Do not be afraid – Anna’s Story

First anniversary, yahoo! Time really passes. 3 September 2013 was the first major operation operation I have ever had. Imagine the paralysing fear, the anger, the confusion.

I am a 51 year old Asian woman, married with 2 teenage children. I was diagnosed with Cystocele 14 years ago, right after the birth of my daughter. I felt a bulge in my vagina and often it disappeared after a good night sleep. The gynecologist who attended to me told me I had ‘Cystocele’ in passing. When I asked him what I should do, he told me to kegel. Six years later, during a pap smear examination, the second gynecologist asked me if I was aware if I have Cystocele. I nod my head and she told me to kegel. I did not pursue the matter further. It was sheer ignorance of the medical condition that made me ignore it.

Beginning of 2013, I felt a big piece of flesh falling out from my vagina. This time it wasn’t a just a bulge anymore. I was terrified and started searching for an answer. I was fearful and embarrassed to see a doctor. After much discussion with my husband, I decided that I just had to find an answer. The gynecologist I saw told me my cervix had fallen out, it is a prolapse condition and recommended that I see gynecologist who specializes in uro-gynecology. It was then I started reading every medical journal available on pelvic prolapse. I even read and watched videos about women in Nepal who were rejected and abandoned by their husbands after they found out about their prolapse condition. My heart goes out to them.

After various tests by the uro-gynecology, I was informed that I was suffering from a 3rd degree prolapse and recommended hysterectomy and mesh. I freaked out, and immediately said ‘let me menopause first’. She told me it is not a matter of life and death decision, but asked me to give me a thought as how the condition will affect my quality of life. I made the decision to have a hysterectomy, minus the mesh in a week, after discussing with my husband and friends. I then decided that hysterectomy would be my best option.

On 3 September 2013, my gynecologist performed a vaginal hysterectomy on me. My ovaries were left intact. As she specializes in minimally access surgery, the operation was very neat and I recovered very fast. In fact, the 6 weeks recuperating period were one of the best times of my life. I took the opportunity to rest, to read, to pray and take things slowly after being in the workforce for about 25 years. I even attended a spiritual retreat and and a women’s retreat while on leave.

What do I learn from this:

  1. When the doctor tells you of a medical condition, one should do enough research and perhaps get a second opinion. Always ask and ask. The gynecologists who mentioned to me about my Cystocele condition in passing did not do justice to me. I was also too naive or perhaps shy to probe and research further.
  2. Go to the right doctor. A gynecologist may not specialize in prolapse problems. A uro-gynecologist is the right one.
  3. Life after hysterectomy is as normal as it can be. Take the opportunity to let your body heal and rest. Many of us women, mothers, grandmothers move on from one task to another after childbirth. We ignore our health sometimes. Eat well and rest well. Prolapse can be avoided if we did the right pelvic exercises and avoid lifting heavy things.

Anna (Malaysia)

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