wins, and while this may seem ever so small, the complement of having the perfect uterus simply made me burst out into laughter. I’m not quite sure how the perfect uterus wins many gold points in a spinal cord injury world, but I was elated none-the-less. Even my gynecologist was surprised at how wonderfully shaped this female organ was, which I possessed!
From a medical standpoint, a perfectly shaped uterus, meaning one that is not curved or contorted in any sort of way, makes for extraction and insertion of this little medical device go much more smoothly.
We were ready for the procedure to commence.
One of my caregivers had never seen this procedure, as he is a male, and watching his wide-eyed look as my gynecologist took these scissor looking devices in order to pull out my old IUD device was completely priceless. Admittedly, I was a little sheepish because no woman ever wants to see a pair of scissors going up her “Hoo Haa” as I call it. I shudder to think how a male would feel with a pair of scissors going up his private parts. However, I believe its common knowledge that women have an uncanny ability to handle intense amounts of pain with giving birth and all.
As my doctor pulled out this little device with the scissors she then proceeded to show me this little T-shaped device that has quite literally been saving my life sexually and physically for the last five years. I didn’t think I could fall in love with such an inanimate object, but that day I was proven wrong.
She then took out the new device and informed me she would be inserting the new one. This is normally quite an uncomfortable procedure as I’m told by those able-bodied, but in my case my blood pressure just started rising, and I started sweating. This is my way that I feel pain. However, it was nothing compared to several days earlier when I had bladder Botox and my urologist ran into an issue where one of the needles that punctured the inside of my bladder to receive the Botox injection started profusely bleeding. She then had to cauterize the inside of my bladder with a very hot needle. Another story for another day.
The pain was nothing compared to that or what I had envisioned, and in less than 30 seconds my doc vivaciously announced I was all set to go. She did indicate I might have bleeding for several days, but in less than 24 hours I could be up and romping around in bed with my husband if I so desired.
Before I could think about getting frisky with my husband I was still spread-eagled, half naked, and contorted on this little bed. With the help of everyone in the room while laughing and commenting on my beautiful uterus they managed to pull me up, get me dressed, and back into my chair.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a medical appointment where we were all laughing, joking, and conversing. More importantly, I left the appointment in as great a shape as one could expect from a medical procedure than I had come in.
While I do undergo quite a lot of medical procedures throughout the year, which I do not write about, I highlight this one because with everything I have to go through on a daily basis you simply have to find the humor in the small things, especially the dark humor.
I don’t know many people that can make a trip to the gynecologist fun, but my team and I managed to do so, which has still kept me smiling a week later. I can’t go jumping off waterfalls as I use to, which certainly made me smile and giggle, but if I’m going to have someone poke and prod inside my nether regions I’m certainly going to get a laugh out of it if I can!
The question is — what made you giggle in the last week? Think about it and share it with me. Life is an endless battle of challenges, we can’t ready always change our circumstances, but we most certainly can change the way we look at them.