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Gutted Like a Fish…The Aftermath

So, I needed some parts removed.

(WARNING: this may be a bit TMI for some!) To catch you up if you haven’t read that post, I have suffered with bad periods my whole life.  I even started on birth control pills at a young age to try to curb my periods and make them more manageable.  After having my two kids, I decided I wanted to stay off the pills, and went back to a life of periods.  I soon realized that it was going to be a pretty miserable time for me.

Every month, my periods would show up nice and light for a day or so.  “No biggie” I would think to myself. Oh, how wrong I was.  Within 3 days, I was a walking crime scene.  I began buying ultra Tampax and giant pads.  Have you seen an Ultra Tampax?  That thing is NO JOKE.  This is the biggest size they have and I would go through them in under a half an hour.  It was HORRIBLE.  I was told I have fibroids, and combined with an already heavy period, the situation wasn’t going to improve.  I also notice my PMS was getting worse.  I would become RAGE-Y.  Like, all out rage would consume me every month.  I have yet to determine if this was in fact PMS or just dealing with idiots.  I suspect perhaps my tolerance levels for stupidity were just lower.  Either way, I wasn’t feeling like myself anymore.  Off to the doctor I went.  I had a biopsy, and another test, where they found I also have a polyp.  My uterus must have been a magic garden for growing babies, fibroids, polyps, etc.  After all was said and done, my doctor walked into my follow up appointment and asked me “so how do you feel about a hysterectomy?”

At first, I was surprised.  I had expected her to mention a different type of procedure, or other options. What, exactly, I wasn’t sure.  What I wasn’t expecting was dismantling my insides.  I asked her about the recovery time.  “4-6 weeks” was her response.  Now look, if any of you are parents, you know that being down for 4-6 weeks is about the least optimal idea possible.  Not to mention my husband works opposite hours than I do, so I am basically alone with the kids every afternoon and night.  My husband is also self employed, meaning if he doesn’t go to work, he doesn’t get paid.  This would present a major issue.  How would we manage?  I must have looked dismayed, because she said “we could also try managing the issues with meds”.  So that was what we decided to do.

One month later, I was curled in a ball with such bad cramping I thought I might have to go to the hospital.  I had never felt anything like it.  The idea of going through that every month was not an option.  “Time to take out the parts” was my battle cry.  My Dr sent me for genetic testing.  Effectively, I have cancer throughout my family on both sides, and if I had a genetic issue for cancer, the doctor said she would take my ovaries.  Without, she wanted to leave them, as they help prevent against things like dementia, which also runs in my family.  “So I can get cancer or forget who I am?  Those are my options?” I said.  “pretty much.” she responded with a laugh.  Luckily, my genes are in good shape, so I got cleared for surgery.

I booked my surgery for the new year, so I would have some sick time to use.  My company has short term disability insurance, but it doesn’t kick in until the 8th day, so I would need some sick or paid time off to manage.  I booked it for January 10th.  I tried to make myself look forward to it.  All hell broke lose when my company switched insurance companies for the new year.  I was in a frantic panic trying to get an ID card from the new company and they were slow to get me into their system.  Luckily, at the 11th hour, all was set, and off to the hospital we went.

When I was waiting to go in, my dr came in and went over the procedure.  It would be a laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy, taking my uterus and fallopian tubes, but leaving everything else. I got stern warnings not to have sex or put anything into the vagina for 6 weeks.  She mentioned that it can cause vaginal prolapse and mentioned something about the intestines coming out through the vagina.  Now I don’t know about you, but I heard about intestines falling out and must have looked HORRIFIED.  She tried to calm my fears but because I have a touch of OCD, that image and thought was burned into my brain.

Off to surgery I went.  I woke up (Yay!) after it was all over, not too sore, and not in more pain (post meds) than I could handle.  I even got a private room, which I was SUPER hoping for.  Now, full disclosure, I know that during this surgery, they put air in you to extend things, and what air goes in, must come out.  This means that it can leave you super farty, and no way in hell was I going to be comfortable blowing foghorn farts in front of  stranger.  I told my Dr these and she about fell over laughing.  “That’s what’s worrying you?” she asked.  My response “I have poop and fart shame.”  My husband looked at me with that “you don’t seem to be shameful at farting at home” look.

I stayed one night in the hospital.  Once I got into the room I slept a LOT.  I kept dozing in and out, and had super vivid dreams.  The next morning, I felt a bit better, and came home.  Once I got home, I spent about a week living the potato life.  I got up and walked around quite a bit, but I spent much of it in bed.  I watched the entire Downtown Abbey season in a week (marathon achievement unlocked!) I had a couple of days where I felt inexplicably weepy.  I know that some women feel depressed about hysterectomies.  This can be especially difficult for women who wanted children still, or those who mourned their loss of ability to have children suddenly.  For me, I had a few moments of questioning my decision.  Had I done wrong by removing and organ to stop the bleeding?

This troubled me for a day or so.  Then I began thinking of the day I was at the pediatricians office with my daughter, coughed, and realized that my jeans were suddenly soaked with blood.  Tons of blood. It was mortifying.  I remembered all the days I had needed to stay home because of the problematic periods.  I thought about the fibroids and now a polyp I was dealing with.  It seemed like things would only get worse.  I have decided for my quality of life, I made the right decision.

2 weeks in, I feel pretty good.  The incision sites are a bit sore.  I had what felt like a ligament pain the other day on the right hand side.  I literally rolled over in bed and yelped in pain.  (It’s a sad state of affairs when you hurt yourself rolling over).  I was a bit concerned at first but I have my two week follow up appointment in two days, so I’ll ask the dr about it.  I can walk and move.  If I do too much, I get sore, and sometimes I get the dreaded “swelly belly” where my stomach gets bloated and I look a lil pregnant.  I think that’s one of the things I hate the most, is the bloated feeling.  I can’t eat as much as I used to, which hey, could be a great thing!  The first few days I felt a lot of pressure, probably as my organs shifted around and found their new spots.  One delightful new aspect is that my bladder seems bigger than before.  I’ve always had a “little tank” and it’s a bit of a joke I always had to pee constantly, but now I feel like I don’t have to go nearly as much, despite drinking a TON of fluids the past 2 weeks.

My husband took the first few days off to look after me, but since he went back on the 6th day after surgery, I have managed well.  He did leave work to pick the kids up from school, so I only just drove for the first time the other day.  I know, I know, I’m not supposed to drive yet, but I only drive a couple of blocks to get the kids or to the store in a pinch.

So there you have it.  I made it through, and honestly, it wasn’t too bad!

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