By: Janice Johnson-Plumer
My story begins with some statistics. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and an estimated 20 million total U.S. women have had a hysterectomy. After cesarean sections, hysterectomies are the second most frequently performed major surgical procedure for women of reproductive age in the United States. It is a procedure that many take for granted.
Years ago, when my mother was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, she ended up having a cesarean section to deliver me and then had a hysterectomy.
Then, in April of this year, I became one of those women. From my understanding, uterine fibroids affect more African American women than Caucasian women. Due to the size of mine, I had no choice but to have a hysterectomy.
As I was counting down the months to my surgery I felt a mix of emotions. I had just lost my mother and she was not going to be by my side as I recovered. In addition, I would no longer be able to bear children. Although my husband was comfortable with my decision to have a hysterectomy, I still felt the longing to have another child. I felt that a piece of me was being taken away – emotionally and literally.
According to my doctor’s findings, I had an “18-week size uterus with large myomata distorting the uterus, mostly on the right side.” He continued, “The tubes were also removed at the end of the procedure.” As a woman, I did not feel whole. I felt as though my story was over since I would never be able to give birth to a child again.
However, I tried to look at it another way. This was a time of renewal. I had suffered the loss of my mother and now the loss of my uterus. I looked at my surgery as a time of change in my life, bringing a new vitality, energy and hope for the future.
When I reported to the hospital the morning of my surgery, I felt that my mother was there along side my husband in the prep room. As I recall my mother’s words of wisdom about my surgery, she could only muster the words, “Don’t be nervous.” She was letting me know that even though she would not be there physically, she would be there in spirit. I felt that she was with me in the operating room, and I knew I would be fine.
During my recovery I reflected on my mother, where I am in my life, and how I knew I would take great care of myself. Yes, I may have the scars of battle, but I won the war, gaining renewal, energy and strength from my mother’s spirit.
If you are contemplating a hysterectomy, you have to look at where you are in your life and your journey. I knew I was not going to have any more children and that it was time for me to have the surgery. I am blessed to have had the support of my family and the knowledge that with God all things are possible!
I’m curious to know if other women have felt similarly about having a hysterectomy? Either a sense of loss or renewal.
2 thoughts on “A Piece of Me”
As a Mom, doctor, and fellow hysterectomy patient; I just wanted to say thank you for expressing your fears and triumphs about your surgery. Like you, my Mother before me had a hysterectomy in her thirties, but hers was for endometriosis (painful deposits of uterine lining outside the womb in the abdominal cavity). Mine was for ovarian cyst, bleeding, and adeomyosis (a rare and painful condition where the lining of the uterus grows into the womb). I too look back and wish at times for more children, then my husband reminds me to be thankful for the three healthy children we have. So, I hope by sharing your story, you can help enlighten another woman who may be on the road towards surgical menopause. I would encourage anyone facing this choice to remember that like all decisions, surgery is just one stop one this journey down life road. Thank you again for sharing.
I had a hysterectomy just before I turned 40. For me, it was a relief. I already knew I was done having children and had had my tubes tied 5 years earlier. I had mine done due to fibroids and the relief from the pain and bleeding was a blessing. Unfortunately, for other reasons, my husband and I seperated while I was still in the hospital so it was a very difficult time emotionally but 5 years later I only wish I had done it sooner. Thank you for sharing your story.