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Laura - Interview 36

Age at interview: 39
Age at diagnosis: 37
Brief Outline: In 2006, Laura was referred for colposcopy and had Lletz treatment. In 2007 she had a cone biopsy for CIN3. In 2008, she had a hysterectomy.
Background: Laura is a Lunchtime Supervisor, married with 4 children aged 19, 15, 13 and 7. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

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In 2006, Laura had an abnormal smear test result. She was referred for a colposcopy examination and she had Lletz treatment to remove the abnormal cells. The following year she had two 6 monthly smear tests which were normal. But when Laura returned for another smear test her result was abnormal and a biopsy result was CIN3.
 
She had a cone biopsy as day surgery to remove the abnormal cells. When she had the cone biopsy, the consultant was concerned that the abnormal cells were very high and becoming harder to remove. Because of this and since Laura had four children, he recommended that she had a hysterectomy. 
 
Laura had the hysterectomy in 2008 which was successful and she feels she is recovering well. Having a hysterectomy was not as bad as she thought it was going to be. She is waiting to see the consultant for her follow-up appointment.
 
Laura had gone for her smear test a year after she was invited. She regrets not going on time and she advises other women not to miss a smear test.
 
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The colposcopy examination was much better than Laura had expected.

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How did you feel about going to colposcopy?
 
Fine, fine, absolutely fine. I was a little bit worried, but I just knew because I had had this abnormal smear, I just didn’t want anything to happen to me. So I would have done anything and it was fine. It wasn’t painful or anything. I think I worked myself up a little bit. But I shouldn’t have done. I shouldn’t have done at all, because it was fine. 
 
 
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Waiting for a hysterectomy and worrying about her results made Laura feel very depressed.

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I’m on anti-depressants anyway from having this. I was so depressed before Christmas that I felt like, because it was such a long time from, it was November to January. And they don’t do treatment over Christmas because you can’t have sex for six weeks. They don’t like to spoil your Christmas. So I had to wait all that time. And I was so depressed. I went to my doctors and she put me on antidepressants. And I don’t think, to be honest, I know I wouldn’t have coped without being on those, because I was so down. And it is like they say, these tablets that you take, just lift you and get you back, just to normal. It is not something I would not tell people because you can’t help it if you get depressed. But yes, I think it has helped me an awful lot getting through, you know, just feeling so down, and worrying about it really.
 
So you were really worrying about having the…?
 
Yes, it was just the waiting. It was, you know, from having, I was just thinking if I’ve got CIN3, how can they leave me? Because it was March before they actually, they couldn’t get me in any earlier because I tried, and I kept thinking if they are going to leave [me] from, because it was December to March. Is it going to get any worse in that time? And obviously the reason they gave me the hysterectomy six weeks after the biopsies, you have to heal for six weeks.
 
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Laura felt rushed during her appointment with the doctor and so she didn’t ask any questions and...

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Not feeling rushed when you go in for your appointment, and for them to give you as much time, I mean I had so many questions and answers, so many questions I wanted to ask him, that sometimes when you walk in the room and they don’t even look at you, you know, they have sort of got their head down writing, and, “Oh hello.” And you think that they know you, and he said, “Oh yes, you are in for a hysterectomy.” I think that if they took a bit of time to read about you before you go in, so that he could go, “Oh hello Laura. Yes you are down for the hysterectomy.” You know, and I had so many things that I wanted to ask him and I just felt that he wanted me to, he wanted me to just to sign the form and get out of the room. I didn’t ask him anything. And, I think that is why I did get myself into such a state.
 

Laura would have liked more information and reassurance when she was told she needed a cone biopsy.

