Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things still aren't how they were supposed to be

I honestly thought things would be different post-surgery. There was this idea floating around my head that this whole thing would be a fresh start. I'd come to in recovery with a positive outlook that would maybe even be enough to get me off of or at least a lower dose of head meds. I would say, "Okay, let's move on."

Having to have a hysterectomy was not a surprise. Once we knew IVF didn't work and that my egg reserve was pretty rotten (yes, went for the pun) we pretty much knew we were done trying. With that decision, we knew a hysterectomy was inevitable, but not an emergency. It was simply a matter of when I would decide to have it. Well, I started to develop some discomfort and knew that my left ovary was getting its ass kicked by endometriosis. Then, when getting that checked out, it was discovered that polyps were developing in my uterus. It simply made sense to move ahead with surgery.

Since I knew all of this, I really thought the surgery was just a technicality. I even thought that it would be the end of my struggle with infertility. It would seal the deal that I was 100% unable to carry a baby of my own; a piece of Shawn and me; an experience that real women get to have. When I woke up from it, I was supposed to do that hand clap thing that you do when you finish doing some dirty, dusty work.

It hasn't been that way at all and I can't seem to get myself there. Now that I'm not sleeping as much as I did the first couple of days, I've started to really feel the pain of it all. Not a pain that Percocet is intended to treat.

I'm overwhelmed and I'm sad and I'm mad and I'm empty and I'm lost.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thoughts-ectomy

So it's done.

Wednesday was my hysterectomy. It was all sort of surreal. I'm checking in with some lady who is certainly pleasant and gives well wishes for my recovery. She's an admin person who doesn't really get into all of the details of why you are there. I don't know if she even knew I was having a hysterectomy.  

Shawn, my mom, and I head to the waiting room for me to be called into pre-op. I have on my Zombicide t-shirt because I have to somehow hold on to something that is me. I'm also wearing an old pair of Shawn's shorts because they are loose with a drawstring to help make the change from gown to clothes more tolerable.

I'm called back while Shawn and my mom stay behind until all the pre-op crap is taken care of and they're allowed to wait with me again. This nurse is friendly -- like SOLID CAP-bold-underlined-italic FRIENDLY. I lost track of all the pet names she called me; "babe" was first and she finished off with "pumpkin." I played along with attempts at humor as she left me to strip, wipe down my body, and out on my gown. She did her nurse things; prepped my hands for IVs in each; asked all the usual questions. The extra IV was a nice bonus of having a robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy. The robot is so large and cumbersome that if something happened with the first IV it would be too much of a hassle to move everything to start another. 

At some point, Shawn and my mom are allowed back with me.

The anesthesiologist comes and gives his spiel and has me sign whatever other consent forms I haven't done yet. Other people come and introduce themselves. My doctor comes by and checks on me. This procedure should only be a couple hours and then another hour or so in recovery before I can see Shawn and my mom again.

Kisses are given and away I go. This is when pre-op nurse calls me "pumpkin." I don't remember much after that. I remember the hallway and entering the OR. I think I remember my doctor standing by my side.

I'm starting to come to and I'm groggy. A lady in the bay next to me is singing "The Goodship Lollipop." I desperately want to pee. It seems I took longer to come to than is typical. The post-op nurse grabs a bed pan. The sensation is strong, but nothing is happening. It can't be shyness because the urgency I feel is so strong. Well, here comes the Foley catheter. I had it for surgery, but it had been taken out already. So, here comes nurse "Nice-to-meet-you-I'm-here-to-shove-this-tube-in-you." Couldn't even remember her name if my life depended on it. But, my bladder didn't care who she was and we were grateful for the relief.

Eventually, a few hours after the original estimate, I'm taken to a room where Shawn and my mom are waiting. It's decided I'm staying the night and the Foley will, too. I'm only allowed to start with liquids because of my pee situation. Shawn feeds me broth and I had some applesauce. He and my mom leave a little later.

