“That’s the hardest part – the scar tissue. I’m not okay, but I’m getting closer to it everyday…”
“That’s the hardest part – the scar tissue. I’m not okay, but I’m getting closer to it everyday…”
So it’s been over a year since my surgery, and I am FINALLY sitting down to tell you how it went – I know…too damn long! So first off, I will say that I was scared to go into surgery, but luckily I had the support of loved ones to get me through the jitters and the unknown. It was my first time going under the knife, or even having to stay at the hospital. It was strange being on the other side of things, as I had become accustomed to being in hospitals when my dad was sick and had his stroke, but it was defiantly different being the one who was “sick”. You truly do put all your faith in the hands of those who are taking care of you – such as the doctors and nurses.
As you may or may not recall, I was supposed to get a laparoscopic myomectomy. They were to make 3 to 4 small incisions, insert tools, and remove the fibroid. It was supposed to be a quicker recover that way. However, the story didn’t quite play out like that. When I woke up I was groggy and in some pain. After a bit, they wheeled me into a room, which surprised me, because I was expecting to go home that same day. No one really told me at that point that instead of the small incisions I was expecting, they had actually had to open me up – as in a c-section style incision called an open myomectomy – about 5 inches near the bikini line, and a smaller one inch incision right above the belly button. I found out when I saw a familiar face come into my room and was told that my fibroid was too big to have been taken out as had been planned by the doctor. How big was it? The size of a softball. And instead of being slightly attached to my uterus via a stem like the doctor thought, it was actually growing into the wall of the uterus, which made it more difficult to remove laparoscopicly.
I think I was kind of shocked that they had actually cut me open like that. Yes, I always knew it was a possibility, but I guess I never really prepared myself for it. Anyways, I ended up having to stay in the hospital for at about 2 extra days, which I was also unprepared for. Was there pain? Yes. I could barely get out of bed. Every little movement or jerk hurt. We don’t realize how dependent we are on our core – our abdomen – for even the slightest of movements. Laughing or coughing was very painful. I literally laughed so hard I cried one day because it hurt so bad. I also felt like my insides were jello – all jiggly and loosened up. It was the strangest sensation. Along with that came the feeling of having to pee/poop right away, because I felt as though I had lost some control over being able to “hold it” the way I used to. Getting in and out of bed was impossible in the beginning, and for some reason the first day I got back home, I decided to get into bed, and believe me – it was the worst mistake EVER! LOL. I got so pissed off because I could not get myself out of bed. Every movement hurt, and I had no strength or ability to pull myself up or even roll to my side. I needed help and even that scared me because I was in pain. I ended up sleeping on the couch with a bunch of pillows lifting me up a bit, and that’s how I slept for some time. Eventually, I was able to sleep in my bed, on my back, but that was about it. Rolling to the side was a bit painful and uncomfortable. So because of this back pain wasn’t uncommon.
Another memory I have is of how extremely winded I was. I mean like hard core winded – I literally could not stay up on my feet for too long because I got so tired. It was really crazy. Walking was a pain too, because I was as slow as molasses. Taking walks took a lot of time, and I had to really go at my own pace as there was some pain and discomfort. Discomfort throughout the whole thing was the key word. My stomach was all puffed up and it didn’t go down for a while (hell, it still puffs up). I ended up gaining weight throughout my body, but especially my stomach. Not using those muscles for such a long time really screwed me over.
I ended up going to work a bit too quickly, now that I look back. I believe it was 3 weeks after the surgery. Bad idea too…lol. My back was killing me and I just didn’t have the energy. My advice – give yourself as much time as your body needs to fully recover. Don’t rush to go back to work – it’s not worth it and your body really does need extra time to feel better.
