Goodbye 2012

Well friends, I cannot let the end of 2012 pass without pondering how it all went.  I have to say, 2012 was a long year.  At the beginning of 2012 I was still rather bloated and in a lot of pain.  I had a laparoscopic surgery in March where I expected endometriosis to be found and cleared.  Unfortunately, a new malady was found and, where possible, cleared.  Fibroids were the cause of my period pain this time.  For treatment I had two choices: I could live with it or I could have a hysterectomy.  It took a couple of weeks to come to a decision but, as soon as I had another period, I knew I had to have a hysterectomy.  I was at wits end and needed to wait three months for relief.

Meanwhile, during my recovery from my first surgery of 2012, I organised to go to the US using the money my father left me.  Emotionally, it was an intense trip.  It’s so hard to do and see and say everything that I want to within just a few days.  Having said that, I had a wonderful time and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Thanks Dad.

In June we celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  I didn’t go to London but I did enjoy all the festivities from the comfort of my own sofa.  Brits don’t normally make a big deal about patriotism but, on this occasion, it was an astounding success.  It made me proud to call England home.

Shortly after the Jubilee, my sister and her boyfriend came to visit.  What a wonderful time we had!  England, despite periodic rain, has rarely looked so lovely.  I did my best to keep up with her but, I’m sorry to say, she has more energy in her little finger than I have in my entire body.

The London Olympics and Paralympics was an amazing experience.  I saw the Olympic Torch go by in person.  My husband and I went to see the Men’s Road Race event in person – because 1) it was reasonably close, 2) we didn’t need tickets and 3) we could say that we were there.  I absolutely loved the whole atmosphere of the country during the Olympics.

The wait continued for my hysterectomy.  Rarely has a mere 3 months felt more like 6 years!  In some ways, the wait was a good thing as I was able to do a number of things to lessen my recovery time overall.  By the time my date arrived I felt fat, bloated and uncomfortable.  I will never forget the sensation of constantly needing the loo –  my uterus was so full of fibroids it was pushing on my bladder and bowel.  They removed 2 kgs of material in my surgery – so I’m not surprised that I was uncomfortable beforehand!  My time in hospital passed without serious incident.   Afterwards I had a nasty stomach bug – which did nothing to shorten my recovery time!  However, the rest of my recovery time passed without incident.

Coming  back to a normal routine and finally feeling better has proved to be more of a struggle than I’d hoped.  After my dad’s birthday this year I’ve had problems with depression.  I think, after all the struggles I’ve had – not to mention two surgeries in the space of just a few months – my body may just be recovering from the various traumas in its own way.  You know how it goes when you’ve been really stressed for a few months and then, as soon as you get the chance to relax, you come down with a cold?  I think my depression may just  be the same sort of thing.  I’ll feel better overall once I get over my “cold”.

Let’s hope that everyone has a happier, healthier 2013!

Happy New Year


Looking forward to going back to work

This time next week I’ll be back at work.  I can’t say I’m exactly looking forward to it but needs must!

I’m certainly feeling up to the task.  I’ve been walking in the garden every day and only experience the odd discomfort.  I still tend to take Paracetamol (Tylenol) before bed because of my discomfort on my left-hand side.  I’m still waiting for the letter from Mr Big’s secretary to tell me why I’ve been so uncomfortable on that side.  From how I feel, I would say that I’ve been scraped on the inside along that side.  Perhaps my fibroids were harder to remove than previously suspected?

A friend told me that I could expect to lose weight while off work and at first I did – after surgery and having a stomach bug, it was to be expected.  However, I have also been eating little and often – as instructed by my clinical nurse.   Bearing  in mind I have insulin resistance, grazing does not suit me.  Before the surgery, thanks mainly to Pilates I think, I dropped a dress size (UK14 to UK12) but I fear I’ve gone back up to 14 when I indulged in grazing and stopped doing the Pilates every day.  When I get back to work and into my usual routine, I’ll go back to my usual diet of large meals mainly consisting of meat and lots of vegetables.  Of course I have carbohydrate too, but my usual diet has just 20 grams of carbohydrate per meal per day.  Lucky for me, I’ve not given away my bigger clothes yet!


