Why I Had A Myomectomy

The trickle of blood turned into a river that soaked
through the thickest of tampons. It left a blotchy stain that even bleach
couldn’t wash clean. Every month, in the blood’s wake, I’d gather all that it had
stained into a large plastic bag and throw it away. When the blood came again,
catching me often times unaware, I would try and drown the splicing pain with
the strongest doses of ibuprofen. Sometimes it worked, but most times it left
me dry heaving and shaking on the bathroom floor amongst tilting buckets of
vomit and crumpled toilet paper. I’d almost always wind up in the emergency
room with my head hanging and my knees buckling under me all while the blood
poured out; leaving me empty. I knew something was wrong.


A Diagnosis

By the time I was lying down on my gynecologist’s
stretcher, a cold blob of ultrasound gel on my abdomen, I had been getting my
period for over fourteen years. I’d learned to plan my life around the blood;
cancelling important meetings at the sight of it, leaving restaurants in a
hurry at the mere suggestion of its arrival, I’d even missed exams. So, when my
doctor turned the ultrasound screen towards me and said, “You have fibroids,” I
wish I could say I was surprised. I’d grown three orbs; two the size of
misshapen tennis balls and one the size of a large marble. The doctor called
them symptomatic myomas. They were the ones causing all the excessive
bleeding and unbearable pain whenever the blood came. They had to be
surgically removed.


I was terrified.


The weeks leading up to my myomectomy were plagued
with nightmares. I dreamt of endless strings of wire being pulled out of me; I
dreamt of suddenly waking up in the middle of my surgery only to find the
bottom half of me sawn off; my intestines tumbling off the operation table and onto
the floor. Late at night, shaken awake by another nightmare, I’d scroll through
chatrooms and forums created by people who’d been though myomectomies. I wanted
to be as prepared as I possibly could. The morning of my surgery however, I had
the strong urge to run. After being wheeled into the theatre I was tied down to
the operating table, needles were poked into my veins and a heart monitor
attached to my chest. A slow yet hot panic (despite all the online preparation
I had done) began to build up in my throat but before I could say or do anything,
everything faded to black.


Waking Up and Healing Post Op

I saw white lights and blurry figures moving around
me before I felt the pain. A strong wave of nausea washed over me and each time
I gagged; I felt a fresh gashing pain in my abdomen, like I was being torn in
half over and over again. Between shots of Morphine and the remnants of the
anesthesia, I was in and out of consciousness for the rest of the night. This
is the part where I warn you about the pain. Compared to the core jarring, skin
splitting throbs that come with healing from a myomectomy, period cramps are
just butterflies in your tummy. I couldn’t move my lower half my first two
nights in hospital; it was as though every part of me below the point of incision
belonged to someone else even though I could feel every last ache.


I was in hospital for four days.


The day I was discharged, the doctor told me that the
healing process would take about six weeks but in all honestly it took me about
six months to get to a point where I was comfortable enough to walk upright
without the flesh around the incision hurting. My first period after the
operation was hell. I bled profusely and found myself in the hospital again
but the doctors reassured me it would get better. I felt disappointed though, I
had just undergone major surgery only to come out on the other end still
plagued by unbearable period pain.


It’s been a little over a year since my myomectomy
and while I can say that my period has definitely improved, there are months
where I have to be rushed to the hospital because of the pain. I’ve also had to
make a few lifestyle choices for instance, I can’t wear pants or trousers that
are too tight because they irritate the smile shaped keloid scar that now sits
a few centimetres under my belly button. The flesh around the scar is still
tender and sometimes the scar tends to itch. My body hasn’t quite been the same
since.


My Words of Advice

According to The Office on Women’s Health*, about 20 - 80
percent of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are
most common in women in their 40s and early 50s and not all women with fibroids
have symptoms. Women who do have symptoms (heavy bleeding, pain during sex,
enlarged abdomen and/or problems conceiving) often find fibroids difficult to
live with. The cause of fibroids is still relatively unknown but doctors
speculate that it could be a hormonal and genetic condition. Age, ethnicity
(fibroids tend to be more common amongst Black women) and diet are also
contributing factors to the development of fibroids.


Recently, I went to the gynecologist for my yearly
checkup and pap smear; unfortunately, it looks as though one of the fibroids is
beginning to grow back. It’s manageable though and it doesn’t look as though
I’ll have to go in for a second surgery to take care of it. That being said, reproductive health should be a right, not a privilege but we need to get to a point where everyone in
need (women, trans men,
intersex, genderqueer and non-binary people that still experience menstruation) has access to
regular checkups with experienced medical practitioners.


I had a myomectomy because my
period was interfering with my quality of life and I was privileged enough to
have a medical aid that was able to cover the costs of the surgery. If something
feels wrong, trust your body. The sooner you get help, the better.


* Page last updated: April 01, 2019.

This article provides general information and
discussions about health and related subjects. If you or any other person has a
medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek
other professional medical treatment

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