Sunday, November 9, 2008


First as a warning, if you consider it TMI to read about a medical procedure that I had, with a fair amount of detail- stop reading now. Come back another time and just skip this. If at any point you're thinking "I didn't want to know that" also stop reading and skip this. If you get to the end and then leave a rude comment... boo on you ;)

Friday I had a procedure done called a LEEP procedure.

It is an outpatient surgery done to remove precancerous cervical tissue. It is what they do after a pap comes back suspicious, and then after a biopsy procedure called a colposcopy comes back positive for precancerous or cancerous tissue. Personally I had a HGSIL- high grade squamous intraepitheliel lesion. The midwife who did the colposcopy described is as a pre-precancer. She told me she was pretty sure that the results of the colposcopy would come back saying I needed a LEEP procedure so she talked to me a little about it before I left. I really appreciated that because the results did indeed come back positive and when they did I had already talked to someone in person about what that meant.

So I was scheduled for an outpatient procedure at a surgery center.

I have never ever had anything that even somewhat resembles a surgery. I never had stitches until 4 1/2 months ago when I had my daughter. Just the word surgery scares me. Looking at the information I was required to fill out at the center I would start to freak out. No food or water after midnight, no jewelry, a person should be waiting to drive you home, if they were not waiting they would require contact information of the person responsible for your care... blah blah... auugh.

I was also scheduled for a pre-op appointment with the doctor that would be preforming the procedure.

So on Tuesday I went to the doctors office and talked to the wonderful Dr Sebestyen, the only ob/gyn in the area to work directly with midwives. She's warm and friendly and I felt very comfortable with her. She puts things simply so they are easily understood but also doesn't mind explaining in further detail if you want to know. We started talking about the anaesthetic and she informs me that it will make me groggy. In my opinion what's the point unless I'm going to be actually asleep? Being groggy and uncontrolled will only make it worse in my mind. Then she says I will be unable to nurse my baby for 24 hours after the anaesthetic. While I do have frozen milk stored in the fridge, I prefer not to give it to her often. The baby usually only gets one bottle occasionally when I'm gone for a moms night out.

But then the doctor offers me another option- an in office outpatient procedure. This would be done without the general anaesthetic, with only a local of lidocaine. Then I would not have to hold off on nursing the baby and it would cost me far less. Also, I wouldn't have to spend all day at a surgery facility. Dr Sebestyn told me that she used to do the procedure in office often when she was practicing in another state.

I wouldn't say I jumped at the idea, but it sounded very viable to me, so after a few minutes consideration I decided to go with the in-office procedure. I'm going to spell out how this went for me, because beforehand I looked a lot for someone else's firsthand account and only found accounts from people who had general anaesthetic during the procedure so only remember an iv and then recovery.

The Procedure

On Friday I showed up at 3:15 for the procedure. I had my boyfriend drop me off because while I thought I would be fine to drive afterwards, if I wasn't there wasn't an easy way to get to me if I had the car. The baby can't exactly ride on a motorcycle, nor be left at home while picking me up. If the truck had been running I would have driven myself and just left the car seat at home.

I get there, wait for forever as usual, chat with a lovely lady about her 6 week old baby while she asked me what it's like to have a four month old... and finally get called back. I say wait for forever, but it probably just felt like that because I was nervous.

They call me back to the nurses station and get my blood pressure taken, and am made to take a pregnancy test. Apparently they don't preform the procedure if you're pregnant. Makes sense, since the cervix is what holds a fetus in where it belongs. It was funny being asked the date of my last period. I had to think a little while about it. I think the right answer was September 2007. If I was wrong, it was close enough. At least it got the point across.

Then I was taken into the procedure room and introduced to the nurse that was the machine technician. The office doesn't own the machine that is used for the procedure, so they get it brought in and a technician is supplied to work the machine and assist the doctor.

I signed some stuff, and paid the machine technician , got undressed and then the doctor came in. She talke to me for a minute and then we got started. I explained that I'd prefer them to be as gentle as they could with the speculum (soreness left over from tearing during birth only 4 months ago) but that wasn't really an option because of the electrocautry equipment they use. More then usual during a gynecologist appointment, they need to make sure everything is well out of the way when they work on the cervix. The equipment cuts and cauterizes at the same time which cuts down on the bleeding and eliminates the need for stitches.

So the speculum was inserted, and a sticky grounding patch was placed on my leg. Then the area was swabbed with betadine. After that lidocaine was injected into the cervix to numb it. This is where it gets fun. I don't know if I react more than most people to lidocaine injections or not... but my heart started pounding, and I got very warm. For a few minutes I thought I was going to pass out. I looked up at the ceiling up the skirts of the little paper circus girls on the mobile hung above the table. I credit those little circus girls for keeping me distracted during the procedure.

When the doctor started the procedure, there was a vacuum attached to the speculum so there was no smoke or burning smell like I had heard mentioned about the procedure. I did feel a pinching feeling that freaked me out some, but that was about it for what I felt. It was over in less than five minutes.

I did see the amount of tissue they removed and it freaked me out a bit- one piece was as big as the last knuckle of my thumb. The doctor says at least some of it typically grows back. I stayed a bit lightheaded for a few hours and still 2 days later feel some light cramping. Nothing too bad in the way of cramping though. I've definitely had worse period cramps.

The doctor told me I did great and that she thought I made the right decision, and we made a follow up appointment for 2 weeks out.

I went to the zoo yesterday and did some light yard work and housework... I did make sure to take a nap though after the zoo. Healing from a surgery while nursing a baby means treating your body a little nicer than usual.

So that was my experience of a LEEP procedure done with only local anaesthetic. Did anyone reading this have a drastically different experience? Have any questions? Let me know :)

1 comment:

  1. I think you did very well both in handling the decisions and procedure and also in describing it. I usually shudder at the mere thought of "that doctor" and I've heard many a shared tale at work that I did NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT! But that really didn't sound all that scary. I'm glad you were able to go with a less expensive/more convenient option :)