5 Things I’m Proud Of (2018)

I’ve decided to join Rhea Freeman’s ‘5 Things I’m Proud Of’ challenge and will be adding one more thing each day until the 31st December!

1 – The Confidence To Make A Change

This started in 2017 when I made the big decision to leave my permanent contract teaching job and follow my dream to a live in job at boarding school stables, but this year (2018) I have made some more major changes.

Firstly, I decided to leave that job in order to return to the Cotswolds for my operation (with no future job lined up!)  Three months into my recovery and feeling much better, I then made the decision to take a HLTA job (rather than try for a full time teaching one) alongside my self employed tutoring.

Both of these big changes have paid off for me so far but I am hoping I don’t have such big decisions to make in 2019!

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2 – Getting Out And About

It has certainly been a year of confidence growth!  With a trailer and the commitment of my travelling head lad (boyfriend..) 2018 was meant to be a year for getting out and about with Pea.  The hip replacement put a fairly big brake on this but we still managed to go out for lessons to two different places (in three different arenas).  Riding in different arenas has been great for my confidence, we have now experienced an arena with no fence and been in an indoor arena for the first time ever!

Each time we go out the stress gets less as we establish our routines and roles. I am still nervous about travelling Pea (even though she travels fine) but the more we do it, the more settled I feel. I’m proud of us all for breaking out of our comfort zone.

The intention was to get out to competitions this year too but that wasn’t meant to be.. hopefully we will have more success in 2019!

3 – My Recovery Journey

If you have ever visited my blog before you will know that in June I had a hip replacement.  Quite aside from being proud that I actually did it in the first place (though I made that decision at the end of 2017), I’m proud of how I’ve made it out the other side. 

I’m proud of myself for following the rules of my rehab, for doing my physio exercises, for getting back on my pony and ‘living my life’. 

I’m proud that I am now able to walk tall and (fairly) straight. 

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4 – Pea

As you can see in Pea’s Year it has been a big year for Pea. After settling in to life in Malvern she went through the upheaval of moving back to Bourton with no stress or complaints.

After running away from my crutches before my operation, once my hip was done she couldn’t have been more gentle and tolerant of me or the fact that she was being ridden by various tourists!

She responded to each stage of progress with interest and was almost unsure the day I led her out of the stable to get on! She has been pretty much impeccably behaved since, testing me only when I have been ready!

I’m proud of the willingness she has shown when my instructor has ridden her and I’m proud that we are finishing 2018 in a better position than we were at the beginning!

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5 – My Blog

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2018 what I would be proud of by the end, the changes, the trailer travel, the operation and Pea would have all been very much on my list, I could never have predicted the fifth thing I’m proud of.

I started my blog with very little expectation or intention but I feel like I have achieved something with it!

  • I am proud to have received messages and comments from people who have appreciated me sharing my story (some of whom live in a completely different country!)
  • I’m proud to have been shortlisted and given an award in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year competition.
  • I’m also proud to be writing again for a purpose other than work!

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Living My Life!

So here we are, nearly a week on from that top doctor advice that now I can ‘go and live my life’..  I thought I’d give a little update on how life is going.

The Downs

  • I’m fully back in the swing of my work schedule now.  I work 9.30-5.30 in one job and then work as a private tutor in the evenings which means..
  • I am SO pushed for riding time.  The evenings are rapidly getting darker and although I’m still only riding for short periods of time, when I ride after work on non tutoring days I feel so rushed!
  • Rushing is not good for my still recovering body.  After feeling so knackered from walking and mucking out ONE stable I have been doing some reading on how much muscle you lose from inactivity.  I am very much still getting my strength back, if I rest between activities I am ok but when I’m rushing I end up in pain or with cramp! It upsets me that this time last year at my old job there were 20 stables to muck out between two of us and this year I can barely do one!

