Draw the Line

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Topics: Access and Affordability, Reproductive Health
Area of Life Affected:


An Educated Decision

I am a typical woman – 45 with two kids who has been on birth control since I was a teenager. Besides having horrible periods as a teen, my periods were normal. I was lucky enough to have annual check-ups and access to birth control. But about three years ago, things were changing. My periods were getting farther and fewer between and I was told I was in perimenopause. At age 42, it was a little early, but I was told that it was possible.

“My wish? That other women could be as lucky as I was.”

A year later, I had the worst period of my life. I couldn’t get out of the shower without blood dripping down my legs. Unfortunately, I was not near adequate medical care and, really, I didn’t think they could do anything for me anyway. After a week, it slowed to a trickle and I decided to delay going to my doctor until my annual check-up a few months later.

Although my period never really stopped, when I went for my annual and explained what was going on, the doctor recommended an ablation or a D & C. I was not happy. I’m an active person who didn’t want such an awful procedure.

A few days later, he called back and told me I had PID, which I had probably gotten from such heavy use of tampons during these months of suffering. He also explained that I might have adenomyosis. We’ve all heard of endometriosis and fibroids, but I had never heard of this. Unfortunately, it’s a diagnosis by exclusion: they rule everything else out first. There is no cure for it, and the treatments are not very helpful.

After another month of suffering – and I realize now that I had truly been suffering non-stop for five months – I asked the doctor if he was going to do a D & C, could he also remove my left ovary which had swollen to twice its size. He said, “Well, if we’re going to do that, you may want to consider a hysterectomy.” At this point, I wasn’t opposed, but I wasn’t jumping up and down with joy. Like always, I decided to research it…and what I found was astonishing.

On one website, 10 women were interviewed extensively about their hysterectomies. They were young, old, and all with different reasons for having it done. But the last question they were asked was: What would you have done differently? And their common answer was: I would have done it earlier.

So I told my doctor that I wanted to have the hysterectomy and left oophorectomy, but then was inundated by other questions: Do I want both ovaries removed, do I want to keep my cervix, and do I want it done robotically vs. by laparoscopy?

My doctor was helpful and I decided: keep one ovary and hope I’m not completely thrown into menopause, remove the cervix (as you can still have a period with it in and can still get cervical cancer), and have it done robotically. It ends up that not only was my ovary double-sized, but my uterus was full of adenomyosis and was double-sized.

It was a full month recovery, but I was able to make an educated decision with the sound advice from my physician and have a wonderful outcome due to my access to excellent medical care. I am lucky, and I know it. I have my life back now and I don’t regret a thing. My wish? That other women be as lucky as I was.

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