There I am. Alone. I was thankful for the single room (excuse me, suite), but if I had been there for childbirth, Shawn would be able to stay with me. Unlike childbirth, I imagine, hysterectomies are a lonely game.

Later in the night, I stand for the first time. I shuffle my way to the door like Tim Conway's old man character on "The Carol Burnett Show." That's about all I can manage. I try to just take prescription strength ibuprofen, but cave in to the idea of sleep that just a single Percocet  might bring. Later, I do another walk/shuffle; this time I get out into the hall some. It's looking promising that the Foley may part ways with me in a few more hours. 

The Foley is out, but I have to show that I can pee on my own twice with a certain amount allowed to stay in my bladder. The first trip is fine. Walking without the Foley is a relief. I work my way to a second trip and the abdominal scan passes again. I'll get to go home.

The first couple of days are mostly DVR emptying and napping and getting Jarvis to understand I can't be his playmate and walk partner.

***  
This brings us to tonight. I was trying to go to bed and became overwhelmed, for the first time since Wednesday, with sadness and anger.

I look at my disgusting, fat body with the bruises and incision sites and think about the uselessness of it all. Then, as I'm grossed out by the weight that I've allowed to come back on me, I think about that OR. The vulnerability of that room and how grossed out everyone must have been to have to deal with my fat rolls.

I get into bed and try to distract myself with the crossword puzzle app on my phone. I then think about what I am physically feeling. All that is left of my internal lady parts is an ovary; a right ovary that managed to hold itself together during all this time. But, even with that little hanger-on, the emptiness overwhelms me. It's weird, but I feel like I was scraped clean. It's how I imagine a pumpkin would feel as the guts of it are diligently removed to prep it for it's Halloween costume.

Then, there's the part of me that starts to think about the finality of my fertility. I just start to sob. I can't go back. This is 100% permanent. "You couldn't get pregnant anyway. This had to be done" is the mantra I try to use to calm myself down.

Shawn comes to bed. He caresses my arm. Being held closer would be comforting, but not yet. The wounds are still too sore. I think I'm talking physical wounds, but maybe it's more than that. He wants to help; he wants to fix it. I want him to help; I want him to fix it. But, we both know that he can't.

I then start to get angry -- not at him. So many people, well-meaning people who want to help. People trying to make you feel better. People sharing their stories of their hysterectomies. Telling me how much better I will feel after the recovery. I want to scream, "SHUT THE FUCK UP, MOTHER FUCKER!!! Don't you dare try to drive your story into mine! Your hysterectomy isn't the same. Those pictures of your kids, those babies you are raising just show that it's not the same. Take your mini-van life and stop telling me about the awesomeness I will feel once I'm recovered! The uterus you had taken in your surgery had been used, had served its purpose. Mine was just a nightmare!"

I know that is all very harsh and very angry, but I can't change it...at least not right now. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just to be clear, this may be TMI

I'm wrapping up my last period. The pun, initially, was not intended, but I guess it works. It's weird how getting a pad or a tampon out of the packaging goes from being an annoyance every month to an action you wish you weren't doing for the last time.

My hysterectomy is coming up in a couple weeks. I have this kind of guilt or perhaps regret that I ever spent so much time bitching about my period. How many times did I say things like, "I can't wait for menopause!" or, "I'm so ready to be done with having periods every month." When you aren't thinking about having kids, it's easy to not think about the importance and significance of that monthly cycle. It's easy to just get annoyed by it and wish it gone.

Now, I would take back all of that complaining if it would mean that everything would work correctly. If the cramps, the back pain, and the heaviness of the flow meant that my ovaries were doing everything they should and that my eggs were amazingly fertile and strong, I would take on periods for another 30 or so years.

I hated the "Have a happy period" ad campaign of one of the feminine product companies (and, I still think it's a ridiculous idea). However, looking back, I would have been happier about having a healthy period.