Aliens, Poo and Pelvic Activity

So it has been almost a month since my alienectomy.

To say that transition from alien baby carrier (10 inch dermoid cyst firmly attached to my left ovary) to recovery patient of a hysterectomy and partial oophorectomy (left ovary removal) has been an adventure would be odd.

On the one hand, I had a month to plan.  But there are some things you just can’t plan for properly.  For example, I was aware that the surgery would mean that my stomach would hurt for a while and that I would have 3 external incision areas, and one internal incision area.

What I didn’t know was that I wouldn’t be allowed to push when I had to poop.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to do that?  Let me tell you, there is only one way to poop without pushing – and that is called gravity.  I didn’t know that Gravity would win so many Oscar awards, and I certainly didn’t know that it would be my salvation for the past several weeks.

I knew that I would have lots of free time to focus on other things besides work – but I had no idea how much of my time would be spent focusing on pooping.  I took medicines, special home remedies, avoided cheese, got more advice than I knew what to do with, and then combined them all in one historic day I called “The Great Poo Day.”

But pooping has not been my only focus.  In addition to the admonitions not to poop – I was also warned repeatedly that I was to engage in absolutely no pelvic activity of any kind for the next 4-6 weeks. Sadly, I also had no pelvic activity for several months leading up to the surgery, so one would think I would be rather used to this.

What I was not used to was how much sex fills our lives every day.  Even though I have avoided pelvic activity – I can not seem to escape sex.  I can’t watch love stories, crime stories, comedy shows – I find myself hiding behind cooking shows and the Disney channel – and even those seem to work it in.  And trust me, I know Mickey Mouse’s “Hot Diggety Dog” dance way better than I should (and am a little too attracted to the way Minnie Mouse dances.)

Pooping and Pelvic Activity keep me amused and entertained – and also helped distract me from the real stuff – like the loneliness and the pain and the fear.

Let me preface by saying that I have the most amazing friends. They have surrounded me with love and caring and free slave labor. I would not survive without them.  But there is still those moments when you are lying in bed or half-naked in an exam room or even trying to wash yourself in the shower when the loneliness just hits you.  I miss cuddling – just having someone I know and trust to spoon me and stroke my hair and just breathe with me.

I’m not the only single person out there, I’m not the only one that feels this aloneness – and I acknowledge that.  But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck sometimes.

My recovery has not been as smooth as we planned.  I’ve had side effects like random bleeding that have caused me to go back for additional tests and procedures.  I found out that I had cancer after it was already gone – a circus of highs and lows, portent and relief and intimidation.  Now I’m dealing with an unknown post-operative mass that may just be blood, or could be an infection.  My diabetes adds further complications that could hinder my recovery if it is an infection.  Today I go in for another procedure to sample the mass so the doctors can figure out what we are dealing with.

So what’s a girl to do?  Face the challenges that come – try to distract myself when I can – and blog a little to let you know what is happening.

I’ll try to keep you posted – I’ll try to get back to the business of posting crazy dating stuff – but for now – thanks for reading.

 

On Pregnancy Tests

On Monday. I took my final pregnancy test.

“We’re required to do one whenever we are doing surgery”, the nurse explained.

The irony of a pregnancy test prior to a hysterectomy was not lost on me.

It just goes to show,” my friend Mombie texted, “There have been enough malpractices for performing hysterectomies on pregnant patients.”

Other than the 10cm dermoid that has attached itself to my left ovary (which I have nicknamed my alien baby) – pregnant is one of those things I have never been.

I remember buying pregnancy tests when I thought my husband and I would try for a baby. The box sat on the shelf haunting me as months went by and nothing worth testing was happening. I remember my less-than-joking conversations about him just putting some in a cup and I would use a turkey baster.

I remember discussing infertility options with my friends in couples class through our church. Our small group soon got divided as we became the haves and the have nots. Those of us who were childless started to feel like the kids who got held back and it was hard to deal with the depression of those around me who were trying so hard and yet were left without.

I knew what my problem was, as my marriage was rocky and lacked the intimacy required to even get the process started. But my heart ached for my other friends.

We looked briefly at becoming foster parents, but I realized in my heart that my husband would not be the kind of father I would want for any child – he had too many anger issues to provide a safe and stable environment. (It took me several years to realize that if the situation was not mentally healthy for a child, it was probably not healthy for me either, but I did wise up eventually.)

After my marriage ended, getting pregnant meant something different. I remember the first time that I thought I might be pregnant – the rush of emotions as I tried to figure out what I would do if I was. I had just started rebuilding my life, and the thought of being responsible for another being scared me so much.

I don’t know what it feels like to have a line turn blue, or show a plus sign, or flash “pregnant” and now I never will. I wouldn’t say I’m sad, nor would I say I’m euphoric. I’m more thoughtfully respectful that an aspect of possibility is now being laid to rest.

Phantom Loss

“I don’t need a uterus to have kids in my life,” I declared. “I’ve got 15 nieces and nephews; I’ve got a roommate that is young enough to be my son, I run a charity event for non-profit that deals with foster kids and adoption. If I decide I want a child, I think I can figure something out.”

It’s not the first time I’ve said it in the past few weeks, but this time I was saying it to my HR contact at work. I’m scheduled to have a hysterectomy at the end of the month, and am trying to work out how soon I can get back to work and off short-term disability. It’s not so much that I’m a workaholic, but I’m not really interested in dropping to 70% of my current salary.

“Don’t rush your recovery,” she cautioned. “Even if you physically recover, there is an emotional toll that overcomes you once your uterus and ovaries are removed. A lot of women don’t anticipate the grief of giving up motherhood as an option until it’s already gone.”

I understood what she was saying, but deciding whether or not to have kids was a decision I had to make back 7 years ago and I feel like I did my grieving then.

I had gone in for a routine check-up. The nurse practitioner was taking the normal vitals: height, weight, blood pressure. She took my blood pressure twice, actually, and then left the room – quickly returning with a crash cart and telling me to relax, which only made me more nervous. My blood pressure was 171/118. I looked at them confused – I felt the way I always felt. But evidently this wasn’t good.

As the nurse practitioner prescribed the much-needed medication to get it back in to the safety zone, she asked me if I wanted to have children. Because this med and pregnancy could not mix. I cried. Not that I wanted to get pregnant, but that the choice was being taken away from me. My life was in a place where nothing was certain – everything was in flux, and I just broke down for a bit there in the doctor’s office.

Yes, ma’am. I had already done my grieving. I was able to joke with the HR contact, convince her I was fine, and we got off the phone both laughing.

Later that night, a voice on the TV caught my attention. This psychologist was talking on a news show about having a mastectomy.

“My friends told me I would go through a mourning period, but I just brushed them off. My femininity was not defined by my breasts; I didn’t need them to feel empowered. I had counseled people in the past through their post-surgical depression; I knew what would happen and knew I would be fine.

And then I woke up, and my breast was gone, and I mourned.”

So now I wonder if maybe I’m wrong. I really don’t expect to be sad about it – I’ve kind of gotten a Spartan attitude about my body parts – get rid of it if it’s causing a fuss. On the other hand, not having my own children has allowed me to focus on so many other things I wouldn’t have time for: rescue dogs, charity events, The Geeks, etc.

But I don’t mean to dismiss it all so quickly. I can understand that feeling of phantom loss like when a soldier loses his leg, but still feels the pain or like the leg is still there. I just can’t focus on that. It’s counter-productive to where I’m heading.

Forward march.