Hysterectomy Grief

It has been 5 years since my hysterectomy and yet I still have moments of grief. the words above came to me during my morning yoga. In tears, I lay on the living room floor thanking and grieving for my entire reproductive system.

I struggled many years with endometriosis, unbearable pain and bleeding so heavy I couldn’t leave the house. I took all the pathways my state insurance required, suffering immensely the whole way. I didn’t want any more children but it still took a few more years, until I was finally granted surgery. First they took my uterus lining, endometrial ablation.

I didn’t do well with that procedure, continuing to bleed and awful pain brought me back to the doctor, where she was perplexed and almost angry that I was having trouble. She reluctantly wrote out a prescription for a few more pain pills and had nothing else to offer. I was disgusted with how she treated me and sought out a different OBGYN.

Finally I was heard, really heard, from a wonderful doctor and she scheduled me for a complete hysterectomy. After the surgery she told me we were just in time. She explained how much of a mess it was with many precancerous fibroids and how lucky I was.

Lucky I did not feel, spending my 48th birthday recovering; but I knew that I did what I had to do to move forward. I was grateful that the potential cancer was removed, but sad to hear how “how much of a mess it was”, my poor reproductive system. It held all that disease. I visualized it returning to the Earth and being free.

I had been working out in therapy that metaphorically my womanhood was holding trauma. I learned about the connection between rape and vaginismus. and other effects rape can have on you. I never did EMDR for healing this like I had planned, I simply do not want to relive these experiences. Though my prior EMDR had opened pathways in my mind and memories came anyway. I am still working on healing this area of my life, body, mind and spirit. (Which is probably why I still have these moments of grief).

I wonder how many other women share this journey. According to NCBI, one in nine women in the United States will have a hysterectomy. How awful. Are their wombs holding trauma too? How do you heal from the trauma? And how do you heal from hysterectomy? Besides the physical healing, there is mental, emotional, spiritual and energetic healing that must accompany the process. Feelings of less than, broken and dysfunctional.

Instead of thinking I am empty and can no longer bring life into the world, I choose to focus on the fact that I still have energetic womb space and as a woman who is caring and creative I can and will give life to new projects.

I am ever so grateful for my physical womb for bringing my daughter to this planet, for holding and carrying the pain and trauma for me, and for understanding what I had to do. I will continue to heal and create from that healing.

Life and Love are always stirring in my womb space that nobody can take away! I AM WOMAN!

My Rollercoaster Recovery

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It’s been a very long two weeks since my hysterectomy. Recovery has felt like a roller coaster. Moving through an array of pains, emotionally and physically.

After my surgery, my doctor came to tell me that I had had several spots of endometriosis and she cleaned them all out. My uterus and ovaries were sent to pathology. Because my surgery took a while, I lost a bit of blood but I wasn’t anemic. They kept me on iv fluids and kick ass pain meds for the rest of the day and night. I was released the next day.

The first few days, I felt remarkably better than I expected to. Last year, when I had my ablation, I was in bed for a week, flat on my back, unconscious. I was pleasantly surprised that this time I could sit up for a few hours and not feel sick or exhausted. My pain was managed pretty well, thanks to pain pills and anti-inflammatories. I walked around a little without too much discomfort. Walking is encouraged to avoid blood clots.

The third day, I felt sad, like my body was mourning. I expected this and began the grieving process before my surgery. Beginning last year, I had processed that I was letting go of my ‘womanhood.’ However, this sadness felt like it was coming from my other organs, missing their counterparts, like an estranged sibling. I tried to meditate and comfort my body reminding myself that this was for the health of my body as a whole. I also did some sacred womb meditation.

The fourth day I got a call from my doctor with the test results on my uterus and ovaries. Besides the ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, I had endometriosis in my uterus and an overgrown endometrial lining with precancerous cells.  Needless to say I was relieved I had made this decision. It helped to be validated and I felt quite emotional.

I am also experiencing menopause because of the loss of my ovaries. I have an estrogen patch; but I still have had some hot flashes, mood swings and depression.

