My first smear test

Hello! Ah, I feel a little nervous sharing this post actually. I wrote this not long after my smear test back in August 2019 but then decided not to share it because I did think it was rather personal. Then I read that we were at an all time low for girls attending their cervical smear tests, so if it helps one of you girls and encourages you to go and get your smear test done, then great! I wish I could have read about more experiences after I received the news that I did.. so here goes!

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You may or may not know that in November I turned 25.. and with turning 25 meant my first smear test. In all honesty I wasn't too bothered about having the smear done. In fact, I was pretty relaxed about it all as I don't find the procedure painful at all, just slightly uncomfortable. I nipped out of work one afternoon and within 20 minutes it was all over. I awaited my results but 2 weeks came and still no call from the surgery. A couple of days passed, by this time it was almost 3 weeks later on a Friday afternoon. I called the surgery and asked if they had any update, to be told that I would need to await a call back from the nurse. My stomach dropped. I can feel it now, the pain in my stomach I felt when the receptionist said it. Anyway, shortly after I received a phone call from the nurse who had done the smear, 2 and a half weeks earlier. I can't thoroughly remember how the phone call went but something along the lines of 'abnormal cells' were found, I would have to be referred to a colposcopy unit at the hospital to check them out, try not to worry, it is perfectly normal.

I went back in to the office and cried at my desk. I felt sick, my hands were shaking and I was sweating. I did not expect to be referred to hospital after my first smear test. I can't remember how long I waited for my letter from the hospital, I'd say it was 2 weeks max, as I was quite surprised how fast they had booked me in. Those 2 weeks were hell. I couldn't sleep, I started crying randomly, my head was in overdrive, I was expecting the worst. Cervical cancer was popping up here there and everywhere. I kept reading forums online and I was driving myself mad. I spoke to my friends who were also turning 25 but all of theirs were normal. I finally spoke to one of my friends and old work colleagues who had had the same experience, which eased my mind. But still, the sleepless nights continued.

The day finally arrived, when I would have the cells looked at with a camera. Josh came with me, to comfort me and hold my hand. I sat down with the nurse, who was absolutely lovely, she talked me through what would happen if she thought the cells needed to be removed, until I cried and said 'can we just get on with it please!'. You have to strip from the waist down and then you sit on a special bed which keeps your legs apart and up in the air. There were 5 of us in total in the small room, Josh, the nurse conducting the procedure and two other nurses (I think). One of them stood with Josh and myself at the top of the bed and the other at the bottom with the other nurse.

I'm trying to rack my brains with the order of everything but I'm really struggling to remember, as my adrenaline was sky high. From what I remember, a dye is first applied in to the cervix which detects the 'abnormal cells'. Then I was told that they would be going ahead with the LETZ treatment. I started crying, again. I was super emotional.. I already am an emotional person but the past 3-4 weeks had been a living nightmare. I was grateful to be sat there, being treated but also so scared for what could lie ahead. I had to have 4 local anaesthetics, which I was dreading after my experience of getting the coil fitted. However, the nurse asked me to cough when she was about to inject the anaesthetic which made it less painful. Once that had kicked in, the treatment began. She used a thin wire loop to remove the abnormal cells. You have to remain super still for this so I really blanked out and can't remember much from there.

Then, it was over. I'd say I had only been in the room for less than half an hour. I went back in to the room and put a pad on because they did say that I would bleed and have period cramps later that day. They kicked in a good few hours later and they were very very painful but I didn't care. I was just so glad that that was all over and done with.

A few days later, I received another letter from them to say that I would have to attend another smear test in 6 months time to ensure that all of the cells had been removed and that the treatment was successful. Phew, 6 months of not worrying.

6 months approached fast and even before it reached 6 months, I began panicking again. I called the health centre to make sure they hadn't forgotten about my check up and they assured me that I would receive a  letter soon enough, which I did. I went back in for my smear test, which was carried out again by the same nurse. I was a little worried because she mentioned that I had bled again whilst taking the smear but then said it can be because of a sensitive cervix. Thankfully the treatment was successful and I'm so glad I went when I did. Leaving it could have resulted in something so much worse, so I encourage you not to miss your smear tests. If you are nervous or anxious, talk to somebody, reach out to a friend or a family member you trust will keep you level headed because it is an emotional time and it can be scary on your own. I hope this helps and if you have any questions you want to ask me then please do. My direct messages on Instagram are always open. Lots of love, L.

Useful information can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/

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