When I’ve mentioned my surgery in past posts, I’ve always said it was a story for later because I was very emotional about it. Since having a bit of a breakdown in my doctor’s office during the follow up, I think my head is clear enough to finally talk about it.
Growing up a lot of little girls dream of being princesses or ballerinas. They dream of being the first woman president. They dream of their wedding and plan the day down to the very last detail.
I was never that little girl.
My dream was always to be a mother.
When you look at my extended family most of the women are childless. For those who do have children, it was never an “oh it just happened” story. It took years and years of trying.
So when I started having serious menstrual issues at 14 (dizziness, nausea, extreme pain, excessive bleeding - fun!), it was apparent that I was heading down the road to reproductive issues like the rest of the women in my family.
I was resistant to going on birth control but my symptoms worsened and my mother told me I wouldn’t be allowed to enroll in driver’s ed if I was so dizzy all the time. Needless to say, I went on the pill at 15. And it worked well for me... until it didn’t. My symptoms slowly started to come back and during my freshman year of college, I found myself starting the birth control process once again trying to find another one that would work.
None of them did. The side effects were extreme, uncomfortable, and a huge pain in the ass so I decided to grin and bear it for as long as I could.
At 20 I decided to try it again and found myself crying at the drop of a hat. I went back to my grin and bear it technique.
At 24, I saw a new (male) doctor and through bloodwork and ultrasounds he diagnosed me with PCOS. He was adamant about the fact that if I wasn’t on top of the situation my “old ovaries” wouldn’t yield children and I wouldn’t be able to “do what God intended for me to do with ovaries like that” (see also: quack).
At 25, I tried some of the newer birth control options and once again, the side effects were severe (nausea, migraines, leg cramping - yay blood clots!) so I went to a surgeon to get a fresh perspective. She suspected that I also had endometriosis. She told me that the only way to confirm that for sure would be to do some exploratory surgery to see what they could find. Call me crazy, but I was NOT ok with the idea of being put under anesthesia on a hunch. She then presented the option of doing monthly hormonal injections to put my body into a state similar to menopause and then use hormone replacement therapy to give me some of my estrogen back.
So I’ll admit it. I gave up. I had no hope of this ever getting fixed. I figured the pain would increase until I had no choice but to have a full hysterectomy and that would be the end of it. And increase it did. Every month the pain intensified to the point where none of the pain medications I could take lessened the pain enough for me to even be functional. At times I found myself awake for 36 hours straight because the pain was too great for me to fall asleep. I was stuck in it and there was nothing I could do to help myself out of it.
So when I saw my PCP in June for my physical, I was surprised that she mentioned Mirena. I had always heard IUDs weren’t recommended in women who haven’t had children because there’s a risk of infection and subsequent sterility. My doctor told me the risk was slim and the recommendation stems from the lack of research done on women who haven’t had children yet. Long story short (but still kinda long) she got me to a doctor who agreed to take care of the suspected Endometriosis and implant the Mirena at the same time.
I’ll spare you the details of the surgery itself. I tweeted and posted about it and my recovery... and my inability to wear pants for a while.
The follow up visit after my surgery was when I started to get emotional. I don’t know what I was expecting - if I’m being honest with myself, I was anxious and probably expected to hear some bad news. I’d never heard good news in that kind of doctor’s office. I was ready to hear that my uterus had been perforated or that I’d gotten an infection. So when my doctor looked at me after the exam and said: “I’m hopeful that someday there will be a little Ashley clone with her daddy wrapped around her little finger” I just started to cry. In that moment she was telling me that the one thing I’ve always known that I wanted was possible. Despite diabetes and reproductive issues, it could happen. No doctor had ever given me that kind of encouragement before. And in that moment, I had the slightest glimmer of hope.
And sometimes when you’re a patient, hope is the most powerful thing you can have.
Yes, this is yet another post that was supposed to be finished and shared back in August. Yay for catching up on blogging backlogs!