Fast forward to today. The actual surgery pain is all gone. I can sleep any way I want now, though sometimes sit still feels weird sleeping on my stomach. There is still a “discomfort” associated with my stomach. Even touching the incision area or pressing down feels a bit weird. Some areas are still numb. For me, one side of the incision seemed to take longer to heal than the other. There are times when I get some sharp pains or discomfort in the lower abdomen area. Not sure if it’s my ovaries or just scar tissue acting up, but it’s not bad – just annoying. My menstrual cycles seem shorter, but don’t know if that has anything to do with the surgery or not. I’ve gained weight since the surgery which I mentioned above (but I do attribute this to my lack of exercise, which I really need to change). My muscles are weak, and I really need to build muscle back up again. Good thing is I am able to move around and run and do all the things I used to before the surgery – so the pain does go away eventually. In fact, there will be a moment, where you don’t even realize that you are now able to put on your own socks, or bend over without pain. It will just happen – I promise. My insides no longer feel like jello. And as far as the bathroom goes – I do have to say that I can’t hold it for as long as I used to anymore. I guess when they go in and move around all your insides, it really fucks with your body. Not to say that I need a diaper or anything…lol. It’s just that when I start to feel an urgency, then it’s really time to go and I can’t say “in a little bit”.
In addition to some of the items mentioned above, it is important to note that 2 things (should I ever get pregnant) will happen as a consequence of this surgery. One is I will have to deliver via C-section. My body cannot due a vaginal delivery because my uterus would not be strong enough. And secondly, because it is not strong enough, I will have to deliver early. These things are a bit scary as at my age of 37, I am already at a difficult age for pregnancy. Technically if I were to get pregnant, it would be considered a “geriatric pregnancy”. So we add that along with the fact I’d have to have another C-section and deliver early, and that just makes for a scary decision.
Will I have a baby at some point? I don’t know. I have been grappling with this decision for a while, weighing the pros and cons. But now, even more, it’s an even harder decision. Because I would never want to put my life, or the life of my child’s at risk. Nor would I want to experience any complications. But I guess we shall see…..only God knows what will happen.
Anyways, that was my experience – or at least a quick version of it. Should you have any questions, let me know!
This is a very personal story as it is not common for women to talk about. But I decided to post about it because as I have been searching for insight and information, and have found that not too much is available to us woman on this particular topic – or at least not personal accounts. If I can help at least one woman by putting my story out there and making them feel less alone and more informed than I, then it will be worth any type of embarrassment or weirdness I might feel about putting this information out there. Not only that, but it’s important to hear other’s stories with how they dealt and are dealing with the same issues we are. It makes us feel like we can get through those things if we know others have too.
About a year ago, I found out I had two foreign objects growing in my body – a decent size fibroid and a small polyp. The fibroid was the size of a small orange, subserosal (outside of the uterus), pedunculated (on a stalk) behind the uterus. The polyp is inside the uterus. While fibroids are very common in women, I found it intrusive that something this big had been growing inside of me (for possibly years unbeknownst to me), and causing issues I might have not even known about. Issues that maybe I blamed myself for in the past, or issues that I might have associated with other possible causes.
At the time, the symptoms included tenderness and sharp jabbing pains in my lower left abdomen (basically where my left ovary was located). Not only that, but I was feeling a bit of pressure and bloating. At that point, it wasn’t enough to really make me think about surgery or anything of the sort. It was more of an annoyance. I wasn’t experiencing the heavy bleading normally associated with fibroids, although I did often get blood clots and strong cramping. Odly, and unusually, my cycle had gotten shorter in length (which I’m hoping won’t change in the future). It went from being about 5 days to 3-4 days long.
Recently, I finally decided to go back to the doctor and get it checked out again. It had grown – the size now being of a medium size orange – actually larger than my own uterus. I have been feeling super bloated all the time. I eat and feel full very quickly and have gotten a bit of reflux . I’ve gained weight. I still get the tenderness, stabbing pains, and on top of that I have felt a lump in my lower abdomen right beneath my belly button. At times, when I have had that lump (which is every so often), and have rolled onto my stomach, it actually feels like I am laying on a baseball. I feel pressure and cramping at times (even while I don’t have my period). I get back pain, and at times I’ve had to use the restroom more frequently then I used to. I’ve gotten stomach issues more frequently as well. Fibroids can also affect your sex life, either by causing discomfort or pain. I too have felt those symptoms. They polyp as small as it might be, might even be contributing to some of those feelings and symptoms.
