Like many girls, I started my periods at 11, but quickly realised that mine where different to others. The pain and blood loss where much higher than I could really cope with and still function. There is a history down my mothers and grandmothers side, that this is how it has always been for ‘us girls’, so I tried to put up as best I could.
By 15 I needed something to help and went to my doctor, he prescribed the pill for me, but my mother didn’t want me to take it. It wasn’t till much later she and I would understand why. From 17 to 26 I became a testing ground for all doctors and sexual health doctors. Trying to control my periods and moods with the latest and the newest hormonal treatments.
Over the years my mental and physical health deteriorated so much, I wanted nothing more than to end my life. My body had become so sensitive to anything that it came into contact with, foods, drinks, drugs, I had gained about four stone in fluid retention and bleed on average for 22 days out of 28. Because I bleed so much, my Iron and Potassium levels became dangerously low.
I come from a long line of women that don’t give in though. Throughout this I never gave up work, relationships or training. Looking back, it nearly killed me, but did keep me sane also!
I knew in my heart at 18 that I wasn’t going to have children, my body had told me this and so by 26, extremely ill and struggling with life begged doctors to take my womb away. They wouldn’t, not until I was at least 30. Saying that I would change my mind about children and that if I did have one, it would probably get a lot better. This is what they told my grandma and mother, and it didn’t work out well for them! So I thought hard and concluded that even if we (yes I had a long suffering partner, who is now my husband help me through all of this) did want children, I was far too ill to raise them, what were these doctors thinking!
Then the real dark years came, time of work with anxiety and depression. Sleeping night after night on the bathroom floor, unable to carry my own weight back to bed as it reacts to the days assaults of food and blood loss. I continued to try and seek medical help, but all they saw was a jabbering wreck and put it all down to mental health issues. I wonder where the strong minded, high functioning, well educated person had gone…….swallowed up completely by this body that could no longer function for more than a few days a month.
Finally I found a female GP who saw more than just the tears and ‘period problems’ and saw that there were real issues. She tried of course a few things, but quickly passed me on to a female gynae surgeon. At last I thought, but then the fear, how was I going to talk to her, I couldn’t talk to anyone any more without being reduced to a jibbering, snotty mess. So I wrote what I wanted to say, and for the first time in 10 years I felt like myself, I introduced myself and like this described how life had been. I added an insert from my then husband about his not wanting children and that we were very happy together, especially if I could gain my health back.
She read the letter in full before saying very much, looked at me with tears running down my face and ask how soon would I like the hysterectomy. Relief to finally be heard and taken seriously, I wasn’t mad and unstable and secretly just depressed because I don’t have children.
So happy with this news I told a few friends, their shock horrified me. I then realised how well I had hid my ill health, and culturally women of breeding age fear and distrust those that say they do not want children of their own. So yet again I faced this without much support.
The hospital staff soon registered I was not a usual hysterectomy patient, as I was pumped with adrenaline and excitement. So much so they gave me sleeping tablets before my anaesthetic, which didn’t work! I was in hospital for two nights, the staff were amazing and they soon worked out my pain thresholds, as I managed the post op pain myself, never asking for pain killers, until it was suggested as my husband was about to visit and they thought it would be more comforting for him to see me in less distress.
I have had other surgery and it was no more discomforting than that, not scary and from the minute I opened my eyes on the ward, I knew I would start feeling better again, not post surgical, but as a whole.
I didn’t completely do as I was told when I got home, but you generally only make that mistake once and then you take it steadier. Feeling fit again and post surgical, knowing I needed to strengthen my stomach muscle, once I got the all clear I had healed, I swam daily to get my strength back. It felt great and didn’t put the pressure on the stomach muscles that had been cut, so allowed them to heal and strengthen at the same time.
I returned to a very physical and demanding job after 12 weeks absence a new woman. Six months after my operation I had glandular fever, I didn’t know this until I dropped back into my doctors for blood test results, checking that my iron and potassium levels were now where they should be. She asked if I had been feeling unwell at all, I said a bit rough, sore throat but just put it down as a cold, she laughed and said how ill we’re you before your op to say think that glandular fever is a slight cold.
And here I am five years on. The weight gain has all but gone and my mental health has been stable ever since. All of my allergies/sensitiveness have gone and I have managed to put myself back of the career path I wanted, retraining and working hard. I do not ever regret my decision and know I never will, as I have my life back, my body back, my mind back and no child could have given me that.
Now available on our online store and all other online book store’s. In My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.
Other people’s stories help women feel less isolated. They show that they aren’t going mad, missing the point or stupid.