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And like when we were going on holiday. When I had my appointment through, which was so quickly to go and have the biopsy done. We were going on holiday, and it is on the Friday, Monday to Friday we were away. And my appointment was for the Friday. And I rang the hospital and I said, “Can I cancel it and make it for the next week.” And she said, “Hang on, a minute, I will see what you are in for.” And she said, “No, you must come on the Friday.” And I then realised obviously it was something quite serious. But I didn’t know actually what it was. It was just an abnormal smear. And of course that really panicked me, but may be if somebody just said to me, “It’s CIN3.” All you had is this letter to say it was an abnormal smear and you need to come back in for a biopsy. I panicked then and I thought what have I got? Obviously yes, it was severe, because it wasn’t CIN1 or CIN2, it was CIN3. But I didn’t know and of course I worried all of my holiday then. And I wished may be they’d have said to me, “This is what you’ve got, and we just need to take it away and see what happens after.” But, you know, definitely that people don’t give you that much information and reassure you really, I think.
 
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Laura describes her experience of diathermy loop excision (LLETZ).

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I went into a room and there was a nurse in there and she told me to undress and to lay on a bed, which then the sort of the bottom half drops down and your legs are up in the air, which isn’t very nice. But they were ever so nice and reassuring. My husband was with me at the time. He was sat with me, and then the consultant came in, and there was a camera next to me, and he just explained everything he was going to do. Gave me an anaesthetic which stung a little bit. And then they put this dye inside you and then the abnormal cells go white. And he could see that on the screen because he has got a camera that is looking into me, and then electronic pads were attached to me, to stop me from getting an electric shock from the [treatment]. And they just burn away the abnormal area and that was that really. Just tummy ache for the rest of the day.
 
And I bled. I bled for a little while, a few days afterwards and then back to normal straight away really.
 
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Laura found the local anaesthetic the worst part of the cone biopsy.

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Going to the cone biopsy? What was that like?
 
That was quite painful actually. They gave me an anaesthetic, that’s right. And every time I’ve had a coil, so they had to take that out as well, and I said to him, “Have you nearly finished?” And he said, “I haven’t even started yet.” I said, “Why is it hurting so much?” And that was the anaesthetic. I don’t know if it was because it was so far up, it is a little bit more painful maybe, because that was more painful than the first time. But once the anaesthetic was over, and that seemed to take quite a long time to do, then I didn’t feel anything then. But and it seemed to go on for quite a long time.I said to the nurse afterwards, “Can you show me what they have taken away?” And it was tiny. I couldn’t believe how small the area was that she had taken. You think it is really big, but it is not.
 

And that was as a day case?

 

As soon as it was finished I was home, out. You know, you’re there half an hour.
 
I bled for quite a long time actually and I phoned my consultant’s secretary and she spoke to him and she said, “Phone your doctors and they will give you some tablets to stop the bleeding,” because it was awful. And I went and got those and it stopped the bleeding straight away.
 
And were you in any discomfort?
 
No. 
 
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Laura explains how she felt when she had another abnormal test result after having LLETZ and a...

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I was devastated actually because I really thought that it doesn’t come back again. It was quite surprising. Even the consultant said to me, “Normally once we have removed it, it rarely comes back.” So I suppose, well I do I worry that it is cancer, because I had pre cancerous and because it is your womb, your cervix, you don’t… I haven’t felt ill. A lot of people have symptoms. I haven’t had any symptoms. So when it is something you can’t see inside your body, you think has it gone somewhere else. So obviously then I went back straight away and had the cone biopsy done. And that is when he said, you know, “I can see it. It is hard for me to get to it, and it could go into your womb further on. So, you know, you have had it twice now and I really do think…” He said, “The more tissues they take away it gets harder for them each time to keep doing this LLETZ and biopsies.” So he said, “You know, how do you feel about hysterectomy?” And I had had my children and I didn’t want to keep going through this all the time, and worrying. And so I said, yes straightaway, “Yes, that is fine. Just, you know, get it over and done with and hopefully that will be end of it, really.”
 
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Laura felt very tearful before her hysterectomy and since coming home from hospital she has felt...

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So do you know why you were crying?

