Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Saturday, September 27, 2008

HPV and Me (TMI) Part 3


All hunky-dory until last weekend, when I my period was due again. I had menstrual pains much worse than labour, on and off, but little bleeding. I have a high pain threshold anytime (no pain relief at all for my daughter's birth) and have visited A&E just once in my life, when I couldn't stop a deep cut in my hand bleeding and needed stitches. It was my medical friend who thought I needed to be seen, after being incapacitated by pain so severe I was retching, sweating buckets and rolling around incapable of speech, for the third morning in a row.

Long story short- treated like a stupid schoolgirl panicking at her first period at A&E on Sunday night. Told nurse I had severe menstrual pain- worse than labour- but no bleeding, then nurse asked if I was in any pain (?) No vaginal exam in A&E because 'it's policy to preserve privacy'. Friend was asked "Are you a doctor?" when she suggested my fanny might have cervical stenosis (blocked/scarred cervix) after the last treatment, and when she answered "Yes", A&E doctor was gobsmacked but still sent me home without exam, on ibuprofen (already taken) and a referral for an 'emergency' gynae triage appointment on Tuesday.

So, after two more days of severe pain, an ultrasound on Tuesday showed my uterus was packed with unexpelled menstrual products and my cervix was completely stenosed.

I was in very bad pain and did not behave well to the gynae nurse who asked me when my last period was, and refused to understand I couldn't answer this ("Do you mean pain or bleeding?" I asked, with no comprehension on her side). Then she asked me to confirm I'd attended in June for a 'colonoscopy' (clearly she didn't know her arse from my fanny) and that's when I finally lost it with her.

After another 2 hours, I saw a baby doc who explained that our theory was correct. My fanny's cervix was blocked by the last treatment and the blood and clots from my last three periods are backed up and festering in my womb. She said we'd wait for her boss, Mama Doc, to become available, then they'd examine my fanny and try to pass a 'probe' through my cervix to allow the muck to be expelled. Baby Doc was lovely and approachable, so I felt able to state that they'd better fucking give me some decent fucking pain relief before they tried putting a fucking knitting needle up my fucking fanny. Wouldn't she want the same?

Finally someone was listening to me, and the particularly stupid 'colonoscopy' nurse was called through again to (ungraciously) give me some proper, opiate-based pain relief. Baby Doc and Mama Doc had a look up my fanny and made noises to the effect that my cervix was barely there anymore- 'extremely shortened'. Mama Doc tried the knitting needle cure, but the scarring was too deep for her to make a new os.

Mama Doc wanted to book me in for a D&C (to open my cervix and scrape out the muck) under a general anaesthetic that day, but the surgical list is full. Sent home on two heavy-duty antibiotics and opiate painkillers to await the first surgery space on Monday. Started puking badly on Weds night, when the GP added two more anti-vomit pills to the pharmacopaeia. Let this be over soon.

Hopefully, I'll be fine again by Monday night. Thankfully, I do not have cancer of the cervix (credit to Dr Pap, colposcopy and LEEP), but a chain of events has caused me and my fanny a lot of grief, fear, worry and unnecessary pain. The lessons are:

1. Use condoms!
2. Get your daughters (and sons!) vaccinated against HPV!
3. Look after your johnson or your fanny!


HPV and Me (TMI) Part 2


In the last post, I explained how cultural norms and scientific ignorance allowed me (and many of my generation) to fail to protect my fanny from epidemic HPV.

Come the mid 1980s, my fanny and I were living in a virtual heaven. We were in a long-term and monogamous relationship with a very nice johnson whom we later married and with whom we had children.

I always took care of my fanny (as she did me) by attending for Pap smear tests when summoned by my GP. It was in the late 80s that my fanny produced her first abnormal smear, and I had to take her for a colposcopy examination at the Elsie Inglis hospital (later sold off by Lothian Health Board). I'd not yet matured at this time into a serial protester, but I recall being distressed by and non-compliant with this clinic's factory-line ethos.

They insisted I should carry my knickers in a wire shopping basket in full public view from waiting room to doctor's consulting room to treatment room. When I refused, on the grounds that I preferred holding important conversations while wearing underclothes, I was laughed at. My fanny was refused a local anaesthetic before they biopsied and froze 'bad' areas of my cervix because 'the cervix has no nerve supply'. This was and is categorically untrue (why is cervical dilation during labour sore then?), and I've not had to endure such indignity or unnecessary pain during any subsequent cervical treatments.

A few years later my fanny was called back again after another dodgy smear result, but this time I was able to discuss the plan in a dignified setting, and my fanny received a local anaesthetic before diathermy (burning) of some new dysplastic areas.

