The King Kong of Fibroids by Robin Gorman Newman
I titled this blog post in jest…..but really it’s not a joke.
I’ve had uterine fibroids for decades now. Wow…makes me feel like I’m 92! But, I’m 52 and in perimenopause, and because I have way more estrogen than progesterone, my fibroids are growing like wildgrass. I’ve missed a few periods, though not a ton, and when my holistic doctor has tested my hormones, he confirmed I’m approaching menopause, though not crazy close to the end of that finish line. Therefore, my fibroids for now are winning the race, and I don’t want them to come in first place.
I was told last week by my gastroenterologist who had me get an abdominal and pelvic Ct Scan that my uterus is very, very, very large (his words….not mine)….measuring 23 x 12 x 19 cm. These figures don’t mean much to me. How much is a uterus supposed to measure? But, when he explained that it’s like the size of a volleyball…first he said basketball…and then clarified the sport, this hit home.
Years ago, I had a myomectomy….removal of the fibroids….because I was told by my then gynecologist that there would be no room for a baby, and our goal was to try to have a family. I understood, so endured the surgery…which was very painful (abdominial surgery is rough)…..I was out of work for six weeks, and it took a number of months before I fully regained my strength. Then, it turned out that I had scarred from the surgery on one Fallopian Tube, which another doctor attempted to remedy and was unable. This, ironically, ultimately impacted my ability to get pregnant….and we wound up going the adoption route. So, I felt like I had the surgery at the time for no gain.
Now fastforward decades, and I’m back in fibroid hell. We’re not trying to get pregnant….but I make frequent bathroom trips, and recently noticed that my upper abdomen has taken on fuller look…one that is impacting my choice of clothing…and I don’t like it. I know it’s not weight gain…it’s a change in my curves…and not one that I’m embracing. I said to a friend…maybe I’m taking on what I’ve read described as a middle ages woman paunch? I never thought I’d become one of them.
But, after getting the Ct Scan results, my doctor is confident that it the volleyball size tumor in me (benign) that is to blame.
So…the question becomes….how to live with it or not?! I don’t want to buy a whole new wardrobe or wear maternity clothes…sometimes I feel like I look like I’m pregnant.
I will absolutely seek out other medical opinions….but the word being thrown around is hysterectomy. It’s been mentioned to me before, and I always poo-pooed it….stating staunchly that I’d go down fighting, so to speak, until I hit menopause with the hope that the fibroids would then shrink significantly. I even changed gynecologists becauxe I got tired of hearing about it.
My gastro doc told me that he didn’t think they’d shrink all that much….and I could still have discomfort, etc. resulting from them.
I know that hysterectomies are common….but that doesn’t mean they’re a walk in the park. I’ve never been a fan of surgery, unless I have no choice. What always concerns me is the unforseen. Potential challenges, etc. that may result that were not expected. No one has a crystal ball….not even a doctor…to know how you’ll heal and if any complications might result. I realize that nothing in life comes with a guarantee, but surgery makes you feel particularly vulnerable. You’re putting your life in the hands of a surgeon….potentially a person you barely know….and wouldn’t necessarily choose to know were it not for your circumstances.
I’m not rushing into making a decision at the moment…..but I’m having some sleepless nights because it’s on my mind in a big way.
When I’ve been through health challenges in the past, what has helped me most…other than getting multiple opinions and doing my homework…is to get quiet. Meditation helps me cultivate clarity…and the strength to make the right decision for me…not from a place of fear or uncertainty….but from a place of inner knowing. Ultimately, the best we can do is trust our guts, and either move forward or make peace with where we’re at. I also need to be there for my son. When I had my myomectomy, he wasn’t yet in our lives….and I know that a hysterectomy would be somewhat debilitating until I heal, and we’d need to arrange help at home. So, planning would be involved.
Until the possibility of an operation, my fibroids need to be monitored…as they have for years…I get a pelvic sono every six months. We need to make sure my kidney tubes don’t become affected. Thus far, they have been okay. I’m on a first name basis with the radiologist, and I jokingly call my situation “the fibroid that ate America,” when he tells me yet again how large my uterus is.
So, I’m not in an easy place. No one dies from living with fibroids, but they can cause issues. I know there are alternatives to hysterectomies…I have explored some in the past (embolization, lupron shots — didn’t do them, etc.)…and for various reasons, they either haven’t been right for me or I wasn’t a candidate for them, given the nature of my fibroids. No two women’s fibroids situations are the same.
I have a lot of homework, medical inquiring, and meditation to do. The answer is not black ‘n white, but I will reach a conclusion when the time is right.