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hysterectomy

hysterectomy, last period ever, menstruation, uterine fibroids

When you’re young, it feels like waiting forever for your period to come. Then, once you start, it feels like you are going to have a period forever. I can’t tell you how many times I wished it would stop in my lifetime. But I never thought, and still don’t, about what it would be like to have your last period ever.

As many of you know, since I wrote about it ad nauseum as I was freaking out, I’ve been having some issues of late with my lady bits. A few weeks ago, it was a few hours before my birthday and I felt more like I was about to attend my own funeral. That’s what happens when you have a 38-day period, an emergency “poor man’s d&c” and you are on so many hormones that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so you do both.  Anyways, if you want to read about that..it’s all on this blog.

READ ALSO: Waiting for Biopsy Results

Today though, I’m here to talk to you about something completely different. Now, after 78 days of constant flow of the heaviest cycle, I’ve ever experienced, anemia induced by blood loss and generally not being sure what the heck is going on with my female parts. Today, with a hysterectomy on the horizon, I’m realizing that this nearly 3 month period will be my last ever.

Which is amazing in all kinds of All CAPs AWESOME ways but then it hit me, just now, in the shower, that this is probably my last.period.ever. I should be ecstatic. I mean 78 days is a long time. But so is forever.

Last year, when my doctor first came to me with the idea of a hysterectomy. I looked at her like she was insane. I’m too young for a hysterectomy. I’m not menopausal. I’m vibrant. I’m fertile. I’m every freaking 28 days, ovulating on day 14. I’m a reproductive machine. Only this machine has chosen not to grow any more humans. This machine is not a machine at all. It’s a woman with all the feels. I’m a woman who found out last week that my uterus and fibroids are conspiring to mess me up. They are doing medically unseen things.

READ ALSO: Why I Won’t get an Elective Hysterectomy

Last year, a hysterectomy was an elective opportunity to stop some nuisance heavy days. I knew I wasn’t going to have any more babies because when I lost the one, it broke me but I wanted the option. What can I say, my uterus makes me feel special. It’s like a superpower and I wasn’t ready to give that up. I’m still not BUT when you are hit square in the jaw with an emergency type situation and told that you might have cancer, well, then a hysterectomy sounds like a breeze; like clipping toenails or trimming fringe.  That’s how I came around to my current reality.

But now my period, this crazy long cycle, is my very last period. I mean she’s going out with a bang. 34  years of right on time cycles ending with a 78-day, Shining type of a rager, I’d say my uterus is the flipping Rolling Stones rock star of uteri.

READ ALSO: Why I’m having a Hysterectomy before the Fibroids Kill Me

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, many of you have been here since the girls were babies. You held my heart when it was broken into a zillion tiny pieces and duck taped that bitch back together when I lost my third baby. You’ve read all about the saga that is my reproductive mishaps, I thought you’d like to know when I played my farewell show. I don’t think there will be any more encores. There better not be. Geez, Keith Richards the uterus…go the fuck home.

But, I’m scared. Nothing about this has been “normal”. I’m constantly surprising my gynecologist and I really don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I may wake up with an incision and no ovaries but the plan is to have a robotic surgery and leave the ovaries. I’m not ready for menopause or any of the hormonal treatments that go with it. I’ve been on hormones for the past 78 days to stop the bleeding and it’s making my vision blurry, my moods all over the place, my blood pressure high and a host of other issues. I just want to be normal again. I just want to stop bleeding and feel good.

Pray for me. Keep me in your thoughts. I’ll be here on the couch for the next 6-8 weeks recovering with limited mobility. Apparently having your baby maker removed is a big deal. Pray for the Big Guy, he will be playing the role of Mr.Mom as I won’t be able to drive for at least 3 weeks. I need a mommy meal on wheels and a maid, STAT.

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hysterectomy, uterine fibroids, fibroids, endometriosis, gynecological issues, perimenopause , uterine biopsy, cancer, poor man's d and c, D&C

It stands to reason that since women’s superpower is that we can conceive, grow, birth and feed babies taking our uterus is like using Kryptonite on us. I never knew how vital my uterus was to my existence until I had children, then I knew it gave me miracles. I never realized that three little uterine fibroids could kill me. I never believed a hysterectomy would be my best case scenario. 