All was rosy, and the treatments didn't hamper normal deliveries of two spanking kiddos. Brilliant! The johnson belonging to my husband took off for pastures new in 2000, and thereafter my fanny found her pleasures elsewhere, mostly in fairly long-lasting, serially monogamous relationships. The married johnson had been happy to use condoms, but I learned that the generation below mine seemed reluctant to do so. Who knows whether my poor fanny received a nasty HPV from one of these, or whether she'd been cooking pre-cancer from her teens.

This year, another bad smear result came back so I took my fanny up to the new hospital in June for more cervical pre-cancer treatment, this time by loop electrical excision procedure (LEEP). LEEP is a more invasive technique (shaving the cervix all over), but since I had a local and have finished child-bearing, thought no more of it.

In retrospect, my periods started going wrong afterwards. Lots of menstrual pain (never previously a problem for me), bleeding stopping then starting at odd times throughout my cycle. I put it down the the menopause (for which I'm rapidly heading), and tholed it like a Stakhanovite.

/To Be Continued


HPV and Me (TMI) Part 1

My fanny and I have been close, not to say bosom buddies, for many years and have had many adventures together. She's been a wonderful companion, helping me experience much pleasure and to bear two (sometimes) lovely kiddos. We're both getting older now, and I'd assumed we'd drift gently into an affectionate dotage together, but lately she's got the hump with me again. It's her story I would like to relate here.


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in an era called the 1970s, there was a short-lived golden age, sometimes called 'the era of free love', when young people could explore their sexuality free of fear.

In this era, young women (and through them, their male partners) now had access to new hormonal contraceptives for the first time, which prevented the Big Bad Bogeyman of unwanted pregnancy spoiling their fun. The most popular of these was The Pill (it was always capitalised in those days), which many young women would swallow on 21 out of every 28 mornings.

The young women liked it because they could please and keep their boyfriends without ever having to worry about pregnancy excepting those 30 seconds it took to swallow The Pill. The young men liked it even better, because now their girlfriends were available for spontaneous sex anytime and anyplace and they were absolved from worry of a shotgun wedding, from anything so fun-spoiling as placing a latex barrier between their johnson and their girlfriend's fanny, or anything so embarrassing as having to ask a chemist for a pack of condoms. In fact, condoms were extremely fuddy-duddy in those days and sales were at an all-time low.

And it was (somewhat) good for everyone, and most especially the young thrusty men who for sociobiological reasons that they didnt understand wanted lots of no-strings sex with lots of partners.

In the 1970s (as I recall), there were only two sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). There was your gonorrhoea (clap) and your syphilis (pox), but both were eminently treatable by antibiotics, so no one cared about those. It was only at the end of the 'free love' that anyone started to hear of some new ones that were less treatable, such as non-specific urethritis (which grew up to be chlamydia) and herpes. HIV and AIDS were still a twinkle in an African green monkey's eye.

It wasn't till the 1980s that young people started to be warned, using leaflets and cinema adverts showing tombstones and icebergs, that there were other new STIs and some of these could be fatal. It turned out condoms (or a nasty granny's plastic rainhat called a Femidom) could prevent all STIs except pubic lice (crabs) being transmitted, as well as preventing pregnancy. But it was too late for a whole generation of young people, both gay and straight, who'd had quite a lot of spontaneous fun in the preceding decade.


One of the non-important STIs that were floating around in the 70s were genital warts. These were just like a wart on your hand or a verruca on your foot, except you'd get them on your johnson, fanny, geffizit (perineum) or ringpiece (anus). They weren't sore and if one was cosmetically bothered these could be easily burnt off with podophyllin or frozen off with dry ice. No big deal it seemed to us, until it became clear (some years later) that the virus that caused these warts- human papilloma virus (HPV)- came in many subtypes.

Now, clever doctors had always suspected that cancer of the cervix (once a major killer of women) was mostly a kind of STI, because nuns and lesbians hardly ever got this. Clever virologists learned in the 80s that infection with some subtypes of HPV (ones which didn't themselves cause warts) turned out to be the main cause of cervical* cancer.

It turned out that almost all sexually active people (excepting exclusive celibates, lesbians or virgins who'd entered a monogamous marriage) were carriers of HPV of one subtype or another. Men mostly remained asymptomatic apart from the odd wart, but women infected with a nasty HPV subtype while having unprotected fun could develop cervical pre-cancer, and later cancer, if not treated.

*Cervical- Pronounced serv-ikal in reference to the upper region of the spinal column, and serv-eye-ikal when in the fanny context

/To Be Continued


Mog Log Blog

Dearie me! Dreadlock emergency with Her Catness this morning.

