Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Robot Operated on Me

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I’m proud of myself today
For the first time in ten days, I took a shower on my own, put on a bra and, got dressed (and by got dressed I mean in real clothes, not pajamas) and I left the house

Not bad considering last Monday, I had a hysterectomy

Yes, I put it out there, a hysterectomy
The kind where your uterus and fallopian tubes are yanked from your body and destroyed
And by destroyed, I mean tossed in an incinerator and burned

So yeah, I put it out there, I had a hysterectomy

And I’m about to put a lot more out there because as much as I probably should, I do not have a therapist

Plus, I write in hopes that someone else struggling will realize she is not the only one going through something like this and yes, this is something you should be able to talk about without being embarrassed or feeling like you’ve said something you should not
And, because if we can applaud athletes free flowing, we should be able to handle what I’m about to share

Because see here’s the thing: I never told anyone what was going on
A few times, I would speak of it in generalities but for the most part, I did not say a word
I was embarrassed
I had no idea how to even bring it up or with who
At times, I was scared
Mostly I was embarrassed

And if you know me, you know I pretty much embarrass myself daily
But this was just too much
Even for me
But now that it’s over, I can totally handle it

In my late 20s, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome
By the time I was 33, endometriosis had also made itself at home in my woman parts

I had Lucy at 36 - really I was on the cusp of 37
By the time I was 38, I started getting my period again and it was a very different one to what it was like before I had Lucy
It lasted more than seven days, usually 10
And sometimes, it showed up when it was supposed to and sometimes I’d go a few months with no period
A sick joke if you want more kids

At 39, my doctor suggested if we wanted a second child, we may want to consider alternate methods – specifically fertility treatments
My endometriosis was worse and I had now developed what is called Menorrhagia, or heavy menstrual bleeding with passing clots because fibroids were invading my uterus and to boot, my ovaries were dysfunctional
My periods were so heavy, my doctor advised me to not use tampons and put me on iron as I was slightly anemic

By the time I was 40, I would begin having no less than two procedures a year (surgical and medicinal) to alleviate the side effects I was having from the endometriosis, menorrhagia, fibroids and crappy ovaries

From 42-44, specifically to last Monday, I endured what is without a doubt every woman’s worst nightmare……

 15-18 day periods

And when I say 15 day periods, I mean I would bleed for 15 days straight with no relief
My relief came on days 16, 17 and 18 when I would spot
If I were lucky, I’d get almost 18 days before I started again
Usually I’d get 15
Sometimes only 7

Day 1 would start as if it were day 3 of a “normal” period and would get progressively worse
By Day 6, there would be tears and I would be back out buying pads even though I had purchased in bulk no less than three weeks ago
And not just any pad, but the number 5 Always Pad…you know the super duper overnight maxi
I’d wear two at a time
And still have to change every hour
By Day 8, I was tired, light headed and sleeping as much as possible
By Day 12, I would be cranky, exhausted and would not allow myself to be anywhere there was not a bathroom within my line of vision
By day 15, I could barely get myself out of bed

Plus, I was upped to iron twice a day to combat the now severe anemia which had set in
So now I was tired, bleeding for 15 days and couldn’t poop

I can’t tell you how many times we cancelled on friends, did not attend something or, I would stay behind and let Sean and Lucy go
And then there were the games, activities, outings and karate lessons I missed because I either too tired, bleeding too heavily or so emotionally distraught I could not even leave the house

I was exhausted – and not just because I had turned into a constipated anemic but because I had to mentally prepare myself for the 15 day Armageddon that was my period
I had to constantly think ahead to what we had to do, where we had to be and then figure out a way to reschedule as much as possible
And if that didn’t work, I just laid in bed and cried

Friends were starting to ask if we were mad at them because we kept cancelling or not attending something we had been invited to
I was caught in situations almost daily whereby I knew if I moved too far to the left or too far to the right, I was going to have blood running down my leg
And no matter how calculated I tried to be, it still happened
Then there were the doctor’s appointments
The numerous ultrasounds
The prescriptions, the procedures performed

