Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's a Woman Thing

With apologies to any men who read my blog, you'll probably want to skip this particular post as it is about the "female condition."

So, ladies, I'm about to get very personal - and I need some advice.

Earlier this year, I underwent exploratory laparoscopic surgery to determine why I was still in pain after a cyst burst on my ovary. It turned out that the cyst was still bleeding and it had severely damaged my right ovary. Thus, out came the ovary, and now I'm operating on just the left ovary. But they also found endometriosis and uterine fibroids which will only continue to grow.

Last month, I had another cyst form on the remaining ovary, which led to pain and more problems. The ultrasound showed that it was not the kind of cyst as the one that burst, so we took a wait and see approach. But my doctor asked me a rather scary question: "Are you done having children?"

I am only 35, yet I have been fighting my "female condition" for the past 10 years - literally since about three months after I gave birth to my daughter. I've been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) which has a whole slew of problems associated with it. I've been to see numerous doctors - internists, gynocologists, endocrinologists, chiropractors (who also did acupuncture on me) and even a natural health doctor. Still, my problems persist. This month, I had to take a day off work (yesterday) because of the pain I'm experiencing. These are not normal cramps, but something more serious.

Sometimes, a hysterectomy seems like the way to go. But then again...that means I'll have to be on hormones, and truth be told, I don't do well on birth control, so I'm not at all sure how I would do on hormone therapy.

I feel like there is not a good answer to my problem: either keep living with this pain and endless trips to the doctor until I am forced to have a hysterectomy because my female parts start to decline dramatically, or take care of it now and hopefully get rid of the pain and improve my quality of life. However, then I will have the additional side effects from being on hormones.

But a hysterectomy also brings up emotional issues. It's part of what makes me a woman. And even knowing that I don't want anymore children, having that option completely removed is somewhat scary and rather sad, too. Does that make sense? Thing is, I'm not even sure I'd be able to get pregnant if I wanted to with the way my health is.

I've thought of going radical - doing everything from a "natural" standpoint - looking at acupuncture (which worked well last time for the problem I was having) and radically altering my diet to try and fix things on my own. But at this point, I have to be realistic about who I am as a person - and going radical isn't me.

So here is my question to all the wonderful women that read my blog: what would you do?

21 comments:

  1. I think you should consider Dr. Hilgers at Creighton in Omaha. I have several friends seeing him for fertility issues, but he's far more than that. He believes in the whole health of the female body, not just for the purposes of procreation. So... if I don't send you the info I have, email me.

    We missed you at lunch today!

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  2. I rarely comment on anyone's blog, but this one gave me an emotional tug I couldn't ignore. I totally understand what you are going through and know that it goes way beyond the physical pain. No one can tell you what you should do, but I can tell you what I did.

    I had the same problem and battled it for 15 years. At 19 my right ovary ruptured, so I had it removed. At 25, even though many doctors had said it wouldn't happen, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. At 29 I had a complete hysterectomy.

    While I get a little teary eyed every time a see a cute baby, I know that for me it was totally the right thing to do. I feel like a new woman. It took some getting used to, for a while even with the hormone replacements I had some extreme menopausal moments, but they eventually disappeared.

    As long as I have my estrogen, life is good. I no longer have the emotional ups and downs associated with PMS, and a life without that sort of pain is simply a happier one.

    The only actual advise I would give anyone in this situation is this - if you choose to have the hysterectomy, have a complete one. Have them remove everything but the kitchen sink, because it is definitely not something you want to ever go through again. Never having to worry about uterine or cervical cancer is a good thing.

    I hope everything works out as well for you as it has for me, and although you don't know me from Adam, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck.

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  3. RT - Send you an email!

    Timber - Thank you SO MUCH for commenting on this post. Not having emotional ups and downs would be wonderful, and being pain-free would be even more so! I'm so glad you took the time to share your experience with me. :-)

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  4. I am so sorry you are going through all of this. I had one cyst and it was painful but eventually disolved when I went through menopause.
    There are always a new set of female problems as we age. I chose to have only one child, due to several reasons, and yes it brought me sadness later on but I came to terms with it. I was about 32 when I had a tubal.
    You need to do what makes you able to live the life GOd gave you:)

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  5. Terri - Thank you - you're right. I DO want to be able to live the life God gave me! And you're also right when you say there is always a new set of female problems as we age - I really didn't think of that. I believe that my problems now will only get worse if something isn't done.

