Pulling the trigger

by Jillian Bogater (Exile From Hysteria)

I’ve just pulled the trigger to end my relationship with my uterus.

After a half-hour meeting with my gynecologist, and revisiting my ongoing struggles with endometriosis, I have decided to proceed with a hysterectomy.

Getting here was not easy. But armed with a notebook full of questions, saying the words was much easier than I thought.

Once the surgery is scheduled, I will receive a phone call telling me the date. My doctor said she expects it to be either the end of February or early March.

I will have an abdominal hysterectomy, meaning they will cut my belly open (“at the bikini line”) to  remove my entire uterus and cervix. The surgery should take two to three hours, depending on any complications from my endometriosis scar tissue. The gynecologist said she hopes to leave one ovary intact in the hopes that it will produce enough hormones to prevent me from going into premature menopause. If the ovary fails to work, I will evenutally go on hormone replacement therapy.

After the surgery, I will stay in the hospital for two to three days. Then I will spend the rest of my recovery (about six weeks) at home.

This is starting to feel real. That I will have surgery. That I may finally find a solution to my chronic pain.

My boyfriend Matt (who kindly accompanied me to today’s appointment) asked helpful questions, specifically about the number of women who find pain relief through a hysterectomy. My doctor was frank. She said I had a 50 percent chance of living pain-free after the surgery. She estimated that 25 percent of women experienced some form of relief (even if temporary), and that 25 experienced no change in their pain level. She repeated that a hysterectomy was not a guarantee that I would finally be free of my chronic abdominal pain. But after a diagnostic laparoscopy five years ago, and a steady increase in pain … my doctor said this was my best option.

And although the odds aren’t tremendous, they are good enough that I’m willing to give it a shot.

NOTE: The doctor suggested two Web sites for helpful hysterectomy information: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Web MD. I have added the hysterectomy pages for both sites to my Resources page.