A major, life-changing surgery

A major, life-changing surgery

All we have for coffee this morning is some dark roast that we’ve accidentally purchased. I have drowned it with sugar (I take my coffee without sugar generally) in the hopes that I can get through it. I don’t want to throw it out but it still may end up on Buy Nothing.

This morning is the first time I have really been able to sit up straight for a decent period of time so I figure I would update on how my surgery went. It’s 11 days post-operation today and I am feeling pretty great. For those of you who are interested and who don’t get squicked out by talk of surgery and/or menstruation, I have put the details after the READ MORE below so that you don’t have to continue if you don’t want to. But for people who have struggled with their monthly cycles their entire life – like me – I hope this helps other peeps with functioning uteri make informed decisions. This post is actually taken from a series of posts/comments from facebook so it may not be as well written.

Warning: graphic.

My emotional support opiate delivery pump

Overall, I cannot recommend owning a uterus past the point where you don’t want more kids. I should have done this YEARS ago but was constantly talked out of it. We have a culture that is extremely hesitant to do hysterectomies probably owing to the fact that we associate a woman’s value & attractiveness with her ability to procreate. While that is a bigger conversation for a later time, it also meant that I have suffered a lot and the problem got worse since I had my youngest child 13 years ago. It may have been a much easier surgery had I been offered the option earlier. Instead, the problems increased over the years until it was basically ruling half of my life.

Facebook post September 8th, 2023
I have always had a horrific cycle from the get go. I remember spending time passed out in the nurse’s office when I was in middle school. Over the years it has ebbed and flowed in terms of pain but I was always told, “oh when you have kids it will get better!” which is problematic in itself but also a damn lie. The truth is that it can go either way and quite frankly, it just got worse and worse for me.

It got so bad that Mr. Tucker and the kids would follow me with a mop because even extra absorbent products would last 15 minutes at most with me. The cup? Just a projectile that could take out an eye. Near the end I had given up on even the heavy duty menstrual products and had moved to incontinence pads. When it got to the point where fist-sized clots were falling out of me and I had to spend 1-2 days in bed, drained of all energy, having trouble breathing and being in agony, I needed to do something. My anemia was severe and could never be controlled and I spent most of my life in an exhausted haze.

Doctors are super reluctant to take this “extreme” measure, preferring instead to try everything but the kitchen sink to manage a menstrual cycle. Let me tell you how that went for me, Coles notes version:
– I have tried every birth control pill under the sun even though I have a genetic history of blood clots on my dad’s side.
– I took a medication called Fibrastal – now withdrawn from the Canadian market due to liver damage – which didn’t reduce the size of my fibroids at all.
– I tried a Mirena and it FELL OUT OF ME during the pandemic. I had it put in in 2019 and in 2021 I went to get my regular PAP smear and my GP found it half hanging out of me. HORRORS.
– I was encouraged to try yet another Mirena this June and when the doctor went to stabilize the cervix I almost bled out on her table. She was covered in my blood and the place looked like a crime scene. The doctor was visibly panicked and thought she was going to have to call an ambulance.
– She referred me to an OB/GYN who booked me right in for a cancer screening in July and a full hysterectomy (keeping ovaries) on Sept 6.

My cycle was ruling my life. I started logging my symptoms a while ago and I basically have spent over 15 days a month managing pelvic pain, discharge and bleeding EVERY SINGLE MONTH. That is half of my life dedicated to managing my period. Everyone kept saying that I was in the home stretch and that relief was coming with menopause but the more I read up on it, the more I realized that 80-year-olds were still having hysterectomies because the endo tissue can grow around other organs causing no shortage of problems. Besides, it was ruling my life. Even if I did hit menopause at like 55, that’s still 8 more years of fucking bullshit. Planning any vacations became a nightmare and it’s destroyed my quality of life.

