Time for the truth. I’m sad. I’m scared witless. I only made one of my two classes today and could barely concentrate. In a phone call with my father (a professor at a different university) I decided to take tomorrow completely off after he said he’d find it a reasonable request from a student in my position.
I think the worst part of it all is that I feel guilty for feeling sad and scared and whatever else is going on in my mosh pit of emotions.
I’ve been in…let’s call it a state of mild denial about this surgery. Alluding to a previous post, yes. It IS serious. This is life-changing on so many levels. I’ll never get pregnant on accident (says the 25-year old virgin). I’ll never have to buy tampons again. Birth control would only be used to regulate hormones, rather than worrying about the occasional side-eyes from the conservative community I’m in.
But on the flip side, family planning has become all the more complicated. Sure, I’ve “always wanted” to adopt, but the fact that I can still have biological children via IVF has added a pressure that I didn’t expect. Since I’ll be able to have kids, shouldn’t I want to?Yes, this points to a huge flaw in our culture, but (as I’m always saying) that’s for another blog post.
I think what’s taking me most by surprise is the fact that I’m not ready for surgery in the most literal sense. My apartment isn’t clean. I need to get groceries still. I need to make sure my cats’ litter box is sparkling. I need an overnight bag should they have me stay a night at the hospital. I need to wash sheets and clothes so that I can be as sterile as possible in the hours leading up to the snooze and yank. My “to-do” list is growing at an alarming rate.
I’ve been treating this surgery in almost a blase manner, which is fine for coping and all, but not so much when the actual emotions start to hit. I’m not losing my tonsils (actually, they were snipped when I was six) or appendix; I’m losing all but a bit of my vagina and two little white grape-like things. I’m losing what, arguably, defines me as biologically woman.
When it comes to “down there,” everything will look the same unless you come at me with a speculum (and if you do and aren’t my doctor, prepared to get punched). My stomach, as you’ll see in the next couple of days, is covered in stretch marks (no babies, but I’ve got stretchmarks to rival mother Duggar) so scars aren’t that big of a concern to me. From the outside, after I heal, I’ll look just like I did pre-op. If someone who was transitioning told me she was a woman, I’d believe her without even thinking about her uterus once, no matter what part of the transition she’s in.
But will I still be me? Will something have changed? Will I become “non-woman”? What’s in a uterus anyway? If I weren’t cis-gendered, I don’t want to even know how much harder these questions would hit.
But it’s time for me to come completely clean – this is a loss. I’m going to grieve (yes, over an organ), or at least that’s what everyone is telling me. My gyno said as I was signing the consent form that this is a sad surgery. I didn’t know what he really meant at the time. I thought it might be because I’m so young and he loves babies so much (seriously, he has pictures from what I’m pretty sure is every birth he’s ever done all over his office walls). Now, I don’t think that’s the case.
We, my doctors and I, tried so hard to avoid this. Though I’ve been for the surgery for years, I’m glad I tried other routes first.
Back in spring 2011, my birth control was denied me at student health (I won’t go into details as they’re irrelevant). This meant that I was going to have a month from HELL rather than a month of just a lot of pain. They also referred me out to a gynecologist (NOT the one I have today) who told me I’d probably never conceive (though there was no way should could have known that). This news came at the worst possible time. I had a major chemistry exam that night (I failed it, no surprise). I was triple majoring and the stress was starting to show. I got back to my dorm room (I had a single room, so no roommate to worry about) and collapsed in the middle of my floor and wept.
I’m not choosing the word “wept” because it’s dramatic or romantic, but because it was what happened. I didn’t bawl – there was no screaming, no tantrum. I didn’t cry either – there were far more than a few tears. This was the day that I decided to adopt. I didn’t want to put any child through this, but my dreams of motherhood came tumbling down. I was on my knees, hands on my thighs, sitting in the middle of a dorm room, face up to the sky, and the tears that ran from my eyes wouldn’t stop.
I’m not sure how long I sat there alone, it was afternoon when I had sat, but by the time a dormmate knocked, the sun was down. I didn’t hear the knock and she had a habit of just letting herself in anyway. She found me there, in the middle of my room, weeping. Without a word, she knelt beside me and pulled me into a hug. She held me for I don’t know how long; to be honest I don’t even remember her leaving or me going to bed or anything else that day besides skipping the test (thus why I failed). She and I grew apart after that year. I hope she’s happy.
The online community of women with chronic illness/pain and/or fellow hysterectomy-havers, have been amazing while I’ve been blogging about this. Each of us has our own story and each write for a different reason. Knowing that I’m not alone out there, knowing I’m not the only one who is trying to shed light on what can be considered very personal, is empowering and comforting. I can’t thank you all enough for your support and the sharing of your own stories (they’ve helped me and I hope they’ve helped others too 🙂 ).
So, I’m taking tomorrow off. I’m doing it to prepare. I’m doing it to mourn. I’m doing it to write. I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for my classmates who don’t want a half-there zombie to ask the teacher to repeat things every five minutes. I am so glad to have won this war. I’m getting the surgery that should improve my quality of life exponentially after years of fighting for it. But winning this war didn’t come without its casualties, and therein lies the sorrow.