Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I have two beautiful boys so I don’t want to totally diss my uterus, but while I was pregnant with said progeny, it was a little like I was James Caan in “Misery.” And if I’m being honest, I more than kind of wanted to crush all my fellow baby bumpers who “loooved being pregnant.” You know the ones…those women upon whom the rumored pregnancy glow is based. I had no glow. Not even an atom of a molecule who was a distant cousin of one of my cells had a glow, which is why these women could populate a small village and I barely made it across the finish line with two. As author Jim Cole once said, “Love is all fun and games until someone loses an eye or gets pregnant.”

Even so, I’m eternally grateful and do not take the gift of childbirth lightly. On the other hand, the admittedly freakish miracle of being able to grow humans in ten months or less and years of painful visits from my proverbial Aunt Flo had doomed my relationship with my uterus to be rocky at best. So when my doctor told me that I needed a hysterectomy at the tender age of 41, she may as well have told me I’d be getting a full-time nanny. Of course at the time I hadn’t considered the prospect of major surgery, the possibility of having hormone replacement therapy at least nine years prior to menopause, or the fact that I’d have to go under general anesthesia to arrive at the other side of this whole mess. I was merely focused on the fact that all misadventures with my uterus were soon to be over and that I would be more than happy to part ways with the ol’ girl.

So I diligently finished up my lab tests and necessary blood work, scheduled my surgery, and what’s that? Oh yes, somehow figured out what to do with my kids for a whole month of their summer vacation. (As a side note, the extended members of our respective families are all veritable saints and in the event that we had a chance in hell of ever having anything of value in our will to bequeath, every one of them would be on the list of recipients.) But then I had to tell people. When my fellow hyster-sisters heard the news, they all said, “Oh, you’ll love it! You’ll feel like you’re 20 again!” And all I could think was, ”Shoot, I was really hoping that I’d feel more like I was 10 because that was before my excruciatingly painful monthly bill reared its ugly mug, but I’ll still take it.” What I hadn’t anticipated was getting the signature head tilt/half wince with an “Oooh, I’m so sorry,” from the people who had NOT had a hysterectomy- men included. It was only then that I realized the general populace associated my uterus with my womanhood. Of course, being the resident smart aleck I’d usually respond with a, “Oh don’t worry, it’s not as if I’ll never be able to wear a dress or shop again…” (insert awkward laughter). But then I’d think to myself, “Does it?” After that, every time I said “hysterectomy” I would reflexively whisper it like I was saying “sex” or “vagina.” I was a living paradox: ecstatic to be ridding my life of the horrible pain I’d been enduring for decades and at the same time feeling like I should be wearing a scarlet H.

Now it’s the day before my surgery and I’m freaking out about going under general anesthesia even though my doctor is a literal rock star in the field of laparoscopic hysterectomy, the kids are safely at my in-laws without a care in the world and a life without Eve’s Curse is one I’d like to lead. On this day, I feel compelled to put my legal affairs in order with a mad dash to the notary and have a teary eyed talk with my husband, insisting that he find love again and build a life for he and the kids without me if I didn’t make it. And while I’m certain I was sincere at the time, you can’t imagine my relief when I saw my surgeon walking toward me in the recovery room. There were only two things on my mind: 1. “I’m ALLLLIIIIVE!!!” and 2. Thank God some other bitch won’t be raising my kids!”

Despite the fact that the OR nurse used me as a human voodoo doll during her utterly failed attempts to insert my IV during pre-op (I could only wonder why she hated me so much despite the fact that we’d only just met), and that I was forced to decline the handiwork of a handsome respiratory therapist who mistakenly had me queued up for a post-operative inhalation tube, I emerged from the experience generally without incident and best of all without pain. I even scored a bonus appendectomy as my free gift with purchase. More good news: I get to keep my ovaries which means I also get to keep my hormones; to which I’d suddenly become dreadfully attached when faced with the prospect of an involuntary break-up.

I’m not sure that I have more energy – i.e. feel like I’m 20–but maybe the gals who did feel like that afterward didn’t have kids under the age of seven. But what I know for sure? Laparoscopic hysterectomy must be the discovery of the century. My recovery was quick, I was in and out of the hospital in a day and a half and I have only four tiny scars exactly one centimeter in length to show for it. I have loads more storage where my tampons and those unwieldy pads with wings used to be and twelve weeks a year of my life back. I think I will use them to find a medically sound reason for a boob lift and tummy tuck. Stay tuned.