I have not been too well and am taking two types of anti-nausea medication. But when Her Catness jumped up on the bed this morning (thankfully I hadn't had breakfast yet), the cloacal smell from her back-end was so bad it set me off on 5 mins of the dry boaks.

Her usually white, fluffy and delightfully fragrant pantaloons were festooned with dangling, shit-matted dreadlocks, stinking to high heaven. Dreadfully undignified for Her and very unpleasant for Her human companions.

I instructed the troops to "Tool Up!", get on their body armour and apply cologne-soaked masks in preparation for de-dagging Her Catness.

Then with a cry of "Let's roll!" we launched into combat. Her Catness does not appreciate attention of any kind to her nether regions, and is equipped with claws and teeth to defend Herself. We had our first casualty before we even had Her restrained. Luckily it was not me.

She won this battle, and escaped under the kitchen cupboard for an hour or so before seeking human help again. This time I took the front end and simultaneously soothed and restrained Her while a platoon member got busy with the scissors at the back-end. She's happier and sweet-smelling again now.


An anonymous, anti-social tosser (who is dead if I ever discover their identity) dumped a mattress out in my back garden. However, I now have a strapping laddie to do my manual labour, and Fraggle Friends to aid him. A few days ago, I instructed these troops also to “Tool Up!” and don binbags to save their clothes from soiling when moving the stinking, mouldy and now green mattress. They turned this into an opportunity to dress up as Adam Ant (with felt-pen make-up). That’s my Big Wan on the left.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Downstairs Neighbour and Me

Hi [ion]

Thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate your suggestion to carpet your room but I'm not sure thats the answer to the latest issue. It would certainly muffle footsteps and things moving across the floor but I haven't been woken up by that type of noise for some time now (thank you for your efforts on that front. Much appreciated). I also know from many years of experience with noise from the pub below that carpet does little if anything to reduce music or TV noise.

I'm interested to hear that you have Tv or radio on every night because its not something I've ever been aware of, which is a sign that normally the volume is absolutely fine. Its only in the last couple of months, perhaps on 3 or 4 occasions that I've been woken up. For whatever reason, on those nights, the TV or radio was loud enough to be heard quite clearly. I could be wrong but I think it was the TV I was hearing so perhaps its just a difference in volume between the TV and radio? Or possibly a difference in the volume that various programmes are broadcast at? As I said, the vast majority of the time, I cant hear them at all so I think if you can just keep an eye (or ear) on the volume to make sure its at the level you normally use, we should be fine.

Thanks again,

[Downstairs Neighbour]


Hi [Downstairs Neighbour],

Glad the percussion noise is better, sad there's now a new problem with TV/radio noise. As you point out, these separate types of noise nuisance have independent physico- mechanical properties.

It's very distressing for you to have your sleep regularly disturbed and equally distressing for me to receive ongoing complaints. I daily consider your low arousal threshold and sensitivities, making every effort to reduce noise to the extent of restricting my and my kid's normal behaviour in your interest. Yet the problem persists, even if it shifts focus.

Evidence is that no matter how hard we try, the noise nuisance persists. I feel that further restrictions to our lifestyle, such as using headphones or exercising even greater consideration, are not workable and are unlikely to be successful in the long term.My kids are now 12 and 16 and can't be expected to respect the strict rules on noise production that I have followed this year.

Thus I feel a new tack is needed, aimed not at further modification of my and my kids' behaviour but at insulating you from our everyday noise so you can sleep and we can lead a normal family life. I think we should consider insulating the ceiling/floor space between our bedrooms, in the interests of both our qualities of life.



Friday, September 19, 2008

Enhanced Disclosure IX

Here's the latest in my fact-finding mission to use my personal case to explore Police Forces' use and abuse of the UK criminal records database.

Like many people of my generation, I have a trivial 24 year-old drug possession conviction, which according to changing guidelines should have disappeared in 1994, 2004 or, according to the authorities' latest interpretation...2063. However, the Information Tribunal (ombudspeople on Freedom of Information and Data Protection) have recently ruled that Chief Officers of local Police Forces are in breach of UK law, human rights and the ITs previous rulings by continuing to disclose spent convictions such as mine.

I received an email from an entirely new correspondent, of "FED Disclosure Scotland" (whatever that is) on the 12th. She writes:

Dear [ion],

I have had a look at your case, and referred it to the Disclosure Manager, Brian [XXX] for his attention. You will receive a letter of reply shortly from him.

If I can be of any assistance in the meantime, please feel free to contact me.

