It’s been exactly one month since I chose to have a hysterectomy, and I guess I wanted to pop in for a quick write to let you know how I was doing and to provide hope to anyone thinking of taking this path.
First though — I do want to pause again because I know there are people that would appreciate this pause — I want to make sure you should be here so ask yourself, “Self, can I handle the following words: cramps, period, menstrual pain, blood, uterus, and menstruation?” If you answered “No,” there’s no judgement — Kindly click on our Home page for less-estrogen filled posts, such as hike mishaps through nature, my husband’s and my antique RV overhaul (which, some would say is a giant mishap), and more. However, if you choose to stay here, consider yourself forewarned …
Otherwise, let’s continue onward, my word warriors!
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In my last writings, I opened up about a recent disorder diagnosis called primary dysmenorrhea. This means the prostaglandins (or natural chemicals in the uterus lining) function abnormally so the uterus muscles and blood vessels work to extremes to pass blood during menstruation, and that makes the uterus have contractions equivalent to ones experienced during childbirth.
This pain occurs frequently, lasting hours up to days every month and sometimes twice a month; and this pain becomes more severe over time.
I was finally diagnosed with primary dysmenorrhea after 29 years of being misdiagnosed or disregarded.
Long story short, I met a surgeon who specializes in endometriosis and hysterectomies; and he diagnosed me. From there, we discussed how removing my uterus would remove my source of pain, and it was then I decided I would have a hysterectomy.
Back to the purpose of this writing: It has now been exactly one month since I had my surgery so I wanted to provide an update. In truth, I originally intended my earlier writing to be the only post, but many kind people reached out to ask how I’ve been after my surgery so I wanted to write. I also wanted to provide hope for anyone suffering. This is what one month post-hysterectomy looks like for me …
Picking up where I left off writing two-weeks ago, a stent (which was inserted due to a minor complication during my hysterectomy) was removed; and I’ll be honest, I neither have the strength to relive that pain nor want to relive that pain so I’ll summarize instead saying something went very wrong and I learned I will accept death over a stent in the future. However, it is out and I can now focus fully on recovery.
I am continuing to recover, too. I do still have significant swelling so much so that it hurts to wear pants and even underwear. My surgeon said after this amount of time, swelling is not common but not necessarily out of the range of normal responses for some. He recommended giving my body more time to adjust and hoped that this will resolve on its own. Past that, my three incisions have nearly disappeared, which again speaks wonders not only to my surgeon’s skills but also the human body.
Here’s the most remarkable part: I see myself growing stronger. My surgeon did warn that I could still experience “ghost symptoms,” meaning I could still have some of the same symptoms before my hysterectomy — headaches, upset stomach, even menstrual pains — but he said all of these should be less severe than before. I now know he is right.
Normally, I am clued that my cycle will start due to a bad headache the day before. The next day, I would normally have my crippling primary dysmenorrhea pains and that would last several hours to two days. Interestingly enough, I got a bad headache a few days ago. The next day, I felt a dull throbbing from my ovaries. I also noticed that I was super irritable around this time … and that’s when it dawned on me: I should have started my cycle … and not only was I missing my cycle but I was missing any type of pain.
Let me say it again: I was missing any type of pain entirely.
I confess right now I have been staring at my computer screen for many minutes, struggling to type. How can I possibly word how this feels — to have experienced pain at least every single month for nearly 30 years … and now, have none?
When I realized my ovary throbs and moodiness, I had already driven to work at school, worked a full day, and driven home. I had also already worked part-time on my magazines job … and nowhere in this day did I pause — even for a second — to question if I needed to call out sick, leave, or stop working. This was the first time since working that I had not used a sick day if my pain occurred during the week.
That night, I ate a salad — arugula covered in grated parmesan, prosciutto, olives, and fresh tomatoes … when to eat, never-the-less even think about food, was unimaginable before. After all, this is the first month I have not vomited since being 10 years old.
After dinner, Andy and I laughed and I kissed him … when I would not have been able to handle any touch or movement before. This is the first time since being together where he has not told me I’ve lost all color and appear as if I were a ghost.
And tonight, I have been typing to you while sitting comfy on our sofa … instead of remaining in the bathroom to pass out on the linoleum floor. Never have I been able to go to sleep in my own bed every single night.
Tomorrow, we plan to work on our antique RV together … instead of plans changing and Andy going solo while more days are stolen from me. From here on out, I will never have a missing day.
But how can I properly convey this to you? How can I show the emotions I have — that I’m overjoyed … but nervous … and confused … and scared … and hopeful … and a dozen of other words that will never communicate how it actually feels to … simply …. be here — in this very moment — right now.
In truth, I’m actually okay with getting headaches, feeling my ovaries throb, and being moody because this tells me my body is still working as normal — My ovaries are still functioning and my estrogen is still being produced and released. I suppose these little signs will forever remind me of where I’ve come, and for that — I don’t mind.
I am stronger, I know it — if anything, to simply read the words I have just typed to myself, I do see it. I am turning normal — in the most wonderful non-ordinary way possible.
I feel normal — and as much as I’ve never wanted to be normal before in this way — in this exact way — being normal feels so very wonderful.
In the end, I’m not sure how many more primary dysmenorrhea writings I will have after this, but I suppose there is beauty and strength in that too. Maybe there doesn’t have to be anymore. Maybe it’s better that this is the last update.
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For those suspecting they have endometriosis: Visit Nancy’s Nook. This is a Facebook educational page run by a nurse named Nancy. There, you will find research and data on the endometriosis and many endometriosis resources, such as credible links on endometriosis and a list of vetted doctors who specialize in endometriosis.