It’s been a year since my hysterectomy. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that. I remember the roller coaster of joy at having my health issues finally resolved vs the sadness and uncertainty of having my girl parts surgically removed.
I actually grieved for my uterus, pre-cancerous cells and all.
Weird. I know.
But true nonetheless.
What a difference a year makes. I’m healthier and happier than I’ve been in ages. My eyes are brighter, my hair shinier, and my step is usually upbeat – at least when I’m not tripping over invisible carpet bumps. I’m using my newfound energy to explore art, friendship, acting, and travel. I’m also finding new ways to eat right and get exercise. I’m on my way to living a better and longer life. I’m not moving as fast forward as I’d like – but I’m moving and that is what counts.
just found out today that the surgeon I was referred to and eventually made my permanent GYN,has been recognized by Castle Connolly Ltd. as not only one of the top doctors in Oklahoma, but in the United States as well. I’m happy for him.
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved 5/31/11
Oct 18, 2011 – This particular piece received a lot of hits this week so I thought I’d look at it to see why and oh wow I really shouldn’t publish blog pieces while still on pain meds. I’d delete this, but there’s some good stuff in it, even if it does reveal a mild (and short lived) post-op crush on my surgeon – so I’m keeping it. You should have seen it before I scrubbed it — mortified does not even begin to describe how I feel reading this a year later and realizing it has gone viral locally. I wrote this back when I had all of four readers — my family — and then I promptly forgot about it until now. — This is part of a series I’d written during my hysterectomy in 2010. You can tab to the older entries to see the full story if you’d like. or not. Either way – enjoy.
The only thing I hate more than going to the doctor’s office is going to a MALE doctor’s office. I don’t do doctors. I especially don’t do MALE doctors. Hmmm. Nope, not my style. And yet what do I get with my referral on Easter? A Male doctor. Nice.
Color my Easter basket un-thrilled. It’s bad enough I was in so much pain I had to leave Easter Services to go to the hospital, now I find out that I need to see a guy about my female parts? Can I just please fall down a rabbit hole and stay there? I mean, it worked for Alice didn’t it? —
Oh that’s right, she came out of it eventually.
I tried to drown my pitiful sorrows with chocolate marshmallow bunnies, but it didn’t help. I needed to see a specialist and he was available and it turns out, it didn’t kill me.
My surgeon at looks kinda like Robert Downey Jr (or at least he did post anesthesia), is a College Lit major before med school, artist, poet, loves the rock band U2, happily married with children, is a total brainiac, and he cares as much about my emotional well-being as he does my physical health.
Can I keep him if I say he followed me home?
Okay, well no probably not. I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t go for the whole followed me home bit. Worked with the cat, but not a doctor.
Still, the whole reason I know he loves U2 is because I told him once that my husband and I have tickets to see U2 in Denver on June 12 and how I think that I “need” to be well by then.
Even though the answer is no climbing the Rockies so soon after my hysterectomy, my surgeon did at least empathize with me. He also found a way for us to connect emotionally – a mutual appreciation for the rock band U2. That connection took me from freaked out scared to “I think I can do this.”
I like that.
I tell him a lot of things actually, and I am pleasantly shocked to discover that he not only listens to me – he repeats facts I’ve shared back to me at various times and uses them work through a plan of action for my recovery. He hears me. Wow.
My MALE surgeon rocks like Bono….
………………. only better. Who knew?
So why is this news?
Because I only use female doctors thank you very much. Always have always will. Except for this time. This time I needed an emergency referral and opted for first available and got R.D. Jr. Edited on June 29 to add — my surgeon is my new GYN. I’m not going back to someone else. He’s an excellent doctor, and I can get over his being male — eventually. (laughs)
Common myths I’ve always believed.
1. A female Doctor will understand me in ways a male doctor cannot.
2. A female doctor will listen and be compassionate.
3. I’ve always thought of Male gynecologists as a creepier than normal Mr Rogers. (I’m serious, grown men in cardigans have scared me since I was a toddler.)
What I’ve learned in the last 40 days –
It’s not the sex of your doctor that matters, it’s the doctor that matters.
