by Jillian Bogater (Exile From Hysteria)
In a moment my life changed.
But really it had already been falling apart in fragments.
For the last four months, the pain in my lower abdomen has been unyielding. Unbearable. So bad that on occasion, when I can’t roll over, I require assistance to get out of bed.
I tried to ignore it. When my psychiatrist casually asked about my endometriosis, I told him the pain had returned. When I told him my plan was to hold off on going back to the doctor until I couldn’t take the pain, he quizzically looked at me. More honestly, he shot me a look that said, I know I’m your psychiatrist, but are you insane?
I made an appointment to see my gynecologist. I half expected her to tell me it was nothing, an overreaction. Worst-case scenario, I envisioned her telling me I needed another laparoscopy surgery, like the one I had five years ago to diagnose my endometriosis.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
After bringing her to to speed, and an examination, my doctor laid out the options. She said I could try another laparoscopy, which would address a dangerous situation leftover from the first surgery but would not guarantee freedom from pain. Also, sometimes surgery can lead to increased endometriosis, so this is a dangerous gamble. Then she suggested a hysterectomy. She would leave my ovaries but remove my uterus. With this surgery it’s not a sure thing that the endo pain would go away. But she said it was worth the chance that it would help.
This all was dependent, of course, upon my child-bearing plans. Gasp. My boyfriend and I aren’t even engaged yet. And I know I pushed it by placing career before babies, but even at 42 years old I thought I had a few good years to sort things out. Maybe have a baby along the way.
But now those plans were skewed, and I needed to have a serious talk with my boyfriend. We hadn’t even seriously discussed marriage, and I had to put him on the spot and see if he wanted to have babies with me.
My heart. Breaking.
The doctor said I could have a baby then have the hysterectomy once I recovered. I felt the air escaping from the exam room. Was this really happening?
She ordered a pelvic ultrasound to rule out abdominal masses and said this would clear me for surgery. Once the test results came back, I could give her a call and tell her my decision. We would be speaking in less than a week.
I walked to the car not noticing my winter coat was unzipped, the cold winter air rushing up under my sweater.
In the car, I called my boyfriend right away. I immediately told him I had serious news to discuss but that I wanted to wait until I got home to talk in person. That lasted about 30 seconds. I spurted out news about the hysterectomy, and how we need to decide if we want babies. It was awful. He said he didn’t know if he wanted kids. I sobbed. We both realized we were not emotionally or financially prepared to welcome a child in the next couple years. I sobbed again.
My boyfriend mentioned adoption, and spoke of the numerous babies and children in the world that needed homes. That we could do that for them. I smiled, and did my best to keep my car on the road.
I wasn’t even home yet, and the emotions were overwhelming.
And the grief had not even begun.