I think the main reason it took me 5 months to write these blogs is because of this part. The first two were factual and informative, this is what happened and why, but this one here, this one is about me and my feelings.
It can be hard to figure out how to express them sometimes, but this is as best I can put it together.
Recovery is hard – the physical challenges were expected, and honestly I felt better after this surgery than any of my prior three, but what I didn’t expect was just how hard the mental and emotional parts would be.
I’d spent almost twenty years on some sort of hormone adjusting medication; birth control pill, IUD, Lupron + estrogen, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, and once surgery was over, I no longer had them running through my blood stream. I stayed on the anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds, but the crash from having no more reproductive hormones pump through me was rough.
My ovaries hadn’t had to do their job on their own in so long, I don’t think they knew what hit them. I was sad, so beyond sad, I would cry all the time, then I would become angry, and confused, and felt completely lost for a long time.
Recovery from major surgery meant 3 weeks off of work, and not being able to even drive anywhere for 2 of them. While N was at work, I was trapped at home, alone, in my very confused brain. It left me with a lot of time to think, which isn’t always a good thing, especially given the hormonal changes I was going through. I’d been in chemically induced menopause for 2 years, coming out of it is no walk in the park.
I was angry that Alberta Health and my own country couldn’t help me, I was angry that I was forced to spend money I didn’t have, and I was angry that the only thing that could be done to help me have a normal life (with a chance it wouldn’t even work) meant removing my organs.
To this day, when I think too long about those missing pieces of me, I cry. I was scared it would make me less of who I was, and it can leave a very empty, hollow space inside that can never be filled.
Having children or not should always be a CHOICE, and I didn’t get to choose. Based on the medical findings I listed in part 2, my likelihood of reproducing was practically non-existent as it was, but I still didn’t get to decide for myself.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you felt forced to do something you didn’t want to do, or anything that you didn’t get to make a decision on – think about how that made you feel, then relive it every day of your entire life.
Something I highly suggest you never ask a woman, especially one who just had her uterus removed, is “didn’t you want kids?”It’s a question that feels like it guts me to the core and rips my heart out every time I hear it. Not only is it nobody’s business, it is extremely insensitive to ask. The same goes with asking ANY woman when they’re having kids, or making comments like “well, when you have kids” or my favorite as a newlywed, “so when are the babies coming?”
Not everybody wants kids, and not everybody can have them. Stop putting women into a box of HAVING to be a mother to be worth anything. It is cruel. You do not know their circumstances and in my case, it makes me so sad that I get angry when asked – I’m one of those people who cry when they’re both angry and sad, so I just look like a hot mess on a regular basis.
It is HARD ENOUGH trying to navigate these thoughts and feelings within my own head, much less having other people remind me constantly about it. Grief and ambiguous loss – that’s what I was told I have been going through. The definition of ambiguous loss is a loss that occurs without closure or clear understanding. This kind of loss leaves a person searching for answers, and thus complicates and delays the process of grieving, and often results in unresolved grief. I continue to search for my closure every day, and I’m truly not sure if it’s anything I will fully get over. Time will tell.
The other main thing I realized after surgery and during recovery, even until now, is who my real friends are. They always say you learn who your true friends are during times of trauma and struggle, and while I always scoffed at this, it’s 100% true.
I had (close) friends I had assumed would visit me not even send a text, and friends who I hadn’t developed deep relationships with insist on coming over to check on me, even with care packages. My closest friends were obviously my emotional and mental crush, as always, and these are the friends I hold close to my heart and will never let go of.
I still struggle with this, because I don’t know why, in such a time of vulnerability and need, these people abandoned me. Sometimes though, I’ve learned, you need to let things go.
So here I am, 5 months later. The physical scars are healing, and the pain that rendered me incapable of moving is gone. They said it will take a full 12 months to be completely recovered, I’ve found that flying really makes my scars ache, and I’ve all but lost my strength and cardio abilities in the gym, but overall I am feeling good. The mental scars remain, and probably always will. That’s the one thing nobody ever prepares you for – just how hard it is to navigate this new “person”. My identity has been tied to pain for so long, that it’s been hard trying to learn who I actually am again. I give it my best, every day.