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.