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Fibroids are these things that often happen in the vicinity of uteruses. You can read about it on wiki, but be warned that there are some graphic photos.
The thing about fibroids is that a lot of women get them, and most of the time they’re totally irrelevant. Sometimes they cause heavier bleeding, sometimes they get big and uncomfortable, etc — but mostly, they are benign and small enough that the uterus-owner doesn’t even notice them.
Lately, a good friend of mine has been struggling with fibroidish problems. She had several large ones, like grapefruits, and was suffering pretty severely. There’s just not a lot of room in a woman’s pelvic region for a few extra grapefruits, you know? Things aren’t designed for that. They did a treatment to shrink them and it didn’t work, so she got a hysterectomy.
Shortly thereafter, she learned that she was one of the very unlucky few whose fibroids were not benign. In fact, one of hers was a nasty evil cancer, and it spread before the hysterectomy got it out of there. So after suffering for months and enduring abdominal surgery, now she’s starting chemo.
I am very close to the family, so I am involved in the caretaking and support, and I am like what the fuck. I am looking Death in the face and his name is Leiomyosarcoma — which you can translate as Fibroid of Cancer, Fuck. (I shall always read “sarcoma” as “cancer, fuck” from now on)
I have some personal anxiety going on in the background here, too, even before we got news of the evil fibroid. My mother had fibroids and they sucked! I am afraid of something making my period worse. My period is terrible! I am afraid of growing grapefruits in my pelvis. I am afraid of even supposedly benign masses pushing on my bits and interfering with the normal operation of systems like my colon. I am afraid of having more pain down there in general.
And now I am afraid of Fibroid of Cancer, Fuck, even though the odds of that are really low. My friend having it doesn’t change the odds of me getting it, any more than my friend having grapefruit fibroids made it any more likely that I would too.
Still, I am scared. Because I have a fibroid. It is a small one, but I don’t know how long it’s been there. I don’t know how long it’s been growing. I don’t know if that’s why my period seems heavier lately, or if it’s why I’m having strange period-related side effects to one of my medications. And I don’t know if it’s a fibroid of cancer, fuck — and I won’t, until it becomes a grapefruit.
Because I’m not going to go around getting vaginal ultrasounds all the time to keep track of a tiny benign thing I might have had all my life that will probably never do anything or cause any problems whatsoever.
In the past few weeks, I have had some changes in my relationship with my uterus. It’s a very strange thing.
First off, it turns out I have a relationship with my uterus. I hadn’t really thought about it, most of my life; it was just this part of me that I had to make sure didn’t get pregnant. Or, as I was wont to think of it, infested with an alien parasite. It was also the thing that, once a month or so, hurt like a motherfucker shortly before producing a lot of blood.
Yeah, I have had serious cramps for just about 25 years now. Once a month, it’s the Day of Pain. Some hormonal treatments helped lessen it, but with other side effects. I tried to do the Seasonale thing with four periods a year, but the dose on those is too small for a fat lady and I had breakthrough bleeding the whole damn time — along with randomly scattered Days of Pain.
Now I’m on medication for other problems that leave me spotting every day. This is just not okay. At the same time, I know that I do not want to host an alien parasite, not ever, no matter what people say about the maternal instinct, or how much I love and adore other peoples’ babies.
So, a few weeks ago, I got a referral to a great gynecologist and went in for a consult about two magic procedures: ablation and sterilization.
The sterilization I had my eye on, Essure, can’t be done at the same time as an ablation, so I’m going to have a two-for-one ablation and tubal ligation. At least, that’s the plan. It sounds like a great plan!
Before I can be ablated, though, I have to have some testing. I needed a pelvic exam, a vaginal ultrasound, and an endometrial biopsy. If, for some reason, I had a problem and didn’t qualify for an ablation, the next option would be a hysterectomy. (I figured, hysterectomy, sounds good, get rid of the thing that hurts and bleeds and just be done with it all! Oh wait, abdominal surgery. Yuuuuuck.)
For some women, these tests are trivial and easy experiences. I had a more difficult time, though.
All this, and some other stuff, have come together to make me much more aware of this little organ inside me, and the trouble it’s caused. I’ve got more of a relationship to it, and I’m not sure I like it. I’ve got a lot of anxiety, pain, and fear.
So today I’m starting a series of posts called Wombly Speaking. I’m going to talk about some of these procedures and my experiences with them.