The Ups

  • Although my brain is still stressed about work, money and time, I feel so much more relaxed about my leg.  I’ve been moving and sitting however I want and so far haven’t had any dodge moments since my restrictions have been lifted.
  • I’ve adjusted my mindset when it comes to my riding and it has made me feel much better.  My first ride made me feel like I had gone so far backwards and then as I did more to try to rectify that I was worried I was overdoing it.  I had some great advice that if I thought I was overdoing it.. I probably was and that aching is ok but not pain.  So I’ve stripped back my expectations and I stop when I get to the pain stage.  I’m treating my riding as though I’m starting from scratch again but am pleasantly progressing at a slightly accelerated rate than I did this time five years ago (when I first started riding!) I did something this week which was very exciting but I’m going to have to wait until next weekend to write about it.. watch this space!
  • I’m getting the hang of our new camera and so is my boyfriend.  We both love photography so it is nice to be able to take better quality pictures for my blog and social media.  We have a Canon with a 18-55 lense but are pondering what longer lense or waterproofing equipment we may need in the future (British Dressage Championships in the rain was tricky) – if anyone has any top tips please let me know!
  • I’m generally feeling more positive about the future with my scrummy pony, snazzy camera and bionic hip!

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Back In The Saddle Dilemmas!

As I said in Week Ten/Day One I’m back in the saddle. After my initial upset at how much I’m having to start from scratch and how painful and uncomfortable my first ride was, things have improved gradually. On my second ride I trotted, on my third ride I managed ten minutes, on my fourth I hacked out and on my fifth.. well the achievement was that I’d ridden the day before and I was able to ride again!  Slowly but surely my leg is starting to hug Pea’s side rather than stick out awkwardly and my body is starting to remember what to do (whether it is doing it or not is another matter!)

It has been quite a challenge to reprogramme the part of my brain that thought once I was riding again I’d be able to just crack on. At the moment I have short stirrups and eye-sore heels (as you can see below), my bum is nowhere near as deep in the saddle as it needs to be, my riding sessions are very short and the idea of riding five times a week is a pipe dream! Pushing the negatives aside, as I said – it is all getting better every time I ride even if the pictures aren’t showing that!

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The question is – what should I be doing? My physio has advised me to walk as much as I can and I am meant to be strengthening my muscles, in particular my core. She also gave me permission to ride which is meant to be helping me to stop collapsing through my left side (as I am doing below!) The problem is, every ride involves lots of walking in order to get Pea and turn her out after which hurts and tires me out and the riding does the same. I don’t know if it is possible to quantify the right amount of walking and riding for where I am in my recovery right now. The old adage of listening to my body isn’t working – if I listened to my body I wouldn’t be doing much at all which completely goes against the idea of building my strength. I don’t know where to draw the line!

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My next physio appointment which was meant to be next week has been pushed back to the beginning of October (due to staff training) but I am seeing my surgeon a week tomorrow.  In the meantime I will just have to try to achieve a middle ground between what I want to do and doing nothing!  Putting my worries to the back of my mind – I’m just happy to be back on board!

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Burghley Horse Trials 2018

Yesterday I had my first trip to Burghley Horse Trials (at nearly 11 weeks post hip replacement) and had a fantastic day.  I will never event but I have a whole heap of respect for the sport and love watching it.

The Journey

My non-horsey boyfriend was completely up for going to Burghley (having enjoyed Badminton 2017) until he realised it was going to be at least a 2 hour drive.  We left at 7.30 and arrived at 10.30 after having to cope with the Moreton Show traffic, a coffee and diesel stop and his own little detour to avoid some of the Burghley queue (which worked quite well!)  Our trip home was much quicker!

The Shops

We decided to walk around all the shops first as the horses hadn’t actually started when we arrived and I thought I’d get the lions share of walking out of the way.  It is my birthday in November so I looked at more possible present ideas for me rather than Pea (as she pretty much has everything she could possibly need and more!)  I found some of the shops (particularly Fairfax & Favor and Dubarry) just too busy for someone who is worried about being knocked or jostled but I managed to snap a few of my favourite things and shops.

