Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Hysterectomy - 10 Years Later

It is a weird anniversary to be sure but October 26 was the ten year anniversary of my hysterectomy.  The pain of not being able to have more children still crops up every now and then, a bit less that I am 41 but it still amazes me that the biological urge is such a sharp tug.

I am grateful every day for my son who is almost 14 and was truly a blessing as I had no idea that he would be the one and only.  And I get to have my brother's three kiddos as if they were my own.

Ten years ago, I had a lower left abdominal pain that came out of the blue and stayed ... and got worse.  Within 2 days, I was gray - literally - and on my way to the emergency room.  As a health care worker, we always believe we can diagnose ourselves so I waited for it to resolve.  So at 4am that morning, the pain became intolerable and to the hospital we went.

I went to the hospital where I worked so they zipped me into ultrasound.  I watched the tech's face as she went from a cheery smile to glancing at me nervously and backing out of the room, telling me she was getting the doctor.  Surgeon would have been the correct word.  I promptly turned the screen, as soon as she was out of the room and my jaw dropped.  The doctor walked in and confirmed - I had a tumor ... about the size of a small cantaloupe on my left ovary.  The tumor had caused the ovary to tortion which was causing the pain.  My only option was surgery ... immediately.

Once the procedure was explained - an oophrectomy (removal of an ovary) - I told the doctor to take out everything if they got in there and saw that it was not just the ovary.  I had one child and no plans to get pregnant.  So blithe.  And no one discussed options - harvesting my eggs or anything.  anything.

I came out of the surgery with half of my right ovary intact.  Half of a diseased ovary according to the pathology report.  Fighting through morphine, pain and being gutted from side to side - I flipped out.  Why had they left it?  The doctor explained I was too young and they wanted to give me a chance to get pregnant.  Get pregnant with a diseased HALF ovary??  Sometimes men and male surgeouns are idiots.

I recovered from that surgery just in time for the tumor to regenerate within 3 months.  I found a new surgeon and we scheduled a hysterectomy.  Hindsight is 20/20 and I wish now that I had discussed harvesting my eggs if indeed there were any viable ... but there must have been because I did have one final period, ironically the 3 days preceding the surgery.

That is the clinical story.  That is the easy part of the story.  The emotional ups and downs.  Fighting my own body that was thrown into surgical menopause because I did not want to take hormone replacement due to the high percentage of breast cancer in my family.  Explaining to my 4 year old that he could never have a brother or sister.  Feeling like I was not a woman anymore ... that I was broken.  Refusing to date because since I was in my very early 30's, new couples talk about things like having children.  Physical pain that turned into an emotional ache that always stays with me.

To complicate issues, I was diagnosed with lupus about 9 months after the surgery.  Apparently, the trauma of the surgeries triggered off the sleeping lupus.  I felt like I spent years in tailspin after tailspin.

Ten years later, I am here.  I am fine.  Life happens but my son is healthy and taller than me, my lupus is in remission and I have found a place that I love to live - Utah.  I have great friends and a business that I love and I am growing.  I never went on hormone replacement so, technically, I have to go through menopause AGAIN.  That does not seem fair but I am here.  and I will take it.

The optimist in me is grateful for the large tumor that crushed my ovary and caused the pain.  It could have been ovarian cancer and spread through my abdomen and this could be a very different story.  So I am grateful ... always.

And now I get my baby fix :) - living in the wonderfully fertile land of Utah means that there are lots of pregnant women and lots of babies and munchkins. 

Which is a Joy and a 10 year Circle that means Healing to me.        

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  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on getting through that and being able to tell your own story 10 years later. I am a little over 2 years away from the 10th anniversary of my cancer, and I can't wait to celebrate!!!


  2. wow..that was a great post! I'm sorry that you had to go through so much pain (both physical and emotional)but you sound like you are in a good place now.

    I've been to your blog before and I know you read mine. Now I'm gonna add you to my reader so I can get to know you better! :)


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