I blame menopause.
I find myself blaming menopause for everything that goes wrong in my life: I blame it for my mood swings, my uncontrollable weight gain, and my inability to focus on anything for more than 10 minutes at a time.
I blame it for my recent hysterectomy, which you might not think fair. After all, it took decades for my uterine fibroids to swell my womb to the size of a small turkey. (Yes! That was how my doctor described it the morning after she and the oncologist removed it from my body. Go ahead and think about that in a couple of weeks while you’re shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. How would you like to be walking around with something that size inside of you? Fortunately, all of my growths were benign. They were the size of grapefruits, but harmless nonetheless.)
They were already pretty large when my doctor started monitoring them. She actually wanted to take the whole works out from the start, but I wasn’t ready for that. I knew the surgery would mean several weeks of recovery, and at the time, my daughter was only 13. I couldn’t take that time off. How would she get to school? So we adopted the wait-and-see approach. The fibroids were supposed to shrink after my body stopped producing estrogen. Instead, they kept on going — which alarmed my doctor a lot more than me. And she refused to prescribe any kind of HRT to help alleviate the hot flashes and night sweats and other indignities I’ve began to endure once my periods stopped.
The one symptom I actually wanted from menopause (the shrinking of the fibroids) was the one thing I didn’t get. Therefore, I think it’s fair to blame menopause for my surgery, after all.
A lot of people told me I would feel so much better after my hysterectomy, because all of my symptoms would be gone. But after menopause, I had no symptoms. The only time they bothered me was when I had to go to my doctor’s office to get an ultrasound.
It’s a funny thing about ultrasounds at the OB/GYN: When I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait for them. I paid attention to what was on the screen and was excited to see how much my baby had grown. I asked for printouts and proudly showed them off to my friends before sticking them to the fridge with a magnet.
Getting an ultrasound when you’re not pregnant is a completely different experience. If you’re not pregnant and you’re getting one, that’s a sign that things are not good. The technician working the wand barely talked to me, just grunting periodically while she measured the growths. And frankly, I didn’t care to have any conversation with her. I had to drink a gallon of water immediately before coming in. All I could think of during these ultrasounds was how much I needed to pee.
It never occurred to me while I was getting those ultrasounds that my body was behaving abnormally. Of COURSE, the fibroids were shrinking, because that’s what they were supposed to do. And each time the doctor told me, I was shocked.
I blame menopause for that, too – even though that’s probably my own fault.
Yesterday, I went in for my second post-op visit. She was happy to hear that I’m feeling a lot stronger and have stopped taking the painkillers — although I do get a little achy in my abdomen by the end of the day.
“That’s your organs rearranging themselves,” she told me.
Again, we’re back to the image of the turkey. With my uterus taking up all the real estate in there, the rest of my organs were doubling up. With the turkey gone, it’s like they’ve got all this extra room — and they’re figuring out where to hang. I recounted this theory to my daughter when she called this afternoon. She didn’t appreciate it.
Anyway: the doctor said I still have a little way to go before I can resume all of my normal activities (even though it’s been seven weeks, the size of the thing meant additional incisions that have yet to fully heal). I did get the go-ahead to drive short distances, which means my period of house arrest is finally coming to an end. As for physical exercise, I am OK to start walking and can add more strenuous activities as I feel better.
And she gave me some HRT samples to see if we can do something about my hot flashes, discomfort and general fuzziness.
So my friends were right: I just may start feeling better.