It has been exhausting

Sean has been patient and understanding and protected me in ways no husband should ever have to
And poor Lucy…she is scared to death of having her period because as much as we tried to shield it from it, we could not

My period dictated our every move

My doctor first suggested a hysterectomy over a year ago
I remember the lump that formed in my throat
Can’t we try something else?
She sighed
We’ve tried everything
I’m not ready for that I responded, it’s so final
She patted my leg as I cried harder
We have to do something
Ok, I sobbed, can we just try something again?
So we tried yet another hysteroscopy and D & C followed up with another round of provera
Then we did an endometrial ablation

Then in September, I was having a terribly hard period
I called the doctor, went in for a visit
It was not a period, it was a miscarriage
I could not tell the difference

When I say I could not tell the difference between a miscarriage and my period, that should be clear indication as to what I had been experiencing

I cried on her table again
I thought, I said between sobs and snot, I could not get pregnant after the ablation
It’s not likely you can get pregnant she corrected me, and unfortunately, the pregnancy usually result in a loss
Are you fucking kidding me I ask
She patted my leg again, I wish I were
I didn’t even know….I trailed off
It was quick, what’s known as a chemical pregnancy or sometimes a missed pregnancy
Is missed pregnancy someone’s attempt to make it not sound so bad?
She chuckled, lame attempt huh?
Yes, pretty fucking lame Doc
She hugged me and wrote another prescription for provera and I scheduled a follow up for November

Which I skipped because I was so mad
I also skipped my period for the month of November

As December came to a close, I thought hey! Maybe it’s over!

In January, I got my period…twice
Once for 15 days
A break for 5 days
Then it started again and lasted another 12 days

In mid-February, I finally went in to see her
I can’t take it anymore I cried yet again on her table
I know she said
I’m tired I said
I know she said

I went for an ultra sound the next day
At my follow up the next week, she had me do another ultra sound
She was convinced the read (on the first one) was wrong because the endometriosis was twice as thick as it had previously been

It was not wrong, and the second ultra sound showed even more growth,

We could do another round of…
No I said, no more
Ok, well, then, let’s get you into Boston
Great I say
I need one more ultra sound at the hospital, the one I just did is not comprehensive enough
Ok I say, no problem
It was scheduled for the following week
I went for the ultra sound and then back to her office for the follow up
It was the second week of March

I went back to my doctor’s office for the review
I did not have to sit on the table this time, I just sat in the comfy chair in her office
The tissue was indeed twice as thick as it had been and it was everywhere it should not have been
We booked you an appointment in Boston at Brigham and Women’s
Ok I say
Here is what I am recommending she said, the removal of your uterus, including your cervix and the fallopian tubes
What about my pearls I ask
Your ovaries? I’m gonna let you keep those she says, I think you’ve been through enough, we don’t need to put you through menopause
Thanks Doc 
You’re welcome she says

We already booked you an appointment – for May 19
My heart sank
That is two months out!
I know she says, it’s the best we could do
My heart sank
There was s rapping on the door and it flew open before Dr W could answer
The Nurse Practitioner who I also adore was out of breath
Someone cancelled she said! Someone cancelled with Dr G! There is an opening with him this Friday!
I’ll take it!
Don’t you want to know what time?
I don’t care I said, I’ll take it! I’ll figure it out, I can’t wait until May 19

I am not sure who was more elated at that moment, my OBGYN who has been taking care of me since 2002, her NP who I have also known since 2002 or me

Sean and I went in on March 25
We spent half an hour talking to Dr G before he did an exam
At one point, he suggested the Pill and or an IUD
Until he read a section of my file again
He finally put the papers down, looked at me and said the only thing that will fix this is a hysterectomy

Sean squeezed my hand
We know I said
I was just hoping I could find a different solution for you
I don’t think there is one
No he said somewhat sadly, there is not
It’s ok I said, I’m ok with this
Ok well them let’s see, I will do an exam and then you will go see my scheduler and she’ll book the procedure date which will probably be a couple months out

