Bluntness ahead. I do not intend to offend, but proceed with caution if you are in possession of thin skin.
I believe in writing honestly.
I also believe there is wisdom in knowing when to write and when to keep silent.
No author is obligated to share absolutely everything with her audience. We bloggers may spill our creative blood all over the internet, but we are allowed privacy. We can hold things back without becoming liars.
At first, I wanted to keep this to myself. But here goes.
In a few hours, I will have a hysterectomy.
The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got that I had this sense of needing to keep the thing a secret. Millions of women suffer each and every day. We experience pain and a diminished quality of life. We feel like we can’t talk about it because, though skin and sex are casually splashed everywhere, the workings of our bodies remain taboo. The message is clear: keep it sensual, darlings, maybe occasionally athletic, or shut up.
If men were in our position, billions of dollars would be dedicated to finding a solution.
There is a woman out there who needs to hear that she is not a freak of nature after a hysterectomy. She needs to be told that she is more than the function or presence of an organ. She needs to know that she is bright, lovely and amazing, with or without all of her factory parts.
A declaration, for myself and for you, dear lady:
I refuse to believe that I am any less beautiful or any less valuable because I no longer have a uterus. I reject the notion that my scars make me disgusting. (In fact, I think they make me fierce, because I’ve been to war and lived to tell the tale). I reject the belief that I’m ugly because my belly may never be totally flat. I am more than skin, more than surface. I am vibrant, vital and vivacious. I have a lot of love to give. I will nurture life, looking for opportunities to uplift and encourage others. This is not the end of my story, but merely a plot device, designed to bring me into the next chapter.
I know that I will feel depressed and anxious after surgery. This is normal. I won’t feel this way forever. I know that I will be in pain. That won’t last forever, either. I am going to rest and take my medication and ask for help and rock long tunics, leggings and comfy dresses for as long as I want. I’ll wear my hair big and messy, too, because why not? Or I will get all glammed up the second I’m able, even if I’m staying home, because also why not? My beauty is mine to own and to style.
I know that it will take me up to 12 months to fully heal internally. This will frustrate me sometimes, but I will give myself grace. It’s a journey, a process. The days may seem long but the months will go by faster than I expect.
As they say, haters gonna hate. I will let negative comments go in one ear and out the other. I know I made the best decision I could. I will not allow regret or “what if?” to weigh me down. I won’t stay stuck. I will move forward. I will surround myself with honest, supportive people who may not always understand, but who will accept me as I am and give me the necessary, gentle pushes to keep going.
I’m still me. I’m still a woman, and a complete one at that. I have passion and drive and interests. I bring a lot to the table. This is but a blip on the radar screen.
Now why, you might wonder (if you’re the nosy type), am I getting this hysterectomy?
– I’ve been in constant pain for years. Manageable a lot of the time, sure, but still. Constant pain. I’ve tried everything to treat the problem, to no avail. It just keeps getting worse. Why on earth would I want to keep dealing with that? Why on earth should I keep dealing with that? Nobody gets a medal for suffering. It’s not noble. It’s not romantic.
– I’ve never been “regular” (oh, no – I’m talking about menstrual cycles; shield your eyes and hide your children). It’s either nothing or a scene that Quentin Tarantino would envy. This brings with it a host of concerns. Cancer risk increases. Infection risk increases. My gynecologist put me on progesterone, the absolute, no exceptions, only hormone that I can possibly use, at the lowest dose, in an attempt to “flush things out” and that didn’t really work.
– I can’t have kids (and even if there’s some chance that I can, I shouldn’t). Imagine living with the constant worry of being placed in the “high risk and probably going to get liver cancer, which is hard to treat (not impossible, but hard), so there’s a good chance you’ll die” category if by some miracle you did get pregnant. Imagine how that would impact your marriage. You don’t exactly want to get frisky with your husband when you hurt and when you’re worried about dying sooner than you’d like, most likely taking any baby with you in the process. Don’t talk to me about “leaving it in God’s hands.” God never, ever requires anyone to operate without sense. God never, ever requires anyone to deny reality. That’s bad doctrine. Go sit in a corner. Oh, and don’t come at me with “the Bible never mentions hysterectomy so it’s bad.” The Bible never mentions the internet that you’re using. Go sit in a corner again.
– The longer I keep this jacked-up spare part, the greater my chances of developing the uterine cancer that runs in my family.
– I can’t treat the issues hormonally (save for the aforementioned progesterone that didn’t work). I must not take acetaminophen for the pain. I have to use ibuprofen and naproxen sparingly. (Thanks, freakish damaged liver. I loathe you). Herbs and oils and supplements…just no. Don’t go there with me. They’re unregulated, so who knows what anybody’s really getting in that capsule that promises sparkling unicorns and rainbows. Plus most of that stuff is more dangerous for my liver than any painkiller. And massages and chiropractic…more no. #thatsnothowanyofthisworks
I didn’t arrive at this decision overnight. It’s been…I’d say about 5 years in the making. I’m nervous, of course, because, well, it’s major surgery, but that nervousness is dwarfed by a sense of anticipation, which I know will be followed by relief. No more cramping that keeps me in bed. No more big ol’ clots. The idea that maybe, just maybe, I can actually enjoy sex again. (Yes, I said it. Sex is a good thing).
I’m not a moron. I know the risks. You don’t wind up with a foot-long incision on your belly, the result of a tumor, without knowing the risks of surgery.