My female doctor listened to my complaints about my cycle getting worse and said “Welcome to Peri-Menopause” without looking into it.
RDJ said let’s look for the cause.
My female doctor listened to my complaints about my bladder getting weaker and said “Welcome to middle age, it comes from having babies dear.”
RDJ said, “I might be able to fix that, if you need me to, but I’m not sure you do yet. Let’s find the balance between too much and just enough, okay?”
My female doctor listened to my complaints about random abdominal pain and said “here take these pills, I think you are getting depressed.”
RDJ. said “This is why you are in pain, …… I can fix that.”
My female doctor felt the top of my mass, said my abs had split and told me where I could get a tummy tuck.
I never asked him where I could have gotten one of those. That would have been well… too much for me. But what he did so is spend more time doing the surgery right (albeit the hard way) so that I could recover more quickly. And it was the fibroid pressing on my bladder that was causing my “issues” and not my babies after all.
I can’t tell you if my surgeon is good at making eye contact, because I wasn’t. I still have some issues with the whole male gyn thing, BUT: What I can tell you is at this office, and at Saint Whosits in Tulsa, I felt cared for, cared about, and taken care of. He listened to me and he included me in every step of the process. He went out of his way to make me comfortable and help me understand.
While I’ve worked with men almost my whole life – I prefer to stay in my head. Intellectually I can match any man. What I don’t do well, is vulnerable. And in order for this patient/doctor relationship to really work, I have to be vulnerable. What’s great about this office, and this particular surgeon is they make it easier to do that than I had expected.
I couldn’t ask for more in a doctor, male or female. Can you? So, question for you dear friends, what is your favorite thing about your doctor and what is your least favorite thing?
I realize I am being more well, personal than usual. I mean yeah, I can wear my heart on my sleeve, but today – I want you to see my internal heart.
Added May 31, 2011 – It has been exactly a year since my hysterectomy. (Read update here) I cannot even put into words how much better I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While I wish I could have avoided the surgery, I’m grateful for the staff of doctors and nurses who walked me through it every step of the way.
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. Please note that no goods or services were provided in exchange for this post.
For those of you dear readers who have been with me since the doctors found a mass in my uterus, I thank you for your prayers, thoughts and encouraging remarks. For those of you who are new to my blog, it’s been a roller coaster of a ride since Easter Sunday. The good news is, I’ve had my surgery, and I’m home recovering. Preliminary test results say I do not have cancer, I do have a fibroid mass that is larger than a grapefruit and smaller than a bread basket, plus my endometrial cells are presently mutating into a precancerous state thus requiring a hysterectomy. They took everything but my ovaries.
The surgery was more difficult than my doctor anticipated, The mass was so big they named my uterus “Fergus” (I’m not kidding, doctors crack me up) Even though it was a bit on the tricky side according to my surgeon, they were able to get everything. They did everything laproscopically as well so that my recovery time would be shortened.
The pain coming out of surgery was worse than I’d experienced after my gallbladder surgery and ACL repair combined. I vaguely recall getting into it with a post op nurse over pain meds at one moment and seeing my surgeon standing between us the next. It took most of Friday to get my pain under control. I’m not sure why it was so high, but it was. I’m usually much more tolerant of pain.
I have since learned that I lost a good deal of blood, my BP was really low (80 over 43 low), and my oxygen levels were also below 90% – they had more serious issues to deal with before leveling out my pain. I just didn’t realize it at the time. I’m sure there is a spiritual lesson in there somewhere.
I’ve been anemic for months and the blood loss during surgery has made it worse. What the doctors told me is I’ve become accustomed to operating on not enough fuel. Once my hemoglobin and oxygen levels return to where they are supposed to be, I am going to be a completely different woman.
I’m on a two-week rest order. My DH thought he took the time off to take care of me, and what he’s discovered is he took the time off to keep me out of trouble. I’m feeling better, I want to work now and can’t. Rest is not optional, it’s required.
I have my pile of books that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading. Photos I’ve been wanting to get around to sorting. And files that need to be organized along with videos I’ve been meaning to watch.