Sean and I shot each other a glance
We were both thinking two months was an eternity

The doctor saw our exchange and we voiced our concern with the time frame
I am just guessing he said, I usually run about two months out but wait and see what Catherine says
We nodded
The thought of even another month like this terrified both of us

Sean was sent to the waiting room whilst I had my exam

The nurse who was assisting said to me before Dr G walked in

You have 15 day periods?!?
I do I said
I believe the phrase you are looking for is Holy Shit
She laughed

How have you dealt with it?!
I sighed and swallowed hoping to keep my tears at bay
I don’t know…..

Dr G arrived and we chatted for a few more minutes before he started
He wanted to make sure I understood why he was making alternative suggestions in his office

You are still young enough to have a baby he said, but then I look at your condition, at your records, your ultra sounds….

I know I said, and I appreciate that
And Dr W was doing the same thing
But you have to understand my quality of life, my husband’s, my daughter’s, our quality of life has been miserable the last few years
And I am not sure enduring this any longer will be good for any of us

Ok he said, we take out your uterus then!

He finished the exam up and sent us to see the scheduler

As she flipped through her book, I flipped through my date book looking at everything we had going on
April was crazy – we had tickets to a couple plays, Easter, Mum’s surgery, Lucy’s Birthday Party, and Lucy’s First Communion were already on the docket

May was almost as busy and I had just learned that morning there was a possibility my co-worker and I would be traveling to Sweden for at least one if not two weeks of training

Ok she said, we’re looking at May
That is way better than June Sean said
Yeah it is I said…but I was already thinking I would still have to go through probably two periods before the procedure because I was confident I’d be starting any day

How does May 1st sound she asked

For a split second, neither of us said anything
I think we both figured it would be mid to late May so when she said May 1st, we were completely caught off guard

I’ll take it!
You don’t have to decide now you can…
Nope! We’ll take it Sean seconded
Yep, I said, we’ll make May 1st work, book it

So she booked it

And on April 1st, I started my final 15 day period

And on that Monday, April 3, I went to the dentist again because my tooth was still bothering me
He was trying to adjust the bite and hit my nerve while drilling
On Tuesday, I had to go back again because it was still bothering me
On Wednesday, my boss got fired
On Thursday, I got Jury Duty

But I did not care because come May 1st, I would no longer have to endure 15 day periods

So last Monday, I had a hysterectomy
Specifically, I had a Laparoscopic Robotic Hysterectomy
A robot, controlled by my doctor, made 5 incisions in my abdomen (the one in my belly button hurts the most)
That same robot, and my doctor, then yanked my fallopian tubes out of one of the incisions and my uterus (and cervix) were shoved out my vagina

I could go through the whole day for you….

How we arrived at the appointed hour and knocked around the waiting room for a bit
My emotions were all over the place and I was having mini freak-outs
Fortunately, Ryan Seacrest’s debut on the new Kelly and Ryan Show was playing and as Sean has an even bigger crush on Kelly Ripa than I have on Dwayne The Rock Johnson, he was pleasantly distracted
and I could have my freak outs in silence with no interference

Then I could tell you how we were finally called into the pre-op and as with any day surgery floor (yes indeed, this was a day surgery which means….I was sent home mere hours after this was performed), we were moved through almost like cattle
I was quizzed on my name and birth date every few minutes because all women want to be reminded they are on the verge of 45 just as they are about to have their lady bits removed from their inner sanctum

Then I could tell you how once I was settled into the bed with an IV safely started, the barrage of doctors and nurses started to come by
I quizzed all of them to make sure they were not tired, hungry or otherwise delusional
We all made sure we were all clear on what was being removed, who was doing what and where things should be when they were done
And I was my usual funny witty charming self
They took great delight in my request that my uterus be named (Sally) after they informed me they would be delivering it 
They laughed even harder when I double checked and asked them to confirm my pearls(ovaries) would be left in place