  • I love the little pouches you can personalise from Will Bees Bespoke and since they originate from Salcombe (ten minutes from where I grew up) I feel even more of an affinity with them!
  • I saw this Mark Todd Deluxe Padded Coat on the internet recently and I love it.  I’ve never had a padded coat before and I’m not sure when I would wear it but I know that I like it!
  • I am a big Joules fan – I don’t need a new handbag but I do really like this tan purse though sadly now can’t find it online!
  • This Powder Blue Woof Wear Numnah is on my wish list for Pea – I love the look of my Le Mieux numnah but it isn’t very soft and I’m wondering if the Woof Wear one will be more so.
  • I really like this Official Burghley 2018 T-Shirt but I think if I were to get one I’d have to get it a few sizes too big as I don’t like t-shirts tight!
  • You can’t not love the gorgeous equine jewellery at Hiho Silver.
  • I had to visit Sophie Allport‘s lovely stand – my Stag Bag which was a present last Christmas is so nice and useful.
  • We visited the Brocklehursts shop which I described as ‘the shop that keeps on giving’ – having seen these Barbour coats with furry hoods I now want a furry hood for my Barbour but they don’t seem to exist on their own!
  • My boyfriend’s favourite part of horse shows is the lorries and trailers – the Equi-Treks are a particular favourite.

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Being only just back at work part time and in a job that isn’t giving me much pocket money, I did more window shopping than actual shopping.  I did pick up a shirt from Rydale which I almost bought at Badminton and will be suitable for work.

The Food

We opted to grab something to eat before we settled down to watch the horses.  I had some chips and my BF had a pork roll.  I feel we certainly didn’t take enough advantage of the ‘Food Walk’ which we saw later and looked amazing however my legs were tired, I was feeling a bit wobbly and so we just went for the closest food vans!  We did top up with an ice cream later.

The Action

We tried out a few different vantage points to sit and watch – Discovery Valley, the main arena, Lambert’s Sofa, the Lion Bridge as well as walking via a few other fences.  Highlights for me were Ben Hobday who I have been a fan of since I first saw him at Your Horse Live in 2015 and Pippa Funnell who was my idol when I was a little girl and only allowed to watch eventing on TV from the back of our rocking horse!  I was looking forward to seeing Ben Way as he is a customer where I work but unfortunately he retired before he got to where I was.  We didn’t walk the full course as I didn’t think I was quite up to that but from what I did see, a lot of it seemed massive and/or very technical – there was a lot of breath holding and squeaking from me as a spectator particularly at Capability’s Cutting where even if the horse managed to negotiate the banks down and up, some of the riders almost got taken out by the low hanging branches!

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The Setting

Like I said, I’ve never been to Burghley before.  I didn’t find it as easy to navigate as Badminton but the whole place is beautiful from the Lion Bridge to the House itself and I would love to go again with a bit more mileage capacity for my new hip!

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Week Ten/Day One

At ten weeks post hip replacement this morning I felt like I had pretty much bossed most normal person activities (walking unaided, driving, cycling, working and sleeping on my side).  Now I have attempted what feels like the last piece of the puzzle (riding Pea) I feel like I am starting a whole new journey from day one.

If we rewind to this morning, I had an appointment with my physio.  Last time she saw me I still had a crutch some of the time and I hadn’t started driving yet so for me to bounce in on my own she was pretty impressed.  She pointed out that although I’m not as wonky as  I was, I’m collapsing my upper body to the left because that is how my body is stabilising.  Obviously this isn’t what I should be doing so I’ve got lots more tough exercises to do to straighten me up and strengthen my core and need to spend a bit more time in front of a mirror to check I’m doing it right!  I asked her what she thought about me riding and she said that if I felt I would be ok, it would probably be good for me to get back to it.