I’m also learning how to let other people “bless us” by offering help, bringing meals and what not. Something this caretaker is decidedly NOT good at.
Calling off the surgery was a good call. I went home and slept for three days. Turns out, I was one sick puppy. Once I came to, I discovered that my lungs could no longer tolerate smoke and I am reluctantly happy to report that I am smoke free. I say reluctantly because while I cannot tolerate smoke, it doesn’t mean I don’t crave them. Color me with nicotine patches and I’m tolerable to be around.
Smoking did not go down without a fight. I tried to smoke – it didn’t work. I couldn’t inhale and that frustrated me. So for two or three days, I played with cigarettes, watched them burn, watched the smoke, remembered my Father in Law and my Grandparents, and kinda grieved. Okay – it’s pathetically wierd and I know it. But cut me some slack here okay?
My grandparents smoked and neither of them died from it. My father-in-law and I were very close buds and he did die from it. My emotional tie to cigarettes has everything to do with my emotional ties to these people who are no longer in my life. Letting go of my own cigarettes is another step in letting go of them.
I visited Dr B’s office yesterday and my lungs sound fine. We talked about music (he likes U2 as much as we do) and surgery and we are ready to rock and roll on Friday. literally – he listens to U2 while he operates. That just totally cracks me up.
I did catch something funny that he does. When he’s talking to me, he stands next to me and holds my right hand with his right hand and he places his left hand on my wrist. All this time I thought it was a nurturing and centering tactic, which it is. I also figured out that it allows him to feel my pulse while he’s talking to me to check my anxiety. Laugh out Loud. Jeff and I figured that out last night.
I can lie through my teeth, but I can’t lie through my veins. This whole mass-in-the-uterus-in-you-need-a hysterectomy thing has me a little on the scared side.
Out-smarted by a surgeon. Go figure!
So later gators. I have salt water to drink – don’t ask and an operation to get ready for.
I’ll post again later next week. Have a wonderful weekend.
I have had an interesting few weeks, let me tell you. While everyone was celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on Easter morning, my husband and I were in the emergency room of SouthCrest Hospital. I wasn’t happy about that little detour, it wasn’t in my plans. Finding a mass in my uterus that day wasn’t in my plans either and I was scared.
Funny thing is, God has plans for me – and for you too – and even though His plans don’t match up with ours, His plans are always best.
I’d love to tell you that I handled this little detour well, but I’d be lying.
I could tell you that the message I received from one of my mentors the next day (Jer 29:11, I know the plansI have for you..) filled me with hope – and it did, for that day, but I let go of it. I have a built in forgetter. Fortunately for me, his mercies are new each morning and I need morning mercies, don’t you?
Truth is, I was scared and I got mad at God.
I pulled every “no fair” argument I could think of. It’s not fair God, I have plans this summer.
I know that I am not the only woman in the world who has ever played the “not fair” card with God, and I won’t be the last. The good news is, God is big enough to handle our fears, our disappointments, and our anger. I’m thankful for that.
My little health detour has given me time to look at things from a new light. It’s given me time to read, to be with my family, and to just soak up His love and Grace. I’m in pain a lot of the time, and I have had to lean into Him more than ever.
I also learned something in this detour, perspective is everything. For three weeks I’ve been focusing on this fibroid in my gut that is causing my stomach to swell, and my clothes to hurt. It is a source of frustration for me in more ways than one.
I missed something though – it turns out this fibroid is a gift.
I got my biopsy results back yesterday. The good news is, I don’t have cancer. The other good news, they did a biopsy of my uterine lining and I have Intraepithelial dysplasia, a precancerous condition that if left untreated can turn into cancer. If it hadn’t been for this massive fibroid that takes up half my gut, they never would have found the other.
Uterine cancer does not have symptoms until it’s too late. This detour revealed a much deeper problem that would not have been discovered otherwise.
You might say, this detour saved my life.
And so I sit, taking back all my “no fair” arguments and remembering that He does know the plans he has for us, and his plans are not for harm, but for a future and a hope. His plans apparently include a hysterectomy as well and in light of my present circumstances, I’m totally okay with that.
