PREFACE: "Lemme remind you I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my sh*t." ~E.Badu
This account is mainly my emotional journey through my hysterectomy and my way of processing.
I am a highly sensitive person, for which I have zero apology.
This blog is "wordy" so I have decided to include the audio version for those who don't like to read. For others who are more interested in the medical experience / information, feel free to skip to Part Three & Four.
My hope is that my vulnerability & transparency helps others fell less alone.
Thank you for listening.
* * *
PART ONE: Be careful what you ask for, even in jest.
"I'm just gonna put my uterus up for auction on eBay. The ad reads: Gently used, certified pre-owned. Mint condition, only one previous occupant."
Little did I know it was NOT mint condition, and I had an uninvited squatter dwelling in the womb. Adenomyosis & Uterine Myoma (also known as fibroids). This uterus DEFINITELY would not have passed a carfax.
It took a long time, lots of WINE, nearly devastating heart break, a failed engagement, and deep, unraveling therapy to finally admit I was scared. Fearful that I would never find a love deep & (most importantly) secure enough to have more children, I convinced myself that I didn't WANT them.
It felt too dangerous to hope for. I resolved to be satisfied with the child I chose.
And let's all just be honest, he is by far beyond any amount of wonderful my mind could have ever imagined, let alone ask for. For that I am infinitely and eternally grateful.
Once I was faced with the fact that a child would no longer be a choice, only then did I feel a sense of loss. I was stunned to find a mustard seed of hope still living inside me when my heart whispered "but what if I fall in love and want to give him a child?"
When I began to share what I was going through, I was met with a litany of "You'll be a'ight. You always land on your feet. You been through worse. You're fine."
I am keenly aware this response was less about being dismissive, and more of a compliment of confidence in my ability to rebound. I mean, after all, my bounce back is a sight to behold.
But I was not comforted, I was scared.
I knew then I needed to activate my support system.
PART TWO: Processing the Loss
I understand all too well the business of burying dreams ...
among other things.
Unlike sudden loss, this was something I could prepare for.
I wanted to do so as WOKE as possible; clearly conscious and overly cautious not to miss an opportunity to process the losses. I wanted to hold each moment in my palm and say
"Thank you for everything. I release you."
I reached out to my aunties & elders for their wisdom. They comforted me with their own accounts and sage advice; this too shall pass.
I engaged my sister circle for their support, love, laughter & magic. I was so fortunate because the weeks leading up to my surgery I had visits from so many loved ones! Not because of the circumstance, but simply because the stars aligned! My love cup was filled to over flowing.
One of my sisters told me I was "Croning" and how some indigenous cultures regard this as a right of passage into becoming an elder. I liked this notion. Seeing as how my son just became engaged and and I was entering a new phase of parenthood, this felt like a fit. It helped me to reframe it in my mind.
At the time, each of my soul sisters were going through traumatic life events. So at the full moon before my surgery we had a gathering, complete with a "Womb Tang Clan" cake.
I swear, I love these women to
I enrolled in a group therapy course centered around accepting change, ran by one of mentors, a close friend and trusted advisor.
I lived BIG.
I allowed myself to be accommodated, cared for, loved on, treated to, wined, dined & flown out.
If someone offered, I said "YES!" ... and for me, that is rare.
I've always been particularly prudent about keeping account. I hate to feel indebted to others, especially men. For once I accepted kindness & compliments at face value and felt I owed nothing in return, except to say "Thank you."
I made arrangements with my rock.
My baby sister didn't offer, rather INSISTED on taking care of me and I did not flinch.
Yes. That is what I want.
My womb mate, my mothers daughter, a woman who knows the worst of me and loves me still, the person who's love language is my native tongue & whose acts of care require no interpretation. The person who refuses to flinch when I roar and howl and show my sharpest teeth... yes, that's who I need.
I locked hands with my teammate; my Wasband.
Through the toughest of times, he remains steadfast & assured. I know if anything ever happens to me, our son will be fine. This comforts me.
I synched myself with my Battle Buddy for Life.
As it turns out, just a few short months prior she had gone through a laparoscopic myomectomy (surgery to remove fibroids). Much of the procedure was the same, including the surgeon himself.
In truth, if I had not been with her for HER journey, I may not have ever found out about my condition. I would have suffered in silence. It was only after comparing war stories about our wombs that she insisted I follow through. As women we are conditioned keep quiet about matters of menstruation, lending a voice to our suffering is mostly regarded as "complaining". When sharing our symptoms with physicians, they usually just throw some birth control at us and send us on our way.
Because my battle buddy is brave, she lead the charge and I marched in cadence with her ...
as we have always done.
On the day before my surgery I did my first reiki session, suggested to me by one of my soul sisters. It helped to move through some of the negative energy I was feeling and sit me firmly in a place of gratitude.
The day before my procedure I treated myself to a decadent meal accompanied by some fine bourbon. While enjoying myself I wrote a love letter to my uterus, and said all the final things I needed to say. The most important of which was "Thank you for a job well done... farewell old friend."
Finally, as always, I locked in focus on my North Star.
Nino has been and forever will be my guiding light. His light continues to guides me when I feel lost.
He inspires me to be strong when I feel I have nothing left. When I am out of breath, he is air. When I am out of step, he is a constant drum. I call him SUN ... because he keeps me in orbit.
