It is always darkest before the dawn.
Since my step-mother first suggested a hysterectomy during my last periodic meltdown, and my ensuing conversation with the nurses at the fertility clinic a week ago, I feel there may finally be a plausible solution to this monthly hell I inhabit. The option has of course always been there, but there has also always been the small issue of requiring my uterus and ovaries for reproduction.
My relief is tangible. A ray of dawn light has shone into my darkness. Soon. Soon I could be free of this torturous destructive suffering. I have reached the end of this tether. It’s me or my uterus.
I throw it out there to Dr C whilst we are discussing the likelihood of my early menopause. He thinks I will probably begin earlier than average, around age 48. I think that’s not early enough. He doesn’t even blink. He has already noted in my file that I likely have Adenomyosis as well as the fibroids he measured during my Day 2 scan. He agrees that a hysterectomy (after I have my baby) is probably a good idea. There are no patronising margin notes about being emotional or highly strung.
I have been diagnosed with 4 out of 5 of these gynaecological issues.
Adenomyosis? I hear you ask. I certainly did. Never even heard of it. And you’d think I would have after twenty five years of gynaecological examinations to ascertain the source of my numerous debilitating symptoms.
Adenomyosis is also referred to as uterine endometriosis. Unlike endometriosis where the endometrial cells are found outside of the uterus, here they are located within the muscle of the uterus itself. The only way to diagnose it accurately is to take out the uterus and have a look. I guess that’s why we don’t hear too much about it.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
“Some women with adenomyosis do not experience any symptoms, while others may have severe, debilitating symptoms. The endometrial implants that grow into the wall of the uterus bleed during menstruation (the same as endometrial tissue bleeds) and are discharged vaginally as menstrual bleeding. The vaginal pressure can be severe enough to feel like the uterus is trying to push out through the vagina, like the first stage of labor when the baby’s head pushes into the cervix. Other symptoms include;
Intense debilitating pain all the time and/or Acute & increasing pain at menstruation and ovulation Strong ‘contraction’ feel of uterus Abdominal cramps A ‘bearing’ down feeling Pressure on bladder Dragging sensation down thighs and legs Heavy bleeding and flooding Large blood clots Prolonged bleeding i.e.; up to 8–14 days
Complications Adenomyosis is associated with an increased incidence of preterm labour and premature rupture of membranes. Women with adenomyosis are at an increased risk of anemia. This can cause fatigue, dizziness, and moodiness. Adenomyosis has also been linked with anxiety, depression, and irritability.”
I remember reading somewhere once that for some the pain of dysmennorhea was equivalent to the contractions of childbirth and I was always fairly sure that was me. Every month I employ childbirth techniques to cope with the contractions that come in waves: squatting, pushing, breathing, screaming.
Adenomyosis would also explain the excruciating pain whenever anything touches my uterine wall which fortunately is not very often.
For Dr C this hysterectomy is about removing a physiological disease which has a psychological impact. For me it is the opposite. I can live with the physical pain far easier than I can live with the emotional trauma inflicted every month by the hormonal fluctuations and physical distress.
How can I possibly describe what it is like to wish you were dead every four weeks? To be overcome by senseless anger, depression, anxiety? That the only thing that gets you through is knowing the moment you start to bleed, the angst will disappear.
This affliction has always been my greatest fear of becoming a parent, and even more so a single parent. A hysterectomy would remove the source of these concerns.
It is difficult to imagine a future free from pain. Life has always been a battle field. Every day I stand up to fight. In the past few years I suffered such devastating losses I had begun to think the war had been won.
Life: 1, Me: 0
I waved a white flag, I begged for it to end, but the attacks did not stop. But now… a glimmer of dawn light breaking through the darkest of the darkness.
And a forgotten emotion: HOPE.