For those of you that didn’t already know, I have had a partial hysterectomy. I wanted to donate my uterus to science when it was removed, but no one was really that interested in it. Besides, the damn thing didn’t work anymore.
I had always had the most enviable of periods of any woman I knew. They lasted two to three days, were very light and I never had cramps. I was also on a lunar cycle, which means that with every full moon, my period started like clockwork. I never took a single Midol and never planned my life out around my monthly cycle. All of my girlfriends hated me for that.
I knew all of that great Period Karma would eventually blow up in my face one day, and it sure did.
It started with bad cramps. Never having experienced these before, I was sure I was dying with something. It felt like someone was in there learning how to sword fight and not doing a great job of it. The stabbing, throbbing, cold sweat inducing pain was nearly unbearable. One of my friends told me that this is what labor felt like when you were having a baby. I told her that I felt like I was having an entire preschool of 2 year olds.
The cramps turned into periods so heavy that I swore there was a tiny village living in my uterus and they were all being slaughtered on a daily basis. It was a regular, irregular bloodbath. It reached a point when I wouldn’t even leave the house and I was exhausted. My two to three days of light menstrual Flo had turned into Niagara Falls that lasted 2 weeks, and that’s not including the Lady of the Mist Boat Tours.
I finally decided to complain to my doctor.
“Let’s have a look!” she said to me. A few minutes later she announced, with some glee, “Well, it looks like you’re going to have to have a hysterectomy!” She told me to get dressed and meet her in her office so we could discuss scheduling. I was in shock. She was awfully perky! She told me that she would be my surgeon and this was her favorite procedure.
That was comforting. <insert scowl here>
I sat in one of the plush chairs across the desk from her while she pulled out her planner, “Um Doc?” She looked up at me smiling. “Um, I am going to have to think about this before I schedule any surgery.” She put down her pen and gave me a stern gaze, “What exactly do you have to think about?” I told her that I had to mull this over. I mean, this is one of my body parts and it’s not like I can grow another one. That’s when she told me that my uterus was only going to get worse, and it had to come out, but being the great doctor she is, she told me to take some time, but not too much, and think about it.
My uterus was enlarging. When you’re pregnant, the uterus pushes outwards and becomes that adorable thing called the Baby Bump. Mine was pushing upwards and moving every other organ out of it’s angry and out of control way. That, and it was producing more and more menstrual blood than the law allows.
It was misbehaving.
A few days later I spent the day feeling like I had to pee. It felt like the most extreme case of cystitis I had ever had in my life! I called her office, begging for a prescription and the doctor took my call right away, “I was afraid of this.” Not exactly the words you want to hear your doctor say to you, especially when you’re miserable already.
My uterus was now pushing on my bladder. My tiny little bladder was being crushed by the behemoth I had growing in my abdomen! The nerve that triggers letting you know when you need to evacuate your bladder was now triggered full time. The feeling of needing to pee was now a constant feeling, and that’s just not good. I was frantic! “Can I just meet you in the Emergency Room in about an hour and you can perform an emergency hysterectomy on me today?!” I heard her chuckle, “So are you done thinking about having the surgery?” OMG! Yes I was done thinking about it! Who needs a uterus anyways?! “Well, I wish it could be that simple, but a hysterectomy is not elective or an emergency. How about we get together this week and pick a date?”
To eliminate any doubt that the problem I was having with my bladder was due to my uterus and not something else, I now had to see a Urologist. Tests ensued and I was tasked with peeing in a plastic hat and keeping a diary of the number of times I peed and how much pee went into the plastic hat. If you think I never left the house before, well now I never left it at all. Between the uterus and the bladder, I was being held captive.
Once I had recorded my urinal habits for a few days, they called me in to the office to sit on what I like to call, The Grand Urinal Throne. This is a contraption that is raised high with all kinds of bells and whistles attached. Warm water was sent into my bladder via a catheter and I was supposed to hold it until the technician told me to release it. Probes and wires were attached to my body, recording which muscles contracted, etc and the machine whirred and groaned while I tried to feel relaxed, like this is something I did everyday.
Once that testing was completed, I was led to a quiet exam room and told to lie down. Another nurse comes in and tells me, “Okay, we’re just going to numb your urethra a bit with some novocaine so we can insert the camera and have a little look. This might pinch, but it makes sure you can’t feel the camera when it goes in.”
Yes, it did pinch getting a shot in my personal delicate area, but she lied about not being able to feel the camera going in. Oh! I felt it! I don’t think my butt touched the table throughout the entire procedure! Oh! My! God!! That was worse than a cramp! The doctor whispered notes to the nurse, finally removed the camera and told me that yes indeed, the uterus was crushing my bladder.
