While we all haven’t had a hysterectomy, as women we do all journey along with a uterus for a time. And for some of us, this flighty organ God created to do good can be a real pain outside of its womb duties. Periods can rule our worlds, for better, but often worse. Which is no doubt why hysterectomy is the second most common surgery for women after Cesarean section.
My uterus and I had a tumultuous relationship over the past few years. She wasn’t minding her monthly maintenance manners which brewed up quite a bit of animosity inside me. No matter how hard I tried to plan a beach vacation around her schedule, she’d change course last-minute. Whenever an important occasion hit the calendar, more times than not, she’d cramp my style and leave me pale-faced and tired. Can any of you relate?
And more recently, the excessiveness and duration of her monthly flow became debilitating to the point I had to plan outings—as menial as errand running—around my ability to get to a ladies room asap. Even with a Super+ and a pad in tow, I had about an hour at most to get anything done before attending to her neediness. The emotional toll was real.
Since I’m 48, I assumed most of the chaos was a normal part of the peri-menopause/menopause thing and I bought into the “sucks to get old” mantra. I also had several one-on-ones with God about why an on/off switch for menstrual cycles wasn’t part of the grand creation plan. Turns out those types of questions fall under the ‘mystery’ category.
Although I had my annual pap and lady exam, I never mentioned much to my doctor about the irregularity or heaviness of my cycles. No one ever told me that soaking a plus and a pad every hour was grounds for “excessive” and has an actual medical term: menorrhagia. Now I know. And you should, too.
Looking back, I think the reason for my silence was twofold. First, it seemed like every other month I got a bit of a reprieve from the intensity of Aunt Flo’s visits depending on what ovary was on the job. Second, many of my friends in the same age range were dealing with similar problems of their own and confronting the issue with birth control pills and other solutions which didn’t interest me.
My game plan was to tough it out—i.e., pretend I wasn’t anxious about my sufferings and go along my merry way into menopause.
Then December of 2017 hit the calendar and my uterus decided to take up bleeding as a favored hobby. The month-by-month breakdown of days of having my period looked like this: December 14/31, January 25/31, February 17/28. As each month passed, my gut kept talking to me at 3 am, “Get checked out.”
Ugh. Fine. I emailed my doctor. She didn’t even have me come in but started open orders for blood work and an internal ultrasound right away. I thought about blowing off the testing for a few days. Who wants to have a vaginal ultrasound? No one. But, the whispers were relentless, so I went.
The blood work confirmed why, despite being a workout ninja, I was out of breath after walking up one flight of stairs: anemia. Made sense all things never-ending period considered. The ultrasound revealed multiple fibroids, a thickened endometrium, and potential polyp. Next step: biopsy of uterus. My doctor said, “just to be safe.”
So, six weeks later, on April 3rd, my gynecologist did an exam and performed the biopsy, sending me off with an “I don’t expect to see any negative pathology because you don’t have a family history and the ultrasound doesn’t look too concerning.” Once the results were in, I could weigh my options for dealing with the heavy and irregular periods.
When I left, I began praying for insight on the best option to choose, not thinking much at all about the biopsy. Two days later my cell phone rang, and my gynecologist was on the line. “Well, not what I expected at all, but you have pre-cancerous cells in your uterus and she needs to come out.” Which indeed happened only 11 days later on April 16th and I’m just beginning to wrap my head around things as I sit here in the slow your roll phase of recovery.
The GREAT news in all of this is the blessing of that tiny little word “pre” as in “not yet” to cancer. Praise God. My intuition was correct, and I shudder to go down the rabbit hole of “what if”—what if I had not listened to my body and the whispers? Who knows how long my uterus was manufacturing those not-so-great cells.
Friend, the point of this post is me begging you to listen to your body. Don’t shrug off any changes, big or small. Pay close attention and defer to making the uncomfortable call to the doctor over rationalizing away any symptoms.
No one knows our innermost being like we do. No one understands the nuances of our cycles like we do. No one can appreciate the weight of wanting to be around to watch our babies grow up and do life with our loved ones like we do.
Yes, God’s ultimately in control. But that doesn’t mean we should overlook our duty to work alongside the Creator and take care of and be forever grateful for these precious temples giving us life.
Praying each of you forward to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what your body is telling you.
Take care of YOU.