Closed for business
by Jillian Bogater (Exile From Hysteria)
Leaning back in the examination chair, I tried to think of questions I had for my orthodontist.
Would I be able to keep my Invisalign braces in during my hysterectomy? (No.)
Will I have to keep my braces in longer if I take them out for the surgery? (Just a few more days depending on how long I leave them out.)
The assistant cheerfully noted my surgery plans somewhere in my file, then pulled her rolling chair in close.
“Ya know, I’d love to get a hysterectomy,” she said. “I’m so tired of getting my period. I mean, I’ve already had my babies, so what’s the point?”
Suddenly my tongue grew, filling my mouth, preventing me from eviscerating her.
My hysterectomy is not voluntary, I wanted to scream. I want this pain to stop! I have no choice but to surrender my uterus.
And even then, it’s no guarantee.
I still wanted the option to have biological kids. To create a little kidlet who would magically look a little bit like my boyfriend Matt and me. But the timing is all wrong, and the reality is that I can’t wait a couple years to see if I’m ready to get pregnant. The endometriosis pain is real, and now, and steadily increasing. So I will sacrifice.
I try to make excuses for her. I tell myself the assistant didn’t mean anything by it. Who wouldn’t want to be free of monthly bleeding?
Me. That’s who.
Rite of passage
I think back to when I got my first period. I was 14, and the second-to-last in my eighth-grade class. I know this because all the girls were polled, one by one. I was mortified when the girls came to question me, but knew I couldn’t tell a lie. I was sure it would never come, that something was terribly wrong with me.
Then one day I rode my bicycle up to McDonalds to spend some of my hard-earned babysitting cash. In the bathroom stall, I looked down and saw a stain of reddish brown blood in my panties. Could it be? I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my mother. I had finally got my period.
Later that night, I sat on the front porch staring at the stars stretched out in the sky. My dad eventually joined me. We both sat in silence on the steps.
“Your mother told me that you became a woman today,” he said, with all the levity required. I had successfully navigated this rite of passage. And with it came responsibility.
“You know you can become pregnant now, right?” he asked. I can’t remember if he made eye contact, but I doubt he did. Us kids had sex ed in school, and my friends and I talked. We were more than old enough to know where babies came from.
End of the road
The orthodontist’s assistant isn’t the first person to say something insensitive to me since I’ve disclosed my surgery plans. I’ve had people tell me I need to freeze my eggs. To hire a surrogate. That I haven’t fully investigated my options. That I need a different doctor.
All without an invitation for feedback.
Trust me when I say this decision was devastatingly difficult. I still weigh it. Every day.
But this outcome stands.
I’ve come to the end of the road with my uterus.
Much sooner than expected, it will be closed for business.