With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I think about how lucky I am with love – in every way but one.
Cupid visits my home every year. He stays up decorating through the night (though he says the cats do it all!) – and I wake to a red and pink heart-filled wonderland including lights, flowers, candies, rose petals, candles, gifts, and a special breakfast. It doesn’t get better than that. For sure, I’m the luckiest of gals.
Valentine’s Day also brings a stain – because it’s a reminder of the many years of intimacy my doctors have stolen from John and me. And along with that intimacy went our chance to have a baby.
This doctor abuse began when I was 34 years old and John and I were ready to get pregnant despite my constant unnamed-at-the-time plague of body wide, burning pain.
I got a phone call from my HMO alerting me to my abnormal pap smear. Scared I rushed in to see a gynecologist who wanted to remove the “pre-cancer” dysplasia from my cervix. To my surprise, I was fine after the procedure (something called a LEEP where they make a small incision in the cervix to remove the bad cells.) I say surprised because due to my long history with unexplained, spreading pain, I was certain I’d come out far worse than when I went in.
Then, boom, I started bleeding… and bleeding. In fact, I was hemorrhaging. To remedy this, my doctor (with no anesthetic) cauterized my cervix wound. That was perhaps the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. It felt like there were hatchets slicing my cervix with knitting needles jabbing up and down the left side of my body. I screamed throughout the entire ordeal while the doctor yelled, “It shouldn’t hurt like this!” John stood in the wings horrified.
I now know the doctor was spreading my CRPS. Back then I just survived, folded up and mostly bedridden for three years. John and my sex life was long gone. Though we remained intimate, we were unable to have intercourse for about seven years. Just the thought of it made me spasm in fear and pain.
When I finally escaped my HMO, I got pelvic therapy and improved fairly quickly. In fact when our “homework” was intercourse, we passed with flying colors. At that time I chose to never undergo a pap smear again for fear of re-igniting the CRPS. Hey, if I died from cervical cancer, so be it. I chose my intimacy with John over all else, much to my gynecologist’s dismay.
For about a decade, my gyno did as I instructed her – and John and my lovemaking was perfect.
Two years ago in January, I saw her for my annual. Every year prior she gave me a full external pelvic exam – and with the internal she used only her index finger. But that year, she snuck in a speculum – and by the time I yelled bloody murder, she’d taken our sex life away… again!
John and I are working our way back, but it’s painful, slow and heartbreaking. It reminds us of the first time the doctors robbed us of our lovemaking… just at the time my biological clock ran out. We’re grieving all over again the child that would have been, the Grace they took away. Mostly, we cry a lot.
I love this day set aside for lovers. And I have the most wonderful man in the universe. But sometimes in my bouquet of roses a tear or two fall.