A man is exposed to the stomach flu three days before he gets on his first cruise. After his first day at sea, he shows symptoms of the stomach flu. Because he is on the boat, he associates his illness to the boat. He is stuck out at sea suffering and he vows that cruises are the worst of all the vacations because he is sick. He also vows to never cruise again. Cruises equal stomach unrest. He never considers the exposure to the flu as the real culprit.
It has been seven months since I joined the Hyster-Sister club. As a reminder, I had a large benign fibroid tumor taking over my midsection, as well as several smaller aggressively growing sidekicks. After years of cursing womanhood as I suffered pain, anemia, bloat and other less pleasant symptoms, I decided my doctor was right to continually suggest I have a hysterectomy. I mean she did go to school for a long time and probably knows better than me the inner workings of my body. (This truth is a blog post for another day–I seriously know nothing about how my body works! But I digress…)
The surgery was a bit more involved than was first expected and what was to be a small incision became a full abdominal spread. However, my recovery was happily uneventful. I have full feeling of my incision site, which is a pleasant surprise. The roundness of my belly was not due to the tumors, which is a horrible disappointment.
As the surgeon lifted the tumor off my flattened left ovary it popped back into form, allowing me to keep both. Now, I would be lying if I don’t have visions of them floating around like pinball machine balls since pretty much everything they would naturally attach to has been removed. I am assured this is not the case, but the real explanation does not ignite my imagination, so for now, pinballs.
The keeping of the ovaries allowed me to avoid going into early menopause, which is supposed to be good for my bones, sexual health and mental health. So hot flashes and other issues will be something I can look forward to as I age. The ovary salvation also presents some pretty interesting scenarios. Some, I am willing to admit, are like the first time cruiser’s flu. I was so fixated on the things that were happening as a result of the fibroids, I may not have given these things any attention. Or they could be new signs of middle age, the last ditch effort to make me humble. Motherhood has taken me 85% of the way to humble, middle age is coming in as relief pitcher in the ninth.
To start, I physically feel amazing. I am beyond grateful for the healing of my body and the skill and knowledge of my medical team. Any sideswipes at humor must be crouched in the reality of that gratitude. That being said…..chin hair.
I’m not talking about the rogue hair that may appear from time to time, I am suggesting post surgery, I have straws of white sharp anger coming through my chin periodically. They appear as if to say, “Yeah, mess with me, I’ll nuzzle you to death with my sharpness.” They feel like milkshake straws carved into prison- worthy shivs on my face. What the what??
The one benefit of these quills is they are the only indication of a still regular hormonal cycle. With missing parts, the tell-tale signs of this hormonal fluctuation are missing. At first, I struggled to understand that this was still a present part of my bodies functioning. (Again note, my educational pursuits avoided STEM like boil-inducing plague. I’m a right side of the brain gal!) I found myself grumpy, irritable, tired and at times feeling the real capability of planning random people’s demise. I was given these face weapons for something, right? Yet after the last hair triumphantly surfaced each month , the world returned to being beautiful and I loved my family again. I indeed could have PMS without the M. No one told my ovaries they were useless now, floating in the abyss.
Mentally I have struggled. I am a delicate cocktail of hormones and the slightest variation from the norm causes me to spin into a depressive state. Postpartum hormone changes really took a toll on me, and I am finding the same to be true post hysterectomy. Unlike the chin knives, I can’t just pluck this away. But, with some work and Jonesy’s support, I am doing much better. I am working to get back to my snarky, yet jolly self. Again, cruise flu. There is likely not much happening differently hormone-wise in my body. But eight weeks of having far too much time of doing little to nothing takes a toll on this delicate constitution. I am better when busy. Rest and Take It Easy are the kryptonite of my well-being. Occupied is my sunshine.
My only regret in this surgical saga is that I opted to wait so long to get the relief the procedure has brought me. My surgeon shared with me at my post-op appointment that around nine months post op, most patients feel fully recovered. I expect I’m pretty close to that mark. Moving forward, I feel confident I will quit blaming everything weird in my life on the surgery. Or, possibly, it will be what I blame everything on forever—“Babe, I got a speeding ticket, it must be the hysterectomy.”