…my uterus, I mean.
Yep. My girly bits are getting the old heave-ho.
And, to be honest, I’m not going into this as gung-ho as I thought I would be.
I’m 42. I have four kids, the youngest of whom is 14. It’s not like losing my uterus means I can no longer have children, because my tubes were tied, cut, burned, and braided into a belt long ago. So, it’s not like I’m grieving the lost opportunity to have children, because that’s not the issue.
So, for all intents and purposes, I don’t need my uterus, no matter how cute it might be. Not for further childbearing, anyway. But still, there’s something nagging at me, like a feeling of loss.
About a year ago, I started experiencing pelvic pain. And there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason to the pain, which has been debilitating and overwhelming my life. After biopsies and tests and ultrasounds and MRIs and a hysteroscopy (which was a real treat), there was still no answer — and no relief.
I was given two “options” by two different doctors: either start taking Lupron, which would put my body in a false menopause (no thank you), which may or may not resolve the issue, or a hysterectomy. I was not too keen on the idea of taking Lupron, which is actually a medication used to treat advanced prostate cancer, for the purpose of reducing estrogen production.
When I got my third opinion (yes, third), the doctor thought that the hysterectomy was the way to go. Which brings us to the present. About 36 hours away from the snip and snatch. The goal — which I consider optimistic, given what a medical anomaly I tend to be — is that only my uterus will be removed and it will be done vaginally with likely laparoscopic assistance. That’s considered a “partial hysterectomy,” like so…
So this means that I’ll be in the hospital for at least one night…and will be recovering at home for at least a few weeks. Of course, I just read on Medline that “it will take at least 3 to 6 weeks to feel better.” What? The doctor said I’d be back to normal (whatever the hell normal is) in two weeks!
Of course, sometimes a hysterectomy turns into an abdominal hysterectomy, which entails a 5- to 7-inch scar in your abdomen so that your uterus (and possibly other parts of your reproductive system) can be removed. Hopefully that won’t happen.
I shouldn’t be freaking out, right? Hysterectomies are the second most common surgical procedure performed in the United States. One in 3 women have a hysterectomy by age 60. And more than half of all hysterectomies are performed on women between 35 and 49. I’m in the majority here. That’s a good thing!
So why don’t I feel so good?
Well, according to one source, up to 75% of hysterectomies wind up being performed as abdominal hysterectomies. Oh. My. God. Believe it or not, a number of sources claim that this is the most common form of hysterectomy because it costs less and requires less surgical skill. Sweet fancy Moses. I’ve never had a C-section, so I don’t know what this entails. Nor do I want to. There are also risks, like any surgery…blood clots, internal bleeding, infection, damage to other organs (like the bladder and bowel), and death. Death.
Death. Approximately 1 in 1,000 women die following a hysterectomy.
OK, stop hyperventilating. I’m not gonna die. I’m only having a hysterectomy. The doctor is only removing that little, itty bitty organ — and when you look at it in relation to the rest of my body, it doesn’t seem like much of a big deal. Plus, everybody keeps telling me that it’s not a big deal.
Except, it feels like a big deal. My doctor was very encouraging, pointing out all the benefits of this procedure — how I’d never get my period again (admittedly, that’s a perk) and that I’d never need a Pap smear again (which means he’s taking my cervix as well). Pap smears don’t really bother me, but not being able to get cervical cancer is a nice plus.
These perks don’t do much in the way of making me feel good about this whole experience. Of course, there’s the pain and the recovery period, neither of which will be a walk in the park. Hell, I don’t even walk in the park on a good day already, so you can understand why I’m a tad on the Nervous Nelly side.
And yet, there’s something else that keeps nagging at me. I keep coming back to that sense of loss, of not just a body part, naturally, but of a part of me.