And then I could tell you how I came out of the procedure with no complications except I am a hot mess when it comes to anesthesia and apparently, they doped me up but good
So I do not remember coming out of it
I do remember crying when she told me I had to pee before I could leave
And I remember crying as I got dressed

And then I remember nothing until the next day
And even that next day is fuzzy and not so clear

My sister stayed with us to help
And for three days, I sat on the couch
The pain was nothing like I have ever experienced – made my C Section feel like a walk in the park
I winced, groaned and cried with every move
But I made myself get up and walk around the living room because they told me walking was one of the best things I could do
By Thursday, I was walking around our circle – sure, it was a slow pace but I was moving

My sister made sure I was hydrated
Sean showered me
And my Lucy just kept smiling, telling me she loved me and tried so hard to do everything she was being told to do with no arguments or negotiating

My sister had to leave on Thursday afternoon but Sean stayed with me Thursday and Friday
I wasn’t great company but there was something quite comforting about just having him there with me

Saturday, Sean and Lucy attended various First Communion celebrations for some friends
I was left home alone for the day
It was good for them to get out of the house and have fun
It was good for me because I had a proper cry about everything
You know what cry I speak of - that cathartic cry we all need every so often which cleanses our body and soul as only a good cry can

I cried because I will not have more children – I can no longer grow people
I cried because I really wanted to grow one more person

And I cried because I have Lucy and that makes me pretty fucking lucky

I cried because I think of all the lost and wasted time these past few years
I cried because of how much all three of us have had to endure

I cried because I was lonely on Saturday – I wanted someone to knock on my door and come in and talk to me but no one did
I cried because I did not know how to ask for help and because I did not even know what to ask them to help me with
I cried because I realized I had blurted out at a PTO meeting a couple weeks ago I’m getting my uterus shoved out my vagina and the women at that table were so empathic and caring and sad for me
I cried because I finally realized I do have people and they do care for me

I cried because I know this has been hard on Sean – he’s had to handle everything over the past week from laundry to bedtime to meals and it’s a lot….and we’re better as a team….and I was only one week into what is supposed to be a three-week (minimum) recovery
I cried because he’s held his own and I am so proud of him

I cried because a week is the longest I have ever gone with snuggling Lucy
And laying with her at night in her bed talking is my favorite time of day
I cried because this poor kid has tried so hard to not make a mistake all week because she keeps being told to be on her best behavior because Mummy is in pain – and that’s so much pressure on a kid…
I cried because she’s held her own and I am so proud of her

I cried because the doctor said don’t pick up anything – and by that I mean you won’t be able to pick up a gallon of milk so no lifting!
I did not believe him so I tried to lift a gallon of milk
He was not fucking kidding
I cried because I could not turn from side to side without pain radiating from every direction
I cried because my belly button hurts

And I cried for me
Because there is something so emptying about a hysterectomy – figuratively and literally
And I don’t know how to fill that void
So I cried until there was nothing left

And then I took a nap
I woke up an hour or so later and my eyes were puffy and I was thirsty
But somehow, I felt better

Sean and Lucy got home close to 9
They had been out all day and were knackered
And it was good for them
And it was good for me

Sunday, I woke up and felt better
I was still moving slowly but I could go up and down the stairs without whimpering

Monday was a tough day
I started doing some work from home and probably tried to do a bit too much
I’m amazed at how tired I get so quickly
I slept terribly Monday night

But Tuesday was ok
The morning was tough but by the afternoon, I was feeling better
And then Tuesday night, I slept better

And today, Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling the best I have felt in over a week
I showered, unassisted
I got dressed by myself  
I put on a bra and real clothes, not clean PJs but an actual shirt and skirt
I left the house by car for the first time since last week
I went to a PTO meeting and laughed
I hugged Lucy without worrying about it hurting
And it was good for me

I had a hysterectomy last week

Procter and Gamble’s profits may drop slightly and I am going to wait a bit longer before I try to pick up a gallon of milk but I am going to be just fine