I also learned quickly with my miscarriage that my uterus could also bring me to my knees in prayer, pain and humility. When it’s supposed to work and it fails you, there is nothing like that pain and vulnerability. It’s indescribable. It feels like a failure and betrayal by your body against your soul.

With each of my beautiful children that I was fortunate and blessed enough to conceive, I was also given a uterine fibroid; a tumor. They’ve been monitoring my fibroids, Mo, Larry and Curly, since 2004 to be sure they caused no interferences with my pregnancies.  Each doctor made it sound like there was no cause for concern. So, we let them go…grow with estrogen, not with love. But as they grew, so did my uterus.

READ ALSO: The Surprise Biopsy

But then last year happened and this entire year has been a catastrophic menstruation disaster. Nothing is working right. I’m as about as anemic as I can be. They’ve just upped my iron again and apparently, my uterine fibroids, now more reasonably named, Jason, Freddie and Michael are trying to kill me. If you don’t believe me, explain a uterus full of blood?

You can’t. As I told you in the last post, not even my doctor can. I’m just this anomaly with a uterus like a swamp that needed to be drained. Whatever the hell that even means.

The thing is, as I was referring to women possessing the superpower of conception, gestation and birth, it makes me think that our uterus is pretty vital to our womanhood. It’s our essence. Or maybe that’s just my scared out of my wits that I have cancer, I just read the hysterectomy surgery pamphlet and all these hormones have me jacked talking.

I’ve had tonsils and adenoids taken out. I’ve had tubes put in my ears. I’ve survived a miscarriage and a D & E. I’ve Humpty Dumpty broken and shattered my leg into a thousand tiny pieces, had it put back together and then had the armor put in and surgically removed 3 times. I’ve dislocated my elbow and had it go back into place (both equally as painful). I’ve survived excruciating gallstone attacks and had my gallbladder removed. I’ve spent the better part of the past 3 years in hospitals, laid up and still paying the bills. But this surgery scares me and it’s not just that I might have cancer. Though, believe me, that scares the shit out of me.

READ ALSO:  The Poor Man’s D & C and Waiting for Biopsy Results

This entails a mandatory hospital stay. I may wake up with a couple robotic incisions or a cesarean like incision. I might get to keep my ovaries or she might take everything. I might go into menopause or onto hormones. I might have an oncologist in the surgery or I might not. There’s a 6-8 week healing period. My doctor says that’s very restricted. I have children and I have been here in this restricted position and it’s so hard to be so vulnerable and dependent on others.

There are so many uncertainties and that’s nothing to say of the fact that I just put myself out there and interviewed for a new job in a brick and mortar establishment.  I mean what do I say? What do I do? That’s if I even get the job.

My mind is a million different places this weekend and my sore uterus from my Friday office visit is a constant reminder that this is real. I’m still bleeding…day 29. I’m trying to stay calm for my girls but then all I can think of is what if these fibroids kill me?

I’m afraid of all the things I’ll miss. The milestones. Our 25th anniversary. Bella’s quinceanera. Gabi’s confirmation. Gabi’s quinceanera. High school proms. First boyfriends. College. First heartbreak. College graduation. Weddings. Babies. Becoming a grandma. Growing old with the Big Guy. So much life still to live; so much love still to give. Not enough time to change the world. Not enough time to love the people I love.

hysterectomy, uterine fibroids, fibroids, endometriosis, gynecological issues, perimenopause , uterine biopsy, cancer, poor man's d and c, D&C

So, I’m getting a hysterectomy and I’m waiting on biopsy results. I’ll never have another baby. I’ll never have another period. Bella and I, our periods sync up. Gabi and I will never have that. I know it’s stupid. I know that maybe everything might be all right but right now, I have to face the facts that these fibroids are slowly killing me and now, my uterus has become hostile towards me too. I just want to be ok and be here for the people I love.