[FED Team Leader, Disclosure Scotland]

Brian is Head of Disclosure, second in command to the CEO of Disclosure Scotland, so I'm hoping to hear soon his response to the questions I posed in my last email. Meantime, does this latest mean the FEDs are after me? (That's a joke, by the way)


Downstairs Neighbour's state of mind

Dearie, dearie me. The serial complainer (me) meets her match in Downstairs Neighbour, and she doesn't like it! The email disturbed me and left me feeling oddly vulnerable. Specifically, DN's attribution of the problem to a lack of consideration on my part is both incorrect and potentially psychologically unhealthy, and it is worrisome that when one type of noise problem is solved a new one takes its place.

DN's initial noise complaint was of percussion noise, which is objectively corroborated as a major problem with stripped floors such as mine. This type of noise is mechanically transmitted and amplified by the physical structures in a tenement. But media-volume noise (excluding the bass of e.g. deep dub reggae or techno music) is an airborne pressure wave. The mechanical and physical properties of old tenements' structure tend to insulate and baffle this type of noise very well.

Neither my TV nor radio contact any floors or walls, the daily pattern of my media-listening habits is unchanged and the volume settings of my TV or radio have not been adjusted. So where does it come from?

Though we have no social contact, DN's complaints have had far-reaching effects on my thoughts and behaviour. I think of him every night- tiptoeing round my flat in bare feet, hushing the kiddos up, stopping the wee wan practising her dancing except on carpet and in daytime. DN effectively invades my bedroom every night, mentally, whether he's complaining or not, and there are aspects of this dominance and control which are unreasonable and unhealthy. I'm well aware that he feels that I invade his space too, but it's becoming apparent that the counter-measures I undertake may always be insufficient.

So, who 'owns' this problem, as asked by Rob? Possibly, as Rob implied, it now belongs to both of us. DN definitely has a problem and possibly a type of fixation (though not in a good way) with me. In response, I'm also now becoming overly involved with DN (again not in a good way), and over-attending to his comfort and appeasement.

I don't know for sure the best way to 'solve' our co-owned problem. I suspect that my supplicatory approach till now has some unhealthy aspects, feeding a folie a deux misconception that if I will only try harder, his problem will go away.

I have tried really, really hard and the poor man still can't sleep. He couldn't sleep before I moved in and he'll continue not to sleep if I go. If I continue to play soft-ball and accept his blame, I'm feeding the misattribution. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can make one truly crazy (I speak from personal as well as professional experience), and challenging his blame belief could augment my status to pure, evil enemy.

Here's how I responded last night:

Hi [DN],

Sorry to hear you've been disturbed recently by my TV or radio, most recently on Tuesday night, and thanks for letting me know of this recent problem.

Certainly, I would have had either BBC 2 TV or BBC Radio World Service on all night on Tuesday night (as every night), because this has always been the case. I can't fall asleep without spoken word in the background.

I'm perplexed about this new problem because my sleep pattern is more 'normal' than when we last spoke, my media habits (and volume settings) are unaltered, and my hearing is not significantly impaired as yet (though this will come!).

I did indeed have a late night on Tuesday, but this example was recent enough that I can specifically attest that I was that night implementing the counter-measures previously agreed to preserve your sleep, as I've done assiduously in recent months.

Since lack of consideration is not the problem, yet nothing implemented so far is improving your quality of life, it may be that we need to consider sharing the costs of carpeting my bedroom. I'm willing to discuss this if you think it might solve the problem. Let me know.

Yours sincerely,

I'm opening this issue up for any budding agony aunts. Any good advice for me?


Downstairs Neighbour kicks off again

Hi [ion]
I'm writing to let you know that, unfortunately, I've been getting woken up
again during the night by what sounds like a TV or possibly a radio. Its
happened several times over the last month, last night being the most recent
occurrence. I've tried using ear plugs but they don't always block it out
completely. Any chance you could turn it down a bit next time or perhaps use
Thanks a lot,
[Downstairs Neighbour]


This marks the start of the end of my patience and consideration for DN. I've been extremely considerate since his first complaint and have made considerable behavioural and furnishing changes to accommodate his low threshold for noise. Now I'm realising that he will never be satisfied.

There's been no change in the volume settings of my TV or radio since I moved in 8 years ago, and I am not deaf (yet). I have always slept with either BBC2 TV or BBC World Service radio on low-volume all night since a kid, because the spoken word lulls me to sleep.

For the last 6 months I've removed my shoes on entry into my home, shushed the kids when they shout, reined back their natural spontaneous galloping locomotions, but it's never enough. I discovered that Environmental Health cannot find objectively excessive noise in his flat, and DN and I have discussed that he may possess ultra-sensitive hearing or a low arousal response, for which I have done my utmost to cater.