The fifth day, I was exhausted. My pain increased. It was hard to pee& an ongoing war with constipation developed. The next few days I was not feeling as good as I did on the first few.

The eighth day was my birthday! I was in pain and felt nauseous; but, I had no birthday depression!!!! I visited with family and friends, and though it was challenging, I felt loving and grateful. I made the huge mistake of having four glasses of wine.

The ninth day I spent puking up my birthday wine. I was terrified I was going to tear my insides! The whole day I was sick and in bed.

This second week, I almost feel worse than last week! I feel terribly sore, like I am all bruised, which I am on the outside, I must be on the inside too. My right kidney feels like I’ve been punched. My vagina hurts like hell. It feels like someone kicked me in the crotch. My incisions hurt. I even have phantom ovary pains.

In the middle of my second week I only had a few pain pills left and my post op appointment isn’t until Tuesday, almost a week away. I called the doctor’s office for a refill and some concerns of a possible urinary infection. They asked me to come in and see the nurse practitioner. Thankfully, my best friend is staying with me to help out and he drove me; because I am not supposed to drive for at least two weeks. I went in, gave a urine sample, had a pelvic exam and my incisions checked. This was a lot more than I was feeling up to and/or expected. After all that, I did not have a urinary infection; but, because of my constipation, (at least that’s what she said) she didn’t want to refill my oxycodone/tyenol medication (similar to a percocet). Instead, she gave me a script for Tramadol. A pill I’ve never been on. After dropping it at the pharmacy to be filled,  I googled it and it had 4 different interaction warnings with meds I was already on. I was scared and called the office venting. After being on hold for what felt like an eternity, they returned to tell me that they couldn’t find any interaction and they called the pharmacy. The pharmacist couldn’t find anything. The office called me back and said I had to print out the info I found and bring it in to the pharmacy and if the pharmacist still had a problem to call them back!!! By this time, I’m feeling very strained. I am upset that they just couldn’t keep me on what was working. They say it’s because of constipation; but, in my mind, I wonder if it’s because of the high addiction rate. There are so many people that abuse these meds, and I understand the medical staff for being cautious; but, I am a woman who is a week and a half into her recovery from a hysterectomy. I am sincerely in fucking pain! Excuse the curse. After trying get my prehistoric printer to work, I sat and cried. I called the office about to let them witness my meltdown, but I was put on hold. I hung up. I asked my friend to drive me to the pharmacist and I pulled up the info on my phone to show the pharmacist. When I got there, the pharmacist kindly assisted me in looking up the info. The interactions were mild, so it was concluded that this pill would be safe to take. My anxiety calmed.

hell

Yesterday morning,  I took the tramadol in place of the other med. An hour goes by, still in pain. Took some ibuprofen. Still in pain. Smoked some herb. Pain is dulled. A few hours later, in pain again, more ibuprofen, a couple of puffs. I had to wait six hours before taking another tramadol. Six hours later, I was curled up on my bed, in infant position and in tears with the pain coming from my vagina. I held myself and let the tears go. Some were from pain, some were emotional. I took a friggin oxycodone/tyenol to relieve myself.

Feeling wiped out, in pain, emotional. I took some melatonin and did some journaling before bed.

The next few days will hopefully bring more healing. I have enough of my old pain pills to take one per day until my post op appointment. I will continue meditation on healing sacred womb space. I will remain calm as possible and know that with every tear and every pain, there is an opportunity to know and understand myself better.  I will trust the process.

Thanks for letting me share 🙂

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Preparing for Surgery

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Last year when I had my endometrial ablation (the removal of my uterus lining) I learned the hard way that I did not prepare very well. I tend to be headstrong, I’m an Aries and a survivor. I figured it was a minor procedure and I’ve got this. Everything was going to be okay. It really wasn’t okay. My recovery took longer than it was supposed to and it was really hard on both my daughter and I. I hadn’t asked family or friends for help; with the exception of a few rides from my niece to and from the doctors and hospital. Asking for help has always been difficult for me.