Laparoscopic Hysterectomy – My Experience

I’m home now.  My time at hospital was really nice.  I went in on Friday morning.  I was doing what I usually do: cracking jokes and trying to put everyone else at ease.  I figure it’s easy to feel good when everyone around you is relaxed.  I was 3rd on the list that morning so I had some time to wait.

While I waited, I was asked again if I really wanted to keep my cervix – I am still at risk of cervical cancer with a cervix and so will still need to have smear tests.  If I need to have more surgery there, it will be harder than having everything out at once.  I said I wanted to keep it.   I told the nurse that part of the reason I was so keen to keep it for two reasons: the first was because of how I have orgasms.  I know my body well enough to know that I have vaginal, cervical and uterine orgasms.   Lucky for me the uterine orgasms were very rare indeed.  I think I had two or three over my lifetime.  The most recent one made me felt as though I’d been kicked in the womb.  Consequently, I don’t think I’ll miss my uterus after all.  However, the other two are very common for me.  Vaginal orgasms, for me are nice but small.  I can have a few of those before I have a cervical orgasm.  It’s the cervical orgasm that instantly satisfies.  It’s a lot stronger than the vaginal ones.   Generally after a cervical orgasm I go straight to sleep.  Having said that, more recently, I would have back pain before I was able to fall asleep.

The second reason I wanted to keep my cervix is because I feel as though I’m still making up for lost time with my first husband.  I realise I have been with Helios for 6 years so I should have gotten over the whole “wasted time with the ex” thing but after 12 years of being with a man who only wanted to be physical with me once every 6 months or so, it’s little wonder I still chase Helios around the bed.  I’m delighted that Helios lets me catch him!

I think from the discussions I had, usually women choose a total hysterectomy when they get the chance to get the surgery.  I found out after my surgery that the lady across from me had everything removed.

What really surprised me was how many nurses remembered me.  As I was wheeled to theatre, I was chatting with the nurse and said “Thanks for the ride!”  I suppose they don’t get very many former Yanks in a UK hospital who are very good at cracking jokes.  I didn’t remember to write on my belly this time so I just told them that I was only in for a manicure and, when the anaesthetist was putting me to sleep I started singing:

“Good night sweetheart, well it’s time to go.  Doh Doh Dee Doh Doh…  Good night sweetheart well it’s time to go  Doh Doh Doh Doh  I hate to leave you but I really must say…  Goodnight sweetheart, Good night!”  OK, I didn’t get to finish but I made them smile.

While I was under, I understand, I had to have some fibroids cut away and removed via the laparoscopic tools in order to make my uterus small enough to pull through my vagina and cut my uterus away completely.

In recovery I was well looked after.  I had a bit of discomfort so I asked for some painkillers and was given oxygen.  I was sent back to my room.  I have three holes in my belly this time.

I was wheeled back to my multi-occupant room.  I know some people find multi-occupancy a bad thing but I was comforted by the fact the woman across from me was having the same operation and we got the chance to get to know one another just a little.  It was nice to have company.  Of course, I was cracking jokes and trying to let everyone feel better.

I had to stay overnight  because the nurses wanted to remove my catheter at about 11pm.  I dozed off and on the rest of the night.  I was finally allowed to go the next morning after I could prove that I could empty my bladder effectively.  I’m feeling amazing after the surgery.  So far I only have had ibuprofen and paracetamol for the pain; bearing in mind I’ve had so many problems with pain, I’m impressed I don’t need stronger medications after a major surgery!


Once and For All

I rang the hospital on Monday this week and found that I’m still not at the top of the waiting list.   The waiting list isn’t 16 weeks, it’s 18.

