Monday, March 11, 2024

One Year of Navigating Trauma and Change | The menopause life after hysterectomy

The Menopause Life Now

I've posted what I'm talking about below to my personal Facebook for my family and friends to give them an update a year on. I also thought it would be a good idea to have this posted here and documented because I never want to forget what I went through. I also want to be able to look back in a few years' time and see how far I've come. And hey, not dead.

💛Buckle up, this is a long one, so if you're TL:DR, the short version's been rough, but I'm getting better.

❤️Today is 11 March, 2024 and the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Goose Saga. For those of you who have followed along last year, thank you. Your kind thoughts and prayers kept me going. I appreciate every one of you.

❤️For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the short version. Last year, today, I woke up in the middle of the night when I noticed wetness between my legs. Turns out I was haemorrhaging badly from my lady parts and it was not cute. Think gushing waterfall. That began a series of in and out visits to various hospitals, too many ambulance rides to count, lots of emergency rooms. Every time I started bleeding again, I ended up back in the hospital. They'd stop the bleeding and then send me home. Turns out I had a massive cervical fibroid growth (which I named Goose for ease of reference) in me that, when eventually removed, was the size of a football. The surgeon said the surgery took so long, and was so awful that one of his surgical nurses needed a lie down after it, and another almost fainted. Ugh. I have photos of Goose, post-Goose extraction, but they are gross. I will spare you those visuals.

❤️And for those of you who like numbers, here's a brief summary:
  • Blood lost: 2 litres
  • Hospital stays: 9
  • Emergency department hospital visits: 7
  • Ambulance trips: 8
  • Hospitals stayed at: 4
  • Total days in hospital: 22
  • Hysterectomy: 1
  • Uterus: 0

❤️Since I last checked in, which was a brief update in June last year, menopause kicked in about July after the hysterectomy which I was supposed to be fully recovered from. Things have been rather awful since then, and life has been rough. I know you only mostly see all the fun stuff from me because, frankly, there are days when I can't stand to be around myself, so you really don't want to be listening to me moaning and groaning, and sharing my misery. There are a few exceptions to that, of course.
🩷Privately, my BFF gets the details. Poor him. No man should be getting a blow-by-blow of female problems if they are not married to the woman, but hey, he's the BFF. If he can tell me about his ailments in vivid detail, I can darned well tell him mine.
🩷My pretend husband whom I call my beautiful man checks in with me once every few weeks, and he's utterly wonderful. The pretend husband is different from boy, and there's a story there which boy is fully aware of. Don't worry! Boy knows about him!! Pretend is fine, and he's a wonderful guy. I'd totally jump him if I was single, but well, I have boy, so he's relegated to pretend status, but I digress.
🩷My very special little control freak friend, you know who you are. You sent me flowers in the hospital and was the first one to make me cry. Darn it. Pot. Kettle.
🩷Oh, oh, and my mumsy who has hovered as all mum's do when their child is not well. It doesn't matter how old you are, you're still their child. It wasn’t till maybe a few weeks ago that I finally told my mumsy how miserable I've truly been, and only because she asked and I’d kind of been ghosting her. Poor mumsy. She was rather shocked when I finally laid it all out on her. But you know how mums are. They rally, and then they try to think of ways to help and fix things. Mums are a blessing. She kept saying, "I didn't know, I didn't know. I'm so sorry, I didn't know." It's all good, mumsy, you didn't know because I didn't tell you. Part of me didn't want you to worry. You were already so freaked out when Goose happened, and you and daddy did so much for me. I still have food in my freezer from the early Goose days after I got out of the hospital.
🩷Daddy-o has been great too, but you know...fathers!
🩷And of course, my wonderful boy who had his moments, but all in all has been a saint. Let me tell you, if your man doesn't leave you after something like this, he's staying for the long haul.

❤️Shout out to my wonderful friend who had a daughter at the same hospital while I was there. She took the time to get me a care package, clean pajamas so I didn't need to keep wearing the dress I'd threw up all over, and came up to brush and braid my hair when I couldn't do it myself. Y'all have no idea how nice it is to have a toothbrush!!
🩷My reading buddies from gosh, did we meet almost 15 years ago now?, for the Amazon Kindle gift card so I could get books to read while laid up. Thank you to all of you for chipping in and surprising me in the best possible way. Even the BFF kept quiet on it, and we were talking daily. When I mentioned it to him, his response was, well, it wouldn't have been a surprise if I had told you, would it? Fair point.
🩷My wonderful neighbour who packed my bag for the hospital the third time I had to go while I was sitting on the toilet bleeding out and giving her instructions on what to pack as we waited for the ambulance to arrive.
🩷And my lovely friend who sent the ginormous gift basket of fruit I ended up sharing with some neighbours because it was so big I couldn’t eat it all.
🩷Plus the friend who owns the Italian restaurant and offered to bring me a pizza from his restaurant when he saw the terrible hospital food I was being subjected to.
🩷Oh, and the friends who visited me in the hospital. Those were wonderful moments I cherish deeply.

