Facing the Big H

By Mir
May 27, 2004

Fair warning: gentlemen, you may wish to avert your eyes.

The backstory: I have a very uncooperative reproductive system. I have suffered from severe endometriosis since my teens. It’s a complete pain in the ass, or, to be more specific, it’s a complete pain in the lower abdominal area and sometimes the back, much of the time. My uterus was reluctantly coaxed into hosting the Chickadee and the Monkey until their respective baking times had elapsed, but even that was quite the production.

And the bleeding… oh the joy, the bleeding! If bleeding were an Olympic sport, I would be a contender. In fact I daresay I would have a good shot at medalling. I have grown used to the finger prick for iron levels being followed by the nurse exclaiming “Oh geez, THAT can’t be right… let me do it again.” Move over, Yvonne Goolagong. You don’t know iron-poor blood ’til you’ve had chronic endo. It just Isn’t Right, my body.

The result of this is that I have spent a large amount of time in my adult life in a lot of pain, or really bitchy, or both. I have had three prior surgeries designed to “clean me out” and take care of my “little problem.” Well by the third surgery I’d had enough; I said TAKE THAT STUPID THING OUT and my doctor said no, it’s not time yet. Let’s try one more thing. So I had endometrial ablation instead. If you don’t feel like following the link, let me summarize: ladies have this squishy gross bloody lining in their uteruses (uterii??) that sheds once a month, or–if you have endometriosis–constantly, and to ablate that lining means to laser that junk into vapor so that hopefully your uterus will shut the hell up and leave you alone, bleeding-wise.

I had the ablation. The bleeding stopped. Hooray! Life was good.

The bleeding came back. Cuz, have I maybe mentioned, my body just Isn’t Right?

Now, I don’t quite understand how this works. My lining was obliterated, there should be nothing left to bleed. But I’ve always been rather gifted. So I did what any responsible person would do; I ignored it for a while and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. So I went back to my OB/GYN and she decided we needed to do “more testing.”

From my experience, “more testing” usually means “come back a couple of times for really unpleasant procedures and then we’ll decide to cut you open again.”

She did not disappoint. I went in this morning for a sonohystogram, which is a lovely procedure wherein–just in case you do not feel demeaned enough by lying spread-eagle on a table with your feet in stirrups while another woman shoves the gigantic sonogram-dildo-doohickey into your nether regions–your womb is injected with saline while they do the sonogram. The idea is that it helps to visualize any weirdness inside the uterus.

This is an interesting theory, and probably sound diagnostic practice, for normal people. However, it turns out that after an endometrial ablation you may have some scar tissue, or in fact be totally yucked up in there in strange ways, and the doctor will take that little harmless-looking plastic catheter and jab around until you cry and still be unable to actually fill the organ with water. Who knew?

But before that happens, the sonographer does the “baseline” imaging, which involves only the normal amount of humiliation, unless of course you are me, in which case she will announce “Wow your left ovary is all junked up, it’s the size of a grapefruit” and you will feel many things, but pretty is not on that list.

Anyway, after an endless period of time which I really couldn’t determine because I spent so mcuh of it concentrating on not screaming or throwing up, it was over. I was allowed to redress and led down the hall to Talk With The Doctor.

And the doctor said lots of things, and she called my left ovary junky again (ya know, I don’t feel any real attachment to it, myself, but still, there’s no need to be mean), and spoke of some “puzzling weirdness” that is “probably” normal for post-ablation and there were lots of other things that I could clearly hear being within qualifying quotation marks and the bottom line is: It Isn’t Right. Oh, and It’s Time.

So the thing is, I am not a woman with an attachment to my uterus. (I know some women are, and that’s great, and I don’t mean to insult.) That thing has been screwing with me for as long as I can remember. I already asked for it to be removed before, remember? So sure, take my uterus, please. (ba dum bump) What I was not prepared for, however, was this issue with my left ovary, which, dammit, has always been the good ovary, the obedient ovary! Nice Ovary, I always called it. (What, you don’t name your ovaries?) My right ovary has a history of being problematic. Now my left ovary is so screwed up that the doctor who normally schedules surgery out a minimum of three months is wanting to know what’s on my schedule in two weeks. And she is saying she thinks it’s time to consider taking it all.

I was ready to talk hysterectomy. I was not prepared to talk total hysterectomy. I was not ready to talk Hormone Replacement Therapy. And, well crap, as long as I’m being honest, I really wasn’t even ready to talk hysterectomy. Single mom, two kids, who just made the decision to have no daycare over the summer, here. How am I supposed to manage major surgery and six weeks of recovery??

So that’s where I’m at right now. Someone will call me tomorrow to see if I can in fact be scheduled for the week that my kids will be off visiting the ex-laws, and that leaves me only… oh… five weeks of convalescence I’ll need to figure out, if that works. In the meantime, I’ve already been told to say good-bye to the left ovary. It’s “my decision” (there are those quotation marks again, meaning it’s sort of my decision, because either way I’m likely to be unhappy and she doesn’t want me coming back to bitch at her about it) whether to leave the other ovary or go whole hog and be done with it.

Sometimes it totally sucks to be a girl.


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