It was 2004 when I had my first and only real health scare. I was on a camping trip in the North Carolina mountains with my family when I was awakened in the middle of the night by a sticky wetness running down the inside of my thighs. The cramping that accompanied it told me that I had started my period. The next morning, however, I knew that something was wrong. My bleeding was not normal. I was bleeding profusely. I would put in a tampon and it would be saturated in 5 minutes. I was scared.
My first thought was that perhaps I was pregnant and having a miscarriage. My period was overdue, which was unusual for me. At the time I had no health insurance and could not afford to go the doctor, so I tried to hide my problem from my family as much as I could. I didn’t want to ruin the long awaited camping trip for everyone. I figured if it was just a bad period, there was no danger. If it was a miscarriage, I would be find for a couple of days until we got home. Looking back, I now realize it was just my way of being in denial.
The bleeding continued and it was extreme. At times I felt so weak that I felt like I was going to pass out. It got so bad that I could no longer hide it from my husband. We left immediately to go back home. I called the doctor right away and got in to see him.
The doctor’s immediate concern was my loss of blood. He also tested my blood to see if there were any indications that I was having a miscarriage. The blood test revealed that I had lost a dangerous amount of blood. My iron levels were so low that had I waited any longer to see the doctor, I was in danger of going into cardiac arrest. The blood test also showed that I was not having a miscarriage.
The concern now was in regard to what was causing the profuse bleeding. The doctor wanted to do an immediate biopsy on my uterus. I was so scared. The word biopsy always seems to be in conjunction with the word cancer. Both my husband and I were frightened, though he tried hard not to show it. The nurse was reassuring as she prepared me for the biopsy, telling me what it would feel like. A needle would be inserted into my
Uterus and it would feel like a pinch. She said I might also feel some cramping similar to menstrual cramps.
The biopsy went smoothly. My husband held my hand and I could sense his fear. Then came the waiting. I left with a prescription for iron pills and was told to eat red meat for the next few days. The doctor said he would call when the results of the biopsy were in.
The waiting was excruciating. My mother in law had died from cervical cancer. Was that going to be my fate as well? In my fear, I began writing love letters to each one of my children and to my husband. I began to appreciate the small things in my life that I usually took for granted. I cried a lot. I prayed a lot…for God’s will.
When the call came for me to come and find out my results, I immediately thought the worst. If it was good news, wouldn’t they have told me on the phone? When my husband and I arrived at the doctor’s office, my nerves were a wreck. The result was that I did not have cancer. The excessive bleeding was the result of a change in my hormonal level. The doctor did find, however, what he called pre-cancerous tissue. He said that just meant that I needed to have regular pap smears as a precaution.
My health scare was both scary and eye opening. I’m thankful for it, however, because it made me more mindful of my health. I am also more appreciative of every single moment that I am given on this earth.