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Should I Get a Hysterectomy?

Should I Get a Hysterectomy?

Bright and early Monday morning, I head to the doctor to discuss my proposed total hysterectomy. The doctor wants to talk with me to find out if he will tackle the procedure or, due to my case history, pass it along to another surgeon. I guess itís a hot mess up in there and heís not so sure he wants to don his scrubs.

And Ö Iím terrified.

As my long time readers know Iíve suffered from Stage IV endometriosis since before my breasts really came to be (truth be told Iím still waiting for them to fully show up, but alas Ö ) I wonít get into the gory details of my dis-ease, but Iíve written about it at length†here and†here. I will say that Iíve already had three surgeries due to this beast and all that remains of my reproductive organs is a lone ovary thatís been trying to pull my hormonal load, uphill both ways and in five feet of snow, for about ten years now. Surely it must be tired.

A recent ultrasound has revealed that I have more cysts, and a buildup of what is likely scar tissue. Iíve also had bouts of bleeding for weeks at a time as of late. The continuous bleeding wouldnít be such a deal breaker if the word†ALERT†hadnít shown up next to my anemia lab results. Iíve been taking iron and bio-identical progesterone, but if my levels donít increase substantially before the surgery Iíll need to get an iron infusion beforehand.

But Ö this isnít the half of it. During every cycle I have the added bonus of waking up on random mornings looking, and feeling, like Quasimodo after a night of too much revelry at the Feast of Fools. Itís wholly perplexing to me, but right around that ďtime of the monthĒ I will find myself unable to move an arm because my shoulder joint is so inflamed. Or, it will just be a finger which wonít straighten so that my hand ends up looking like a crowís claw, or one of my wrists will act up and I wonít have use of my hand at all. For days. For a week. Sometimes more than one joint at a time. The pain is fucking Crazy Town and, apparently, Iím the mayor.

I alluded to whatís been up with me in my blog:†An†Ode to Sugar†(from an Addict) wherein I discussed the fact that I had cut the white stuff out of my life. The real deal is that Iím working with a team of Functional Medicine docs for the next six to eight months to help me in managing the four auto-immune diseases Iíve got going on: †Endometriosis, Hashimotos Hypothyroidism, what is presenting as arthritis, and another one thatís attacking my brain which I donít know much about. (I wrote about my thyroidectomy and Hashimotos in my blog:†Is Your Inner Critic an Asshole?) The gist of it is that Iím on an Anti-Inflammatory diet from hell and working to manage my flare-ups by watching my diet and taking supplements. Iíve gotten real close with quinoa, millet and turkey bacon.

Suffice it to say, I believe that my Functional medicine team thinks that the hysterectomy might help improve my quality of life and have a positive effect on some of these other conditions. My OB/GYN also thinks itís time to get rid of the whole lot. If I had no other gauge but the look on her face as she read my past three surgery reports that would have been enough, but add to that the fact that the surgeon isnít even sure he wants to tackle the case and Iíve got ďproofĒ for days that I need to do†something. We did discuss ablation (think mushroom cloud of annihilation in my womb), but as I consulted my best friend Google for case studies I found that†endometrial ablation was often a failure and that, ďwomen aged 45 years or younger were 2.1 times more likely to have hysterectomy. Hysterectomy risk increased with each decreasing stratum of age and exceeded 40 percent in women aged 40 years or younger.Ē †Yeah, not so much. I donít want another failed surgery which leads to a hysterectomy anyway, thanks.

We also discussed†Lupron, but I was very adamant about the fact that I didnít want to gain forty pounds and commit suicide.

My boyfriend and my family are on board as well. They tell me that they wished I would have had a hysterectomy years ago as the endo had made me infertile anyway, but the benefits of my own hormones stopped my doctors from performing it. (Well, there was also the doc who suggested that I get pregnant, breastfeed, get pregnant, breastfeed, ad infinitum, but he was from Utah.) I actually asked for one during my third surgery, but there were complications. My mother also suffered from endo and after her hysterectomy at forty she felt amazing.

Iím on board. At times I actually feel excited to be done with the whole thing and I imagine myself wearing white pants every day and prancing through a field of yellow tulips with So-Kr8z nipping at my heels. †At other times I spend a little too much time with Google and end up terrified that it could ruin my health which, to be frank, isnít all daisies and roses at the moment. There are so many women on the web sharing their stories of hysterectomy and the flowers theyíre running through have wilted for sure. Many women are worse off than they were before. Their endo clears up for eight weeks to a year and then comes back. †Others, who also suffer from arthritic flare-ups around their menses, have a worsening of joint pain after their hysterectomy. The dreadful reviews go on and on. And onÖ

Most days I donít know whether to ďscratch my watch or wind my butt.Ē Iím honestly so torn and I have so many questions:

  • Will my vagina dry up like the cracked earth of Africa during drought season?
  • Will I still want to allow my guyís penis anywhere near me?
  • Will I gain twenty-five pounds?
  • Will I find myself deep in the ďPit of Despair.Ē
  • Will my bones whither away until theyíre the size of cocktail toothpicks?
  • Will I commence peeing my pants during every guffaw?

