The Hysterectomy Journey: Part 2
The emotional side of me isn’t really easy to write this, but seeing as yesterday was akin to drawing a line in the sand to categorize life as before end after, I want to make sure I at least record the events.
The night before the surgery, I knew I was feeling the feels, especially when I dreamed of Kid. The Kid dreams are a series. They start out light; there’s this little boy, around six years old, and we are playing together in the sand. Eventually, he leads me to a dark mansion. I know we are going to see someone important, but have no idea who. We round corners until Kid pushes open a heavy door. Sitting behind the desk is Mama O. Mama O was very important to me as child; she died when I was eight. I go to hug her, we talk for a few minutes before I realize Kid is not in the room. Panicked, I leave mama O, finding Kid the most important thing. In that dream, I find him. But the next dream in the series is one in which a Kid dies after he and I are stuck in a room being filled with gas.
The Kid dreams are terrifying. And very, very sad. I always wake drenched in tears. So when I have one of their dreams, I re-evaluate what I’m doing. The biggest thing: the Hysterectomy.
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Due to a COVID, the hospital had a zero visitor policy, untili was in my recovery room, at which point, one visitor at a time. This meant I checked in and sat in the lobby alone; my paperwork said to be there at 8, but it was 8:45 before I was called back. I was told to change into the gown that lay on the bed. This was easier said than done. Despite having had 9 previous surgeries, I’d never seen a “gown” like this. It was called the Bear Hugger. I mistakenly thought the plastic lining was for cleaning purposes so I took the lining off, then spent ten minutes or so fighting with what amounted to a roll of butcher paper. Seriously, that’s what it looked and felt like. I couldn’t figure it out, so I called the nurse.
Laughing to cover embarrassment, I said, “this is so silly, but I think I might need help with this thing, this gown?”
“You need help with the gown?”
When there nurse opened the door and saw the plastic lining on the bed, she immediately said she’d bring a new one and left. Finally, I was dressed. And I learned stuff too. Apparently, these “gowns” are high tech. They can be plugged up to blow cold or hot air at the patient, helping keep the patient cool or warm. Neat.
Then came time for the IV. I asked to use the port. Two nurses came in and said that because it was a big surgery they needed a larger access than the port and really preferred a peripheral vein if possible. I said I really preferred my port and asked to speak to the doctor directly. Eventually, I gave in because the doctor said that he didn’t want to have the port vein blow mid surgery. It took four nurses and still no vein. So they ended up accessing my port. The doctor warned me I’d probably wake up with a peripheral line as well.
After that, I got a nice cocktail to help limit the need (supposedly) for as much pain medicine after the surgery: 2 Lyrica tablets, 1 Celebrex tablet and a patch behind my ear to control nausea. I was then wheeled to the holding area to wait for surgery.
The holding area is a scary place. I don’t much care for it. People are generally running around and it is easy to feel forgotten. Eventually, though, Dr. Montville came by, said hello and then the anesthesiologist said, “it’s time to relax,” and gave me something through the port.
And that’s pretty much the last thing I remember.
When I woke up, I was being wheeled into a private room. I was almost there. My mom came and stayed with me. Tears leaked from my eyes. Dr. Montville came in and said that my privates are “tiny.” She said, “so tiny there’s no way you didn’t have a c-section; a baby wouldn’t fit.” Then she said, “also, it was such a small space that some of it tore and got scratched up when we were trying to get the uterus out.” The episiotomy, and the scratches and tear, would hurt for awhile so she gave me cold pad packs (another thing I didn’t know existed) and some spray that would numb the area for me.
In addition to the vaginal area, I also have four poke holes in my stomach where the robot arms were pushed through. It felt like I’d done a million sit-ups and I was hurting. Sitting up, rolling over, coughing, breathing—basically doing anything that required the use of the abdomen muscles is painful. They kept me on Percocet & Toradol throughout the night, but it never took the pain away. Additionally, my blood pressure was low again but “only a little” and they didn’t seem overly worried.
I talked to the girls on the phone, ate jello and pudding…. and cried. Because it hurt? It did hurt, but not really. What was most bothering me, and still is, is being able to feel the cut and scratches in the vagina. Hurting there is heartbreaking and making me travel dangerous roads.
Today has been hard. I was released this morning after 24 hours in the hospital and have not been able to move much. A blood pressure cuff measured my blood pressure at 85/53; in the hospital, my bp ran around 93/60. These numbers mean I am constantly very dizzy. I fell once while trying to go to the restroom due to the dizziness.
Mostly, feeling all the emotions. The bottom hurting is hurting my heart most of all; memories, heavy and sad, are not easy to ignore. Total lack of appetite adds to the quietness of the room.
The Hysterectomy was done to erase the bleedin; it was to get rid of fibroids and the cysts. In retrospect, it was the right thing to do. And, one day, lost dreams will be replaced with new dreams. Passing out with low blood pressure will be replaced with energy without dizziness. And it might even help the migraines. Someday, one day, might. Adjectives made up of a single word: hope.
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In the scariest dream with Kid, we’re in a locked room, holding him along my head. Still, the water-gas eventually drags him from me and he disappears. I frantically search for him and notice that my dad stands at the door, watching. It isn’t until Kid does that the door swings open, freeing me. Only, neither in the dream or waking the next morning, have I ever felt genuinely sad over a dream.
The Hysterectomy is the Loss of something precious. Motherhood literally changed my life, and saved it in many ways. Voluntarily giving up the thing that helped protect two two little girls, the thing that acted as their home for 9 months, the thing that represents my life’s greatest gifts…. feels sad and wrong and is really, really hard.
The physical pain will get better. My blood pressure will crawl upwards again. It always does. And if I’m able to reduce, or even stop, the iron infusions all together as a result of this surgery, it will be a miracle. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded with kind nurses , doctors and the support of my mother and sister; blessed to have a strong faith on the one who is called Healer. And soon I will just lump this surgery in with the others. The children’s book the girls and I always liked, Parts, is about this kid who thinks he’s falling apart because pieces of his hair were caught in a comb (clearly proof that, even though he was only five, he was going bald) and bits of skin peeling from his toes as he played in the water hose meant he was being peeled to the bone (naturally). What’s next in line to go, he asks, might be my eyeballs, how’s a kid to know?
I’m missing another organ today; one I never intended to be without. The cervix, the tubes, the uterus—I never imagined I’d lose those. But I also never imagined I’d lose the other organs I am without either. And, in the end, being without those organs have enriched my life and made me stronger, healthier and alive. This will too.
[…] been a year, almost exactly, since I wrote about my hysterectomy here and here. In retrospect, this was the start of a downward emotional spiral. For a long time afterwards, I […]