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Countdown to Cutting

May 21, 2003

It’s official: my uterus and I will be parting ways on July 16th. (For those of you getting here late, my uterus made its debut in these pages here, with later appearances here and here. I’m sure its existence could be inferred from several other entries, but that’s not really important right now. “Or ever”, I hear the smartasses among you saying). I’ve known this was going to happen for a while, for the last three months, actually, since I went back to the gynecologist for my post-ski season follow up appointment to discuss options, but it wasn’t until I got a reality check from a different doctor than the one who will be doing the surgery and worked out the details of which parts are going (uterus with as much of the fibroid as possible) and which are staying (ovaries and cervix) with the doctor who is that I felt it was time to write about it out here on the open Internet.

Just because I think it’s time to write about it doesn’t mean I’ve quite accepted it, though. I know it’s the right choice for me, that’s not the issue. After that first rocky month, the Desogen has made the bleeding manageable, but the pain continues. Some days it’s very mild, almost ignorable, but some days even taking maximum doses of the stuff I’ve been prescribed barely takes the edge off. I don’t want to spend another ten or fifteen or more years like this, hoping that the hormonal changes after menopause will shrink the fibroid to a size that won’t interfere with my life. I know I want it gone. I know I don’t want to try the still-new treatment of uterine artery embolization; even if my insurance did cover it, it might not shrink the tumor enough to make a difference. Since I don’t plan to have children, I don’t need to consider the more complicated surgical option of removing just the fibroid while leaving the uterus intact, especially since that would leave the door open (so to speak) for new fibroids to grow. Hysterectomy is the right thing for me.

What I’m struggling with is the kind of hysterectomy I’ll need. Because of the size and location of the fibroid, the vaginal option is right out, so that means an abdominal incision. That does not make me happy. Abdominal surgery means a longer recovery time and a more noticeable scar. Worse, I’m slated for a vertical incision rather than a horizontal one, so I’ll end up with a stripe from my belly button on down. I’m not sure why the thought of that is bothering me so much. I’m not a model or a stripper, and I haven’t worn a bikini bathing suit since junior high or low rider pants ever, so it’s not like I’ll have to change my profession or my wardrobe once I my belly has been marred. Also, I have plenty of other scars on my body– I’ve been collecting those since I was two and our dog bit me in the face– so it’s not as if I’m going into this with a perfect body that will now be ruined. I think maybe I’m focusing on the scar as a distraction. I’ve never been a hospital patient before, and I’m worried about how I’ll handle it. Obviously, I’ll manage; I always do, at least so far, and Lord knows a lot of people have to face much, much worse, but this is big for me. At least I’ve got two months to psyche myself up (or out, but I hope it doesn’t go that way).


One year ago, I was bent out of shape about something much more trivial.

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