It has been 11 days since my surgery.
Most of those days have been filled with resting, walking around the house, resting, making sure that I eat, and reminding myself not to pick up a cat or dog.
Our weather has been horrible so taking an outside walk was not an option, especially since my Ledcat returned to work. I don’t need her to stay at home, but I feel all sorts of terrible that I can’t drive her to and from the T station (our subway in Pittsburgh) on these horrible bitter days. She says she doesn’t mind because it gives her regular exercise and she doesn’t have to go to the gym. But I feel that sacrifice and it is hard on me.
As I go through this recovery process, I take moments like that one and examine them to see understand why so many women rush their recovery. And pay the price down the road. Guilt. Necessity. Frustration. Anxiety. And ignorance.
For example, a friend who is a doctor and had a hysterctomy herself mentioned to me that an artery between my uterus and ovaries was cut during the procedure. So even though I kept both of my ovaries, I have been experiencing these terrible mood swings. I was sobbing about all of the things, including things I could not do. I didn’t understand why I was so emotional until I learned about the artery. And suddenly it made sense to me. It made sense why women think they can crawl under sofas to retrieve cat toys, pick up the toddler, lift a casserole dish, a bucket, drive someone to the subway, etc. Perhaps if we knew that our judgment was impaired by hormonal fluctuations we didn’t anticipate, we could make better decisions.
I got some early confirmation that my dutiful obedience to the rules have paid off after an unexpected trip to the ER on Saturday. Starting on Friday, I was having a lot of pain urinating, but not in a typical UTI type of way. By Saturday, it was really unpleasant so I tried to call my doctor. We eventually got through to him and he told me to head to the ER. So we did and six hours later, we learned that it was not a UTI and not a surgical problem. The external tissue on my bladder was aggravated and inflamed so I got some meds and was sent home with admonitions to keep resting more than usual.
The bonus good news was that they did a CT Scan of my abdomen and examined all of my incisions. So I know that everything is healing just fine and there’s no reason to expect any problems from the surgery.
But I keep thinking about all of the information we don’t get and how we make decisions. I went to the ER because I promised myself that I didn’t want to make Laura’s life any more stressful. I keep thinking about how knowing that nothing is actually wrong inside my body that isn’t the normal course of healing makes me feel relaxed a bit today, even though I’m still in pain and discomfort. I’m not worried about the unknown.
This weekend, women around the nation turned out to march for women – for reproductive justice, to say #MeToo, for our daughters and nieces and niblings, for all women. So I think we need to make a concerted effort to start taking educational ownership of our bodies. It is not okay if someone uses a euphemism ‘down there’ ‘pee hole’ or ‘lady bits’ and so forth, especially with regard to a medical conversation. You don’t want to say ‘vagina’ or ‘vulva’ in front of your father, fine. You want to reclaim the euphemism for the sake of art or satire, fine. You don’t know the difference between your vagina, cervix, and vagina? That’s not okay. You have been failed by the educational system, by your health providers, and your family. Don’t fail yourself.
Now knowing what to ask about our bodies is how we end up losing ground with our own bodies.
So find out who is working on reproductive justice in your community.
Order a copy of ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ for yourself and for every girl & woman you know. Borrow a copy from the library. Note: there is also a ‘Trans Bodies, Trans Selves’ book and a book about menopause as well. Lots of books.
So it is Sunday night and I’ve got another week of ‘intense’ resting and fluid pushing ahead of me. Plus, more laps around the house. I thought I’d be heading out for walks this week, but I guess not. I did finally start ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ on HULU today so that’s a goal for the week. Plus, not lifting the cats or dog which Ledcat reminds me 1,876 times a day (I did it ONE time by mistake.)
Here’s hoping my ovaries have the proper blood supply sorted out this week and for a positive follow-up visit to my doctor on Thursday so I can be upgraded to pick up at least two of the critters. Ah, the power of health to radically redefine the milestones of our lives.
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