If I search long enough, I can find it in my heart to appreciate the attempted kind sentiment, but please, stop telling me you’re sorry.
Please stop telling me you’re sorry I don’t have kids. Please stop asking me who is going to take care of me when I’m old. Please stop telling me you think I’ll change my mind or have regrets when suddenly I wake up and want all the babies that I prevented from entering the world when I agreed with my doctor that I need a hysterectomy. Please just keep all that to yourselves and hear me when I say, “Not your body. Not your choice.”
I have been on birth control for more than half of my life. Don’t mistake that as half of my ‘adult’ life. No, half of the time my heart has beaten on this earth I have been chemically maintained. Twenty-two years exactly – 22 years of chemical regulation because my body just won’t cooperate with the textbook idea of what is ‘supposed’ to happen. I’ve had cysts, uterine fibroids, breast fibroids, periods of ungodly proportion that resulted in numerous ruined clothes and public humiliation. I’ve had stabbing abdominal pain that dropped me to my knees wearing chest waders in a wetland. I’ve had night sweats and cramps, and all of this leaves you feeling quite unsexy. Most recently my body developed an affinity for violently fast aura migraines…which while on birth control is substantially NOT okay.
My doc agrees it’s time. I’ve been nudging him about it for years, and this week he unanimously agreed. We are planning an eviction.
“Are you going to be upset at the prospect of not having your own genetic..” Before he could get the entire question out of his mouth I cringed and said, “Absolutely not.” We laughed. I’ve never wanted kids. I never thought the world would be a better place for having more of my genetics in it.
So now the decision has to be made. What do we take? What do we leave? And they’re being remarkably open about including me in that decision. My gyno referred me to a surgeon in the practice. She specializes in ‘minimally invasive’ robot assisted laparoscopy. She says uterus is on notice, but it’s up to me about the ovaries. This is not an easy decision.
Part of me says ‘all or nothing’. You can’t plan an eviction and allow them to leave two cars in the garage, right? The surgeon emphasizes that this option increases the risk of bone demineralization and heart disease, and decreases life span…but we all have to die from something I guess.
Absolutely no part of me says let the ova-twins stay. It is quite likely that the headaches are largely hormonal, and in fact hormonal enough to demonstrate themselves around the edges of my birth control…but research says it’s ‘best’ because it allows natural decrease of hormones and onset of menopause….blah blah blah.
What about one?? A person can live perfectly well with one arm, leg, lung, or kidney…and all of those things are generally WAY more necessary than an ovary. This is my current solution. Leave one. Leave me one little beastie that can pull the load, making enough hormones to keep me sane and ‘normal’, but more importantly allow me to keep my mind intact.
I can rationalize my way to an answer in favor of any of these using research articles. Perks of a nerd brain. However, one word awoke my moment of clarity. “Dementia”. According to The Mayo Clinic, women with ovaries removed before natural menopause have a substantially higher rate of early onset dementia. I fear few things as strongly as not being fully in my mind. I don’t mind living less time if I live it well. If I’m going to be alone in my old age I need to know that I’ll still have the good company of my own mind. This is my non-negotiable factor.
If you’re reading this, and you are pondering this decision, read the science. Read the blogs from people – active people who WANT to feel better. Take notes. Know what to ask. Know what to expect. Have realistic expectations. Figure out your non-negotiable factor. Make the decision that fits YOU and NEVER feel sorry for your choice. I’m happy for me. I’m happy for you. I hope we both receive the solution we need, and see the improvements we have waited so long for. Most importantly, tell your story to other women. We gain nothing from Puritanical silence about our anatomy. Share the knowledge.