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  6. I guess what I would suggest is that no matter what you choose, be certain to give yourself enough time to think it through and be good with the decision, all the way around. Your health deserves the best attention and consideration.

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  7. I've no idea what to suggest as I haven't any experience of this, but living with pain is draining and I hope you manage to find a solution that suits you.

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  8. You ask what we would do, but we are all different. I've never, ever been very maternal but I think if I had the problems you describe there would be no question. My health and comfort would be paramount to a happy and fulfilling life. I'd look at all the options from temporary sterilisation to full hysterectomy, but if my doc said it all had to come out, out it would all come.

    If I ever find these maternal instincts everyone says every woman is supposed to have, I'd probably then look at fostering - a friend of my dad's did this for many years and both he and his wife started at a very late age.

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  9. I had a partial Hyst. last year and I feel miles better! I don't need any hormones thank God but I do take over the counter natural progesterone. I had a fibroid sitting right on my uterus and it caused a disaster. Please email me anytime for more info!!! I'm in a little hurry this morning, but would love to answer any question you have. whiteplatonicdreams@yahoo.com

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  10. Joanne - Very wise advice. Thank you. :-)

    Debs - I'm officially drained. :-) I'm hopeful that a new doctor will give me some answers.

    Diane - I don't think there's anything wrong with not having the maternal instinct. You're a lovely person just as you are. :-)

    T. Anne - Check your inbox soon!

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  11. Nothing like being between a rock and hard place, is there? I totally understand what you mean about having the option to have children comletely taken away from you....even though you've decided to not have any more children, it's still not the same as not having the option to make the choice. There's such a finality to it all.

    Hopefully the new doctor will have some different options, and reassurances, for you. *hugs*

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  12. Thanks, Ginger. Yeah, it is really final...that's what bothers me the most, I think, and the fact that I might have to go on hormones. Blah.

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  13. Spooky, Melissa. I just wrote a short story that, in some ways, runs parallel to what you've described here.

    Pray about it, of course.

    I think if I were in your position, I'd have the surgery, but this has to be your decision.

    Take care. *hugs*

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  14. Oh Melissa, what a dilemma. You've had some great advice there. It is different for everyone. It's so hard having the decision made for you and choices taken away - that's half of the hard part.

    I've had similar scenario but because of different set of health problems. All I can say is that it is very, very hard to see how right now, but this will all work out okay in the end, whatever way it turns out. My doctor once said to me, 'You know, Mother Nature is very clever when she's not being a bitch.' These things have a habit of turning out for the right reasons in the end. If you really can't decide, put it in the hands of someone 'bigger' than you, ie, in the 'lap of the gods' and be assured, in a few years time, you will see it was the right decision.

    Most of all, stay strong

    warm wishes
    xx

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  15. Thanks for the hugs, Janna. Always appreciated!

    Bluestocking Mum - Thanks so much for stopping by and for the thoughtful comment. I like your doctor's quote - :-)

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  16. Chiming in late b/c I've been out of town...unfortunately, I haven't had anything like this experience so I can't weigh in. Just want to let you know I'm thinking of you, and the quote about Mother Nature from Bluestocking Mum is quite true. Hugs!

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  17. Thanks, Christine. :-)

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  18. Hi Melissa - I'm emailing you!

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  19. Got it, Robin. Thanks so much!

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  20. Melissa, I'm woefully behind in my blog reading but I just wanted to leave a comment. I had a partial hysterectomy 7 years ago due to a fibroid that made me almost bleed to death one month. Having the hysterectomy was a no-brainer because I was 46 at the time. I did choose to keep my ovaries to avoid being thrown into menopause right away. In hindsight, I'm not sure I would have done it that way again - I've already had an ovarian cancer scare since then (thankfully a false alarm). If you need any help at all, even if it's just corresponding you through the recovery, I'm your gal.

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  21. Laurie - I just now saw your comment. Thank you so much for responding.

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