Let’s talk Women’s’ Health!
Our healthcare systems is sorely lacking in proper education for women’s health. We so often hear “Do not be an internet doctor” “Stop researching information that’s going to scare you”.
A year ago this week, after years of debilitating monthly cycles, severe anemia and excruciating cramps and back pain with no known causes other than “a few small fibroids”, I made the decision to have a hysterectomy. My OB/GYN is a kind, knowledgeable physician and has answered all the questions I thought to ask. What’s missing is really educating a patient on side effects, potential issues etc.
I’m still very grateful I had the hysterectomy because, turns out I had something called Adenomyosis – A condition in which endometrial tissue exists within and grows into the uterine wall… yes I said grows “into” the uterine wall. I’m grateful that I am no longer suffering from those painful issues.
On consult regarding hysterectomy, it was optional for me to remove my ovaries. I asked the question: What would be the benefit of keeping it? What I remember my physician saying was I wont go directly into menopause, but at almost 50, that was not too far off the horizon. What would be the benefit of removing it, I asked. I won’t have to worry about ovarian cancer. I’m not sure if that was all I was told, perhaps I’ve forgotten some of the conversation but I know for certain I was not told about hormone imbalances and some other side effects that would have possibly made me consider differently. Perhaps I should have done more research, perhaps I should have asked more questions but I wish now that ALL the possible side effects were disclosed and discussed.
Following my complete hysterectomy (both ovaries removed because… hey no ovarian cancer sounded good to me) I literally crashed into menopause… that I expected. Hot flashes is the devil. What I wasn’t prepared for was the anxiety, depression, insomnia, weakness, body aches… feeling like a complete alien in my own body. Most days I literally sat on the couch feeling… nothing. Mood swings were oh so horrible. I’ve probably been my nastiest self in those months (Apologies to love ones I’ve hurt with my words)
A follow up visit to my OB/GYN, a prescription for HRT therapy and counseling sessions with a therapist (Thank God for EAPs) I am feeling much like myself again but my body seems to have forever changed, not just internally but the physical shape of me. I’m also definitely not as strong as I use to be and if I don’t take HRT medication the hot flashes and body aches are quick to follow. Since estrogen affects tissues throughout your body, changes like loss of bone density, accelerated aging due to loss of collagen and dehydration and changes in blood vessels that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease are all real issues…
I wish Women’s Health was something we talked about more openly, I’d a probably kept an ovary… or two.