Three years ago this month my lady plumbing was scheduled for removal. I’d actually booked in to have the muffler-removed-through-tailpipe surgery and everything.
But I couldn’t go through with it. And – knock on wood – I’ve saved my womb from demolition.
The thing that has surprised me most about the journey is the ire I’ve inspired by writing about it.
It’s WEIRD how much it freaks some women out that I discuss something as intimate as my reproductive system in a public forum. They are HORRIFIED.
I’ve copped a bit of criticism for blogging about it.
As one person wrote on HouseGoesHome’s Facebook page: “I’m sorry you have medical issues and I don’t question your personal choice not to have a hysterectomy. I question why you’d share this news on FB.”
I replied to her: “I write a personal blog Kathy and I’ve found so many things aren’t spoken about in life. I think it helps people in similar situations to know they’re not alone.”
Someone else wrote on Facebook: “There is way too much information here. I hope whatever procedure you have works well. It is quite something that you have shared your reasons with the world. I hope that your health comes before anything, including not having s*x for six weeks #TMI.”
A comment on the blog said: “Do you truly consider your full audience when writing your daily blogs? Would you want your children, family, or even your partner’s family reading that you can’t bear 6 weeks without sex?”
I think it would be far more terrible for someone to read something racist, homophobic or mean-spirited that I wrote, which they won’t because I’m not.
Stuff the anti-TMI brigade and their delicate constitutions! I reckon we don’t talk enough about that sort of stuff. The women who are battling with difficult decisions need to know others have been there, done that. I reckon sharing does more good than harm.
Anyways, back to the lady plumbing journey …
I became oddly emotional when my gyno wanted to whip out my womb. He reckoned it was the best option because I have the most gi-normous fibroid that’s created a few issues (like a belly that makes me look three-months pregnant and massive blood loss), I joked and laughed with him as he booked the appointment, but inside I was freaking out.
I didn’t want three new scars on my belly, I was worried about not being able to go to the gym for four weeks (because it was my sanity saver), it wasn’t possible not to work for four weeks, or be unable to drive for 10 days, and endless single mum chores were going to be off limits for six weeks, including grocery shopping, hanging washing out, carry anything or cleaning the house.
Finally, I was a little traumatised about losing the cradle that cupped my bubbas for the first nine months of their lives. I even noted in a blog post back then that I was distressed by the idea of “no longer being capable of having another one. Yes, yes, I know I’m 46, but look at Sonia Kruger. Cruelly, an ultrasound showed that I’m still ovulating. Another baby IS possible.”
Can. You. Imagine?
What was I THINKING? Another baby?
I was nuts. Fortunately that ship has now well and truly sailed.
There were lots of other entertaining revelations in that first hysterectomy blog, like my gyno eagerly pointing out that lady plumbing removal doesn’t mean never having sex again. The possibility that it might hadn’t occurred to me, but it seems some women are under the misapprehension that it does. In 2017. But then we’re having a postal vote on same-sex marriage and Donald Trump is President of the United States and takes his protective glasses off to look directly at solar eclipses, so nothing shocks me any more.
Anyways, I flipped out, cancelled the lady plumbing removal and went for a Mirena instead. It’s a form of birth control – or lady problem mitigation – that involves putting a plastic thing that looks like a little white anchor – inside your womb.
That wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made. Though I do have oddly fond memories of it because the insertion happened the week I met DD. We had a one-hour date on the Sunday beforehand and our relationship developed at a rather rapid and bizarre pace over the next five days via text message, culminating in him textually holding my hand as I waited to go into the gyno’s office.
That was a bit surreal, as was having a nice Ugandan medical student ask to watch the procedure. Then there was the awkward moment I yelled “No! No! No!” at the top of my voice when the gyno offered to let me watch the procedure on a monitor … I had to apologise for scaring all the other patients in the waiting room. My gyno laughed and agreed his walls WERE a bit on the paper thin side …
Surprisingly, the procedure itself was uncomfortable rather than painful. A bit like a Pap smear but longer, because the gyno had a bit of trouble getting past the scarring and my womb is (apparently) on a funny angle.
It was also a bit freaky to have a cheery bloke’s head peering up from between my thighs, discussing how he hoped the insertion was going well because he’d hate to get a negative review on the blog!
Fast forward five months and I “miscarried” the Mirena during a few lonely hours of pain and panic and blood. DD textually held my hand through that one as well.
Poor DD. There have been an unusually high proportion of messy moments in our relationship. He’s a trooper.
Next stop on the journey was an ablation, where my gyno permanently burned the lining of my womb away and rendered me barren. It went pretty well, but by December Freddie the Fibriod was growing like topsy and needed to be starved of nutrients.
My gyno was still gunning for a hysterectomy, but I wanted to try one last ditch procedure – embolisation. My gyno isn’t an embolisation fan, so he passed me over to another specialist to perform it. Embolisation involves cutting off the blood supply to your womb – and the fibroid – using a little wire threaded through an artery in your groin and injecting a glue-like substance into it.
Experts describe the pain afterwards – as Freddie flails around gasping for blood – as being like having a heart attack in your womb.
It was pretty awful. But it had its funny moments, like me having an “abnormal cardiac event” in the middle of the night in the hospital.
Around midnight, the nurse started waking me up every 20 minutes and accusing me of over-medicating with the self-administered opiate button.
My pulse kept plummeting and they were so worried they called a doctor to examine me. I love a chitter chat about my health, so when he asked me if I experienced shortness of breath I regaled him with a description of the anxiety brick I carry around in my chest.
Next thing I knew I was having an ECG and that’s when things went really crazy. Suddenly my bed was surrounded by doctors and nurses and I was informed I’d had the ‘abnormal cardio event’ and the cardiology department were contacted. Fark!
Two more ECGs were performed and many more questions were asked. Then the gang departed and I was left alone in the dark to contemplate my fate post-heart attack.
About 10 minutes later the doctor returned, sat on the edge of my bed and gravely told me how terribly sorry he was … that they’d forgotten to reset the ECG machine after the last poor bastard’s dire reading.
My ECG was completely normal!
I think the doctor was a bit startled by my gales of laughter, but I told him it was waaaaaaay better that they’d made a mistake than me actually having heart problems.
And ever since then things have been relatively stable downstairs. (Exuse me while I do a bit more wood knocking.)
I reckon menopause can’t be far off and then I’ll be safe. Sorry – I’m terrified of menopause – but safe. Freddy won’t grow any more, there won’t be enough hormones to sustain him.
It was a pretty rocky journey to get to this point though – two hospital beds and one embarassing in-surgery procedure – so I’m never quite sure what to tell women when they ask my advice on whether they should get a hysterectomy. There are many great reasons to have all that stuff whipped out. I know lots of women who’ve never felt better after the six-week recovery period.
But it wasn’t for me. I want to hang on to all my bits and bobs if I possibly can. And – fingers crossed – I will.
It’s a little mad to be so attached to stuff hidden inside me, but it would leave a big metophorical and physical emptiness if they were gone. And I have to confess. the idea of my vagina being stitched to my insides to stop it falling down because it was no longer attached to a cervix or womb gave me the heebie jeebies. I know it shouldn’t, but it did.
I really should get a pap smear though, since that pesky cervix is still in place.
That’s just one of the many things you don’t have to worry about any more if you’ve been muffler-through-tailpiped.
Are you feeling horrified? Soz
Song of the day: Britney Spears “Oooops I did it again”