It's been exactly three months since my hysterectomy surgery.
Leading up to my hysterectomy, I talked to as many people as I could who had the surgery. It was hard to find young people who had the surgery because it's most commonly done on post-menopausal women. My oncologist was not very reassuring and the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced I was going to die from the surgery or at the very least the surgery would change my life forever.
Kim from Beautiful Wreck helped me more than she will ever know. She was open and honest and gave me all the details I wanted. She even showed me a picture of her uterus after they took it out. She answered all my questions no matter how ridiculous they were. She told me I was going to survive the surgery and be okay. She gave me the invaluable advice of scheduling my pain pills to overlap or else I would be in big trouble. Even if it meant setting an alarm to take them in the middle of the night. (Boy was she right about that.) She even gave me her phone number and told me I could call her with any questions. She also "introduced" me to someone else who was having the same surgery on the same day. We exchanged numbers and texted each other throughout the recovery process.
What if I didn't have her to go to? It's only because of twitter that I found her. If it weren't for that, what was I supposed to do? Nobody from my oncologist's office ever sat me down before my surgery and told me what they were going to do. Or what things would be like after. You would think they would at the very least have some diagrams of what is done during the procedure. They never even told me they were taking my cervix. I obviously knew they were taking the uterus. They asked if I wanted them to take my ovaries. Nobody mentioned the cervix. How was I supposed to know? Even with the ovary decision, they said they recommend it but they never talked me through the decision. I called my OB/GYN crying and she helped me decide.
I bought Fran Drescher's book because she had the same kind of cancer I did. I started reading it and it scared me so much more. She said when she came home, her dog knew something was different about her. She said he acted differently around her from that point on and then he passed away. I was so freaked out. I started imagining Brinkley not being as close to me anymore. (Which by the way did not happen at all. He was so happy to see me and is just as attached to me as he always was.) Adam made me put the book down and not read anymore.
Then there was after the surgery. It was the worst pain of my entire life. I was so lucky to have Adam there to help me do everything. There was nothing I could do on my own. They sent me home after only one night in the hospital. Which was fine because I didn't sleep the entire time I was there anyway. The only thing I really missed when we left was the catheter. (Words I never thought I would say.)
Beyond the physical recovery, nobody cared about how I was doing emotionally. I was 31, childless, and had been trying to conceive for many years. All within a couple weeks I went from that to being diagnosed with endometrial cancer and having my uterus and ovaries taken from me. It all happened very quickly and the realities of it still haven't fully hit me.
I feel like this really highlights how screwed up our health care system is. Shouldn't this diagnosis and surgery be paired with therapy? How about a single conversation with me to determine whether I was okay mentally? Especially considering I have a history of anxiety and depression (like many people who have experienced years of infertility), which they knew. If I didn't have Adam and our adoption plans, who knows where I would be at mentally. Wasn't anybody going to check on that?
When I went for my follow-up appointment weeks later, he told me my cancer was gone and the surgery was a success. No physical exam. He never came in the room and sat down. He stood in the doorway and the appointment was over in minutes.
A few more weeks went by and I was feeling so tired I could barely get out of bed, so I called my OB/GYN and she prescribed me a very low dose of hormone replacement. I've been on it a couple weeks now. Not sure if it made a huge difference, but I know it's good for bone density and reducing the risk of stroke.
Physically, I am recovered, but I know I have a long way to go emotionally. Sometimes out of the blue I will remember I have no uterus and it will hit me like a punch in the stomach. I have a lot of feelings of guilt surrounding everything. I feel like maybe I should have fought the treatment plan. Pushed for more tests. Tried meds before surgery. I gave up my uterus without a fight. Maybe I was just being lazy. I didn't want to deal with it. After being diagnosed, I immediately made the surgery appointment. I just wanted it over with.
It's hard to know that we have to rely on someone else to decide we can be parents. Even though we were already doing adoption so nothing has really changed. Somehow it feels different. More pressure. Me getting pregnant can never be a back up plan. Somebody has to choose us, or we will never be parents. The one thing I have always wanted more than anything else in the world and it's completely out of my control.
(This is the point where I stop, breathe, and remind myself that we will be parents. It will happen for us. Our long wait will eventually be over.)
One thing I know for sure is that all the support that was missing from the medical community was more than made up for by my blog and twitter friends. I can't imagine having to go through all of that without all of you.
....And thank you for letting me use my blog as free therapy today :)