 

Because I knew, it was because I was having something done, that I didn’t want to have done. But I had no choice, and that was what it was. I just didn’t want to go through with this big operation. I had never had a Caesarean. Everyone was telling me it was like a Caesarean but with no baby. And I was just worried about leaving the children as well. I worried so much about how they would cope without me, in hospital. Luckily I was in there three days and came out on the fourth day. So I wasn’t in there as long as they told me. And I didn’t have a catheter, which they told me I would. So I think my recovery was so much better because I didn’t have that, and I think because I’m still sort of young, I’ve just not had any problems. I’ve been fine, so yes. And I just think it is quite an emotional thing going into hospital and it’s women’s things isn’t it. You don’t think anyone else sort of really understands what you are going through and you sort of, without having to talk to anybody that has had it done, you just don’t know what to expect I suppose.
 
There were leaflets in the hospital, in the small little room, the separate gynae unit, which I picked up and read. But I didn’t get a lot of information and not a lot of information after the hysterectomy either. And, it just tells you basically what to take into hospital. But not, it didn’t tell you sort of how you would feel emotionally, and stuff like that, which I think maybe you could be prepared for. Because I know from looking on the website that it is quite an emotional thing, and you read that people are having really down days and can’t keep, don’t stop crying. And I must admit after coming out of hospital a few days later, I had one of those days. And my husband said to me, because I spoke to him about it and discussed it with him, and said, “You know, these women are going through emotions, blah, blah.” And he said to me, “You’ve just had one of those days haven’t you?” And I said, “I must have done, because I could not stop crying.” 
 
But I don’t feel like that now. But I think it is just like having a baby I think, I felt like I had a baby with no baby. And I think, you sort of, the way you hobble along when you walk, and that is how you are when you’ve had a baby. And I suppose I remember having those, a few blue days after having the babies and I think that is probably just what it was, was just emotions were all over the place and being in hospital, I suppose, as well, away from your family and worrying if they are being okay. Which they were fine and you know, my husband would say, “Yes, they had this for dinner, and they have had that.” 
 
And before I was crying before going into hospital, and he said to me, “Don’t worry. You think the whole world is collapsing because you are not at home.” And they were fine. So don’t, you know, I wouldn’t, if I had to go in hospital again, I wouldn’t worry about the family because they were fine. I just think it is you being a Mum. You just worry yourself silly.
 

Laura describes her recovery from her hysterectomy in hospital and at home.

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And when you actually started getting up and walking around, how did that feel?
 
I was very sore. My tummy was very sore and they were telling me to try and walk straight, but it is quite hard to. But I did try. The next day, I was only allowed to get up to go to toilet on the commode next to me. And then the day after, they said to me to go and have a shower. And walk to the toilets, which I did. My Mum couldn’t believe how well I was. I got up to go to toilet and she sort of came to help me, and I said, “No. I can do it.” And I was a bit scared in the shower on my own in there and it was sort of hard to wash with your scar being so sore. But I had like a plastic dressing over it, which I had internal stitches, I didn’t have any external. So they put this plastic waterproof dressing over me. But you just felt that all the time, you had to hold your tummy in. You felt like you needed a real support there, sort of thing.
 
But no, and then I sat out on the bed, not in, I sat on the edge. It was hard to get up and down off the bed. That was the worst thing, was rolling to get off the bed.
The physio came to see me to sort of help. But they said, you know, the more active you are the quicker you heal. So I just sort of went for little walks and you know, sat in the chair rather than just laying on the bed all the time.
 
They helped me a lot, and I think that’s why I’ve have sort of recovered so well. My Mother-in-law came every day, put my washing out for me, and made me coffee, because I couldn’t lift the kettle. But I haven’t done, I have just started to put the washing out. I haven’t hoovered. I have been very careful. They say that if you’re not, your healing takes so much longer. And you will suffer. Because things can happen inside that you don’t realise. You think you’ve healed, but you haven’t. So that is why I’d say as well just to not do anything really. 
 
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Laura advises women never to miss their cervical screening test.

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I’d say the first bit of advice is don’t ever miss your smears. Never miss your smears. And for what you have to go through for missing a smear is, a smear is nothing compared to, you know, the stress and the worry of the biopsies and the LLETZ. So I would advise people never to miss your smears. And not to worry because the biopsies, it sounds awful, biopsy, cone biopsy. It doesn’t hurt and I would say the hysterectomy is certainly not as bad as what I thought it was going to be and I am six weeks now. I feel fine. 
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