My Nexplanon Story, The Procedure
1 hour before the Nexplanon implant.
I am nervous. In a little under an hour, I will be getting the Nexplanon implant.
I am not nervous about getting the implant. After all, I’ve been through it all twice before, and I know the procedure. I’m nervous about the potential effects of the implant.
I’ve been hormone-free for a little over three years, and if I had it my way I wouldn’t go back on hormones. Hormones haven’t been kind to me in the past, heck the effects are the reason I came off them. So, this past week I have been filming a video diary where I talk candidly about my feelings – occasionally missing a day here or there, talking through my nerves and my worries.
The last time I was on hormonal contraception, my mental state wasn’t my own. I can remember coming off hormones and it was almost like the fog had been lifted. I remember feeling relieved that the mess that was hormonal contraception was behind me. I swore to myself I wouldn’t go back on them, because whilst I had two years of bliss on the hormones, I had a year of hell. In the last six months of the old Nexplanon implant, and the first six months of the new one, I bled constantly. My moods were all over the place and every single time I asked the doctor they refused to take it out – ‘just wait for it to settle’ they said. Shocker, it didn’t settle.
I know cost comes into it – after all, it is the NHS and taking something out that you just put in isn’t a good form. To be frank, it’s a waste of money. So, when my GP wouldn’t remove it I went to the G.U.M (Genito-Urinary Medicine) clinic and had it taken out, and made an appointment to reinsert a new one a few weeks later.
However, I’m not going to the G.U.M clinic as I’m far too ill nowadays – I can’t just pop in a taxi and go by myself. There has to be a long conversation about my health, and people free to escort me to and from the appointment. That’s why the appointment is booked at a time my partner can come with me. It’s been booked so he can push my wheelchair that’s too big to fit in the doctor’s surgery, so he can take me back and pass me the things I need when I’m hesitant to move my arm, so he can help. If I were to even try to do it solo, I would injure myself, that’s just a fact of life.
As mentioned before, the procedure doesn’t worry me – it’s probably one of the easiest things I will deal with this year, it’s the effects. The hormones, mood swings, anxiety, the inevitable anger, and the possibility it might not work. Not for contraception – I am confident that it will work for keeping my uterus baby-free, but the taming of my periods. I’m worried it will make me worse, I’m worried that instead of two good weeks I will have none, and I will spend most of my days bedbound unable to do much.
I don’t just worry about my periods and my mood after the Nexplanon implant; I worry about my feet. Though I wish it didn’t, nowadays my life revolves much more around my feet than every other body part. It has to. If we’re going out somewhere, I have to worry about my feet. I have to make sure the circulation keeps pumping blood around my body when I’m out. So, I move my feet and get dirty looks from other people that say, ‘but you are wheelchair user – your feet shouldn’t work!’. Granted, it would be my absolute pleasure to tell them exactly how my feet don’t work if they were to say it to my face, but they never do. They just stare and feel superior.
I’m worried because for months I kept track of my breakthrough pain medication during my cycle. During the first half of my cycle, I barely needed it, but during the second half, it’s all I use. I discovered that I use it twice as much after ovulation until I bleed, then from bleeding until I ovulate. I’ve spoken about it before on this blog. I’ve told doctors – the gynecology doctor I see, and even my GP, but they all ignore me. They dismiss my breakthrough med ‘test’, and the evidence of my results because I’m a woman in pain, and thus I am treated as something less. I am treated as though my pain is a nuisance, and they have better things to do.
There is a very real chance that this hormonal contraception will make me worse. After all, it is progesterone based and that is what messes me up during the second half of my cycle. It is progesterone that seems to make my feet flare. If it were the continual fluctuation in hormones, then why do they not flare constantly? Hormone levels change daily. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes my feet do continually flare, but there’s a pattern with my hormones – it’s only when progesterone comes into play, not estrogen.