So, if you are the praying kind, I’m asking for all the prayers you’ve got. Because, right now, all I can do is wait with nothing but prayers to keep me sane. And to think,  a few days ago, I thought early menopause was the worst thing that could happen to me.

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hysterectomy, uterine fibroids, fibroids, endometriosis, gynecological issues, perimenopause , uterine biopsy, cancer, poor man's d and c, D&C

What trumps a surprise uterine biopsy? A surprise poor man’s D and C. It’s not the same as a D and C in the hospital under anesthesia. My doctor’s words, not mine. It’s fall and the week before my birthday, so I must be waiting for biopsy results. Remember last year’s biopsy wait and see? It was the worst. I went in for my annual exam and ended up with a surprise biopsy. Damn uterine fibroids. Get off my lawn.

This year, I had a 28 day period and nobody knew why. Was I menopausal? Am I perimenopausal? Are my fibroids just the worst? Is it endometriosis? No, I’m not menopausal. Dr. says probably another 6 years before I’d start any kind of natural menopause. Perimenopausal? She said nothing of being there either. Not endometriosis, at least not that she mentioned.

What I did have was a surprise ultrasound to see if my uterine fibroids had grown. Last year, my uterus was the size of a 10-week pregnant woman’s due to the size of the uterine fibroids. This year, since we’ve come to the conclusion that a 28 day period for a severe anemic is not something I can withstand longterm without transfusion…a hysterectomy it will be. Yep, those days of being adamantly against it have given way to just wanting to be able to function in the upright position without feeling like my insides are falling out.

Well, talk about a surprise. The doctor and I were both surprised with the ultrasound results. It was my third time taking off my panties in one office visit and I was getting scared. But when the ultrasound tech nonchalantly asked me, “When was your last uterine biopsy?” I began to get a little squirrely. I asked, “Why? Do you see something?” To which she replied with her best poker face, “Oh, no just wondering. “

READ ALSO: The Menopause Spectrum

I knew that was bullshit. It felt like the day they told me they couldn’t find a heartbeat with my last pregnancy. I wasn’t getting a good vibe. It was hour 3 at the gynecologist’s office and I was beginning to really freak out. She sent me back up to my doctor’s office.

My doctor came into the room like a frantic ball of nervous energy and very quickly told me, “Debi, I need you to get undressed and on the table. Your entire, now, 12-week pregnant sized uterus, is full of blood and we need to empty it and do another biopsy.” As you might remember, last year’s biopsy was very painful and traumatic. A biopsy is not anything you want to be sprung on you.

Then all the blood began to rush from my head ( apparently to my uterus) and the room was spinning. All I heard was biopsy, cancer and uterus full of blood. Remember last year when I complained about my 5 days of heavy bleeding each month and it got me a biopsy and an entire year of horrible, no good unpredictable, heavy periods? Well, now if my options are cancer or menopause…. I’m praying for menopause.

If you’ve made it this far, the next part is going to be TMI so if periods, uterine fibroids and cancer are not your thing, leave now.

My doctor was so frantic, that it felt frenzied. I felt like she was acting under a code blue and I was an unwilling participant in the shit show that was about to happen to me in stirrups.

She put my legs in the stirrups. Asked me to please scoot down and then bright lights and speculums. The deepest one you can find because I have a deep cervix. There was no pain medication of any kind administered.  After trying several speculums, she finally found the one that fit.  I can hear her opening it up. It made me feel like I was about to get a tire changed. She is apologizing the entire time. My fibroids were recoiling while drowning in a uterus full of blood. My imagination is running rampant.

But worse, my gynecologist is talking to herself out loud and I am practically in tears. “I wasn’t worried about cancer but there is just so much blood!” “I’ve never seen so much blood in a uterus!!” “We’re going to do another biopsy.” “You might faint!” “Do you feel faint?” “Hold on to something, this is going to hurt….” “Oh but it’s dark blood, so it’s old blood so I’m not as worried. “ “Sorry, just talking out loud.”

hysterectomy, uterine fibroids, fibroids, endometriosis, gynecological issues, perimenopause , uterine biopsy, cancer, poor man's d and c, D&C

WTF??????