So because of all of this, and the fact that I don’t want the fibroid to either increase in size making it more difficult to remove by small incisions, degenerate by itself (which can be extremely painful), or get tangled on itself (which can also be painful), I have decided to get it removed through a procedure called laparoscopic myomectomy. After seeing two gynecologists (which I strongly recommend you do if you are unsure of your doctor), I decided that it was the best decision for me. Laparoscopic myomectomy is a procedure where they make smaller incisions, insert instruments and a camera through those incisions to remove the fibroid. No morcellation would be done, as it has been shown to spread cancer, should the fibroid be cancerous. So that would mean that they will have to bring the fibroid up to the larger incision and remove it little by little, piece by piece. The polyp on the other hand would be scraped off the lining of the uterus – similar to what is done when women have miscarriages (D&C).
My surgery is scheduled for next week, and while it scares me as this would be my very first surgery, and I am not looking forward to pain, cuts on my stomach, and all the hassles and discomforts associated with having to go into a hospital as well as recovery – it is the decision I need to stick with. I’ve already done my pre-admission testing which was just really blood work and answering a bunch of questions, as well as getting information. In just a few days, I will go “under the knife” sort of speak. I’m hoping all goes well and that I can tolerate the discomfort and outright pain. But the thing that keeps me motivated is the hope that these symptoms I am feeling will be alleviated and that my body will have a new normal.
I hope to write a bit more about my experience so that anyone reading this who is also going through the same thing, or is considering surgery, will get a glimpse into my experience. I know that as I go into my surgery (fears and all), I will come out of it stronger than ever. Wish me good thoughts and a speedy recovery!
I don’t know what it was about our recent interaction…as small as it might have been. It brought me back to memories. Memories I care to forget. It’s true what they say. Sometimes people just leave an indelible mark. Whether good or bad, they just leave a mark. The mark I have is a mark that cannot be covered, or filled up, hidden or wished away. I just live with it and go on.
They say the best way to heal is to write. To write away all the pain. All the hurt. To leave it somewhere. And so I hope to leave some of it on these pages…in this journal.
How is it that after so long I still feel pain, anger, hurt, or sadness over someone who did me wrong….I don’t know. I can’t seem to shake it off. You don’t know how many times I ask myself “why”. Am I just that gullable? Was I just that in love? Was the pull I felt that strong? Am I the only one who still feels this way? Why was I so stupid? So blind to love?
It still hurts….still angers. The day you ignored me at the gym. How I got close to you and you dismissed me. How you didn’t acknowledge me…didn’t grab my hand…didn’t put your arm around my waist…didn’t touch the small of my back. The day at the sneaker store…how vivid it still is. How you seemed to be bothered by me. Burdened by me. I still kick myself for buying those insoles…the ones that cost just as much as those sneakers. What was I thinking? Why was I even there that day inside that store with you when I knew in my heart that your heart had strayed so far from mine? Why? It was so that I could connect….so that I could also embark in healthier living with you. To support you – to support us in making better choices. The same reason I was there with you at the gym.
The times I gave you money so that you could pay off loans a bit quicker. So that you could bring down your debt because I wanted to see you prosper and move forward…less worries. I wanted your victory to be mine. I wanted us to move forward together. The day I gave you money to pay for your flight when your stepmom passed. I tried to be there for you the best ways I could. You cried on my shoulder when you found out. Yet you were not there the day I needed you – my father’s passing. Why was I so blind that I could not see that a man who loves you does not leave you on one of the most important days of your life. The man that loves you drops the world to be there to support you and your family in any way he can. The day I loaned you money for a car. The day I loaned you money for that car….yes…I have to say it twice. That day hurts as well. My life savings…my hard earned money. But the worst part was that it wasn’t so much as the money, but because at that point you had already given up on us. Yet you took the money. You took the money knowing things were not right with us. Or rather, that you were not right with us. And I lovingly and naively gave it to you. Why? Why did I give so much, yet ultimately get so little in return?
The day (and days) you were looking through dating sites…already searching for another life. Another life without me. Looking for a replacement. A new conquest…a fresh start. Someone who could give you all the things I was lacking. I never believed your story. But I couldn’t bear to face the truth. Before your heart strayed, you told me I was beautiful just as I was. The same things you seemed to love and accept about me became the very same things you began to hate about me. And yes, it felt like hate. Your rejection began to feel like hate. Your lack of feeling and compassion. Your lack of communication. I don’t know exactly where it all turned. I don’t know when I started to become a burden. Because you didn’t tell me. You told others, but not me. I was blind. I didn’t understand. I asked what was wrong and got no response that made sense. And all the while my heart just kept sinking…and I kept praying God would bring you back to my heart. I kept praying he would make it all better. That he would fix it.
