This morning, I was at Homerton Hospital preparing for surgery next month. So, what's occurring?
Back in January, the medics discovered something dodgy on my cervix. It turned out to be a cervical ectropion - nothing too serious, but it would need some investigation and treatment. (It's probably related to my having had endometriosis for many years, though fortunately, much more mildly than many women do.) Well, I pondered to myself, what's the point of treating this ectropion thing? Aged fifty, with all my child-bearing done, I don't even need a cervix any more anyway.
Then I remembered the long list of Tamoxifen side effects, and that it included increased likelihood of uterine cancer. That's annoying, I thought: I don't even need my uterus any more.
And then I found out that having your ovaries removed reduces your chance of breast cancer coming back. That's interesting, I mulled: I don't even need my ovaries any more.
You can see where I'm going here, can't you? I had a brief discussion with the oncologist, who confirmed the cancer-related facts. I suggested that a hysterectomy would be a good idea. With my uterine cancer risk raised, I was pretty sure that I knew a way to reduce it to zero: don't have a uterus. Plus, I could do without treatment on something I don't even need, and I could certainly do without my breast cancer coming back. I'm really not seeing the downside to this idea.
Sounds sensible, said the onco, but you'll have to discuss it with a gynaecologist. Can you refer me? No, only your GP can do that. At this point, NHS waiting lists (and a GP surgery cock-up) kicked in, and said gynaecologist appointment eventually happened in mid-August. And said gynaecologist agreed that yes, it is a good idea, and no, there is no downside other than the usual risks of general anaesthetic.
So, the surgery is booked for 5 October. I'll be having a full hysterectomy (ovaries, uterus and cervix), and believe it or not, they can do this by keyhole surgery. Impressive or what? Through the little incision holes, they will cut all the connections holding my bits in place and then deliver them through the vagina. There is a bit of a chance that won't work and they may have to open me up to do the job, but they can just cut through my caesarian scar.
So this was the backstory to my trip to the hospital this morning. Prepping for the op, they needed to do an ultrasound scan. When they scan that part of your body, they use a full bladder as a sort of lens. So I was up at 7.30 drinking eight mugs of water, and expecting some discomfort (or desperation) as it worked its way through my system.
The scan was fairly straightforward. It revealed that I have a cyst on my left ovary (the same one from which I had a 'chocolate cyst' removed fifteen years ago), but that is pretty much irrelevant as the whole lot will be removed in four weeks' time. After the ultrasound, I had the great relief of being allowed to empty my bladder, but then had to return for an internal scan, involving the insertion of a scanning device. Slightly uncomfortable. Not painful.
And there we are. I will be saying farewell to my reproductive organs in four weeks, not because any medic recommended it but because I requested it and they agreed. Another reason to love the NHS. Everything feels very logical and sensible. But you never know, emotion may kick in at some point.