Then she proceeded to insert a giant syringe about 12 inches long and 2 inches around in diameter in through the speculum opening and began to vigorously and aggressively suck the blood and clots out of my womb. If my uterus were a hotel, I imagine that scene out of the Shining when the walls are bleeding and you can hardly see anything.  It was very painful. A surprise D and C is not ever a surprise that you’d want. She referred to it as a “Poor man’s D & C.” I dug my fingers so deep into my arm to stop from screaming that I am covered in bruises.

She emptied 5 full syringes of blood and clots into those cups they make you wee into to check to see if you’re pregnant. I was getting more and more faint with each syringe. Meanwhile, she is calling my attention to it, “Debi, look! Can you believe this? This is incredible.”

I felt hollow. I felt like someone had roto rootered my female reproductive organs. To be honest, I felt violated.  I understand she was doing her best impression of a caped crusader to eliminate the blood from my uterus and shrink it down to as close as possible to normal sized but I could see the vigorous movement of the syringe through the top of my pelvis and worse, I could feel it. It felt like labor pains or those pains you get right after you give birth and your uterus is shrinking down. Either way, it was PTSD traumatic.

READ ALSO: When Cancer’s on the Table

And now, aside from scheduling a hysterectomy that I don’t want to have but have to have and advocating to keep my ovaries so that I don’t go into early menopause and worrying that my uterus will be too big and robotic surgery will give way to a full stomach incision removal, I have to wait to see if I have cancer. Happy birthday week to me.

They’ve put me on meds to stop the bleeding but I’m still bleeding. Right now, it’s a wait and see, try not to throw up from nerves sort of week. I can’t think of anything else and all I want to do is distract myself. Did I mention that the Big Guy is out of town for work? Yep. He volunteered to stay home and cancel but I’ll need him when I have the surgery. I’m just praying it’s not cancer because I don’t want to be alone if that’s what they tell me.

Right before I left with my insides feeling like swiss cheese and my world flipped upside down, I was taking solace in the fact that she said, “It’s all dark blood, I’m not as worried. It’s probably just the fibroids and nothing more.” Then she stopped me as I was leaving, all the color left from my face and said, “If the results come back as cancer, I’ll have another surgeon in there to check your lymph nodes.” And all I could hear was Charlie Brown wah, wah, wah, wah and my mind has been in a very dark place ever since.  I hate the waiting.

Being a woman is hard enough with the whole world trying to stick their noses in our uteruses without having it turn on us and having to worry that the very thing that brings life into the world may in fact, take ours.

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hysterectomy, uterine fibroids, fibroids, endometriosis, gynecological issues, perimenopause , uterine biopsy, cancer, poor man's d and c, D&C

As a woman, after a certain age, that age is 30, seems like for every gynecological issue the final solution for everything is a hysterectomy. You’re spotting. Let’s give you a hysterectomy. Cramping. Hysterectomy. Heavy periods. Hysterectomy. Uterine fibroids or endometriosis? Hysterectomy. You stub your toe? Bump it, let’s throw out your uterus.

It’s not just me. I have loads of friends who have suddenly been recommended to get an “elective” hysterectomy. I don’t mean elective like getting your teeth whitened or vaginal rejuvenation. They mean, “well, you’re done having babies. You don’t need that thing anymore. Crampy? Tired of periods? Why not try floating ovaries on for size?” So does that mean since I won’t be breastfeeding anytime soon, we should just cut those off too?

I feel like it’s jumping the gun a little to offer to remove my parts just because things don’t run exactly as they used to. I mean, I’ve been pregnant three times and each time I was, it was like there was a little Oprah here in my uterus going, “And you get a uterine fibroid and you get a uterine fibroid and YOU GET A UTERINE FIBROID!” Heaven forbid you find out that you have endometriosis, they may not even ask. They’ll just go ahead and schedule you an appointment.