PART THREE: The Business of Healing
"If it's goin' down, let's get it over with" ~Ghetto Boys
I was ready.
My sister took me to CIGC Surgical Center in Rockville, MD. and my Battle Buddy met me there.
I asked my sister in advance to advocate on my behalf. Sometimes I don't ask enough questions, or ask for exactly what I need. I wanted to make sure that in the event I didn't understand something, or didn't speak up, or was out of it because of the anesthesia, I had someone to be my voice.
After signing the paper work, I went back and got in my hospital gown. Both my sister and Roz (my battle buddy) were able to sit with me until it was time for the surgery.
I facetime with both my son and my wasband. They smiled, told me they loved me and assured me all would be just fine.
Before they even gave me any medication, I was tired.
I felt my eyes heavy, and looking back now I just think I was ready to wake up on the other side of it all.
I'd never had surgery before, so I didn't really know what to expect. They wheeled me back and in the operation room and Rihanna was on the radio.
"S.O.S please some one help me, it's not healthy for me to feel this ..."
I chuckled... the irony.
And that was it.
Then a voice calling "Corinna. It's time to wake up."
I was disoriented and shivering, shaking cold. I don't remember much after that except thinking
"How horrifying ... to drift away and return with no memory of being cut open and losing your organs."
Roz got me home and in bed. My sister got provisions for the week and my meds. They both kept guard over me through out the night tending to each whimper or whine.
I was sore. My throat hurt from the breathing tube. The incision site was tender. I felt like I'd been in a car accident. But, I'd been in plenty car accidents before, so all of this felt manageable; more drugs please. It was the following day I was not prepared for.
During a laparoscopic surgery they inflate your abdomen with Co2 so that they can see and navigate around your organs. That gas is absorbed by the body and can sometimes cause "mild to severe discomfort" according to the discharge paper work.
F*ck that paper work.
For me, the gas dissipated and aggravated the phrenic nerve. This nerve passes from the collar bone, down between the lungs and diaphragm. Every breath felt like being violently stabbed.
It was unbearable and painful to tears. But I couldn't CRY because it made me BREATHE HARDER. I laid there whimpering, unable to move at all. Pain killers to not address nerve pain, and the discharge paper work clearly states that nothing can be done for this. The gas just has to eventually be absorbed by the body. "If you feel like there may be lung damage, go to the emergency room."
I could think of nothing worse than sitting in an emergency room in that condition for hours only to be sent away.
I felt ... disappointed.
Every woman who told her hysterectomy story seemed to make light of her recovery. I remember thinking "I'm pretty fit & healthy, so this should go well." I wanted my rebound to be as bouncy as I was. But as with MANY this year's lessons, there staring me in the face was the reoccurring message: Comparison is the thief of joy.
THIS STORY is yours alone.
Your experience and what you take from it will not be like anyone else's.
I had to BE STILL ... inside my body, present inside my white hot pain.
I was forced to listen to what it had to say.
This particular pain felt spiritual.
* * *
My sister dug to the bottom of the internet and found that the gas can be absorbed quicker if warmed to core temperature. We got a heating pad delivered post haste and I finally had some relief. That night I slept the sleep of the dead.
I cannot express the importance of drinking enough water and taking your stool softeners.
I had very REAL anxiety about my first bowel movement.
Fortunately, my sister had me on an anti inflammatory diet which included plenty of greens. Coupled with taking sennekot with every Tylenol 3 I threw back, the first moment of elimination came and went without incident. Praise God ... because the thought of even attempting to push makes me wince with pain. I hiccuped and I thought I busted a stitch. I can only imagine what trying to have a BM would do to me.
At this point in my recovery (day 4) I was finally feeling better. I got a little too ambitious and was doing too much. Now, when I say "doing too much" it's not like I was cleaning house, moving furniture and dancing salsa in the living room, nah. "Doing too much" meant sitting down and standing up at normal speed, taking a shower, lifting my arms above my head ... too much. I feel like my insides have been man handled and tossed around inside me.
My body immediately disagreed.
I'm still learning to listen.
Mostly, I am laying here ...
present in my 41 year old flesh, one hand where my womb once was, the other on my chest astonished at my healing,
marveling at all the life I have left.
PART FOUR: Symptoms & Resource Guide
My personal Symptoms for Adenomyosis included:
- extreme bloating (appearance of about 4 mo. pregnant)
- long periods (usually over 8 days of heavy bleeding)
- soaking through over night pads and adult diapers within an hour
- extreme fatigue
- premenopausal symptoms
- little to no sex drive
- blood clots ranging in size from a silver dollar to a golf ball
- extreme cramping similiar to child birth contractions
- hair loss
- tingling / numb extremities
- over active bladder
Pre Op Shopping List (items to have before hand)
- Prescriptions picked up
- sennekot or other natural stool softeners
- compression garments
- heating pad
- bottled water
- house dress, something easy to slip on & off
- sanitary pads
- snug panties
- food that promotes good bowel movement
- body pillow
- mediation podcast or sound scape ( for me the sound of rain is soothing)
- house shoes (to slip on post op. Bending down to put on shoes will SUCK)
Links to Resource Information
The Center for Innovative GYN Care (Dr. Makoul was amazing & thorough)
Article on Co2 Gas