I had a busy morning helping out at the yard and when it was over, I managed to get Pea in, brush her and get ready to ride.  I had built up in my mind that as soon as I was given the go ahead to ride, my body would be ready and that riding would mark the end of my proper recovery time.  That wasn’t really the case.  Getting on was fine but I couldn’t sit properly in the saddle as my hip just wouldn’t open up as wide as it needed to – it felt stretched and it hurt!  I had a walk around the arena and I felt my bum settle down into the saddle more rather than being sat on the back like it was at the beginning.  My leg wasn’t exactly hanging down, I didn’t feel like I could push my heel down, there was a funny crunching feeling when I moved and it hurt.  Dismounting was fine, I practically laid on Pea with my legs together then swung them round together.

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I got off feeling pretty devastated – I didn’t expect to be cantering round the arena but I did expect to be able to sit and walk comfortably.  I had to hark back to my own advice on positivity from the other day and think I’m probably still in the wallowing stage though I am very aware how lucky I am to even be sitting on a pony!

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I need to wind my expectations in and realise that the return to riding is going to be a long journey.  Today was day one, stage one – sitting on my pony.  It might take me weeks to be able to sit properly, or trot, or ride for more than a few minutes.  I’m going to try to be patient – after all, I’m 26, Pea’s 12, all things being well we have many many more years together.

Any words of wisdom to help me with this would be most welcome – there is a trustly booklet from the NHS for hip replacement recovery but I’m yet to find a returning to riding one!

Totally Hands Free And Tall!

Today marks FIVE days of being completely crutch free.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to maintain it so I am very proud of myself for keeping it up and the slightly scary thing is that my step count has not gone down!  I’ve walked around the farm at my old place of work and been to visit a friend’s new livery yard as well as walking to work and at my yard so I’ve tackled a range of terrain too!

It hasn’t been easy.  I have to concentrate on every single step and I feel like I am walking quite stiffly.  I have been getting tired as the days have gone on but I haven’t got to the hobbling stage so it isn’t too bad.  I had a bit of a scare today – I did a funny step on the pavement walking home from work and it felt like my hip tried to pop out..  It didn’t pop out so the muscles must be good but I’m a bit worried now – I think a call to the physio is in order to check that everything sounds ok.  I’m not sure whether I am trying to do too much.

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The other revelation this week is that common opinion suggests I am taller since my operation!  I saw friends from my old job (who I haven’t seen since my operation) and everyone thought I was taller.  I’m not sure whether that is as a result of my slightly lengthened left leg or whether it is because I am walking straighter and not sticking my bum out so much!  Either way the longer leg and the straighter walking are good things – I can’t wait to try out my leg and altered seat on Pea in a few weeks time.  Here’s a hint of my old leg wonkiness in pictorial form!

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I am seeing the physio on the 28th and I am going to ask her what she thinks of me riding again.  If she says yes I’ll do it – I feel ready at the moment but I just don’t want to risk undoing all the hard work and I am still on hip precaution restrictions.  If she says to wait until 12 weeks then so be it, I’m hoping to have many more years of riding left!  For now I’m spending more and more time looking back through pictures of me riding.  I made this collage for the two year anniversary of owning Pea – I hope that by January I’ll have plenty to add to document my third year of pony ownership!

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Nearly Normal

In one week it will have been two months since my operation which sounds like an awful long time!  I have started to realise how much I have wished away the last two months and am almost surprised to find myself on the uphill to November birthdays and Christmas (my brain still works in school terms).  Things are certainly on the up and I’m getting closer and closer to ‘normal’.

  • I’m working a lot more – now a day off is a treat every few days rather than a near everyday occurrence!  Although it would be nice not to have to work, working more is definitely making life feel more normal.
  • I am doing more walking (at least 5,000 steps a day).  I’ve moved on from using my crutch and then picking it up to do some unattended walking to leaving my crutch in the car or at home and going about my daily business ‘hands free’.  The other day I walked to see Pea, noticed some ragwort nearby so ended up doing two trips to the field in order to dig it out.  Digging was an interesting one – new leg on the fork or on the floor?  I did a bit of both!
  • I’m wearing proper clothes!  The heat wave is over and the good old English rain has arrived which has prompted me to ditch the summer dresses I have been wearing since my operation.  First, I went to leggings (I couldn’t quite face seams near my scar) but I have since rocked jeans, socks, trainers and wellies though I have had to have a bit of help with putting them on!

