16 Feb 2018

What is it that defines a woman? Her body? Her mind? Her personality? The fact that I have now suddenly and rather unexpectedly lost my cervix, uterus and ovaries, am I any different to the woman I was before my abdominal hysterectomy at the end of January?

What a way to start 2018!

Funny how you know that there is possibly something wrong with your body, but you are actually too afraid to find out exactly what; you are hesitant to go to the doctor, just in case there is actually something wrong. However, the impetus for me to have a medical check up, having plucked up the courage to eventually to make an appointment, was the fact that it was too uncomfortable for me to lie outside in the sun, on my tummy, to tan my back, during the December school holidays. As I do not sleep on my tummy at night, that position had never been a problem and being inadvertently not prone to lying like that (on a hard surface - grass and brick paving) during sex either, it had never been an issue before.

The doctor merely confirmed what I (a Biology teacher and with the torrid assistance of Dr. Google) already suspected and I was immediately referred to a gynaecologist. An ultrasound and very uncomfortable internal examination reiterated that I had a uterus the size of a 16 week pregnancy and that it was completely fibroid. And here, I always thought I was just full of shit LOL, but the pelvic mass in my lower abdomen was the reason for my continual discomfort and notoriously poor bowel movements. Like a foetus as it develops using a woman's bladder as a pillow, my burgeoning uterus was pressing on my bowels and spine; the latter causing back ache. 50 years ago, it would have remained, growing larger and larger; leading to what many women incorrectly assumed to be middle-age spread with its associated malaise.

Luckily for me, I am past my fecundity period and as such, my reproductive system is no longer required for procreation, although sadly, being a surrogate now for my gay son and his partner is out of the question LOL. A full blood workup showed that my ovaries were no longer producing their two female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – and clearly, the Smarties (what my kids always called my contraceptive pills) were a monthly waste of money, except that they were prolonging the onset of menopause. By removing everything, my risk of cervical, ovarian and uterine will also be totally eliminated (and, my cancer policy is being reassessed accordingly.)

An emergency mammogram, which scared the living shit out of me, came back clear with no suspicions of any form or kind; a necessity in the event of future HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy; I am going to go the natural route) with the removal of my ovaries. A wake-up call for me - a woman who at the age of 52 had never had one and who last saw her gynae in 2008. The latter being the reason that my uterus got to the size it did and why in future, an annual mammogram will be on my new year schedule. I am happy to lose my uterus, but I will be dammed if I am prepared to lose my boobs!!!

The operation lasted all of 90 minutes - from pre-op to being back in the maternity ward - but, it was by far the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life, including the 2 previous Caesarean sections to deliver my two children; granted, I was 30 years younger back then. The term Teacher Bitch took on a whole new meaning, compounded by the after effects of the anaesthetic and spinal block administered to me, together with the immense pain I experienced. For 24 hours I apparently gave the nursing staff absolute hell, demanding constant pain medication and then, being made to get up and walk the very next morning. Tears flowed with the uncharacteristic use of explicit vocabulary to make my discomfort known to all who would listen, and it is here, that my respect for the nursing profession takes on a whole new meaning.

The nurses (day and night staff) afforded me the most empathetic of care, despite my initial abuse, for which I did profusely apologize over the next couple of days and with a token gesture of cake at tea time on the day of my departure. Yes, I was in a private hospital ward, away from new mommies and their crying babies; my gynae’s preference rather than to being in a surgical ward and were it not for the pain, more like a 4 day -3 night stay in a hotel, although the food (because of my soft diet) was not at all to my liking. My care was exemplary, but I could not wait to go home.

Now, more uncomfortable rather than sore due to the 8 layers of stitches that need to heal inside of me over the next 3 months (2 weeks no driving; 3 weeks no sitting for long periods of time; and, a total of 6 weeks off school,) I am still lying on my back to sleep at night, propped up by 5 pillows (3 behind me and 2 under my knees.) Cabin fever is starting to set in, however even just short trips out of the house, leaves me feeling exhausted. It is certainly a case of the spirit being willing but the body not! Not yet. As for riding my motorbike.............NO chance until at least mid to end March. Going back to work a week early part-time, just to teach my two matric classes is under consideration, although at this stage, I do not need to make any hasty decisions. One step at a time!!!

So, I am a sports model – a red Ford Mustang! A walking blind-ended vagina LOL Naturally, I am now worried about Sex, making love, fucking and falling off the bed. Having not ever given natural birth, there is nothing wrong with my vagina and it is as tight as ever. However, my female hormones are depleted and the two from my brain – Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Lutenising Hormone (LH) are no longer necessary to control my menstrual cycle, as there is no longer the need for one; I am not sure now if they diminished (some research will be required.) But, what I do know, is that Sex and my inherent Sexuality (i.e. my libido) is all in my mind and there is nothing fucking wrong with that LOL!!!

Yes, there will obviously be initial hesitation in the expectation of discomfort or pain, the first time this Baby gets to be taken for a Test Drive, but that will depend on the Driver. The man who will hopefully look past the bigger scar in my bikini line (thank god there was no need for a longitudinal scar up to my belly button, due to the expertise of my obstetrician in removing the fibroid “alien” (you should see the photo’s) from inside of me.) Once healed – recommended 6 weeks – sex can be resumed and maybe, the missionary position will need to be replaced with other creative angles of approach, and much-needed intimacy once again enjoyed. In hindsight, my recent lack of libido was probably due to unconscious pelvic discomfort; another indication as to how important it is to be in tune with one’s body.

There is no longer the need for Smarties or tampons; no “honeymoon skips” (going straight from one Smartie packet to the next, skipping out on the red ones) to miss a menstruation, due to romantic/dirty weekends away; and, notwithstanding the astronomical costs of just being a woman LOL. The onset of menopause (hot flushes, vaginal dryness etc) is yet to be experienced and those symptoms can be easily remedied, although I have never had the need for KY jelly before and hopefully, the tsunami’s of desire with resume.

I am still very much a woman, just with fewer body parts LOL and it is my emotional and renewed physical well-being, which is going to now fuel this orgasmic engine into the red and beyond.....