My Journey to a Hysterectomy Part 1
My journey to having a hysterectomy didn’t start off as my journey at all. At the age of 15 I had my first laparoscopic surgery to diagnose and remove endometriosis. From about the same age, doctors started to tell me that I had a 40% chance of having kids, and as I got older, that number decreased. I haven’t been able to live without some sort of birth control since around age 12 due to the horrific periods I would get, basically from the time I started menstruating.
I can remember being on my period at school, wearing two “maximum padding” pads, and within a short period of time after changing them, I'd have gone through my pants and been at the nurses office, mortified, asking to go home. Sometimes I’d be allowed to call my parents, other times they let me clean up, gave me something from the lost and found to tie around my waist, and sent me on my way, though I’d often end up back there within the day.
From this age, not only dealt with the heaviness of the periods, but for about three out of four weeks of the month, I was moody, exhausted, suffered headaches, cramps that at the time, I thought everyone had, and the inability to make it through school or activities. I failed on MANY birth control pills, patches, finally almost 10 years ago now I got an IUD. I had my second laparoscopic surgery when I was 33. I likely could have benefited from one sooner, however I pushed through and knew what I was dealing with. What I didn’t know was that there were other options, then I tried them, almost every medication on the market, minus the few I dare not touch as I don’t do well with Western medicine as it is, and the side effects were too risky and my doctor didn’t disagree. I even participated in a trial study out of Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA. I did not finish the trial, my body was not having whatever I was being given, which evidently was not the placebo.
I have suffered from hormonal migraines, mood swings, chronic fatigue, pain with intercourse, sometimes lasting hours after the event occured. I have suffered from debilitating pelvic pain and cramps, sometimes causing me to stop dead in my tracks, not be able to stand up straight, and be glued to heat pads for hours at a time. I have struggled with chronic constipation, bloating, and frequent urination that causes me to feel extremely ill if I don’t get to the bathroom fast enough when the feeling to “go” kicks in. Not to mention, infertility.
My journey and my focus started and ended there. Fertility. I spent years wishing and hoping to become a mom. It never happened, and there were many times it could have, and maybe for someone without endometriosis, would have. Around age 26 I started saving, wanting to try IVF on my own as I wasn’t in a relationship, however then I found the man who would become my husband, though for a very brief period of time. He managed to go through that money I had saved due to his own battle with addiction. After we divorced I still wanted a child, and still planned to try to do so on my own. I also at this time decided to change the entire trajectory of my life, and left my career in Marketing and Advertising. I started my graduate program which has led me to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I left my old career, took a 90% pay cut to get my foot in the door, and never looked back.
Fast forward to age 34, I met with a specialist in Boston who rocked my world. He gave me a glimpse of hope that if I tried IVF or froze my eggs by 35 I might have a shot, also letting me know after that beyond that, he didn’t know what my chances might be, if any. Then, BOOM, the COVID-19 world pandemic hit us. I was also laid off from my job. Elective medical procedures were on an indefinite hold. I wasn’t financially in a place to pay for or attempt IVF, or to freeze my eggs. I spent the better part of 22 years wanting my own kids, and then, the better part of my 30’s grieving, being envious of others with babies, and finding being happy for or being around anyone pregnant to be the worst pain of all. I won’t like, for me, that part still makes me choke up inside and isn’t something I enjoy.
For me, something else also happened at the beginning of the pandemic, I started dating again, and met the most wonderful man, who is also a father of four. He initially told me that he liked me on our first date, but told me he had 4 kids and didn’t want to hold me back from what I deserved in life. I told him that 4 kids didn’t scare me, he told me he didn’t want anymore kids, thus leading to me letting him know that wasn’t in the cards for me. We have been together ever since. I still grieve losing the experience to carry a baby, the experience of being physically pregnant, having that “bond” from birth, and everything else that comes along with becoming a parent. I might not be a biological mother, however I am a bonus mom figure and a role model to four wonderful kids. Becoming part of their family filled my cup, and over time, it’s become easier to deal with my own grief, with what endometriosis has taken from me in the past 22 years.
Since I was in my early 30’s I've talked openly about my desire to eventually have a hysterectomy. I have spoken to other women across the globe about their experiences, and even with my own mother who chose to have one due to extreme endometriosis in her 40’s. I will often be in so much pain I will say something to the effect of “just rip it all out.” Those closest to me understand. After Roe vs. Wade was overturned. I've felt more of a desire to go through with the surgery. I had planned on having the operation this fall/winter, but had been stalling on making the call. I also found out I was on terrible insurance that covered nothing, but was costing me an arm and a leg. August 1st, 2022 my new insurance kicked in. August 3rd I got the call from the hospital with an appointment time later in the month for my initial appointment to meet with the doctor for an exam and consultation.
I don’t know what I was feeling, and to be honest, I still don’t. There was a moment that I broke into tears, and couldn’t tell you what I was feeling then either. I feel relief, joy, grief, fear, panic, doubt, happiness, and feelings I can’t yet identify. So later this month, I will start the next step in the journey to hysterectomy, I will be open minded to any other suggestions that this provider may have, even if it’s something other than a hysterectomy. I will not have another laparoscopic surgery, as I know it’s temporary and will cause more scar tissue. I assure you that this was not a rash decision, it was not an easy decision, however it’s been years in the making.
I don't know what this provider will say. I don't know if he will suggest other options or understand that I'm ready to take control and have a better quality of life. I don't have a crystal ball, I can't predict what will happen or what will be said. This is, however, the next step in my journey, to having a hysterectomy.