(Those of you who are squeamish about female reproductive organs should stop reading now.)
As some of you know, I had a hysterectomy last January. At the time, I decided — with my gynecologist’s agreement — to keep the one (apparently) good ovary and the cervix; my plan was to hold out for natural menopause and try to lose some weight/get in shape before it got there. Unfortunately, the surgeons found “severe” endometriosis as well, but the right ovary still seemed to be in good shape, and they left it. I had no pain, no periods, and generally good results for just about a year.
Then, this January, I started having pain again. It was essentially identical in quality to the pain I had before, though not in intensity — which is a good thing, because the pre-hysterectomy pain had me throwing up. (Though that may have been the fibroid that I was apparently trying to deliver. As it was firmly attached to the uterine wall, this was not a pleasant process.) I had tests done, and they confirmed that I did indeed have another large ovarian cyst, with some solid bits in it. In fact, it looked exactly like the left ovary had looked last year, and my gynecologist said she suspected the endometriosis had grown back as well.
Then Lisa’s brain tumor started acting up, and I stopped dealing with the ovary. Really, it only hurt when I lifted something heavy. Like Lisa. Or the groceries. Or the 19-pound cat. Or when I rolled over at night.
Lisa did bully me into making follow-up appointments with the gynecologist, and, after she died, I dutifully went, only to be told that the cyst had grown again, and the solid parts were larger as well. She strongly recommended that I have it out, along with the cervix, all the endometriosis that the surgeon could find, and possibly my appendix as well, to prevent further problems. (There were a lot of adhesions the first time, and the hysterectomy will only have made things worse, so her idea was to do everything possible to be sure “no one else will have to go in there.”) The fact that there was a solid component to the cyst made the surgery somewhat urgent, though given my previous history (hystery?) it’s almost certainly not cancer, just more endometriosis. She referred me to a gynecologist/oncologist at the Lahey Clinic — gyn/oncologists do a lot of endometriosis surgeries even when cancer isn’t suspected, as they have lots of experience in removing little bits of errant tissue — and the upshot is that I’m scheduled for surgery next week.
The day after my birthday.
Which means I spend my birthday doing “bowel prep.”
I am not amused.
Essentially, the surgery and recovery should be pretty much the same as it was for the hysterectomy: a couple of nights in the hospital, then 4 weeks out of work and another couple of weeks of taking things easy. I’m also not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds for at least 6 weeks, which is going to be amusing since all 4 cats weigh more than that. Last time, Tenzing (the largest, at 19 pounds) figured out that I couldn’t lift him, and promptly settled himself wherever he pleased. As he is largely impervious to being swatted (unless by Trouble, who has claws and will use them), this became an issue. I came very close once to calling Lisa to come home from work to move him because I couldn’t get him off my knees, but he got bored and moved on. Luckily, my mother, who will be staying with me until I’m able to take care of myself, now has a cat of her own, so I feel safe asking her to remove Tenzing. How Tenzing will feel about it is another matter, but I’m not sure I care.
To add to the fun, I will be immediately menopausal. My one faint hope is that, since my reproductive organs have been nothing but trouble for my entire biologically-mature life, their departure will actually be easy. Failing that, I’ve been promised that there are plant-based estrogens that work, but I’m really hoping I won’t need them.
I’m getting to the point where I honestly believe that Galen and the ancient doctors who held that the uterus was an alien organ, not really part of a woman, weren’t misogynists, but actually talked to a few of us. I know I’m quite convinced that all of this mess — uterus, ovaries, and miscellaneous tubes and ducts — is in fact actively hostile. OK, I don’t believe that they move around in the body cavity, at least not much (though the ultrasound techs do seem to have a heck of a time finding my ovaries), but I really don’t feel as though they’re cooperating.