Sorting

Just wanted to discuss something that I’m just beginning to realize. So three days ago, I got the results from the colposcopy I had early last week in reference to the HPV. It was sort of good news. I don’t have any dysplasia, or precancerous, abnormal cells. That’s been the case for over a year. For about two years before that, I had mild dysplasia. According to the research I’ve been doing, the recommended course of treatment is to really do nothing, since mild dysplasia tends to clear about 70% of the time within 2 years. I’ve cleared the dysplasia but I haven’t cleared the virus completely. According to what I’ve been able to ascertain, the virus itself could go into a dormant state at any time. With the strain of the virus that I have, I’m being told on various STD sites online that I should consider myself lucky. Other people have had moderate dysplasia progress into cervical cancer within a year. It’s still very frustrating because I’m still testing positive for HPV even though I don’t have dysplasia. I’m not completely out of the woods in reference to the dysplasia either. There’s no guarantee that it won’t return in the future and come back in a more severe form. I’m working on accepting the fact that I’ll have to be monitored closely for possibly the rest of my life.

The saddest thing is that a lot of the stuff I just posted aren’t things that my doctor told me. I had to find a lot of this stuff out through the Internet. Many doctors are rushed and cram a lot patients into their offices every day, so they can’t take the time to thoroughly explain things to you. The end result is that you’re clueless because you really don’t know what kinds of questions to ask, so the quality of care you get is fairly haphazard. Having been in the managed care industry for 11 years, I can tell you that the main reason why this happens is because the government and commercial health plans are cutting reimbursement to doctors, so they have to make up that revenue by cramming more and more patients into their day, meaning they spend less and less time with you. You may wonder why you’re paying more for your health plan if the doctors aren’t getting more money. Well that’s primarily because the increase isn’t necessarily going to the doctors or to improve your care, but to line the pockets of senior executives. All this to benefit the avarice of a few.

Also, let’s face it, the medical establishment is racist and sexist. Generally, diseases that affect mainly women and people of color don’t get nearly the same amount of funding for research as diseases that primarily affect white men, since women and people of color are marginalized in our society. And for diseases that are common across all racial and ethnic groups and both sexes, sometimes symptoms that are common in one race and/or gender will be different among another race/gender. For example, most of the studies in the past concerning heart attacks were done on white men and the most common symptom is the feeling of your chest being grabbed. However, women who have heart attacks don’t have the same symptoms as men do. Women often report nausea and tingling during a heart attack, when men usually report that feeling that their chest is being hammered. As a result, heart attacks in women are more likely to be missed and women are more likely to die from them. Shocking, isn’t it? I have second hand experience with this because this happened to the mother of a supervisor at my last job. It was thought that her nausea was food poisoning but she died minutes after reaching the ER. The autopsy showed she had a heart attack. This needless death might have been prevented if doctors and the public in general were more educated about these differences. Furthermore, partly due to marginalization of a number of groups and partly due to the fact that we’re a litigious society, doctors either won’t prescribe all the tests and treatment that someone needs believing that the person will be noncompliant anyway or they’ll go overboard and send people for tests and treatments that are unnecessary in order to cover their behinds. The marginalization issue and the overuse of litigation are issues that obviously go beyond the medical establishment. This isn’t to say that the way that I’ve been treated for the HPV is lacking. From what I’ve been able to ascertain from the Internet, my doctor has been doing all of the standard things. I’ve seen stories where some people’s doctors suggest hysterectomies for severe dysplasia, when it isn’t even considered an invasive cancer, but pre-cancer. My main complaint is that I’m not able to communicate with the doctor about the condition in the way I’d like to, bu I know why I’m not able to. My past denial about the matter prevented me from reaching out and advocating for my health and I’m starting to realize that I can’t afford to keep sticking my head in the sand. I need to take greater responsibility for advocating for my health as nobody else is about to do that. I’m lucky in that my condition has never gotten to the point where it was severe but if it did, it’s possible that I might have agreed to treatments that weren’t in my best interests because I felt helpless and hopeless. The information that’s out there is actually a little overwhelming but it’s one of my best defenses against the virus. It’s best to advocate for yourself and find out as much information as you can about any illness, not just major ones like cancer, so you can make decisions that you’re most comfortable with. I wish it hadn’t taken me four years to reach that conclusion.

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