One of my no fair arguments with God revolves around how I’m just now learning who I am. I’ve made new friends, found new talents and only recently had the courage to try my hand at comedy. Having lived the first 40 years of my life in fear, finding courage is a big issue for me. I didn’t want to lose all of that now. Turns out I won’t have to, He has plans, remember? Having said that, I want to introduce you to a woman I met on my journey a few years back. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.
I was first introduced to this funny gal when a friend emailed me the video Momisms, Anita Renfroe’s YouTube video on everything a mother says in a 24 hour period set to the William Tell Overture. This video went viral in a matter of weeks. It was this video that launched her into seemingly overnight success. I say seemingly, because the truth is Anita has been speaking and doing comedy for years. There is no such thing as overnight success, her success is bred from hard work, dedication, and pure talent.
While we aren’t friends, I have met her once or twice and she is as down to earth and genuinely wise and funny as her videos show her to be. She is definitely a woman I would love to hang with.
We belong to the same organization but I do not consider her my peer. She’s a legend on the circuit. I’m a newbie. Anita is simply a woman I enjoy watching and learning from. Having said that, I’d like to introduce ya’ll to her newest YouTube video, Big Ol’ Sweet Iced Tea. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. So pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, and enjoy.
FCC regulations also state that I have to inform ya’ll that no goods were received in exchange for this endorsement. I am simply sharing a resource that I think you will like as much as I do.
I can be a bit controlling, especially when I’m scared. My husband will laugh when he reads that and add a “you think?”
I know that control is never a solution to fear, especially not on this side of the Resurrection. But knowing and doing don’t always mesh in my world. We are working on it.
I’ve had three days of phone calls, not only for myself but for my son with epilepsy. I’ve learned through his disorder how to be assertive with doctors and when to follow-up and when to call. D needed a script refilled and for whatever reason, I was the hand holder between the pharmacy and the pediatrician. I’m glad I called it in three days early. It took the full three days to get it refilled. It never takes that long.
My doctor issue really frustrated me. I got frustrated because they were not giving me correct answers. I followed up on Monday like the hospital told me too, and received a call back stating that my referral was being processed and that I should receive a phone call later that day. No phone call came.
Tues: I called back and left a message for the gal in charge. The gal up front read the notes on my file and assured me everything was being processed. No return call came.
Wed: (Today) I called the processing gal directly and was saddened — and slightly angered — to discover she had no clue who I was, and had received no such paper work nor a message that I had called on Tuesday. The gals in the front office did not lie to me — there were notes on my page that indicated a referral was being processed. Sadly it turned out the referral was for the wrong patient. My gal promised to get to work on it right away. True to her word, she did. It took three hours, but I have my referral as promised.
I had a lot of choices this morning. I did succeed in the choice not to lose my temper, and yet still communicate I was angry. I chose to ask to leave a message for my doctor and when I was told that won’t be necessary, I could choose to call the office administrator and speak with them — once my referral was complete. I chose to say a silent prayer rather than speak out what was in my heart at the moment.
Lots of choices. Right now.. I can choose to be happy I have my referral completed. I see a specialist on April 14 at 10 am. I have instructions to call every morning between now and then to see if they have a cancellation.
I know that God does not make bad things happen to people. Things happen because we live in a sinful and fallen world. God is the ultimate hand holder. He holds me in his every day.
I know that he still has plans for me and the phone call from Thelma on monday was all part of that. I talked to her (via email yesterday) and she had no idea I was going through something. We aren’t friends, even though we’ve met. (I hostessed her a couple of years ago) I am however part of You Go Girl. Thelma is someone I intentionally put myself at the feet of to learn.
The phone call is part of something new she is doing with her You Go Girl mentoring network. It just so happened the devotion on her heart for this month was Jeremiah 29:11. And so together we got to thank God for doctors, modern medicine, and telephones of all things.
So now, I wait some more and know the his plans for me include a future and a hope. And I can rest in that. And finish my laundry. It’s kind of piling up.
Let’s talk about plans. Will you share with all of us a time when your plans and God’s didn’t totally mesh, but his turned out so much better?