I went to Target the other night! I bought cat food! I am a single, 25 year old with a hysterectomy and two cats! I am the coolest.
Joking aside, I have been doing more and more lately. The frustrating part comes from the baby steps I have to take. That little trip to Target was all the energy I had in me that day. I’m still sleeping a huge amount (15-20hrs total a day according to my fitbit) and still have a little bit of pain, but I feel better every day.
My incisions are completely closed, no sign of infection. I did get a little worried about one, but my doc assured me it’s just scar tissue. The internal infection seems to be gone as well, thank god.
I’m officially fully in recovery. I’m more concerned with getting well from surgery rather than fixing complications. It took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would.
I’m still not back in school (c’mon Monday!!), but I’m shooting for one little thing every day. Today, I resuming teaching lessons. The total time given my current schedule will be just a bit longer than one of my longest classes, so it’ll be a good endurance test. Also, now that I’m off painkillers, I’m not worried about what might come out of my mouth around my younger students (the parents want me to teach violin, not Swearing 101). It’ll be a really good test for school too.
Part of the reason I haven’t been back comes from the level of energy I’ve been at – roughly that of a hibernating bear. I don’t get much choice when I sleep – it sort of just happens. It’s a problem
My days aren’t hard at school (this is not talking about the course work), but they are long. I’m taking a full load this semester and still planning on graduating at the end of it. I’ve got a parking pass from my doc to get me as close to my building as possible, but there are still stairs to worry about and backpacks to carry. Though my classes don’t require much movement, they do require books – and a bunch of them. I’m stuck trying to decide if carrying my books with me is the safer option energy-wise than swapping them out in my car. It’s not a fun place to be.
The other reason comes from the fact that I need to catch up. I was doing really well staying up to speed until about a week ago when the exhaustion hit. If I were to show up in class today, I would not be able to contribute anything. Also, I’d have to choose between my classes and my students. Normally school takes precedence over work, but a test of my strength will be more useful if it’s less likely to set me back even further.
This brings me to where am: scared. I have the tendency to push myself way too hard. This is not a humblebrag, but rather a real problem. I push myself to the point of exhaustion – true exhaustion, the kind that people end up in the hospital for. My goal for this semester (even before I knew I’d be having a hysterectomy) was to continue working on giving an healthy amount of energy and time to school. If I push myself too hard after a surgery like this, the consequences will be far greater than when I’m (relatively) healthy. In other words, I could take a day off today and tomorrow and return with energy for next week or I could push myself and end up hurting myself. It’s a fear I have, and a well-founded one. It may have led to a bit of over-caution on my part this time around, but I’m really not sure. My Target run had me back in pain strong enough to need to good painkillers. I had a doctor’s appointment two days ago and was down for the count the rest of the day. Maybe I’m not being over-cautious, but paranoid.
This past week or so hasn’t been all rainy days, though. One day, I got to go and visit my friend Ed (name has been changed) who has been wonderful through all of this. He’s given me the space I need to heal while still making sure I’m not falling into a post-hysterectomy depression.
Visiting Ed was my “thing of the day” in terms of energy and involved a little driving on my part (sober, no painkillers, I’m not an idiot) and sitting at his place talking. We chilled for only a couple of hours, but that’s all I had in me.
Something to understand about Ed and and about me: I love giving gifts to people. I really do. Handmade, bought, whatever, when I find something I know a friend will like, I want them to have it in their lives.
Ed is a little more… particular. He doesn’t give gifts, he gives fucking experiences. When he decides to give someone something, he goes all out. If I were to give Ed a book, I’d wrap it, maybe write a note in it, and then focus more on time with him. When he gives a book, he doesn’t wrap it but places it in a box covered in hysterectomy jokes that he wrote himself, writes a paragraph on the cover as to why this specific book was chosen, and makes sure to hit every single inside joke we’ve ever had. No one outgifts Ed.
I don’t want to go into too much detail over what was all in Ed’s gift to me since a lot of it was stuff that is just between him and me and should (and shall) stay that way. What I will say is that it meant so much to me that, if I weren’t so exhausted, I’d have bawled all over his hard work. I’m currently trying to figure out where to put the box itself (it’s a work of art that started as a shoebox) and the contents inside. They deserve a place of honor.
Visiting Ed was also useful. He’s the first person I’ve seen since surgery who’s not family (maybe, I think a friend who works in the hospital visited me while I was recovering, but I’m not sure if that was real or a hallucination…I should probably ask since he deserves thanks, as if it was real it meant a lot to me that he spent his lunch break with looped-out me and my mother). My mother brought up concerns about depression a few days ago. I have a history with it, but my mental health is far more plagued by anxiety than the non-feeling pit that is depression. She was worried that the reason I hadn’t been back to school yet wasn’t recovery-related, but a return of depression.
Her fears are not unfounded. Personal history aside, many women report depression after a hysterectomy, especially young women. It is life-changing – and not always in a good way. The society I live in places a huge amount of pressure on young women to marry and have kids, possibly more pressure on the latter. It’s not something that surfaces much until a woman says she doesn’t want kids. I’ve seen the backlash when friends and colleagues mention this and have experienced it myself. People expect me to be upset, sad, emotionally unstable. It’s even more frustrating because I do want to adopt someday, but there is this weird emphasis on being a biological mother to a child.
Thing is, I’m not. I haven’t had a single moment of regret since the surgery. The fear and sadness I felt prior to the yank has completely dissolved. I haven’t felt any mourning over my uterus either, something that is apparently common. I’m just relieved it’s gone.
However, again given my personal history, I thought it best to check and make sure. I took a couple of tests and scored incredibly low. I looked at what I was doing when I was awake and found that, if anything, I’ve returned to the things I love rather than withdrawn from them. I’m eager to rejoin the world. Heck, I’m even a little impatient to get back to therapy for my anxiety and my PTSD (seriously, folks, therapy and psychiatry helps more than I can properly say). Though I’m still a bit concerned about the amount of sleeping I’m doing (anesthesia side-effects according to my doc, even this far out), I feel emotionally fine. Hell, the fact that I’m feeling at all is a sign that I’m not depressed. My anxiety might be a little up, but not enough for me to be concerned.
Ed was the one who really confirmed my confidence in this. I was able to ask him if I seemed depressed. He has an acute understanding of psychology and would know if I were “falling into old patterns” as my mother put it. He gave me the green light…for now.
He made a point that what my mother said was probably said too soon. This isn’t a red flag, but it should be enough for me to keep an slightly closer eye on myself than usual. The fight I had with my mother and the talk I had with Ed cemented that I’m doing things correctly. I’m being careful, but I am getting out there. I am pushing to get myself back to normal activities, but I’m not pushing too hard either. It’s a balancing act that I’m trying to get used to.