So it was settled!
The uterus was being evicted! By now, I couldn’t wait to be rid of it!
My next visit to my doctor was to make my surgical debut appointment, so I brought along my planner. We looked like two rock stars trying to plan a date that worked with both of our schedules. I was on medication for the triggered bladder, so that was only a minor annoyance now. But because this was a serious surgery, there were plans I had already made that I wanted to keep. My doctor totally got that. Man, I miss her!
“I’ve been doing some research and I’m thinking we could do it on this date and then I could be back at work a week later. What do you think of that?” I asked her. She stared at me before asking, “Exactly what makes you think you’ll be going back to work in a week after the surgery?” I told her that according to my online sources, removing the uterus vaginally was less invasive and the recovery time was a lot shorter. She laughed. “Do you have any idea how large your uterus is right now? There is absolutely no way I would be able to pull that huge organ out through your vagina! Even if I pulled it out in pieces. It’s humongous!”
Preparations the week of my surgery also included being waxed. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you might already know that shaving my pubic hair would be akin to pouring sulfuric acid on my vagina, so being shaved for this surgery was out of the question. My doctor took a skin scribe and marked a nice purple line for my waxing technician to follow when the hair was removed. When I saw the line, I was a bit distressed, “That’s an awfully long line there!” The line stretched from one side of my pubic region to the other, much bigger than a C section for a baby. “Yes” she told me, “Now you have a better idea of just how large your uterus is.”
I walked out of there that afternoon wondering how much lighter I was going to be once it was gone. Dam, I’d probably look like Twiggy if that skin scribe line was any indication.
Only my uterus was being removed. I would be keeping both of my ovaries, which were very healthy and I would also be keeping my cervix. Yes, keeping the cervix means I still have to have a PAP Smear, but my cervix (and I quote my doctor here) was as pristine and pretty as an eighteen year old’s cervix. Ha!! Suck it people! My cervix is awesome!! 🙂
I would be out of commision, without even being able to drive or stand for long periods of time, for about 6 weeks.
I was not looking forward to that and most of my friends thought I was nuts to balk at being forced to take a 6 week break and do nothing but lay around reading magazines and eating bonbons. Um hello? I was having major surgery. It’s not like I was going to Club Med. I was headed for Club Medicated.
The day of my surgery arrived and my doctor stopped in after donning her blue scrubs. She looked so adorable! We went over any last minute details and I worried that my allergies were acting up and I was having sneezing attacks. God forbid I sneezed while she was slicing and dicing down there in my nether world! She patted my hand and assured me that I would be out and under the great care of the Anesthesiologist. There would be no sneezing today!
My surgery was successful! She entered my hospital room and began her initial exam. I couldn’t look. I can’t even remember how many staples were down there, but my husband, who never gets the least bit queasy, stood behind the curtain they put up so I wouldn’t have to look, with my doctor and discussed the whole surgery with her while she examined and cooed with pride over how neat the incision looked, “When I opened my surgical field that uterus popped right out of there like an ornery old pumpkin!” I groaned and my husband asked more questions. The uterus weighed in at 25 pounds! What’s that? Like a second grader? And she informed me that my back would be feeling a whole lot better because she had to dig most of it out of my lower spine. Gee, that was not what I wanted to hear. Happy about less lower back pain, not happy to hear she had to dig stuff out of me. She tacked up my ovaries so they wouldn’t fall on top of my bladder with age and instead of cutting horizontally through my abdominal muscles like most doctors do, she parted them down the middle like a curtain, going with the grain of the muscle, and then tacked them back together so they would heal faster.
She is an outstanding doctor and a skilled surgeon.
My husband was fascinated. He thought the whole thing was amazing. And in many ways I guess it is.
I was fortunate.
I didn’t stay in the hospital for very long and sailed through my recovery. I don’t even have a scar!! I’m not kidding! When I go to be waxed now, I had to show the technician where my scar is supposed to be. She had no idea!
Well, there ya have it. I thought telling my story about a scary surgery and making it sound a bit less scary, might set some folks minds at ease, should they ever be faced with the same circumstances. The key to a surgery having a good outcome is a positive outlook, a sense of humor, but most of all, having a doctor you trust, that you can talk to like a human being and that gets you for who you are and treats you like you are the only patient that matters to them on that day. That is the key right there…a great doctor.
I am forever indebted to the many great doctors I have had over the years. Because of them I remain healthy and proactive in my own healthcare.