READ ALSO: The Gynecological Misadventures of a Millenial- ish Mom

There were two births and a D&C, things are not what they used to be. But, every 28 days, menstruation happens and every 14 days ovulation happens. My fatal mistake was that at my last appointment, I went in there complaining about my “heavy” periods. You know because I was getting tired of 5 days of heavy bleeding. Next thing you know, ” How about a hysterectomy, Debi? You have uterine fibroids that aren’t growing. You said yourself that you’re not going to have any more babies. Why not just get the “procedure”?

So the doctor did my exam and low and behold, my irritable cervix decided to have some breakthrough bleeding right during the exam. How damn rude. My doctor, knowing that I am a complete freak about these things sprung a surprise biopsy on me. Ironically, not the kind of surprise you want. It was like a painful pop quiz for my cervix. Remember, that deep cervix who is a major priss? She does not like to be poked and prodded. She needs a little tenderness.

I went from waiting for biopsy results, Mama’s first cancer scare, to biopsy-induced bleeding. My doctor said the heavy bleeding was most likely from the fibroids that are not growing but are pressing on my uterus and when I menstruate are causing heavy periods. These were my options. Can you guess the first one? A hysterectomy. Absolutely nothing wrong with me but since those pesky periods were annoying, let’s just take out that uterus of yours. Nope. Pass. Next, up, we can go in and surgically burn them to make them smaller. Lastly, we can just put you on some low dose progesterone birth control pills. Yes, I said. I will take option C. Also, why was the least invasive option given last?

READ ALSO: How to Explain Where Babies Come From

The catch was that I couldn’t start my birth control pills until I started my next regularly scheduled period. Which never came. Three months later, walking around feeling 13 months pregnant because I was so bloated I called my doctor and gave her the scoop. She said these things can happen. My uterus and cervix got all freaked out from the biopsy and like an anorexic’s body goes into starvation mode and tries to hoard calories, my uterus and ovaries were holding on to my eggs and lining like they were the last in the world.

Finally, I had a period. Oh and if I thought the “heavy” periods of before were bothersome, let me tell you what 3 months of built-up uterine lining exiting your body feels like. It was painful and “heavy” can not even come close to describing what happened to me. I was afraid to leave my house. It was like having spastic bowels but in your vagina.

I stuck it out for 3 months but basically, it felt like I was hemorrhaging all month long and remember the severe anemia I had? It’s back with a vengeance because my gynecologist made the connection, the uterine fibroids are causing the heavy bleeding which is causing the anemia. Iron and I are in it for the long haul.

I started getting depressed, remember the old nurse who asked me if I was perimenopausal at that last visit? Yeah, I just called her old because she called me perimenopausal. Well, I started thinking maybe I was and if I was, there is no way I will survive menopause. No effing way I can go 3 months without a period and feel like a Thanksgiving day parade balloon or bleed out for weeks at a time. My anemia got so bad I was having blurry vision and feeling fainty.

I quit the birth control and just like when I got the biopsy, my angry cervix and uterus got together and mutinied on me and had some weird rando 5 day period like experience and this past Saturday ( while I was on vacation because my period has wanderlust) I get my period…28 days later. Is it just me or do you see why they named that zombie movie what they did?

Anyways, the day I got my biopsy, I had spoken to my bestie (who is also a doctor) and she told me that she was having a hysterectomy and getting herself some of those fancy newfangled floating ovaries and I should do the same because periods are for losers. I felt kind of peer pressured, like in high school when some cool kid offered you a blunt at a house party and you didn’t puff and you just gave but you second-guessed that decision for the rest of high school. Maybe floating ovaries are for me? But then, if I let them take my uterus the terrorists win and by the terrorists, I mean that fucking 60-something-year-old nurse who asked me if I was perimenopausal. I got really offended, and now, I just want to keep having my 28-day cycle forever and hear my gynecologist tell me that I have the uterus of a 25 -year-old.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t complain about a 5-day “heavy” period because it could be way worse, by like 3 months. And also, even though I know all the cool kids are doing it, I’m not sure floating ovaries are for me…yet. What about you?

Has your gynecologist offered you vaginal rejuvenation with a side of hysterectomy?

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