So when I say I was thrilled to finally be going in to get it done, it’s not an exaggeration. I don’t know why more people aren’t given the option especially when they’re older and they clearly have finished having families. For some strange reason we are OBSESSED with people of childbearing age keeping their reproductive organs “just in case.” The amount of dissuasion that we get when we are seeking out hysterectomies is a crime. Menstruation becomes MORE of a nightmare, not LESS for most of us over time and the industry seems to be ruled by people who either don’t menstruate or who have normal periods. Finding a doctor – like mine – who is like, “yeah, let’s get this nightmare over with” is way less common than it should be.

I will say, it is a major surgery and that should not be discounted. Be informed, read up on other people’s stories about their experiences but don’t get too worked up about the extreme cases. I read a lot on Reddit and it was nightmare story after nightmare story and quite frankly the days leading up to my surgery, I was terrified. My doctor did say that in her 20 years of performing hysterectomies not one patient has come back and told her that they regretted it. So that was comforting (she also said that she was glad she had those 20 years of experience because she needed it because I really put her through the wringer. HAH).

Here is how it turned out for me:
– I was originally slated to have a horizontal incision but I ended up with both horizontal and a vertical because;
– I had so many extremely large veins that it super explains the anemia.
– My uterus had adhered itself to my bladder.
– I had to have a blood transfusion.
– Having a blood transfusion has made me realize that most people don’t spend their days walking around in a fugue state? HUH! Iron is important!

They kept me for two days and my stomach looks like Tim Burton’s toddler was let loose with a staple gun but quite frankly, I’ve been doing great! Mr. Tucker and I were both terrified that I would be in agony and have even more mobility problems but that hasn’t been the case. The worst part is my organs shifting (such a weird feeling!) and the gas. I have only been on Tylenol/Celebrex since yesterday and I am fine. I am up, moving around and aside from being a bit uncomfortable on the incision site, I am super mobile.

Anyway, I am home now and I am so happy I got it done. I am still not out of the woods yet but I want to let others know that if you are being railroaded out of having one, INSIST on having that conversation. My logic was that if even if I had spent 6 months post-op in agony it would still work out to what I would have gone through in a regular year. I kept my ovaries (“they look great!” the doctor said) so I will naturally go through menopause (although I will see some hormonal fluctuation that I may need to manage). Edit: as of September 17th I have experienced zero hormonal issues.

Facebook post September 15th, 2023
I am feeling fantastic, saw my doc yesterday and I am healing well and overall the energy I have when I am not struggling with anemia is life changing.

My uterus was 30cm (12 inches), weighed over 5 lbs and I had 35 staples. I have lost 6 inches on my waist and 5 on my hips. It’s absolutely bonkers. The next time you are at the grocery store pick up a 5lb bag of flour or sugar and imagine me carrying that around in my belly. What’s great is now I can sleep a whole 8 hours without having to get up now that my bladder isn’t being crushed and my GERD is completely gone (again, not being pushed up by my uterus).

My doc said that OFC I feel good because before my body was constantly exhausting myself trying to make blood. She thinks that should stabilize soon.

Behold! The lift chair!

So that is the update for now. I am not allowed to do any purposeful exercise for the next four weeks and I see my surgeon again in another five weeks. The doctor point blank told me that I need a LOT of rest for healing (it is, after all, a complete organ I had removed!) and I am grateful that I have a lot of time and space for that. Before I went in we got a second-hand lift recliner and it’s been a complete game-changer. As someone who already has some mobility problems, not using my core muscles to get up/down from a seated position has been amazing. I am so glad we did that.

So I hope that helps other people also considering this surgery. I found r/hysterectomy a very helpful resource for preparation (check out the pinned posts) but also people tend to only post when something goes wrong so don’t go down that rabbit hole. It made me a bit apprehensive in the days leading up to the surgery which wasn’t helpful at all.

Hopefully over time I will heal and the nightmare of my cycle will be a distant memory. I am looking forward to not planning my (and my family’s!) entire life around my menstrual cycle and my mobility alone (I can touch my toes!) after removing an enlarged organ has been amazing.

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