by guest contributor Kelly Friis
First a little background on me: I am a 41 year old SAHM of 2. I live in a quiet town outside of Toronto. My children, 10 & 6, are in many activities and have busy social calendars.
Around 3 years ago, I had a tubal ligation. I was nearing 40 and after some challenges in both first trimesters, my husband and I decided our family was complete. The surgery was a logical step for us, for me. Immediately following the surgery, I began experiencing side effects. My periods became increasingly heavier and my once-mild cramps seemed to amplify more every month. My first thought was, “My body is still recovering, I’ll see if it levels out in a few months.”
Anyone with 2 kids knows that a few months can take a lifetime. A year and a half later, things were even worse. I was now spending on average 2-3 days a month on the sidelines of my life, heating pad firmly pressed to my abdomen. I was going through tampons and pads in record time and eating ibuprofen like it was the essence of life itself.
It was at this point I figured I should talk to my doctor.
He listened to my complaints, my symptoms and read the little “period journal” I brought along. I left that appointment with a script for pills to reduce the cramps and volume of bleeding as well as a req for an ultrasound. The test showed I was the proud owner of 7.4cm fibroid on my uterus. Fibroids are non-cancerous mass, no one seems to know why they appear, but they do. And mine was a doozy. I got a referral to an OBGYN.
My OBGYN, who later became my surgeon, ordered another ultrasound after she tried to do an internal exam but the size of my fibroid made that impossible. It was at this appointment she suggested treatment options. There are medicines that can be injected directly into the mass laparoscopically or we could try to surgically remove the fibroid.
However, in her experience and given my family history (my biological mom had recurring fibroids), a more effective option would be a total abdominal hysterectomy.
Let me tell you, those 3 words were received by my ears with the singing of angels. The OBGYN explained I would receive a caesarean style incision and that everything would come out except my ovaries. They would stay to allow a more natural progression into menopause. I signed the consent forms that day.
Many women feel their uterus and ability to bear children is a large part of their identity. After all, it’s one of the most female things we get to do in our lives. Losing your uterus, regardless of why, can be devastating. Mentally, it can bring about depression and feelings of inadequacy. These are normal and rational feelings.
I, however, didn’t feel any of them.
It was like winning the lottery. No more sitting on the sidelines, no more early nights to bed, no more “Mommy isn’t feeling well”. After a brief recovery period, I was going to get to LIVE again.
I am now 11 days post op. To be honest, recovering from this is similar to childbirth, in that you have really good days and other days, brushing your teeth drains your energy. Facebook has provided great access to support groups and I’ve made friends who are experiencing this along with me.
No, they are not medical professionals, they aren’t intended to take the place of sound medical advice, just women I can bounce ideas off of and get a much needed “you got this girl!” pep talk from. I’ve stopped taking my prescribed pain meds and getting up and out of bed is less of a chore now than those first post-op days, although to the outsider, I’m sure it’s comical. Picture a seal climbing out of a pool.
We are going on a family vacation to Mexico in December. My goal is to be healed and restored enough to swim with my kids in the ocean and dance in the sand with my husband. Most of all, I can’t wait to wear my white bikini. #teamwhitepants
About the Author: “Kelly Friis is a stay at home mom who volunteers at her children’s school, takes adult hip hop and always looks for a silver lining.”