Because I was expecting the surgery to happen in early August, I organised what I thought was  my last period several weeks ago.   I was delighted!  The last of the agony!  More recently, I started to have problems with my symptoms but I thought the surgery would happen sooner rather than later.  Sure enough, I started to bloat out terribly and I was having some spotting.  Despite my taking the birth control pill every day, I was having some spotting.  I was struggling!

So on Monday when I was told that I’d need to wait for another two weeks, I gave up and decided to have another period.  I started my period yesterday.  I didn’t bother going into work because I was up in the night from the pain.  I was having the same problem last night.

On top of my period, I have a nasty head cold that my husband kindly given me.  I’m probably not making a lot of sense.  I’m home again today and am trying not to be in too much pain.  Between struggling to breathe and being unable to stand up properly, I’m feeling a bit like I’m falling apart.


Diamond Jubilee

It was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this past weekend.  I’ve got a busy few months coming up so I thought it would be a good idea to fit a period in during the four days off work.  These days,  I try not to risk having time off work because of my pain.  I therefore organise my periods during long weekends to save needing to use a sick day.

So, I’ve got everything organised, now all my body had to do was cooperate.  I took the last birth control tablet on the Friday morning and waited.  Saturday came and went without incident.  Sunday came and went without incident.  Monday I was finally feeling a bit like it could happen and that night I started.  So of the four day weekend where I wanted to have my period and get it over with, I didn’t start until 2½ days in.  How can I possibly organise my life around my period when my body doesn’t cooperate??

As always, it’s pretty bad.  I’m taking Mefenamic Acid and a paracetamol/codeine mix during the day.  Strangely, I rarely have problems during the night.  But, having said that, because the pain is so bad during the day, I think I deserve some sort of respite at night!

Well, when I say I don’t have problems at night, that doesn’t include last night.  My pain woke me up before 5:00 this morning.  I got up, ate a hard-boiled egg and knocked back my tablets before crawling back to bed.  I didn’t think I’d manage to drift off again but soon I was dreaming my usual strange dreams.  This week I have a car parking space at work (which is very unusual) so I took the opportunity and got a bit of extra sleep before I rolled out of bed and down the hill into work.  I think I might have called in sick had I not been able to use the car today – that’s how bad I felt this morning.  Although I was taking it easy all day, I did feel uncomfortable.  There were moments where I just had to sit with my head on the desk and try not to cry but then the tablets would kick in again and I’d feel a little better.

I hope this will be my very last period!  I’m on the waiting list for a hysterectomy and should be given a date in August.  If the date for my surgery happens in early to mid August I probably won’t try to squeeze in another period.  However, if it looks more like end of August or September, I’ll probably have to give my body some sort of period break to prevent how bad I felt before Christmas.  Christmas was  the last time I stretched out the time I had between periods: I was trying not to have a sick day and knew I could give my body a period in just a few day’s time.  In the end, I had a lot of spotting and was in constant pain.  I managed to make it to Christmas but had a terrible Christmas holiday because my body was keen to punish me for making it wait so long to have a period.

I felt bad this weekend because of my period but also because I have thrush again.  I thought I’d sorted this out a couple of weeks ago but it’s come back.  So I’m in pain and thoroughly irritated!  Not a good combination!  I don’t know what I hate more – thrush infection or paying for the treatments.  It’s £8.99 per pessary and I cannot take the oral tablets because it turns out I’m allergic to it.  Grrrrr.


Organised Period

When I was young and I couldn’t control when my periods were happening, I would miss school from the pain.  I resisted starting birth control because I was afraid that it would make people think I was “easy”.  But then when I started taking birth control I thought “Why didn’t I do this before?”

These days the birth control tablets don’t work as well as they used to.  I have as much pain as I used to when I was young.  The only thing that the birth control does is allow me to  have fewer periods.  Fewer periods = less pain.