So out the uterus goes, and I’m not ashamed. I’m not “selfish” because I want one less health problem to think about. I’m not “sinful” because I chose to heed the advice of four different doctors instead of trying to manipulate God by “praying it away” (not that we shouldn’t pray for healing; there’s just a difference between requesting in faith and demanding a specific response) or using products sold by a multi-level marketing (read: pyramid scheme) company in the hopes they’ll work their magic or availing myself of mystical energy healing or following the direction of a blogger dispensing medical advice despite lack of any real medical knowledge. My life isn’t going to suck, I’m not going to become emotionally numb, I’m not going to lose my mind, I’m not going to walk around singing, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…” I won’t sit in a chair, staring out the window, sighing heavily for the rest of my poor, sad, useless days. I’m not “less of a woman” because I will now lack a uterus. I mean, part of me is concerned that I’m losing the essence of my personhood, because I’m pretty sure it’s contained in my uterus, but I think I can find some essence on the black market. (If you don’t recognize that sarcasm, I can’t help you).
Christian women need to stand up and lead in these discussions of body and health. It’s time for us to reject the bad message that says our beauty must fit a certain mold, the bad theology that says we cannot be fulfilled or used by God without children or the possibility of any children or additional children and the bad cultural assumptions that keep us holding on when we need to let go. Imagine if we took control of the narrative. Imagine if we stopped being silent. What if we made sensible decisions and talked about them? What if we modeled the hope that God has a good plan, regardless of what happens, to the rest of the world? What if we realized that the 2.5 kids and the white picket fence are not, in fact, a promise found in Scripture? What if we dared to believe that we are women, even if we lose our breasts, our ovaries, our uteruses, our hair – because that’s who God made us to be? That it’s something more than outward appearance? What if we stopped judging ourselves and others by the modern Western ideal of womanhood? What if we looked to the Lord and said, “Thy will be done”?
Lord God, King of my life, Light of my world, Lover of my soul – Thy will be done. I am in Your hands.
Surgeon, yank my uterus. Get it out of there. Give me another set of sweet abdominal scars. I am a battle-hardened warrior, filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I fear not.
Let’s do this.
23 thoughts on “Yank My Uterus”
You are fierce! Preach it!
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As I guy, I’m sort of hesitant to comment, but I recall many years ago when I worked at the Postal Service, I was talking to a young woman and she (amazingly) brought up the fact that she’d had a hysterectomy not to long before. She said she felt great and it was the best thing that she ever could have done.
I was taken back a little since I only knew here casually at work and she was telling me this really personal thing.
I only mention this because there is life on the other side of this surgery, and maybe yours will turn out better because of it.
One thing. Do Christians really get upset about women having hysterectomies? Really?
Thanks, James. I’m in a lost less pain than I thought I’d be, so am hoping that this recovery goes smooth and quick.
Sadly, some Christians do get upset over hysterectomies. “You’re not trusting God.” “You should never go see a doctor because they’re all bad.” “If you can’t have kids then you’re not fulfilling your purpose.” A lot of bad doctrine and assumptions. Makes me want to tear my hair out.
First of all, I’m glad the discomfort is manageable and I hope and pray for a speedy and complete recovery.
As far as the “not trusting God” thing, that’s like saying you have a toothache but if you go to a dentist to have the cavity filled, you’re not trusting God.
Not every family has to reproduce. Some adopt. Others do other kinds of…well, “ministries” that serve God.
The New Testament does not record the Apostle Paul ever being married, let alone having children, and I don’t think not trusting God was one of his problems.
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as always, you “cut to the chase” and get right to the point! Powerful, honest and direct! One of the things I love most about you!
Aw, thanks, Aunt Lenore!
Bravo, and prayers for you, Marie, that all goes well.
I’m feeling pretty good. Not normal, but not bad. I take that as a good sign.
Praying for your surgery friend! You, my friend, are fierce and I love that about you!
Thank you!! I’m 10 weeks out from a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer. After roughly 5 years of suffering with nonstop bleeding, clots, anemia and total exhaustion, I was finally able to did out what was wrong and have my uterus “yanked out!” I have never felt better! Praise the Lord, I have not felt less of a woman for not having my innards. As a matter of fact, I feel more beautiful because I’m not worn down, washed out, bleeding like a stuck pig or too exhausted to worry about my appearance. Currently, I am going through chemo which has left me bald. But, I still feel more beautiful! I’ve tried different looks, experimented with makeup and wigs, and LOVED it! My husband LOVES it. My church family LOVES it. Hysterectomy does not have to equal being less of a woman. For me, the Lord has used all of this to show me how much MORE of a woman I can be!
I’m so grateful there are other Christian women who know they are more than their uterus. God makes no mistakes, ladies. And He will use every trial to being us closer to Him and to point others to Him, if we but allow Him control.
So, good on ya, sweetie! Keep speaking what the Lord lays on your heart!!
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Love our words here, Freda! Way to go on tackling this with a positive attitude! Remember: bald is beautiful. 🙂
Thinking of you, Marie! Hope it goes smoothly, with no complications. 💐
Ahhhh, Marie. Direct truth. The way I like it. I’m sorry your uterus has given you so much trouble and pain. I am thankful you have wise doctors who have helped you in this decision. And I’m so thankful that you have not allowed your essence, your identity to be dented by what others say define women and womenhood.
You wear your scars as a testimony. Thank you for that. For not hiding them.
I’m praying for you, friend. I’m just sorry I couldn’t read this yesterday and pray before your surgery. I’m praying for a good recovery for you (among other things 🙂 ).
Thank you, Jeanne. I greatly appreciate your prayers.
Thanks for sharing. I have been dealing with constant pelvic pain for about 5 years too. I’m scheduled for a hysterectomy in December. I was able to have one child (my eighteen-month-old son, a genuine miracle), but it did not make my pain go away like the doctors said it would. I have also had it up to wherever with people playing lay-gynecologist and suggesting I try yoga or go gluten-free or any number of things. I hope you are doing well in your recovery and that you are surrounded by those who love and support you.