Road to recovery

by Jillian Bogater (Exile From Hysteria)

Most days now, I don’t even think about my hysterectomy.

It’s as if I’ve almost forgotten this huge portion of my emotional map. The reminders come as I notice my pants are too snug (residual inflammation sweetly nicknamed “swelly belly”) or I reflexively pull back from a sudden muscle twinge deep within.

Life has moved on, carrying me in tow.

Two weeks ago I returned to work. I’d say it was a smooth transition. Still, I find myself completely tapped by 3:30 p.m. I know this will improve with time.

At my six-week checkup, my surgeon declared me well on the road to recovery. The only outstanding piece of business were two stubborn stitches that remained in my vaginal cuff (where my cervix once was). She cheerfully told me to hold off on sex for two more weeks.

She also cleared me to start working out again. After the surgery I lost 7 pounds, but then swiftly gained that and some extra. She told me to slowly build up my weight lifting, and to trust my gut when determining how far I can push myself.

After I thanked my doctor for everything — the accurate diagnosis, the skillful surgery, the kind bedside manner — she surprised me by saying this most likely would be our last meeting. She encouraged me to get pap smears (yes, I’ll still need those!) with my primary care physician, along with my breast exams. If I really wanted to see her, that would be fine, but she made it clear there was no reason. This made me sad. She had guided me on the toughest medical decision of my life.

I looked her in the eye and said goodbye.

The doctor soon stood up and grabbed my chart. My instinct was to pull her in my arms, and hug her deeply. But instead I watched as she opened the door, smiled and walked out.

Most days now, I don’t even think about my hysterectomy.

Except today.

And I’m grateful for the experience. Every bit of it.