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Yesterday I decided to put my ‘nearly normalness’ to the test.  It wasn’t a normal day.  It was a wonderful, special day – the wedding of a very good friend of mine.  I didn’t want to be that person who made a big scene by rocking up to church with a crutch and my own cushion and I certainly didn’t want to be one of those people who sits at a table all night without dancing.  I am proud to say that I did all of the wedding stuff without using the crutch I had stashed in the corner and I danced the night away (albeit carefully) until nearly midnight.  Don’t ask me how I managed to dance without breaking my hip precautions.. the important thing is I didn’t dislocate my hip!  It was a really lovely day and I was so glad to be a part of it.

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Nearly normal is good.  Normal will be even better.  I’m so looking forward to being able to paint my toenails, shave my legs, tie my laces and most importantly, ride my pony!

Ride And Drive!

Sadly the riding I’m doing isn’t exactly the kind I have been so missing but it is something.  In Week Six – (Partial) Freedom I mentioned that my physio suggested I try cycling.  I couldn’t quite face wobbling around on a bike and inevitably ending up on the floor.  Luckily a wonderful friend has lent me a turbo trainer so my recently neglected bicycle is now installed in the living room.  With each rotation of the left pedal my new hip gives a little click feeling but it seems to be ok.  I’m going to slowly build up my cycling time to get these muscles working!

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I am also very much back driving.  The first time I drove on the roads I just went down the road to the yard (a five minute or so drive).  I felt quite panicky, there were motorbikes chasing me down the hill and then on the way home I had to do what felt like a million hill starts in slow moving traffic.  Aside from the slightly dodgy first drive, things are back to normal driving wise.  With the extra freedom that comes with independent travel also comes a bit of anxiety; I am quite nervous of walking in busy places worrying that someone might knock me over and I generally feel a bit vulnerable being alone.  I’m sure this too will pass and I will get back to being strong and independent!

I’m so desperate to ride Pea again.  The other day I climbed over a gate and thought that if I could straddle a gate, I could probably get on a pony.  I have set myself the restriction that until I can do everything myself (bring her in, turn her out and muck out her stable) I shouldn’t be riding.  On Tuesday I made a leap towards this; I got to the yard and Pea had been on a ride so she was in her stable.  I left my crutch by the stable, took her to the wash area, hosed her off and then took her out to her field.  Walking crutchless when you’ve got a pony to help at any sticky points is all fine until they spot a tasty bit of grass..  The other problem was that when I had turned her out, I had to walk back to the yard with nothing to help me.  I was fine but not particularly straight and smooth.  I also had to stop lots of times to rest!  Not sure what I would have been like if I had ridden as well but I guess I will find out when the time is right!

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Week Six – (Partial) Freedom

Lets just take a look at this picture for a minute.

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That’s right, no socks and no crutch – you would almost be forgiven for thinking that this is a pre hip replacement picture.. except for the fact that I have the most fantastically brown knees and the whitest shins!  And I’m wearing a dress at the yard still.

Let’s not get too excited.  I am 100% sock free but I am not 100% crutch free.   I was so panicked in Week Five – Owning My Own Recovery, thinking I would not be able to walk by the six week mark but things have steadily improved since then.  I went from standing on my left leg, to doing tiny steps across the room to being able to walk across the yard or the field.  Yesterday it was six weeks since my operation and my physio okayed me to walk unaided when I feel I am walking properly (or as properly as I can) but advised me to use my crutch when I am feeling stiff or tired.  I know all too well the damage caused by walking incorrectly so I am quite accepting of this.  I don’t want to hobble and limp around and do myself more harm than good.

