Hysterectomy and Surgical Menopause
by Christina Fain
Just as with labor, every woman who has gone through a hysterectomy has a different story to tell. The surgery affects women differently, and the results vary, so I am always glad to share mine.
Many women suffer silently with “female problems” and never find relief from the symptoms until their bodies naturally go through menopause. Meanwhile they are expected to just deal with it. I suffered from a monthly cycle that resembled something out of a horror movie. By the time I was in my 40s, I was only having two or three good days a month. My female problems were draining the life out of me. I was hoping menopause would hit just so it would all end. The hot flashes, moodiness, and sleeplessness couldn’t be anything worse than what I was experiencing.
Finally, my doctor suggested surgery. Unlike some women I talk to, I welcomed the suggestion of a hysterectomy. I wanted to be rid of the problem no matter what it took. None of the medications, treatments, and procedures I had endured had helped my symptoms. I was ready to boot Aunt Flo and her baggage out the door.
I scheduled surgery immediately. I listened to the pros, the cons, the options, and heard the words “surgical menopause” for the first time. I was comfortable knowing modern medicine would provide effective treatments for the hormonal fluctuations I would endure after the hysterectomy. I rationalized that if surgery gave me some feel-good years, it would be worth it.
In February of 2016, I had surgery and flew straight into surgical menopause. It was not a walk in the park. I had a horrible hormone crash immediately following the procedure. What most women experience over several years, I experienced in seven days—no sleep, fogginess, and for the first time I understood what a hot flash was. It took three months to find a hormone therapy that agreed with me, and it was a battle. But even as I fought through the hormonal fog, I was feeling better. And I finally got a diagnosis for what had been affecting me all those years: “adenomyosis.” It is only fully diagnosable with surgery, and surgery is the only cure.
The change in my health and overall well-being was astronomical. The unidentified back pain I had my whole adult life was gone. I was sleeping better. Most importantly, I had more energy. But mentally and emotionally I was also different. I sometimes didn’t recognize myself in my thoughts and behavior. My doctor assured me that this was normal for some women, so I started really paying attention to who this “new me” was.
I started doing things I would have never imagined doing before surgery. I looked forward to exercising. I became outspoken. I would chat up the produce guy at the grocery store (for a severe introvert like me this was a massive change.) People told me that I acted differently, and I couldn’t disagree. I was happier and just felt a sense of freedom. I felt younger and began to have a clearer picture of what I wanted out of life. And now I had the energy to go after it! My husband got to experience this “new me” the day I called him from the car dealership and told him I had just bought myself a new car, on my own. Some of the changes in me required adjustments and tolerance from the people around me, and sometimes it was hard for others to understand who I was now, but we all managed.
Seven months after the surgery, while walking with my husband on a beach in Maine, we came upon a huge rock formation. I looked at my husband. He knew what I was thinking and just shook his head. A year earlier I would have looked at that boulder and only wished I could climb it. This day, in the blink of an eye I found myself sitting on top of that boulder laughing hysterically! I have a selfie to prove it. There aren’t words to adequately explain how much better I feel now, but one thing is for sure: that day on the boulder, I completely understood why they call menopause “the Change.”
Photo credits: Free Movement, Woman Holding Banner, Bleeding Circles and Bluebell all by Merpagigglesnort.
Tina began creative writing at a young age. Professionally, she has written for legal professionals spanning more than 20 years. As an over-thinker, mother of two, she draws her inspiration from her adult son and much younger daughter, as well as her personal experiences trying to navigate life’s beautiful complications. When not writing, she spends her time reading, hiking with her family and planning her next travel adventure.