I’m a 42-year-old woman, who was told at 33 that I needed a hysterectomy, why? Well, let me tell you.
Getting our period is a rite of passage into womanhood, it’s the next journey as we leave our childhood and step into becoming a woman and let’s face it, at 13 you aren’t thinking about becoming a woman, you are thinking about boys, boy bands, clothes and hanging out with your friends. The last thing we are thinking about is planning our lives, that’s for old people, right?
I always wanted children at an early age. I have the best relationship with my mum, we are close, we talk about everything and I guess you could say we are best mates. I wanted to have that relationship with my children. I didn’t want to be an older mum, I wanted to be a young mum like my mum was.
Fast forward to my early 20’s, where I met the man of my dreams and knew we would spend this life together. I had a vision and I had planned out what I wanted in regards to children and thankfully, his vision was the same. He was 11 years older than me, so having children was already on his radar, he just needed the right life partner to start with. (insert me here).
I was a fraction off 24 when I had my first child and 26 years old when I had my second. Up until this point, my periods were perfect. They came every 28 days, like clockwork, lasted 5 days and then poof, they were gone again for another 28 days. It wasn’t long after my second child that this all changed. I noticed a change in my monthly friend, who slowly became my worst enemy.
Now, I can’t blame my friend for the change in our relationship, you see, an intruder was lurking in the shadows, who’s voice could only be heard when my friend popped over for her monthly visit. This intruder in the shadows had a name but kept its identity hidden for many years, and it wasn’t through lack of trying to find out, it just knew how to mask itself well.
The situation was this. Each month I knew that I was about to get my period because I started contracting massive pains in my pelvic region. It was like my own personal body alarm, knocking on my door, letting me know that tomorrow your friend is coming to visit. For the first 3 days of my period, I would be in excruciating pain. I mean, crippling, bent over in agony, knock you right off your feet, PAIN! As women, mums, business owners we tend to always put ourselves last. I know I did, I was so caught up in building my empire, raising my babies, being a wife, mum, friend that I forgot to put me first. How often have we heard these words come out of our mouths: “I don’t have time; I’ve got too much to do”, “I’ll do it once I finish………⠀“I’m too busy right now, I’ll deal with it later.” Can you relate?
I put up with this pain for years, I visited countless Dr over those years, in tears, telling them of my symptoms, they ran tests, bloods did x-rays and ultrasound but would always come back as there is nothing wrong, we can’t find anything. I would get subscriptions to pain medication that would wipe me out for the 3 days I was in pain. It left me bedridden, a walking zombie and affected my mental wellbeing. It was crippling physically but also emotionally.
For 6 years I experienced this every month. I had a girlfriend who had previously told me, on several occasions, to go and see her gyno and like the above, I put it off and put it off saying to her, “Yeap I must book that in”. Well clearly after 6 years of pain, I’d had enough.
At 33, I visited the gynaecologist, who sent me for a CT Scan. There in the shadows, my enemy appeared. It knew how to hide well, but we found you and now we know your name. Say hello to Endometriosis.
My Gyno broke the news to me that I had Endo and at the age of 33, being still so young and with the possibility of wanting more children, he gave me 3 options. He told me I could go in and due a procedure that would scrape out all the endo which will reduce the pain I get each month, however, that would only be a short term fix as it would possibly grow back in 6 to 12 months. The second option, I could take medication that would trick my body into thinking it was pregnant, it’s commonly known that being pregnant suppresses endo that’s in your body or my third option was to have a hysterectomy. I was advised against the third option, Hysterectomy as I was way too young and the fact that I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to have a 3rd child.
I asked to think about it, for me I wanted it to be fixed and rid of. The scraping for me seemed pointless, is this something I wanted to put myself through every 6 or 12 months, no it wasn’t. I didn’t want to take medication, because, for me, I don’t like putting chemicals into my body and if I was going to go through the motions of ticking my body into being pregnant, I wanted a bundle of joy at the end! The last option, at the time, just wasn’t an option. I asked to think about my options, and I did for a few months, then a few months turned into a few years and at 36 my body had had enough. It decided for me.
I started to tune into my body when I saw a change in my bowel movements. I monitored what was happening over several months and when what looked like old blood clots started to appear in my stools, I knew there was something very wrong.
I circled back to the gyno and booked in to have a Hysterectomy. I’d had the conversation with my hubby about more children, and although he would have loved an entire cricket team, I was happy with the two I had (have). At this point, they were 10 and 12 and I felt that it was too much of an age gap to start again. Hysterectomy was to be for me. I was advised that it was a simple 1 and a half hour surgery and I’d be out in no time. For me, that wasn’t the case.
The morning of my surgery was the scariest, I had to be there at 10 am for a 4.30 pm procedure, the waiting around was very thought-provoking, here I was surrounded by other women in the same boat as me, waiting to have our reproduction organs removed and ending our ability to ever have children. That thought plagued me the entire day and come 4 pm when the prep started for my surgery, I remember waiting on the gurney, cold, wrapped in a blanket to keep me warm, my anxiety through the roof. I was scared, alone and seriously contemplating if I was doing the right thing. I remember the theatre nurse turning to me and asking if I was ok, I burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably in her arms, (I’m even tearing up now remember the moment), she leant in and said to me, you know you don’t have to do this, it’s not too late. I said I was fine, and I wanted to proceed, but when I look back, I think, at that moment, it hit me that I won’t be able to have any more children.
The countdown started….10, 9, 8, 7……….. (you always think you can make it to one, but it’s just not the case)
At 10.00 am the next morning, I woke in my room, very dazed, not knowing where I was or what had just happened. So, what just happened? I woke up to the news that my 1-and-a-half-hour operation turned into a 5-hour operation as my endometriosis was a lot worse than he thought, in fact, it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. The endo had spread through my body like cancer attaching itself to other organs, which had to be removed and it had also spread through both of my bowels causing me to have two bowel resections. I lost 1 foot of my bowel on my left side and about half a foot on the other side. I had to have my appendix removed as there were golf ball size clumps of endo attached to it and I had to have one of my ovaries removed. They were hoping I could keep both so that I didn’t get thrown into menopause at the age of 37. Both ovaries were pretty mangled, so that took the worst one out.
It was shocking news to hear, I thought going into the operation that it was fairly routine, yet it was nothing of the sort. I was hospitalized for 7 days and released on the provision I would rest at home in bed. In this instant, I did what the doctor ordered and laid in bed for a further 7 days.
It was around this time I didn’t feel like I was getting better, I was going downhill fast. I weighed around 58kg and for a woman who is 5f 11, that was beyond skinny. I remember getting up and looking in the mirror and was horrified at the Skeleton face looking back at me. I started feeling unwell and I had excruciating pain shooting up my body. I called the At Home Dr service in my area to come and visit me, luckily he was literally in the next street, he popped in, asked a few questions and knew straight away that I had contracted peritonitis and left untreated, peritonitis can rapidly spread into the blood and to other organs, resulting in multiple organ failure and death.
I was rushed by ambulance to hospital where I spent another 7 days being drained of the infection and slowly going insane listening to people snore in the beds beside me. The lesson and moral to my journey, make yourself a priority and get things checked out. Listen to your body and always get multiple opinions if you aren’t happy with the one you received, oh and don’t procrastinate in making decisions when it comes to your health, apparently, it only gets worse, take it from me, I’m living proof.