My physio is pleased with how I am doing, particularly my ‘normal person’ stair climbing.  She has given me a few extra exercises to do to continue to build my left leg strength and suggested I try cycling since due to the other medical situation of this week (see here) I am not allowed to swim at the moment.  There is quite a big part of me that thinks I’m more likely to fall off a bike than Pea but I’m adamant not to ride her until I can get her in from the field and do all the pre and post ride pony care stuff myself.  I’ll let you know how cycling goes when I give it a try!

Being six weeks post op also means I’m allowed to sleep on my side (although I am playing it safe with a pillow between my knees).  I cannot describe the difference it makes to have bare legs and be able to curl my legs up on my side in bed.  The weeks of dreading going to bed are OVER!

In other news, I drove for the first time today.  I’m fine.  My leg is fine.  I may have given my boyfriend whiplash from practising my emergency stops!  I didn’t go on the road today, just the track to and next to the yard, but I’m confident that I am road ready now!

The toughest six weeks are out of the way, I can now carefully negotiate what I am calling part two of my recovery.  Pea seemed to genuinely notice that I wasn’t wearing my socks, I’m hoping I’ve got plenty more surprises in store for her in the next few weeks!

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VIP – One For The Girls

I try to keep my blog on focus – my hip and horses.  Today I’m going to talk about cervical screening.  I’ll try not to go into too much detail, I’m not going to be gross but this is something I feel passionate about and if I can make just ONE person listen to me on this subject, it will have been worth writing.

First, a fact: cervical screening (or smear testing if that’s what you want to call it) is offered FREE on the NHS to 25-49 year olds every 3 years (and less frequently for older women).  Not only that but follow ups and treatment are also free, should you need it.

In 2009, school girls in the UK up to the age of 18 were offered the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer.  I was in the right age bracket and I had the series of jabs.  In the same year, the very sad passing of Jade Goody was well publicised in the media and as a result of this, smear test attendance nationally went up.  When you are 18, 25 seems a long way away and having had the vaccine, I never thought I would have an issue.

Last year I turned 25, I had my letter, I rang the GP, I booked a convenient evening appointment which wouldn’t affect work and I went for my cervical screening.  Having spoken to a few people about it beforehand I was expecting it to be a traumatic experience.  I can honestly say it was fine – yes, mild discomfort for a tiny amount of time but really fine.  I was pretty sure that that would be the end of that for another three years.

A letter in the post a few weeks later told me I had to have a colposcopy to further investigate my cervical cells – this time at the hospital.  I won’t lie, I was completely freaked out and pretty nervous about the whole thing.  My friend took me so that I had some pre and post appointment moral support but the whole experience was nothing like what my brain had built it up to be.  If you think of American TV shows that feature gyno visits, they are pretty bang on (on your back, legs in ‘stirrups’!)  I had a specialist nurse doing the procedure, a further nurse helping her and then another one stood by my head chatting to me and making sure I was ok.  Again, slight discomfort, took no time at all, minimal after effects.  And again I was sure that would be the end of that.

The letter in the post diagnosed CIN 1 abnormal cells which means unlikely/mild risk of developing cervical cancer.  No further treatment was needed, it said the abnormalities should go away by themselves but I would be invited back for a cervical screening in a year rather than three, just to make sure.

This year, aged 26, I got another letter.  It was just as easy to book my cervical screening appointment, it was just as convenient time wise and it was the most insignificant doctors appointment I have ever had.  I’m pretty sure when the nurse was done I said ‘was that it?’  Obviously a colposcopy is a bit more of a big deal than a basic smear and I think I had forgotten how quick and simple it was.  I was fairly sure that the abnormalities from last year would be gone and that I wouldn’t have any come back this year.