❤️I can't forget the two wonderful ladies who understood the Australian healthcare and hospital system, who helped me navigate a lot of its intricacies. Without them, I would not have known what to say, what to ask for, and wouldn't have been able to use the right language that these medical and hospital people would understand to get the results I needed.

❤️Anyway, how am I? As of right now, not terrible. But the last year has been miserable and when I thought I had recovered from the surgery, menopause slammed into me. When I say slammed into me, I mean SLAMMED into me. With no warning. One day I was fine, the next day I was raging at boy over a chicken burger. That was when I realised something was very, very wrong. And then it all got worse. I consulted my doctor, and he eventually got me onto estradiol. But then came the side effects, easing back on the estradiol, getting worse, upping the dose, and then getting on a program to treat the side effects because the menopause symptoms were worse. Most days, I could barely function. Other days, I'm barely out of bed. Fortunately, boy had bought me the bed desk while I was recovering from surgery, so I was able to minimally stay productive and meet most of my limited work deadlines. I didn't start taking on new clients and getting back to more of a full work capacity (I'm still not there yet) till probably October 2023. Sort of.

❤️Also, because of the trauma from Goose and the surgery, everything was out of whack. Worst of all was my liver readings, which were about 20x worse than what they were supposed to be. That took a long time to fix, and it's still only so so, though my doctor tells me it's kind of okay "for my age." Don't you love it? You get to a certain age and it's like, oh, that's okay "for your age." WTH, man?!?!?

❤️Do not even get me started on the weight gain. I worked hard to lose all that dang weight after Goose, and then, along comes menopause and I put back on half of what I lost. Not cool, man. Not cool at all.

❤️As I tried to explain to my mum recently, whenever we chatted, or whenever she saw me, that was my "up" times. The few hours in the day when I could get out of bed and do stuff. But that pretty much wiped me out, and I'd be back in bed after that. Most days even now, it's all I can do to get some work done, get out of bed, feed boy, then crash again. And the insomnia doesn't help, but I've learned to roll with that. Sleep when I'm tired, stay awake and not force it when I can't. It's worse when I try to force the sleep.

❤️For context, before Goose, I used to spend 8 to 12 hours, sometimes more, at my desk in the office working. Since Goose, I think my average has been close to zero. Recently, I've been slowly getting back to the office and a few times a week in the last month, I've managed 2 to 4 hours at my desk. I still need my desk and the big computer with the giant monitor for some of my work. And I still prefer to get dressed and be at my desk for client video calls. I don't think I've managed a full day in the office, at my desk yet. Bed desk, yes, plenty. Office desk, not so much.

❤️I had so many menopause symptoms; it was terrifying. Every day was a new symptom. You name it, I probably had it or still have it. It's affected every aspect of my life. It threw my diabetes out of whack and that was a whole thing for months as we tried to get that sorted out. That was probably the worst of it because I was miserable when my diabetes was out of whack. Dizziness, nausea, almost passing out. It was not cute. And poor boy was right beside me, trying to help me figure out what else was wrong again as I could barely get out of bed. There were so many days I was barely functioning, and then when I had a day when I was feeling a bit better, I'd let my Type A personality take over and try to cram and get as much done as possible.

❤️I think some of the worst of it was the pain. The constant pain. OMG! Hats off to my friends who deal with constant, chronic pain. I feel you. There are some days I can barely get out of bed from the pain, and when I do, it's because I need Advil. I joke that I should buy stock in Advil because it felt like I needed so much of it. My entire body was an entire painful mess. And then it was random moving pain all over. One day it would be in my fingers and hands, so I'd think I got arthritis. But then it'd go away and appear somewhere else. My hips, my legs, all over, in my bones. And of course, because the pain was so random, and it never repeated consistently enough, I couldn't even talk to the doctor about it since it was never there or in the same place by the time I got in to see the doctor. I have a serious phobia and aversion to pain medication, so coming out of the hospital, I weaned myself off it as quickly as I could. And even as I joke about buying stock in Advil, I don't take that much of it. I try not to and only do it when I really have to. Some days I wonder why everything hurts so much and then I realise I'd gone days without taking any Advil. And for context, when I say taking Advil, I really only take three, once a day. That's it. The standard recommended safe dosage for adults is 12 a day, so I'm well below the safe limit. I'm just super paranoid about pain medication. Anyway, since starting acupuncture (more about that below), the pain has improved significantly and isn't quite as debilitating.