Enough is enough. I spend more mental effort offering DN consideration than I do my own family. It's getting time DN recognised that he has an endogenous problem.

We do not play techno music, have wild parties (I should be so lucky) or practice flamenco, though we would be quite entitled to do so should we choose. DN- you had a problem with noise before I moved in and you'd have the same or worse with any new neighbour except a corpse.

DN should sound-proof his room, or alternatively move to an isolated detached house in a rural setting, when he will develop a new sensitivity to morning birdsong, electro-magnetic radiation, or a full-blown total-allergy syndrome. The problem lies with him, although he will always ascribe it to his environment.


Sunday, September 14, 2008


Most top-quality experimental and clinical slug research continues to be conducted through funding by public bodies such as the MRC (in the UK) or NIH (in the US). Of course, only la creme de la creme (cf Miss Jean Brodie) are blessed, but at least we can be sure that this research is meritocratic rather than profit-driven, as when funded by Big Pharma.

My good friend George Bush II, erstwhile ruler of the world, stymied stem-cell research during his tenure because of his Born-Again religious objections to using foetal cells or cross-species methodology to ameliorate human disease.

Currrently, the 'Irish Candidate' (as my American dad refers to O'Bama) is slipping in the US polls, meaning that McCain and his running-mate Sarah Palin are in with a chance to become the face dictators of the world in Nov 2008.

While we all know the President and his VP are only front-figures (with the real power in the Pentagon), the November election could have serious impact on slug research. There have been enormous advances in scientific understanding and clinical applications of slug research (predominantly through cross-species models) in the last decade, many predicated on the assumption that humans are related to other life forms on Earth.

McCain, being rather crumbly by health and age, could kick off to the next plane anytime, leaving our young, vital and creationist hockey-mom Palin to assume Ruler of the World role. Is she going to fund the incredibly exciting recent research showing homologies of structure and function between nematodes, fruit flies, rodents and humans? No.

For in her belief set, G-d created all these species as unique and sui generis, and to mix them up is sinful. Any homologies are purely coincidental (maybe because He is constitutionally lazy and couldn't be bothered to re-engineer each of the individual species on Noah's Ark).

G-d, if he exists and happens to like humans (not that He should), would help us now and send Sarah an angel, an epiphany or a lightning bolt.


The Bear

Just back from a professional conference on Slug Research in Glasgow.

A bad thing happened on Weds. Someone drank too much, stayed up too late, took a hefty dose of temazepam to allow decent sleep, then woke the next morning to find a bear had trashed her hotel room. She found a pre-packed salad strewn on the floor, a bruise on her forehead and a loaned book she'd been reading soaked in apple juice. How these had occurred was entirely amnesiac, as the bear had enacted these while she slept. He is a very clumsy bear.

This person happens to feel printed books are sacred objects, and that defiling them is sinful. She reacts badly when others disrespect her books, so has no defense except that the intruder bear broke in while she slept and committed acts of desecration. She has sourced and purchased through the internet a replacement book in VG condition (since the specific book edition is now out-of-print) and hopes this will arrive soon. Luckily the original book did not have irreplaceable, hand-written marginalia such as Fermat's Last Theorem.

"I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain."


Wednesday, September 03, 2008


The Big Wan swapped from a Maths Higher to French last week, without consultation. This caused a sharp intake of breath from both his parents, but may prove to have been for the best.

It's pretty stupid (in my opinion) to initiate the Higher Maths syllabus with differential calculus, which can scare off all but the most gifted students. And when it comes to Maths, some cats got it and some cats ain't. Thus, Big Wan can attain a better mark in French (while coasting) than in Maths with hot-housing. Logically, swapping subjects can only help him get best marks this year. Plus, Big Wan did raise concerns about the Maths Higher with both me and the Nazi Papa, and received from us only exhortations to 'work harder'.

So I'm accepting BG's decision on dropping Maths, and so- to his credit- is Nazi Papa. In recent conversations, NP and I are getting healthily close to a united policy on our teenage menace: give the laddie a tap of the whip but also a bite of the carrot.

I wouldn't be so vain as to imagine this softening is due to anything I said. More likely is that NP's apprehended and respected Big Wan's action for what it was: a statement of autonomy. The beneficial effects of this may be far-reaching, because NP and I could maybe now form a temporary coalition of convenience, much like an Italian government. Already, the new Popular Parent Front is quietly machinating so Big Wan will want to do a Maths Higher next year...