Note: First, This post contains graphic imagery. If surgical photos make you queasy, this is not for you. Also, I apologize in advance if this post seems choppy or hard to follow. It has been written in 30 minute increments over the last few days, under heavy pain medication while lying flat on my back.
It has been six days since my hysterectomy.
More specifically, a total hysterectomy. I sit here in bed without my uterus, my fallopian tubes, my cervix, or my right ovary.
To be honest, I was shocked not to wake up from this whole thing in a tub full of ice, but I’d like to go on record right now stating that I’m still completely open to it.
If you could just write that down: completely open… to…. it.
In fact, before I go on, I need to say something.
Hey, all you c-section moms, I want to have a word with you.
Y’all are a bunch of god damned heroes.
They cut you in half, sewed you back up, and then handed you a helpless baby to keep alive?
I assume you came home to parades? Keys to the city? Some sort of Kennedy Center Award?
My respect for you, and the recovery you no doubt put second to that of the baby, has quadrupled, because this feels awful.
My hysterectomy was not without it’s drama. Obviously, there was the cancellation of my first scheduled hysterectomy.
Something I was told- I shit you not– once again this Monday evening, the night before my surgery. Again.
“What?” I screamed into the phone. “You are joking, I have the approval letter in my hands!”
I carried this letter in my hands like Linus carried his blanket. In fact, I unfolded it from my purse and laid it flat on the counter in front of me as I choked down the magnesium citrate to prepare my bowels for surgery. Reading every sweet word of approval between soury lemon chugs.
By the time the hospital called to tell me (again) my surgery was not approved, I’d been fasting for seven hours, and shitting my brains out for five.
“You’ve already done this to me.” I sobbed.
An hour later, the hospital called back. It was a coding error, their bad, everything was fine. I have a lot of feelings and anger about this. About the mental and emotional work a woman goes through in preparation for a hysterectomy, and maybe one day I’ll sort out my feelings on this, but not yet. I was focused on going into this surgery positive, and between running to the bathroom and asking Andy to graphically describe the way his ice cream sandwich tasted to me, I kept things upbeat.
We had a plan. Take my uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes. If, once my surgeon got inside there and things looked dicey, she would take one or both of my ovaries, but that was something we all wanted to avoid.
Behind in the curtain of my pre-op room, my doctor made a game-time decision to kick off this surgery with a quick laparoscopic exploratory peek inside, just so she could see what she was getting herself into.
This decision turned out to be incredibly important.
This decision is why Andy, holed up in the waiting room working remotely on his laptop, was suddenly flooded with updates about complications and changes of plans with moments of surgery.
This decision is why I woke up four hours later in recovery sliced in half and sore.
“They couldn’t save your right ovary.” He whispered as I shivered under piles of blankets on the bed.
“I don’t understand, why does everything hurt so bad?” I kept repeating.
The last minute laparoscopic peek revealed that my surgeon could barely get the camera into my abdomen. That my uterus and ovaries were so fraught with scar tissue and cysts, they had connected themselves to my bowels, and attempting to blindly pull either of them out laparoscopically and through my vagina, as planned, would have been very bad.
Guys, we had no idea I even had endometriosis.
I was moved into a room, hooked up to a morphine pump, and told my outpatient procedure had turned into a few days of hospital admission.
“The extent to which there was scar tissue, Brittany, you’d have to have been in serious pain for years. Why didn’t you tell me?” My doctor sat on my bed, printed pictures of my organs scattered across the covers.
I didn’t tell her because I thought my pain was normal. Because downplaying period pain is what we do.
Ugh, cramps, amirite girls?
This was a painful lesson to learn, and especially painful to recover from.
I am on pelvic rest for 6 weeks, I cannot drive for a month, honestly, I spend most of my day shocked at how much I actually used my core every day, and how deeply I miss relying on it.
I am looking at a lot of down time, so I’m sure I’ll be writing more, especially once I wean off of the pain medication a bit, it’s incredibly nauseating.
“Why do I feel like I live on a fucking boat!?” Is something I scream into my pillow often.
But, I didn’t want to close this first update without reminding you to complain about your body more. Complain so much you begin to annoy yourself. Complain so much you done filled up your frequent complainer card with stamps and you’re due a free ice cream cake.
You’re seeing a doctor, not a wizard. If you don’t complain, they don’t know. And not knowing could be painful, complicated, or even fatal.