My Hysterectomy Story: Moving Past Anxiety and Seeking Help

I consider myself a fairly strong person.  


Yet I am also very weak.


This Fibroid/Hysterectomy/Anxiety thing has proven that this dichotomy is true about me.


I have realized over these past few months is that if I try to do this all on my own, I will fail.  I need the support of my family and friends to get me through the mental and physical strain this is taking on me.


Over the course of several weeks, I have discovered my uterus was full of large fibroids and along with my doctor, we have made a plan for their removal.  Through all of this, I have leaned on the support and love of my family.  


My father told me that he thought my cousin had the same issue as I did, so I reached out to her and discovered that she had an abdominal hysterectomy because of Uterine Fibroids about 2 years prior and she was about the same age as me during her procedure.  I asked to hear her story and she graciously and willingly told me it.  Her symptoms were a bit different than mine and she had some minor complications in her recovery, but overall she felt great and had no regrets after her procedure.


I also remembered a friend of mine from TN who had a hysterectomy when she was younger and I reached out to her as well to hear her story, which she also graciously and willingly gave me.  


During the course of my discovery process, my aunt send me an encouraging card, telling me that she and my grandmother also had a hysterectomy because of large uterine fibroids.  I never knew this about these two special ladies and it meant a lot to me that I had this connection with them. 


All of these ladies were a great support to me and reaching out to hear the stories and being encouraged by them is one of the reasons I am writing my own story: I want my story to offer encouragement to others.


But even with all of the inspirational stories, I was still having anxiety symptoms: tight throat, difficulty swallowing, indigestion.  I still needed to dig deeper to seek solstice for my mental and emotional healing.


In my hours of research, I came across a hysterectomy support group called HysterSisters.com, which is an EXCELLENT place to have questions answered and receive/give advice from/to women who are in the same health position as one like me who is facing a hysterectomy.  I started watching some of the informational videos and read some articles about preparing for a hysterectomy and two points stuck out to me:
  1. I should not hesitate to seek a 2nd opinion
  2. Most HysterSisters had a minimally invasive procedure for their hysterectomy


At this point in my Hysterectomy journey, I was about 5 weeks away from an abdominal surgery, the most invasive type of hysterectomies performed.  My husband, sister, Mom and Mother-in-law were already making plans to take off weeks of work to help me with my children and recovery.  I was hesitant to seek a 2nd opinion because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, even myself.  I knew if I had a 2nd opinion it would push back the timeline for weeks or maybe even months.  I didn’t want that at all!


But since most hysterectomies were minimally invasive, having a significantly less recovery time and being better for a patient’s body, I really wanted to know if that was an option for me.  


My current doctor, Dr. J, told me that laparoscopy wasn’t an option and abdominal was the only way to go. I was confused and concerned and wasn't quite sure what to do.   


More than once on this health journey, I wished I was back in TN where I could be treated by my former OB/GYN, Dr. H,  whom I trusted implicitly.  Not only did he deliver 3 of my 4 babies and help me tremendously with my pelvic floor care, he was always extremely candid with my gynecological health.  He’d patiently answered any question I had and offered his advice confidently.  I honestly believed he wanted what was best for me in my health care and I just wanted his opinion in this situation.


Well, way back in the day when had my 3rd baby (in 2009), I "friended" Dr. H on Facebook and kept up a relationship with him on social media since.  I’ve sent him a few messages on Facebook through the years, in addition to a few Christmas cards, and so I decided to ask him his opinion on all of this.


So on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of January, about 3-4 weeks pre-op, I sent him a message on Facebook to ask him his opinion about my case: what kind of procedure would he do if a woman with large fibroids came to him about a hysterectomy and was there a chance for a minimally invasive surgery? 

 He responded to my question within 1 minute...his response being “What’s your phone number?”.  I gave it to him and he immediately called me.


We talked for over an hour about my situation.  He brilliantly discussed his opinion on my case and his argument that I should be able to have MIVS (Minimally InVasive Surgery). He willingly gave he his advice: seek a second opinion and find a surgeon who is able to complete MIVS.  He said that in his 7 years of practicing Gyno, that he only performed 2 abdominal hysterectomies.  His advice encouraged me immensely and I decided to heed it.  We ended our conversation with his encouragement that no matter which procedure I was going to have, MIVS or abdominal, the likelihood of having a full recovery was extremely high.  He wanted to make sure I knew that I was going to be OK.


After I got of the phone with him, I started researching OB/GYNs in my area who were MIVS specialists.  I made a list of a few surgeons and called them first thing on Monday.  The earliest appointment I could find with one of my preferred surgeons was Feb 4, 2016, about 3 weeks away, which I went ahead and scheduled.  I spoke with my husband and family and they all agreed that I was making a wise decision to seek a 2nd opinion. Their support gave me great relief that I wasn’t disappointing anyone and that they all thought I was being wise with my health.


Later that week, I called Dr. J's office, the OB/GYN whom I had scheduled the abdominal hysterectomy with, and cancelled the MRI, the surgery and all pre-op/post-op appointments I had scheduled.  


Later that afternoon, my anxiety symptoms disappeared.

SEEING THE GOOD:

  • There are women who are not afraid to tell their stories.  Sometimes you just have to ask them to share.
  • I know an incredible OB/GYN who is willing to give up a portion of his Saturday to consult with a former patient.  I wasn't afraid to ask him to help.  And he was willing to help.  It's a beautiful combination.
  • I had the support and encouragement from my family to seek a 2nd opinion.  They were willing to strike all their formulated plans for my good.
  • My anxiety symptoms went away

2 comments :

  1. This. THIS was a wonderful turning point in your journey and your story. I am SO THANKFUL for Dr. H and for his encouragement to you. I'm also glad that you & Patrick were able to discuss & decide together about next steps. I remember being SOOO glad to hear about the relief you experienced when you scheduled the 2nd opinion appt and cancelled the abdominal procedure & pre-op. I was concerned that you'd be stuck with your symptoms longer, BUT to hear you describe that you felt a heavy weight had been lifted from your shoulders, and that you didn't even realize you'd been carrying such a heavy burden... that helped me know that your decision to seek a 2nd opinion was definitely the right one. God is good ALL THE TIME.

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    1. Yes, it was a turning point. And my symptoms HAVE worsened, but I am SO GLAD that I sought that second opinion and that I will have a MIVS. I am confident it was the best decision for me.

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