Dear sisters, if youíve had a hysterectomy (or know of someone who has) will you please share your stories with me Ė the good, the bad and the ugly? †Iíd really love to hear from you as I tap in to make this decision. And if you have any experience with any of my questions, please let me know that too. Iíd be supremely grateful.

By Melanie Bates

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3:56AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

CONTINUED ...

Rats! I forgot that CARE2 cuts off your post without warning! Here is the rest of mine, continued:

. . . when the nurse told me that I was going to have to give myself injections in the belly to prevent clots, I almost fainted. Fighting back tears I said there was no F-ing way I was going to give myself shots! But she calmly talked me thru it. To my great joy I didn't even feel it! My stomach was surprisingly numb from the surgery. I still got nervous before every injection (because of my phobia), but it really wasn't a big deal, even for this belonephobiac.

Make sure you keep your wound clean and dry. It did not hurt to have the staples removed ... except for the 2 or 3 that were in infected (mushy, red) skin. As long as you aren't infected you won't have any discomfort at all. Keep some neosporin on hand just in case.

I used a tube of "Say Yes to Carrots" cream or lotion, on my scar. I don't recall what kind – only that it was Carrots (which has vitamins, I believe) and came in a big orange tube. I applied it after every shower for a year or so. The scar is practically invisible now.

My son sent me an article about women who had hysterectomies having a high rate of strokes and death unless they took estrogen after that. I mentioned it to a doctor I saw a few years later and she blew it off. But the doctor might be wrong. It's definitely worth looking into. (I need to do that too, next time I have access to medical care – and a better

3:54AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

I'd had ovarian cysts from my 20's thru my 40's ... perhaps 4 surgeries for those. At 56, I went in for surgery to have fibroids removed (easy-breezy) – but learned at my post-op appointment that I had uterine cancer.

So I underwent a full hysterectomy, the kind where they cut from just below the belly-button on down. The recovery wasn't terrible, but it could have been nicer. My back hurt. I thought it was because of the way the bed dipped under my back, so I kept trying to readjust the bed. My sister later told me that the doctor intentionally limited the morphine for me because of my sleep apnea. Evidently the entire staff freaked out when I came back from surgery because the beeper went off and they thought I was code blue. (Happens every time!) It's normal for me to stop breathing every so many seconds due to the sleep apnea – unless I'm wearing my mask. I did bring it with me to the hospital, but of course it isn't on during the surgery.

I spent no more than 3 days in the hospital; I was determined to make a quick recovery, so I made myself get up out of bed early on because I was told that walking made for a speedier recovery. I was weak, of course, and it was a challenge getting out of bed (needed help from the nurses the first 2 days). Back home I spent another 2 days on the couch or in bed, but I felt pretty good.

Ah, there was one thing though, that really freaked me out! When the nurse told me that I was going to have to give myself injections

2:05AM PDT on Jun 18, 2014

Thanks for posting this .

9:35AM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

Had a total at age 40, never regretted doing it and I'm in my late 60's.

11:59PM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

I just had a hysterectomy on June 3rd. I'm only 31. I can tell you that I don't regret it, at all. I was in a lot of pain and misery that I would've done just about anything possible to make it stop. I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis that I've apparently had the majority of my life. I had surgery in Feb of this year to remove the endo, only to have it come back in a matter of 3 months, worse than before. I had a cyst on my tailbone that almost killed me, then a uterine cyst, which they now believe was caused by the endo. I've been experiencing ibs symptoms for the last 10 years of my life, along with the messed up, painful, prolonged periods, wicked pmdd, you name it. Even pcos. I finally gave in, I was lucky to have 2 babies so I figured that was good enough, it was time to end the misery. Being pregnant never helped me by the way! All my doctors had pretty much written me off as nuts, until my hysterectomy. I loved the look on my surgeons face when he came in and said, well, your left ovary was fused to your bowels, your appendix is backwards and all the endo we scraped out 4 months ago had grown back and then some. My advice to you, do it. I scared myself half to death reading the horror stories on google. I almost canceled. But here I am, 2 weeks out. Recovery is easier than what I had concocted in my head, while it has it's ups and downs I don't regret a thing. It can only go up from here. If anything, Google the success stories! You deserve to have a peaceful l

6:28PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

I too am facing the possibility of a hysterectomy but its still too soon to know for sure. :

7:16PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

scary and hard choice

5:09PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

I had a total hysterectomy in my mid 40's. I wish I had kept the ovaries. Sex is now very painful and dryness and incontinence is an issue. I had never had children and never wanted them so not having my period was a blessing. I take an estrogen replacement to help the pain but it doesn't really help. I just wonder how it would all be like if I kept the ovaries. BTW, my gynecologist NEVER told me of these after effects years later....

4:24PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

3:19PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

continued...

skin issues and more), are related to the fact that I have EDS. Please look it up and anyone with questions or needing info, please feel free to contact me.

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