The letter inviting me for another colposcopy came three weeks before my hip replacement date.  Cue major panic.  Judging by normal appointment wait times, I wouldn’t be able to have it before my operation.  A quick phone call later, the team at Cheltenham General booked me in for an emergency appointment in a weeks time, before their clinic actually opened.  That’s right, they essentially made an exception for me in order to get it sorted – if that doesn’t show how important this stuff is, I don’t know what does!

This time I wasn’t worried, I went on my own and went straight to work afterwards.  I had the same team for my second colposcopy, it was quick, simple and fine.  The longest part of the appointment was sharing my concern with the specialist that I was in the same position a second time in the space of a year.  She said that the likelihood was that stress had stopped my body from kicking the issue and that’s why I was still in that position.  When I look at the year, a full time teaching job then moving jobs, houses and yards, getting put on the list for a hip replacement and moving jobs, houses and yards again is probably enough to consider the year stressful!  It has certainly made me think about my health when considering my future ventures.  The specialist said that if my cells were mildly abnormal this time they would be left for another year and if they were still there then, they would be removed.

In the early stages of hip replacement recovery, I got another letter.  This time the letter in the post diagnosed CIN 2 which means moderately abnormal cells.  Not only had the risk not disappeared but it had increased.  The letter told me I needed to have the cells removed and gave me an appointment date for mid July – less than a month after my hip surgery.  It was quite clear that getting these cells removed was a sooner the better kind of situation.  I checked with both my physio and my consultant (poor guy, he wants to know about my hip not my cervix!) about the logistics of getting in a position to have the procedure (American TV show style) which wasn’t deemed to be a problem.  Unfortunately, I would still be on blood thinners in mid July so my appointment was pushed back two weeks.

Today I had the abnormal cells removed.  I had the same team as I had for my colposcopys, the format of the appointment was the same and the only difference was that instead of taking biopsys of my cells, they were being removed.  I had Loop Diathermy (LLETZ) treatment which involves having a local anaesthetic in the relevant area (which I did NOT feel) and then having the cells removed using a thin wire loop which is heated with an electric current.  Sounds not particularly nice but again, mild discomfort was the extent of what I felt.  The worst part of the appointment was being told I probably shouldn’t go to work for a few days and that I might have bleeding for quite a few weeks.  Some studies say that having abnormal cells removed can lead to a slight increase in having a premature baby and others say that can be the case if you have ever had any pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.  I can’t really comment on the after affects of the treatment as I only had it today apart from feeling a bit lightheaded directly afterwards and the expected tummy soreness etc.  I can’t predict whether this will be the end of my dealings with the lovely ladies at the colposcopy clinic in Cheltenham, fingers crossed for my results letter in five weeks time and my next screening in six months!

Why have I written a thousand words about the adventures of my poor cervix I hear you cry!  Simply because the ‘Jade Goody effect’ is long gone.  So many people, friends, mums of friends and obviously many many strangers, don’t go to cervical screening appointments when they are invited.  People even ring the hospital clinic to refuse treatment of their abnormal cells!  Here is my plea.

If/when you are invited, go.

  • A few moments of awkwardness/discomfort/bleeding is nothing compared to what you would have to go through if you developed cervical cancer.
  • If you are old enough to legally let a male (or female) near your private parts, you are old enough to let a nurse!
  • The horror stories aren’t all true, the equipment used these days has improved significantly since screening was introduced.
  • You will generally be well informed about what to expect and can therefore mentally prepare yourself. With each letter and appointment I have had leaflets about what to expect.
  • The appointments are quick and easy, the NHS want you to attend so they make it as easy for you as they can.
  • Set a good example for your friends/Mum/sister/daughter. You may never have an issue but you might be saving their life by getting them to go.
  • Not all cancers can be predicted or tested for in this way. If you can do something to reduce the risk of getting cancer, why wouldn’t you?

If anyone has any questions about anything I have written or actually wants to know the gory details so that they know what to expect, contact me .  Like I said, if I can help one person, writing this has been worth it.

Finally, whether you are pre smear or having further investigations, don’t google it.

www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical

www.jostrust.org.uk

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