This time I am having a major surgery and tried my best to prepare. I learned how to ask for help. A good friend will be staying with us for the first week; then I’ve asked friends and family to check in on us and if possible, to bring a dinner; because, I know I won’t be able to cook much. I also bought some frozen meals and stocked up on groceries, including cat food and paper goods. I plan on cooking a few meals to freeze as well. I’ve refilled prescriptions, I made sure my daughter has transportation to school, I cleaned the house and I arranged a comfy chair in my bedroom, with stacks of books and magazines, a sketch pad and journal.

No matter how much I prepared physically; Mentally and emotionally, my anxiety couldn’t be calmed. I had to address some issues in therapy. First, I was aware that when reading the hysterectomy pamphlets, my body literally reacted with fear. My vagina clenched so tight I felt bruised. I realized that I always clench defensively when anything approaches that area, whether it’s for sex or an exam. I even have wondered if this is why I had to have a cesarean section.  I know it is related to trauma and the fact that I’ve been raped more than once. That forceful entry my body remembers no matter how far I push it from my mind. I discussed it with my therapist and I will do some EMDR sessions in the future; but, for now, I am learning to acknowledge, honor and send love and reassurance to that part of the body. Then I started to grieve and become very sad about losing my organs. They are a part of me. My uterus carried my daughter for me. I feel like I am abandoning them. As soon as I said the word abandon in therapy, my right ovary felt like I was being stabbed. I talked more about it with my therapist. I said I would sit down with a notebook and write down what my body wants to say to me. I told my ovary that I acknowledge it and I will deal with what it has to say as soon as I am able.

I keep reminding myself that the bottom line, is this is the right choice for my whole body. My uterus and ovaries are at constant risk of cancer and they are sick. I have to remove them. I thank them for their time with me and then try to detach from them as much as possible.

My surgery is tomorrow. I think I am as prepared as I can be. I have anxiety; but, I am doing my best to stay centered and grounded. Today I am doing laundry and some errands, then will make time for some meditation, prayer and positive visualization.

Tonight will be sleepless…

Everything at Once

downpour

‘When it rains, it pours’ and it doesn’t matter if it’s  good or bad; when it all comes down on you at once, it’s hard not to drown. When I feel this way, my anxiety is heavily triggered, and it’s challenging to not feed into my panic.

After my stressed, sick and scared phase of February into early March, I was catapulted into a whirlwind of major anxiety activity. Some really scary, great, life changing events.

In the past few weeks…

I received a letter from NH housing telling me that my name reached the top of the waiting list (I’ve been on their waiting list for 5 years, the average wait is 7-9 years here in NH). I had only a few days to call and verify that I got the letter. Elated, I frantically repeatedly called the contact person. I left several messages, fearing she wouldn’t call me back before the deadline and I would lose my chance. The day of the deadline, I skipped the extension and dialed for an operator who explained as long as I left a message I will be fine, and I only need leave one message (oops!) Finally the call came. It was explained because I was on the Bridge housing program, my name was pulled. We had a 15 minute phone interview,  then I was sent a big envelope with a long list of paperwork that I needed to gather, and I had only 10 days to get it back to them. Copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, proof of income, a yearly printout from the pharmacy and a notarized document authorizing a criminal background check, plus several pages I had to fill out. I ran around for five hours to finally accomplish this feat and popped it in the mailbox with a sigh of relief.

Took a deep breath and got ready for the next major task: My daughter’s disability hearing.

