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Thursday, September 25, 2008

In the beginning: part three

I've always hated the expression "there's a party in my pants and you're all invited." Really. So gross.

However, in my case it seemed to be true. Well, only if you were endometrial cells and my pants was my abdomen.

It turns out I had a whole lot goin' on under the hood. I was told later that after they inserted the camera for the laparoscopy, this was going to have to be a bigger job. A six-inch incision kind of job.

Apparently, I had endometrial adhesions all. over. my. abdomen.

This was surprising as I never had any symptoms. However, this fact did not deter the doctors that checked in on me over the course of the FIVE DAYS I STAYED IN THE HOSPITAL (more on that in another post). Apparently it was inconceivable that I could have that severe of endometriosis (stage 4 of 5, I think) without having any symptoms.

I have to say, that I think after the fourth of fifth doctor that asked me the same set of questions about it, that I began to lose faith in the medical system as a whole.

No, I don't have any pain during my periods, or in between.

No, I don't have breakthrough bleeding.

Apparently, I was the only person in the world who had endometriosis and no outward symptoms. Except for the fact that I wasn't. In one study:

Nearly one-third of the women having endometriosis have no symptoms other than infertility.

So, I still had my uterus, but I had endometriosis. Right. No problem. They got rid of it. Just scraped it away. I was surely fine. No problems here......right??

I must admit, I was a little surprised when I went to a follow up visit and the doctor in charge asked me how soon my husband and I were going to try to have kids. Strange, I thought, because they got rid of the problem. Oh, except for the part that they left the THREE VERY LARGE FIBROIDS on my uterus. 'Cuz that might affect my fertility, you know, if they did anything with that.

Looking back on my medical records, the 3 fibroids totaled a mass greater than the total size of my uterus. But surely that wouldn't cause me problems, right?

To be continued....

In the beginning: part two

I don't know what I expected when I woke up from surgery. Not that I would immediately be lucid, but, I don't know, maybe I would have a caring nurse or doctor at my side, taking my vitals, patting me on the head with a cold washrag, asking me what I would like for my first meal after surgery....

Maybe that did happen. If so, I don't remember it. The first thing I remember after surgery was being moved down THE BUMPIEST HALLWAY ON EARTH on a hospital bed with no shocks. I also remember a conversation, or snippets of one:

Do you think I ought to tell her?

Well, I think that it is always best to tell the truth.

Yeah, I guess so.

I don't know how well she is going to take it though....

Two people were wheeling me down the hallway. And I knew, I was just SO sure they were talking about me. That was it. My confirmation. I had a hysterectomy. So, as calmly as I could, I decided to engage these individuals in a rational, emotionless discussion. "Pardon me health care professionals, but I would like to have an in-depth discussion about my surgery and how this may effect my reproductive capabilities." Which, came out as a slightly audible squeak "Do I still have my uterus?"

No answer.

So I asked again, tears streaming down my face, "Do I still have my uterus?"

I wish I could have seen the look on these two people's faces. I really do. Looking back on it now, it must have been a look of shock and horror. It's probably not that I couldn't have seen these people's faces if I wanted to, it's just that I hadn't opened my eyes. I guess in the post-surgery haze, eye opening was optional for conversation.

What I did hear was a lot of stammering and the movement of the bed to its new location sped up considerably.

The next thing I remember was one of the people saying "Oh, are you her husband? Great. She is asking if she still has a uterus. I-I-I don't really know what surgery she had. Great, you'll take care of it? Great."

I'm pretty sure I felt the rush of two people running from my room.

Then I felt my husband take my hand. I opened my eyes. "Yes, Brenda, yes you still have your uterus."

To be continued...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In the beginning

I wish I was terribly clever. And funnier. Or maybe more creative.

I would like a way to lay out all of the infertility business in my life with such grace, humor and aplomb that you (and I) would be enraptured. However, the battery on my computer is going to die in a few minutes and I have not thought of anything terribly funny or clever, so I should just begin, eh?

I feel a bit like infertility snuck up on me, like a thief in the night. Not that I didn't know about infertility. I have two friends and a cousin-in-law who had been dealing with it in their lives. It's just that I figured that if I was infertile, I would only be a teensy bit infertile, you know? Just a little help, here and there. And then all would be right with the world.

Really, I didn't think that I had too much to worry about. I have always had regular periods. Really. You could set a calendar by me. Friends of mine who were having fertility issues always had issues with their periods, missed ones, ones happening too close together. Not me...24-26 days, rain or shine. The first incling that something was wrong was in 2002. I had gone in for a routine physical and the Dr. noticed that my abdomen was hard. She suspected uterine fibroids. I had never heard of such things, but working in the cancer field, I was a little disressed to realize that they were outgrowths of the uterus. I am really wary of things growing in one's body inappropriately. Assured that they were not cancerous, I was sent to have an internal ultrasound to verify the diagnosis. The ultrasound tech took a lot of images, pointed out some of the fibroids and I was on my way. I got a call a few days later that they had found a mass near one of my ovaries and wanted to perform an MRI to check it out. I met with some specialists (described as "excellent doctors, but not very friendly"-an apt description). I was sure that the MRI would show something rather innocuous and I would be on my way. Alas, it turned out that I had a endometrioma on my left ovary and it needed to be removed, lest it burst and cause me great pain. Well, not what I had hoped for, but it was fixable.

It was also my first major surgery, so I was more than a little scared.

I met with the Doctors that were going to perform the surgery. They asked if I just wanted a laparoscopy (just the poke holes with the camera--less invasive) or, if they saw anything more in there if they should proceed with a laparotomy. I had made my mind up after staying up all night with the after effects of the "bowel prep." "Do what you have to do. I don't want to come in for another surgery."

So they wheeled me into the OR with a wristband that said: possible cystectomy, ooectomy, hysterectomy.

They helped me move from the gurney to the OR table. I remember looking up at the big overhead light with the doctors and nurses in their scrubs and caps looking down on me. A doctor said, " We're giving you a sedative. You will feel like you just had a cocktail."

Yeah. Right.

What I felt like was that someone took my head and started spinning it around. After that, I don't remember anything.

To be continued....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Inauguration and explaination

So. Here it is. My first official blog post. While I know that I am going to be the only one reading this for now, I hope to actually understand how to use this thing, so that I can make it look all nice and purty-like in case anyone stops by.

As an introduction, I am 30-something and have been married for 10 years to my best friend. I have a (slightly) disturbing number of small animals [one cat, two guinea pigs, and 4 hamsters]. I was in school for a LONG time, ending up with a PhD, and am now working in the northeast. Oh yes, and am infertile. Very, very infertile. I didn't, however, find this out until a few years ago.

But, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

I feel compelled to give some explaination as to why I'm writing this down publicly, instead of just keeping a journal. To be honest, I am not really sure why myself. I think that it is in part, perhaps in large part, because I have gotten so much out of reading other people's blogs who are going through the same ordeal. Although they probably don't know it, they have been a lifeline. A lifeline that I would have been lost without. I hope that I can do that for someone else. But I cannot deny that the second reason that I want to blog about my infertility is for me to reach out, to feel connected with others who share my same struggles in a way that commenting on other people's blogs just can't substitute.

This inaugural post is the first in what I hope to be a journey of my life. With all its ups and downs. And hopefully, will be EXCEEDINGLY less somber than this first post. Geesh. You would think that I was writing a eulogy.

I hope to lay out my 'story' in coherent chunks over the next few posts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008