These days I organise my periods around my life, which means when I have time off work – the Diamond Jubilee weekend for instance when I am planning to relax – I have a period so that I don’t have to take time off work as sick from my pain.

I’m hoping that the period I have this weekend will be my last.  Oh dear God, I hope it’s my very last!


Looking forward to Hysterectomy

I must admit that I found the whole idea of a hysterectomy to be very daunting at first but, after having spoken to a number of women, I’m more confident about the procedure.

I spoke with a girlfriend recently who had her hysterectomy done at my local hospital and she couldn’t have said nicer things about how she was treated.  She was done a few years ago and has a scar where one would have a caesarean scar.  She stayed in for four days.  She was therefore pleasantly surprised at how my procedure will be performed and how quickly I’m expected to recover.  I’m due to have another laparoscopy to remove my ovaries (which will be attached to the sides of my abdomen – not just floating around) and then they’ll pull everything remaining through my va.  They’re going to remove my cervix and everything else.  They’re going to close everything back and voila! I’m expecting to go back to work within 4 weeks but have been told by my work that if I need my first week to ease me in gently (i.e. just work mornings or just work 3 days…) they would be happy to give me that opportunity.

I was chatting with my mom a few weeks ago about the procedure and what I can expect.  I said I think it’s a good thing that I have to wait bearing in mind that I have 3 months or so to get myself into better shape than I am now.  I think I’ve needed the excuse to trim up.  Since 2008 I’ve grown two dress sizes.  I’ve called it my “happy weight” and not given it much thought but with a goal in mind, I’m consciously working on my posture and trying to take more exercise.  I’ve been doing a little standing Pilates exercises everyday which I hope helps.  I occasionally do “the hundred” as a Pilates mat exercise and I’m delighted that I can still do it!  I’ve also been taking the train to and from the office which means I’m walking between 20 and 30 minutes each way a day – both journeys have a significant hill involved.  The duration usually depends on how much I’m carrying and what shoes I’m wearing.  Generally speaking I get home at the end of the day and I’m glistening – which isn’t a bad thing healthwise!  Finally, I don’t have a terrible diet but I’ve been eating more and more salads lately.  The weather has been so unseasonably hot in England lately that I haven’t fancied anything else!  I’m sure it all counts for something at the end of the day.  Even if I don’t lose a dress size or two, I’ll be happy that I’ve at least made the effort to get myself into the best shape I can before my next operation.

Speaking of losing a dress size – do you think they’ll give me a little liposuction while they’re in there?  Just trim my stomach, bum and thighs?  I expect I’ll ask that next time I’m on the table and they’re about to wheel me in…


Hysterectomy Prep – Pilates

I’ve been doing a bit of Pilates practice in order to have a quicker recovery after my upcoming surgery.  Thanks to Fiona the Fibroid, I’ve been having problems with bloating.  I look as if I’m a few months pregnant!  However, I’m finding that the Pilates makes me feel a bit more trim.

I saw some friends yesterday and one said that I’ll be very likely to lose a lot of weight post hysterectomy.  It’s another reason to look forward to the surgery!


Hysterectomy Prep

I went along for my follow-up to my follow-up.  Helios came with me.  I asked all my questions.  I got answers.  In particular, I said, in no uncertain terms, that I was afraid that I would lose the ability to have an orgasm if I had everything removed.  The consultant asked me if I have orgasms now.  I laughed and said yes.  She said, “well if you didn’t have them before the operation you won’t have them after – I’m not a miracle worker!  But I’ve never been told that a woman loses her ability to orgasm after a hysterectomy.”

I also mentioned all the other maladies I endure – the endometriosis, the polycystic ovaries, the insulin resistance.  She said I had “The full whammy!” and I said I was indeed a very lucky girl!  Because these other issues won’t go away with the hysterectomy, I mentioned wanting to stay on my birth control pills in order to maintain my current hormone levels.  She said I should try life without them first and concentrate on feeling better.  I reluctantly agreed.