The day you didn’t come home. I waited for you. I was so worried. I was so hurt. You didn’t care. I was no one to you at that point.
The days I cried in bed…wondering why you had changed. Wondering what was wrong. The days I begged for you to tell me. I hurt so much.
And for all the time you never told me. For all the times I was fighting a losing battle to get through to you. For all the times I was fighting a war I didn’t know I was in. For all the times that you were testing me…and I didn’t know.
Why did I do all I did? Why did I fight so hard? Why did I continue to look for solutions? Why did I care so much? Why did I love so much? Why did I give you all of me and then some? It was always about you and me. About spending time with you, supporting you, loving you.
Is it wrong that I still feel hurt? Is it wrong that I still cannot seem to open up to love in my life? Is it wrong that I question everything? Is it wrong that some go through this and seem to move forward so quickly, yet I am still so far behind? I don’t know. All I can believe is that I need to be free to feel what I feel. That my time may not be your time. That my heart may take longer to heal than your heart.
All I can do is continue to move forward. Continue to shed these feelings – because they will dissipate in time. But in order for me to do that I need to be true to myself. I need to acknowledge what I feel. I can’t be ashamed of it.
One day I hope to not feel this hurt anymore. One day, I hope these thoughts and memories will no longer live in my mind, and these feelings no longer in my heart. One day, I hope that my heart can heal completely. I have faith God will help me reach that point. I have faith others will also help me reach that point. Because someone will have the heart and love I need. I just need to be open to it.
So I will strive to move forward daily and open up to the possibility that the next mark – because there will always be one – will be a good one. One that brings me joy, and not pain. One I can grow old with. One that will be worth the pain of my past. One that I will be proud and joyful to display for the remaining days of my life.
So I finally did it – I graduated college May 20, 2015 with a Bachelors in Fine Arts!!!!
With this accomplishment and degree came THE question: what are you going to do with that fine arts degree?. And all I can say about it is it’s not so much what I’m going to do with the degree – it’s about what the degree has done for me.
My father was illiterate. My mother was lucky enough to have the opportunity to graduate from high school. We were low-income minorities living in Elizabeth. I never thought about going to college – I thought about surviving. About working and providing for myself and my family. But I just so happened to stumble across a job, that just so happened to be at a university, that just so happened to offer tuition free courses for employees. And something made me take that chance….just try it, for the hell of it. To see where it would lead me – it was an opportunity and I took it.
My degree is not one many are proud to say they have. Some are shunned and told it will lead nowhere. Some are told it is a waste of time and money. Some are told they will never find jobs. But for me – it was never a waste of time or money, because it was never really about the degree to me, or about a career. It was about personal growth – it was about challenging myself and taking a risk. It was about doing something that I truly enjoyed, and that for much of my childhood was so much a part of me already. From my love of music, to being creative and hands on….it was always who I was.
Pursing my degree in fine arts was truly one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve grown immensely from the experience. The saying “it’s the journey, not the destination”, rings so true for this experience. I’ve grown in ways that I don’t think I would have, had I stayed in my own little shell – in the safety of not trying, and just working and surviving. I’m much more open to others and life in general. I learned to step out of my box, to try new things, to get involved (not only in class but through my participation in college activities such as the CPTS (Council for Part-Time Students)). I’ve connnected with other students, both older and younger, as well as professors. I’ve learned so much in my classes and have been privy to conversations, cultures, and people, I would have never gotten a chance to meet and be part of had I passed on the opportunity. Not only that, but the experience helped me get through rough patches in my life – from my father’s illness which spanned the majority of my time at the university, to unemployment and heartbreak. It gave me other things to focus on. It was a channel I desperately needed to keep me on track and moving forward so that I wouldn’t be stuck drowning in my own sorrows and disappointments.
Yesterday (my graduation), went by in a flash. 10 years – yes, 10 years as a part-time student at my university (never giving up), and it all lead to 4 hours at a ceremony and 3 seconds on a stage to receive my diploma. Those 3 seconds a complete blur, but a culmination of what I had set my mind to 10 years ago.
