I’ve been looking at this blank screen for hours. And frankly I’ve been trying to figure out how I would write this post for months now. Regardless, in three weeks, I’ll be having a hysterectomy.
None of it feels real at the moment. It completely hasn’t sunk it yet. This was kind of a long time coming, though. From 2013, where I had my laparoscopy and myomectomy, to 2010 when I was hospitalized for under a week for severe abdominal pain and the word “endometriosis” entered into my life, and all the way back to my freshman year of undergrad (2003/2004) where my cramps became intolerable and I started birth control in an attempt to stabilize them.
Since the laparoscopy, the idea of a hysterectomy was sort of thrown around here and there — but only as a last ditch effort. After starting school again, I knew I wanted a more aggressive approach to treating my endometriosis, which Depo Provera had been a part of, but I hadn’t really known how any of it was going to look. Fast forward to last summer where my abdominal pain sent me to the ER a couple of times… Laying in the bed, I looked over at my mom — I’m not sure who brought it up first, but that was when we decided that maybe a hysterectomy might be something I needed to consider.
After finally getting insurance through the state at the beginning of the year (which was also after 12 denial letters from last year), I spent most of my energy trying to meet with a new doctor, dealing with that frustration and getting pushed off to specialists, and just waiting and struggling to get any information and details from him. Then suddenly, after what felt like a pointless meeting with a general surgeon who basically only told me he needed to speak to my doctor and would call me later, I received a phone call Monday morning from my doctor’s office telling me we had a surgery date scheduled.
It’s real now. It’s happening. At the end of the month, I’m saying goodbye to my uterus.
There are so many emotions tangled up in all of this, that I’ve mostly resorted to doing anything I can to avoid thinking about it. A lot of people are happy for me, including my stepmom who also suffers from endometriosis. Happy to see a chance for me to not be in pain any more. My mom is supportive, however, I can tell she’s been thinking about some of the things on my mind.
This isn’t just my appendix or spleen we’re removing. I know I can live without it, but it does mean major changes for my life. This is a door closing. I’m never going to get pregnant or give birth. My feelings and thoughts are just all over the place. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to foster and/or adopt. More recently, I’ve realized that I just don’t know how I feel about infants. They’re squishy little undeveloped humans, and I’m not sure I could really handle that, especially not on my own. However, I don’t know if maybe I’m just telling myself that because I know it’s no longer an option for me. On top of all of this, I’m barely in my 30s and also incredibly single… I hate admitting it, but I feel like it might be harder now to actually find someone now that I can’t bare kids. This is where I tend to hear the line of “well maybe you’ll meet a divorcee or widower who already has kids!” While I’m not necessarily opposed to that, it has it’s own complications. And it’s not like that’s something I’m going to explicitly seek out or something.
I’m saying goodbye to something I’m not even sure I ever wanted. I thought I did for so long. It’s just the narrative you grow up with: get married, have kids. While society is getting better at accepting “non-traditional” families… there is still this overwhelming notion that a woman’s worth is tied up in her ability to be a good wife and mother. And those two ideas are majorly tied together — to be a good wife you need to be a mother, and to be a good mother you need to be a wife… It’s a circle of misogynistic crap, really, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t weigh on my thoughts. I’ve talked about it before, but having a “broken uterus” sometimes makes me feel like a broken woman. Getting rid of the organ? Definitely isn’t helping that.
However, I’m trying to focus on the good. I’ve always wanted to adopt, so it’s not like I have no means of becoming a mom if I so choose to do so. Ideally, the right spouse for me won’t be deterred by inability to provide kids via my own body. It’s also 2017 and we’re finally having the discussion that body parts do not define womanhood. And most importantly: I finally will get a chance at getting my life back. My endometriosis has taken a lot from me — from the endless days of just feeling like crap, to jobs, to school. Heck, it’s even effected friendships. I know that a hysterectomy is not a cure in any means for endometriosis. I even know that the adhesions still might grow back. But this may give me a fighting chance that nothing else so far has done. That has to be worth something.