As certain as she was that the hysterectomy would be a great thing for me, I’m still apprehensive but satisfied that a hysterectomy is my best of all my options.  I suppose I’m still apprehensive because I’m still not entirely sure that this change in my body won’t effect how I feel when I’m physical with my husband.  However, I feel I don’t have much choice – the pain I have with my Fiona the Fibroid is too much for me.

The consultant asked Helios how he felt about me having more surgery and he said that he was concerned about me and would support any decision I make.  Only I could decide how much pain I could endure.

I now know what they’ll do to me when I’m under:  they’re opening me up at the belly button again and moving my ovaries to the sides of my abdomen before pulling everything else out my vagina.  They will take the cervix, my uterus, and fallopian tubes.  Normally they don’t bother taking the cervix but I’ve had a number of instances over the past few years where precancerous cells were found on my cervix.  I was told that they could leave the cervix but if it needed to be removed at a later date, it would be a very difficult operation to undergo.  It is better to have it out now and I reluctantly agreed.

As this surgery is more involved than all the others I’ve had, I’ve been told that I need to start Pilates classes again: a strong pelvis is important for a quick recovery.  I’ve also been warned about other post-op issues like constipation and what to eat when in order to keep my strength up.  I was a little concerned that the consultant was a little surprised that the surgeon’s confidence that the hysterectomy could be performed vaginally (Fiona the fibroid is a big girl!) but, because it’s being done this way, my recovery time should be between 3 and 4 weeks.  If I had a more physically demanding job it would be more, and less if less.  Helios has enough holiday to stay with me during my first week.  The waiting list is about 3 months so I’m looking at August for the surgery and recovery.

I’ve told my work recovery will be four weeks, just to be on the safe side.  They have suggested, if I need to ease myself back into a 5 day week, I could build up to it over a period of weeks.  I do feel very lucky to be in such a supportive environment!

I’m still feeling down about it.  I’ve been telling myself that losing my uterus and other accoutrements wouldn’t make me feel less like a woman but I’ve associated physical love with being a woman for so long.  I’m afraid that if I lose my libido or my ability to have an orgasm that I won’t feel like a woman.

I need to focus on the positive: with Fiona gone, I’ll never have another period and, potentially, never have pain again.  It could be that my endometriosis comes back in a few years but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Pain, pain go away and don’t come back another day

I’ve been in pain today.  I’ve tried so hard for years to work out a treatment that eliminates my pain altogether.  I was lucky in my 20s and the birth control pill kept my symptoms at bay.  Oh how I wish I could have truly appreciated those years!  If only I had understood how lucky I was and done more with that time.

But now is not a time to look backward.  I don’t have time to regret what I could have been without my constant companion.  Now is the time to take more painkillers and try to stop crying.

I have tried for so many years to do something that kept my endometriosis pain at bay.  Then when I finally don’t seem to have any active endometriosis lesions, I develop something (truly) just as bad for me: fibroids.  The pain is shooting down my legs.  The pain is making my ovaries burn.  I’m sitting here on the sofa crying, unable to see any reason not to have a hysterectomy.  My Fiona the Fibroid has to go.  I have had enough pain in my life.  I’m ready for drastic action.

OK, I’m still apprehensive about having another surgery (and who can blame me) but I’m tired of being in pain.  I’m tired of living my life in fear of my pain.  I’m tired of organising my life to fit around my periods.  I can’t take anymore.  I need some sort of relief and if it means taking away body parts and throwing them to the dogs – so be it.

I’m sorry.  I’m feeling a bit down.  I’m angry and fed up.  I’m tired.  I shouldn’t be sitting here feeling sorry for myself – I know so many people are dealing with so much more than me – but I’ve had so many years of pain…  I’ve done a quick calculation and I’ve spent more than four years in pain already.  Not constant pain, clearly, but pain that has prevented me from being at my best.  It’s time I did myself that favour and have the hysterectomy.   I absolutely cannot wait any longer to do something!