I’m proud. Proud that I stuck with something for so long, and continued, even through everything that was going on in my own life. Proud that I can say that maybe I sparked a fire in my brother so that he too could begin his college career and eventually end up receiving his Masters in Social Work. Proud that there are now 2 college graduates in my immediate family. And proud that my parents (my father who is not here, but I know would have been proud of us), can see us moving forward in our lives and reaching for goals that they could have never even imagined for us.
So I say to those who ask me – it is not about what I am going to do with the degree….it’s about what the degree has done for me.
I watched the movie “The Fault in Our Stars” this weekend. It was a romantic, yet sad and thought provoking movie about two teens who fall in love – one of them, Hazel, who is battling cancer, who falls in love with Gus, someone who survived cancer, lost a leg, yet seemed to have a positive outlook on life and sense of humor that changes Hazel’s perspective on life…and on what she was going through. But as the story develops, it turns out Gus has a recurrence of cancer which only gives him a short time to live. And we see his battle and struggle with the disease. So much so that it changes his perspective…..diminishes his light. And then it is Hazel who holds him up….tries to encourage him.
There were a couple of things that made me sad. One, and I guess the most important, is that it reminded me of my dad…..of his illness. Of how it took so much away from him. Of how this strong man became so weak and frail. I hate illness. I’m scared of it. I live in fear of having to go through what I went through with my dad with someone else I love. I don’t want anyone I love to ever go through any of that. How horrible it is to be ill and not be able to do the things you once were able to do so freely without a single thought or effort. Something as simple as walking down the street, or using the restroom by yourself, bathing without help, or speaking clearly, or feeling your left arm or leg, or working and feeling useful and productive. God, so many things. So many things that we take for granted.
There was a quote in the movie…one that resonated, which was:
“There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”
When I heard that is was like, wow…she’s right. We never know when today will be our last good day, or great day, or ok day…..or even our final day. When today will be the last day we can talk, and walk, or see, or move freely, or be without pain and illness, or see our loved one, or hear our kids laughing, or hear our moms and dads say “I love you”, or feel their touch or presence, or not have to see our loved ones suffer, or have a place to call home, or food on the table, etc…etc.
Sometimes what we make out to be hellish or difficult days, are not that at all. In fact they are sorry excuses for bad days. They have absolutely nothing on the bad days of people who are ill and in pain and in hospitals, and who are going through devastating and heart breaking struggles. Our bad days are laughable. Compared to them, our bad days are amazing wonderful days. They are great days.
We need to start seeing all the positive around us. Because there is so much to be grateful for. So much to be happy about. So much to be thankful for. You know that saying – “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone”? That saying is so true. See it’s like that song by Passenger…….”only know you’ve been high when your feeling low”, “only miss the sun when it starts to snow”. We humans are like that. We don’t realize what we truly have until it’s gone. Until we lose something. Let’s not wait to lose something to realize what we have. Lets not wait until we are crippled, and ill, or dead, to realize how great we had it. How great our “bad days” really were. Let us not have to ever realize that today was “OUR LAST GOOD DAY”.
You see we all fall into that mind frame. We all succumb. But the goal is to have less days like that, and more days where we admire and count our blessings. More days where we make an effort to see the brighter side. To laugh. To find the humor in difficult situations. To reach out to those we love. To reach out to strangers. To admire in awe at the beauty of the world. To smell the roses……and how beautiful those roses smell.
I was bullied and teased as a child and felt alone, but I’m still here.
My father became ill…my whole world changed and I had to carry a heavy load, but I’m still here.
I lost my father and I never got a chance to truly know him, but I’m still here.
My first real love broke my heart, but I’m still here.
I lost my job a couple of days after that breakup, but I’m still here.
I still feel lost and alone at times, but I’m still here.
There must be a reason why I am still here. Something greater than me got me through those things. God, love, family, friends, faith, hope. A promise of a new day filled with less pain, less tears, and more joy, happiness, laughter. A promise that things would get better. That there is a greater plan for me. That who I was and still am is special, strong, loving, and deserves happiness and joy. That I was meant to learn from those experiences. Become a better person, a more loving and compassionate person. This is my journey. I am looking forward to all the great things God has in store for me. May this coming year be a year of great joy, laughter, love, self fulfillment, new adventures, fun, tranquility, peace, family, and great friends. I welcome you 2015. Let your many blessings rain over me and those that I love and care for.