After much inner conflict, I resolutely applied for her last year. Our application got denied which I believe is a pretty standard response. I appealed and we finally had a hearing. I probably should have applied long ago; but, I was worried. I feared she may become dependent on it and use it as an excuse to not keep trying. I personally feel like collecting disability can be a trap in that aspect. I also feared being judged and having her judged. I don’t want her to feel bad about herself. Despite my personal insecurities, the reality is I have a daughter with depression and anxiety, and though she has come far, she still struggles weekly. She deserves therapies that I cannot afford and that the state insurance doesn’t cover. My anxiety was furthered when I got a call from the Social Security office asking me to acquire several different records that the judge needed, or the hearing may have to be rescheduled! I called back leaving a (calm as possible) message that I find it slightly overwhelming that it’s a week before the hearing and I’m getting this message now; but, that I’d try my best to get the information. I added that I’d hate to see the hearing have to be rescheduled because we have waited several months. I couldn’t acquire everything and honestly felt this shouldn’t be my job. I played some phone tag with her and then just left it up to fate. The anxiety and emotions tangled up with all that was happening was overwhelming. I couldn’t wait to put this behind me, no matter what the outcome was. The hearing actually went pretty well. The judge seemed to be in our favor. She had to wait for some records that “the office should have done a better job getting” and will let us know her decision by mail.

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In between those two doozies,

I had my appointment with my gynecologist, and even though I knew surgery would be discussed, I wasn’t ready for the reality of it. I told her the birth control pill helped for a few months; but, the pain was back and worse. My latest ultrasound showed fibroids in my uterus and cysts on my ovaries. She suspects endometreosis and said that I’ve been going through this for so many years and I deserve to put it to an end. I agree, but to process the reality of it takes a lot more. My ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes will be removed. I am having a vaginal hysterectomy. It has taken me some time to even say that out loud without clenching. I am still processing and working on it in therapy. My surgery is next Friday.

A few days after my surgery was scheduled, I got a call from my doctor’s office. My neck xrays were in and they wanted to discuss the results. I thought I had repeatedly pulled a muscle in the back of my neck, towards my shoulder. I was in a lot of pain and my left arm was feeling heavy and tingly. I wondered if I was having a heart attack or stroke. I popped a Xanax just in case and made an appointment with the doctor, who then ordered the xray. The good news is I wasn’t having a stroke, the bad news is it wasn’t a pulled muscle. I have “degenerative c-spine arthritis with narrowing of the discs and spurs on nerves.” This was a hard pill to swallow. I had a good cry and concluded that I will learn to live with it like everything else.

I have been through many feelings these past few weeks, tears, joy and excitement, anticipation, anxiety, feeling old, feeling wise, feeling scared, feeling like something bigger than me is at work. That bigger something is where I have to leave my worries. Let them go and trust. Trust the divine, the process, the healing, and trust myself.

This is easier said than done, when it feels like it’s all happening at once; but I have to remember…

I am a strong woman who has made it thus far and I am not done yet!

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Post Surgery Reflections

I had the surgery that I mentioned in my update. It’s only been three days and I am just starting to feel well enough to be frustrated that I’m not well enough. Wishing I was healing quicker; but, knowing I can’t rush it. It’s only after years of therapy that I have learned you can’t expedite the healing process, you have to move through the pain steady and deliberately. I wanted to write a post to share my feelings during this recovery process….this is what came tumbling out of my mind:
Post Surgery [Psychological] Reflections
Presently I am recovering from surgery. I am…again
vulnerable, flat on my back, incapable.
That’s how I feel psychologically.
Big Triggers when I am sick,
due to growing up with asthma
alienated, different, outcast.
My wise self, my higher self
knows something bigger is
always going on
I have made a transition
into elder phase
wise woman phase,
my body has anyways.
My Survivor self
is triggered hard
and hard on me it is!
“Get it together”,
“What the fuck is the matter with you”
Inadequate, Weak, Loser!
She speaks cruelly thinking
that way still works.
I break down
I am breakdown chick.
The chick that has to pause
to process,
I cry…I cry a lot
I feel the pain,
I ruminate….
My developing self emerges
a culmination of old selves
that have become balanced;
the wise and the young,
the healthy, the ‘tuned-in’ gypsy hippie soul,
Authenticity.
I sip my ginger root tea
I’ve smoked my herb,
I have prepared for this.
A time of healing, for going within.
Move through the pain
to get to the other side.
 Move slowly,
Listen to my body.
Acceptance.
Be still and listen for the lesson.