❤️I recently had a new friend whom I met, maybe in October last year, say to me, "you seem to be at a lot of doctor and other health care provider appointments." I'd never really told her all that had happened last year with regards to Goose, so she had no context. Only that I was at a doctor or osteo or some kind of medical appointment every week. There was always something each week. Boy and I would joke that when we were young, we'd spend our money on wine and fun. Now it's doctors, meds, and supplements.

❤️A big turning point was maybe three months ago when I went to see my osteopath and he suggested acupuncture. He has a fantastic acupuncturist (must be an acupuncturist vs an acupuncture practitioner - yes, there's a difference) as part of his team and he strongly urged me to see her. My acupuncturist is fantastic and amazing and wonderful. She's been such a blessing, and she's helped so much. She treats a lot of women going through menopause and nothing I told her phased her. She'd just say, right, we'll treat that and stick a few extra needles into you this time. Yay! Seriously, after my first session with her, I was so messed up; I was laid out flat in bed for almost two weeks recovering from the treatment. Woah! I was so wobbly after. Then two days later, BAM! It hit me. Then I was kaput for two weeks. So worth it.

❤️Right up until probably about a month ago, I was barely functioning. And when I seemed to be functioning, it was because I had my laptop and my bed desk. I had a small whinge to my little control freak friend the other day, and I said to her that I was tired of working sick. When I was in hospital the second time, I was working from the hospital bed of the emergency room and doing international money transfers to get some stuff sorted. That kind of set the tone for the subsequent year. It's become my new normal Working sick. Honestly, it's exhausting. Everything is slower and takes longer. I have to be extra careful I don't make mistakes and double check everything. Wouldn't it suck if I was doing edits, and I missed stuff and made mistakes? I'm grateful my clients have stuck with me and continue to trust me. One of them has been super patient, and I'm waaaaayyyy behind on her work. Fortunately, writing is a side hustle for her and she's not fussed about deadlines. Phew! But seriously, I've been managing to hit all my major deadlines and that's a minor miracle in itself. Still working sick, y'all. Zero stars. Do not recommend.

❤️The hardest thing in all this is the fact that I constantly hear people, from friends to medical practitioners who say to me "but you look fine" or "but you look great" or "but you look so healthy," or "but you're always so positive and seem so energetic," and then I get dismissed because since I don't LOOK sick, how could I be as unwell as I claim. Listen, just because I make an effort to look nice and I don't look unwashed and like something the cat dragged in, doesn't mean I'm fine. It just means I shower regularly, brush my hair, and take some time to minimally throw on blush and lipstick. I refuse to look sick just so you can "tell" that I'm not well. If I look good, it makes me feel better, and frankly, I like looking put together because it makes me at least feel better, and look, I'm a professional. I like to look put together for my clients too. I'm pretty sure they don't want to video chat with me looking like I just rolled out of bed after a three-day bender. Ugh. People can be so judgy. Sorry, that bit was a kind of ranty, but this is one of the things that really gets me riled up.

❤️So that's my last year in a nutshell. I'm probably functioning at around 70%, sometimes it's more like 50% or 60%, and I have the odd good day where it's 80% or 90%. And if I'm being honest, there have been more bad days in the last year than good days. I just don't talk about it because...boring. I think people would get pretty fed up with me if all I did was moan and groan and focus on all the bad days. Heck, I can't even stand myself on the bad days. My short answer to everything tends to be, "I'm okay, didn't die. Not dead yet." Look, when you're lying in a hospital bed for three weeks and you start haemorrhaging every time you're vertical, not dead is a good thing. And I think it's funny because it reminds me of that Monty Python song, "Not Dead Yet," from Spamalot. Go listen to it, it's super fun. Not dead. Ten out of ten. Do recommend. Five stars.

❤️If you've read this far, thank you for hanging in there with me. I appreciate it. I debated how honest I ought to be with this update and boy told me, it's the one-year anniversary, be honest with your update, so here you go. Me being honest.

❤️Also, none of this is me asking for you to feel sorry for me. I'm fine. Kind of. And things are slowly improving. It's just taken a long time, and it's been hard. And I've got some wonderful people around me, supporting me, loving me.

❤️And on the fun front, for my birthday this year, which is on March 16th, since I'm alive and not bleeding out or in hospital, boy is taking me on a little holiday up north. We are going to a resort in Sanctuary Cove and all I'm going to do is sit by the pool, drink cocktails, and chill. Stay tuned for many poolside cocktail pics. I'm catching up with a few friends for lunch, but aside from that, it's four days of barely leaving the resort and lots of chilling. I'm even determined not to do any work while away.

❤️Big love to everyone, xoxo.

❤️To close off, here's a picture of the beach and a cocktail for you to give you all my birthday holiday vibes.

Girl on a beach drinking a cocktail

Be well, and remember to be kind to yourself.


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One Year of Navigating Trauma and Change | The menopause life after hysterectomy

I've posted what I'm talking about below to my personal Facebook for my family and friends to ...