I went to see my doctor for a routine screening and left with an appointment for a hysterectomy.
A woman’s reproductive life is split into three phases: the before, during, and after. I thought I’d get to spend a few more years in the during, but I suddenly found myself holding a tiny card with the exact date and time I’d pass into the after.
I tucked my hysterectomy appointment card deep in my purse and went home to process. I talked with my husband, my family, and friends. I Googled. I joined Hystersisters. I knew first and foremost, I had to be ok with being done having kids. We had decided our family was complete years ago, but I didn’t want to mourn that ability once it was gone.
I knew in my heart I was ok with closing that chapter permanently.
I was also done with the pain and discomfort that were more than an inconvenience. They were life-altering for me. I was done with yearly colposcopies and the threat of cervical cancer, too. I was ready.
Yet still, I feared what was on the other side. Hysterectomy always seemed synonymous with old to me. It was a procedure our grandmothers had. Even though I’d keep my ovaries, I wondered, would this catapult me over the hill? At 41, I’ve never been the youngest mom on the playground, but would this further separate me from the pack?
And what I’d heard about the lengthy and painful recovery following a hysterectomy had me terrified. I imagined myself couch-ridden for weeks while trying to watch after two wild boys. Originally scheduled in March, COVID postponed the procedure until September. I wondered how I’d manage remote learning, a household, and everything that entails while recovering from such an invasive operation.
I expected to be pretty well incapacitated for around a month, unable to walk up and down stairs, carry a laundry basket, or walk to my mailbox. And what I’d read about the discomfort of laparoscopic surgery was nerve-wracking as well.
But I finally found my way to the place in my head where, no matter what was waiting on the other side, I was going to be ok with having a hysterectomy.
Thankfully, my surgery went really well and my husband was home the whole first week to take care of everything. I had the Da Vinci laparoscopic total hysterectomy which is considerably less invasive than all other options. That meant my recovery was a breeze compared to what I had imagined. In fact, it was easier than both my c-sections. And after this surgery, I didn’t have a newborn to care for!
So I was able to get lots of R&R in the hospital. I was walking on my own by that evening and taking short walks at home the next day. At my two-week appointment, I was cleared for exercise. I went home and push mowed my lawn.
All of my worrying had prepared me for the worst but left me pleasantly surprised by how well my recovery played out. I don’t have a single worry or post-op regret.
I’ve felt an overall improvement in my health and quality of life since then. I kept my ovaries so I still feel like me. That and my quick recovery reassured me that I’m not geriatric just yet. The average age of hysterectomy is 42, which means younger women than me have this done every day. It’s not our grandma’s surgery anymore.
Like before, I’m no older than I feel. And I feel good. I’m pain-free and my life no longer revolves around my cycle. I had never known any different until now, and it’s a freedom that’s allowed me to feel young as ever.