a letter to My Future Self
By: Fela M'tima
To my future self: I am sorry, I have taken something from you.
First off, I'd like to tell you that I had always thought of this as a "last option" but I never knew what it would take in me, to make the decision of when it would take place. I've decided to remove my uterus, my option for carrying and creating a biological child. I am 24 years old.
To take you back and have you relive it a bit, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis only a week after my 23rd birthday. By the exact same time the following year, I had already had wide excision surgery with an ovarian suspension, endo was found on my diaphragm, and it was confirmed I had Adenomyosis. A few days before I turned 24, I had a surgery consult for my third surgery. In less than two years, I've had three surgeries, four if you count the surgery to repair a hematoma a week after my third surgery.
I have to explain how horrible things were, because I would never have decided to have a hysterectomy unless it had gotten this bad. The past year and a half feel like a decade. I feel like I have been climbing a mountain that never ends while someone is holding me down and punching me in the fucking face over and over with each step forward. Every single one of these surgeries has come with immense complications and literally zero relief. Of course, it's easy for me to blame my enlarged and endo ridden uterus. It isn't completely her fault though. Thoracic endometriosis stole my life about 6 months after my first surgery and I don't remember what my right arm feels like without nerve and muscle damage from referred pain.
I've reached a point that I'm sure most women with these diseases do, where my depression has hit an all time high. Higher than I knew depression could go and it terrifies me to live a life in which my own darkness has no limits. Each night I dread waking up in the morning.
Each morning I wake up and want to die. It sounds dramatic to write but the truth is, if you had felt this much physical pain and trauma, a part of you would want to die too. I wouldn't blame you, just as I've never blamed myself.
Now this is the part of the letter where I really let it all out.
I have slept with my heating pad almost every night since this all began and I have the burns on my soft pale skin to show for it. I have a four inch scar across the top of my pubic area. It's hard, tough, and swollen. The whole bottom half of my skin under my belly button is numb and weird to the touch. These things might not go away. As well as the memory of this scar and the two surgeries a few weeks apart, the blood transfusion and IV antibiotics, the endless catheters, the taste of metal in my mouth. The loneliness and crippling anxiety that plagued my brain so much I was suicidal. These memories haunt me to the bone. I also can't forget about my tiny lap scars that have somehow multiplied and created a constellation on my belly. What was once an invisible illness has somehow left visible marks that I would do anything to forget.
Through this time being sick, the rest of my body has slowly fallen apart too. My knees ache at the end of each day and it's not from walking because I sure as hell don't do a lot of that. My lower back hurts every time I try to sit up or bend down and my hormones make me break out like a teenager. I get infections of all kinds constantly and never know what the actual problem is other than my immune system trying to destroy me. I don't remember the last time I was able to pee without having bladder spasms. My weight fluctuates and stretch marks make imprints all over my skin. I've seen my body stretched in places you didn't know could stretch. I've seen every color bruise completely cover every inch of my abdomen. I've watched a blood clot force its way out of my body. I've had to learn to love my body when it has completely repulsed me and I fight with it each day.
I will say this now and I will say it again, it feels god damn fucking impossible to move each morning.
Bowel and uterine pain wake me up with a vengeance. After putting heat on my morning pelvic pain, the second I try to move, the right side of my back feels like I have been run over my a semi truck, over and over and over again. Then once I try and move my right arm, nerve pain shoots down into my fingers and my arm is torn between numbness and excruciating pain. All of this pain happens within the first two minutes of waking up and I usually just lay with my tears until I can peel myself up for a coffee and muscle relaxer cocktail. I can't have amazing, mind blowing sex without post-sex uterine contractions and chewing Vicodin. I can't count how many times I've been to the ER since I got sick and surgery prep even feels normal. These are things you get used to though and begin to accept. Some are easier than others.
The real breaking point happened when I realized I actually had a life that needed to be saved and I was the only person that could make the decisions to do so.
Other than being an adeno and endo sufferer, I am a daughter of a woman who did a beautiful and completely natural at home birth (on a freaking futon, guys). When I was a teenager and first thought of having kids, I always dreamed of having a natural birth like she did. I admired it about her. I knew if she could do it, I could too. I'm strong like my mother, I always have been. I had heard so many versions of my birth story and I couldn't help but hope I could bring a baby into the world in such a magical way too.
I have dated guys in the past that I've thought of having kids with but not in a real way. Not in the way that I would actually try to. More of the, "Wow our kids would look so cute" or "Damn boy, I want your genes in my uterus" kind of way.
Now, here is where it gets complicated.
My future self; You WILL want kids. And I mean, in the REAL WAY. You will hopefully be with someone you truly love and loves you. You are going to look at that person and want to reproduce with them. You are going to ache with emotion and bleed maternal instinct. (except not literally because I've taken away that function). You will want to do whatever it takes to make it happen and you will have zero choices in the matter. You are going to be really fucking sad and I hate that I can't feel those feelings for you in this moment. Some nights I do stay up late crying. Some days I just get really angry and swallow my tears. I have spent the past year and a half so sick that I haven't been able to feel anything else. I have suppressed my ache for biological children because I have been too sick to grow as an adult and if I don't have this surgery, I won't make it to see what life can be like without this pain. I cannot teleport and hold you. I cannot save this organ that is killing me. I cannot live any longer like this. I cannot blame myself when really it is the disease taking this choice away from us.
But, I can be strong. Not just for me but for you. Though this choice is being taken away, there is so much to come from it. Because of this, you will probably have a really successful career one day. You are probably doing what you love and making money from it. I mean, how damn beautiful is that. You can travel and probably have traveled to places that you've always wanted to go. Places you dreamed about when you spent your 20's in a hospital bed. I know this is the right decision because when I think about you, I am excited to be you. I cannot wait to be better. I cannot wait for the time when life isn't surrounded by back to back surgeries, ER visits, and urgent cares. I can't wait to make plans and DO THEM. I can't wait to have freedom and most importantly, I can't wait to want to live my life.
Although you get waves of sadness, I bet you love me the way I love you. And although the road is ever easy, I can pave the road to be a bit better and that's a choice that not everyone gets to make for themselves.
P.s. I'm keeping the ovaries and apologize in advance if they give you trouble.