Jessica’s Hysterectomy Story
Type of Hysterectomy: daVinci hysterectomy with oophorectomy
Age at surgery: 35
Location: Dallas, Texas
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease when I was just 16. I found out I was unable to conceive at age 20, shortly after I married, and I began fertility treatments at that time. During the fertility treatments, the doctor tried quite aggressively to make me ovulate, but after a year of increasing medications, shots, and 4 times a month transvaginal ultrasounds, I was still unable to ovulate even once. During this time, I began to have severe mood disturbances and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was caused or exacerbated by my hormone imbalances. I was told that the bipolar disorder must be treated as a separate issue, and began medication to treat the severe mood swings I experienced. My ideas of becoming a mother without in vitro fertilization were dashed, and with the bipolar diagnosis, I was encouraged to give up the idea of becoming pregnant at all. I hated the idea, though, and chose instead to visit different doctors for their opinions.
They all said the same thing, that I had in all likelihood never ovulated, and if I wanted a normal cycle I should go on birth control pills. I didn’t want to give up the tiniest chance of getting pregnant so I didn’t go on pills. I suffered for 14 years with odd and very painful cycles, if you could call them that. Fortunately, I was able to adopt my daughter in 2006, so it lessened that pain. Then, in September of 2014, I began to have bleeding every two weeks, with pain so immense it debilitated me. I went to my gynecologist where I was diagnosed with endometriosis, and because of the unregulated periods and hormone imbalance, he suspected I had a chance of endometrial cancer. I had a biopsy, and thankfully it turned out negative.
My doctor sent me to a specialist to have an exploratory done to see how far the endometriosis had spread. In February, I met with the specialist, one of the doctors who had worked on the Da Vinci robot project and had been using the machine for many years. He suspected that due to my history I had adnemyosis, a condition similar to endometriosis except the lining of the uterus embeds back into the uterine wall. My uterus was thick and heavy, and pressing against my bladder and bowel. I agreed to have the exploratory done, and it was scheduled for May. One week before my exploratory, I decided that I wanted to have a hysterectomy. My ovaries were no good, they had never functioned, and I was just getting the exploratory to buy time until I needed the hysterectomy anyway. I met with my doctor and asked him what he thought. He said that he wanted me to come to that decision on my own because I was so young, but it was, in his opinion, the best choice. I scheduled the surgery for August.
I waited until August because my doctor told me I could have my surgery as a day patient, and my mother could come and stay with me a few days at that time. She’s a nurse, so I elected to do that. I went in at 8 am, had general anesthesia, and woke up at 10 am. I was back at home by 1 pm. The four tiny incisions were glued closed, and I was feeling well that evening. I think the ease of the surgery may have been a bad thing, because I was up and moving around within 4 days, and I really should have spent more time resting. I didn’t realize that everything has to get back into place in your abdominal cavity, and I suffered needlessly because I didn’t spend enough time lying down for things to heal. I was supposed to be on bed rest for two weeks, but I was back to my old self by day 7, although I hurt more than I think I would have had I followed orders.
One big surprise was that over the next month, I didn’t have any mood swings at all, and my psychiatrist was able to reduce and take me off most of the bipolar medications! It was those insane hormones that had such a horrible effect on my mood that I was treated as bipolar, not true mental illness. To be freed of a lifelong mental illness through a hysterectomy made it all worth it, and I would do it again in a second. I was put on a moderate dose of Estrogen therapy since I am so young, which I have discussed with my doctor and we are going to taper off and discontinue at a normal menopausal age.
I have had a bit of grieving for the loss of my opportunity to ever carry a child within me, which I didn’t expect, but then I just look at what I have gained. I have had a couple of things come up, such as the fact that I put on a few pounds over Christmas. I had to really work to get it off where before I could easily lose weight, and I have a “slow engine” when getting intimate now. I have to use lubricant because I just don’t have what I did before. But I don’t get hot flashes! I honestly forget that I once worried constantly about pads and tampons and when or if I might start my period…that’s another awesome thing about it, that I can forget the pain. The goods far outweigh the bad. I remember everyone I spoke to before I had my hysterectomy that had had one said it was the best thing they ever did. I doubted it then, because I was scared. But boy, were they right! I am so glad I had my hysterectomy. There were trials along the way, but I am so much better for doing it!