The Saddest and Happiest Farewell to my Reproductive Organs
By: Autumn Smith
Tomorrow, on March 14th at 5 am, I'm having a full hysterectomy. There are a million more graceful ways I could have started this piece, but with this subject, I've learned that blunt is best. I'm also having excision surgery for endometriosis on most organs in my abdomen and excision surgery in my thoracic cavity, but we don't need to talk as much about that because it seems like once the word "hysterectomy" is heard, everything else is just a blur. Don't worry, it's a bit of a blur for me as well.
When you have a bad case of endometriosis and adenomyosis, life can feel like a countdown to removing your reproductive organs. It very literally was in my case; I had nine surgeries back to back to basically just maintain this disease until I was old enough (and fed up enough) for us all to feel comfortable with such a permanent procedure. In retrospect though, I think I had always hoped it wouldn't turn out this way.
For at least a year now, I've been talking mad shit about my uterus, cervix, and ovaries. GOOD RIDDANCE, I say, take them out and burn them in a fire. And then let me dance around said fire. They have truly only caused me pain since I was thirteen years old, and for the past few years they have quite literally (but maybe temporarily!) ruined my life. I've watched friends drift away slowly because I can never see them, I've lost my ability to work and be independent, the love of my life has become my part-time caretaker, I frequent the ER more than my favorite restaurants, and I haven't had to tell Walgreens my name while picking up a prescription in two years. Walgreens is my Cheers. And with this surgery, all of this could be gone. My life could be...well, a life again. I want this surgery more than I've ever wanted anything, and I've used all of my energy on being excited for it.
Oddly enough, the hysterectomy is the easiest part of the surgery. I would assume sucking those organs out with their fancy Doctor Vacuum will only take twenty minutes out of the nine hour surgery, but don't quote me on that. I'm terrified that my intestines will never work right again. During the thoracic surgery, they have to collapse my right lung to be able to even explore it. That's terrifying. They might literally be cutting off a piece of it causing me to wake up from the operation with a tube coming out of my chest. Even more terrifying. Although, when one of the best doctors in the world is fixing your entire body, it's hard not to focus on the amazing outcome that is promised to you.
Two weeks ago, I was hit with a hormonal ton of bricks. My pain and sickness is worse than ever; my kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra are screaming for help everyday in the form of agonizing pain, my bowels have a knife fight in my belly every morning, my heavy diaphragm makes it hard to breath at night, and my uterus and ovaries are going out kicking and screaming. I found out in my last sonogram that my right ovary had attached itself to my uterus and my uterus started growing around it. To put that in simpler terms, my uterus ate my fucking ovary. Have you ever heard of anything more savage? Endometriosis takes the form of an auto immune disease at this rate, so horrifying face and neck rashes (cute!), high blood pressure, daily fevers, joint pain (only in my ankles if you were wondering how crazy I might sound), and nausea are included in this mess at the moment. All of that, then my frazzled brain and high levels of Estrogen decided to let me know I was wrong, and I'm actually really fucking sad about this procedure.
I might have realized I was going insane the moment I yelled at my boyfriend for being around girls who are most likely incredibly fertile because I mean, he's probably just dying to go out and put babies in someone right now, right? No, that's not right at all. That's actually quite absurd. After that, I learned that Bill Paxton had shockingly passed away during a heart surgery and sometime during my grief I realized that I, too, will die during my nine hour surgery because I love Bill Paxton and people die in threes and he had three wives in Big Love and...no wait, that was also insane. And incredibly selfish in regards to Bill. After that, I started to have some slightly more rational thoughts that left me even more sad than I was before, amidst all of the crazy.
This is the part where I'm going to say some things I've never actually said out loud, and when I have these thoughts I have to make my brain karate-chop them away.
I am in my tenth year of being with my soul mate, I have loved him since I was a kid in high school. Nothing in this world will ever amount to his love for me and the sacrifices he's made. We are lucky. These kinds of things don't happen very often. And now, lucky me, I will never, ever get to find out what our sweet babies together would have looked like. I will never get to see our little blonde haired baby boy's bubbly face, to be able to look into his eyes and see the love of my life. I won't be able to achieve my lifelong dream of making tiny monkey / sumo wrestler hybrid baby girls, just the way I was as a baby. Would our kids be guitar-playing, athletic, strong kids like him, or sweet little emotional artists like me? You know what would actually be perfect? A mix of both. But we won't ever be able to see that happen.
This kind of sadness is surprisingly great for self love. I've found myself thinking, through my tears, "I am so fucking awesome, how is it that I can't pass my genes on to another human?"
I, of course, love my peaceful views on the world and my levels of empathy, my artistic abilities (maybe my daughter would have done more with her art!), and my eyebrows (I would never let her tweeze them like I did and they would be PERFECT!). But luckily, those are horrible, selfish reasons to have a child anyway.
Having children was never necessarily a dream of mine like most women. I can't even IMAGINE having a child in my care right now, I'm currently too selfish and too focused on everything else in my life. Something I've realized, though, is that my mindset is that way because of my illness. I have spent the best years of my twenties wishing I could have more fun, travel, act like an idiot while it's still acceptable, and most of all, be successful with a fulfilling career. I haven't had time to think about children, because I haven't had time to start the rest of my life yet.
After this surgery (and the rehabilitation that comes after it) I'm going to start my life. After that, I know I want to think about children. I'm going to think about them in the most unselfish way possible now, and I am going to love the shit out of them. Although my genes might be packed full of coolness (and bare with me because you won't believe this part) there are plenty of cool people in this world. Some even cooler than me! And there are going to be infinite amounts of the coolest children waiting for someone like me, a HEALTHY mom ready to love them for all of the right reasons. Maybe this is what all of this suffering is for, who knows. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out.
Whatever the future may hold, I don't want to hold back. If this horrid experience has taught me anything, it's to never take a single good thing in my life for granted. Walking a block without having to sit, being able to drink a glass of wine without pissing fire, a belly free of heating pad burn marks, not having to carry Vicodin in my purse at all times, and simply just remembering the love and support that surrounded me at this time. If you see me on Instagram at age 35 drinking Moscato and wearing a crop top from Forever 21 at my first music festival, maybe don't judge. But also have confidence that I've accomplished more important things in life and Lollapalooza wasn't my only goal. I have a lot of life to live and a lot of time to make up for. Now, I hope, my body will be ready to live it to the fullest.