So I am 40-something, a long time sufferer of all things menstrual and have finally succumbed to my only remaining option for help, a hysterectomy. The decision has been a long time coming and is not made without regrets, but then we don't always choose our circumstances do we? It is one of those things that would appear to fall into one of two trains of thought - you are either for, or you are against. Me, I have always been against, for purely personal reasons, yet here I am.
I don't mind admitting that I cried the day before my surgery, the day of the surgery and then again the day afterward. In my head I knew logically it was in my best interests, but it was in my heart, that I struggled to come to terms with giving up my uterus.
A multitude of factors influenced my thoughts, my emotions and my decisions. In choosing whether to go ahead, ultimately I trusted my doctor's expertise in this; he supplied all the relevant physical details about the surgery both pre and post op, but strangely, the emotional details were missing and it was from girlfriends I received this information.
Interestingly, in discussions about a hysterectomy, the majority of people with an opinion focus on the actual removal of the womb and other 'important bits' and how this will magically 'fix' things. Funnily many of these opinions come from people who have never (and could never have) a hysterectomy! It is only those women who have actually had the surgery who will discuss the associated emotional journey. As the mother of one (only) adult child, I have always felt intense guilt about the absence of siblings for him. Then now, as I prepare to marry a man who has no previous marriages, or children, my feelings of guilt have intensified. Whether these feelings are justified or not doesn't matter, they are all just part of the journey. Then just when I thought I had made peace with my decision, the rationale of the public hospital to place me in the maternity ward post-op, was the final cruel blow. Lying in bed, surrounded by fetal heart monitors, the mews of newborn infants and a stream of someone else's visitors asking me, 'and what did you have?', left depression knocking at my door. The nurses affirmations that I was simply at a different stage in my life to the other women, was not helpful.
But here I am now, seven weeks later, womb-less and the physical trauma is now much less, and emotionally I am on a more even keel. The emotional pain was as intense as the physical and took just as long to heal. With the love and support of my fiance, my son, my parents and girlfriends, I have come through the other side. I stand by my decision, difficult as it was, and it reminds me just how much we women really need other women. It was they who brought me food in hospital and at home, they supplied me pillows to hold against my body to ease the pain of movement, and they brought me feel good movies to distract me. They instinctively understood my pain. Would I make the same decision again? Probably. My gal-pals made everything OK. They informed me. They supported me. They loved me unconditionally in spite of the roller-coaster ride of the last seven weeks. I am woman, I am womb-less, I am free!
Thinking about the pros of the surgery, I understand the sanitary pad companies will miss my money, I will never again suffer the indignities of 'accidents' at work, nor the changing of bedclothes and linen in the wee hours of the morn, or the pain and fear that preceded each coming period. Of course now, I can enjoy guilt free intimacies with my partner, no longer worried that we may accidentally conceive. Yay!! Yes, I made the right decision for me. Would I recommend it? That is not my place to say for another, each woman's journey is different. What I would say is, balance the pros and cons and do what is right for YOU. Feelings of freedom come with freedom of choice.
# 40 Plus