I have told the doctor the Nexplanon implant can go in on the agreement that if it needs to come out, it comes out. No waiting around, no ‘wait to see if it settles’. It is my life, and my body has enough pain without adding to it, without making it worse through manufacturing methods.
So, I am nervous, but not for the typical reasons.
Now, I’m going to get ready. I’m going to stop dictating (my hands constantly flare and burn at the mo so sorry for all the typos), put aside my taxes – I’ve been multitasking, and face my fear. Sounds fantastic I know, but hormones really have become a potent fear of mine. Hormones control my body, and I’m completely at their mercy. The hope is that with the Nexplanon implant my body gives me a break, at least on the ‘period leaving me bed-bound for two weeks’ side of things.
…who wants to take bets on it working?
Waiting for the Nexplanon implant.
Oh shit. It’s happening. And I got no time to acquaint myself with getting nervous. As soon as I booked myself in the call came
One day later after the implant.
It’s just shy of an hour to the minute since the insertion, and I feel okay. The site ached and throbbed a bit after the numbness wore off, but on the whole, everything is fine.
As I mentioned, my worry isn’t the effects short-term, but long-term. It could be stress (it probably hopefully is), but my feet are burning. They feel like they are on fire – like they used to a few years back, and I really hope this isn’t what’s to come – some sort of foreshadowing.
As for the insertion it went by in six minutes – I timed it. It was different from the 2 times I have had it done before. Before both appointments took a minimum of half an hour with a lot more conversation. I think I was originally booked in for half an hour, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m a good patient, or my GP wanted to fix a delay in her schedule, but it went by in a blur.
The insertion went like this:
- Turn up to the surgery.
- Somehow my appointment is ready, and my GP is waiting for me before I even get comfortable.
- Bash the wheelchair into the door on the way in.
- Exchange niceties, and compliment cardigan.
- Exchange paperwork, mostly because is the original copy was lost *sigh*.
- Stumble my way onto the bench, doing my finest impression of a drunk Bambi.
- Make very British small talk, and make my apologies if my boob pops out the side of my dress.
- Position left arm up above the head and receive a small sharp scratch.
- The numbing injection goes in.
- Wait a few minutes.
- Remark that my arm feels like my numb feet.
- Poking to check its numb.
- Draw line on arm – ‘don’t worry it will wash off’ to which I replied, ‘isn’t it the trend nowadays’. (I’m lucky my doctor laughs at my jokes.)
- Make quips about my boob escaping to my partner.
- Apparently, she makes a small cut, but I can’t feel it.
- A device like an ear piercing gun pops the Nexplanon implant in.
- Dr checks placement.
- Dr gets my hand so I can feel where the implant is.
- All done! Doc puts a big plaster over the new Nexplanon implant incision and gets glove caught in the sticker plastic.
- Few moments of us both laughing.
- Told to keep it dry to 48 hours.
- Given the spiel about redness, and infection, though Doc tells me I’m an expert at these things by now.
- Given the card about the implant – the card reminds you which arm it is in and gives you the expiry date.
- Make very British small talk again, this time about the weather.
- The end … bash the wheelchair again on the way out.
It was as easy as that.
The one thing I am looking forward to is sex without a condom. I love condoms don’t get me wrong, but I can’t put them on to save my life. I’m especially bad on a real penis. I’m constantly worried about getting pre-come everywhere, and it’s so stressful. The idea we don’t have to worry about it anymore makes me very happy – my partner too.
I’m looking forward to potentially not having a period, and I hope that my hormonal breakouts will stop. Basically, if everything that can happen the first time I had the Nexplanon implant – no periods, and clear skin, that would be great.
I will write updates occasionally, as I think it’s important to document this journey it for myself. My brain tends to forget how bad things can be sometimes, almost as if it creates its own rose-tinted glasses, which considering my pain-filled history, I get.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. If you have any questions either about the Nexplanon implant, insertion, or the effects please let me know, and I will do my very best to answer them.