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KjerstiNeT

Just a real-life girl living in a virtual world

Let’s Cha-Cha, Y’all

On the tenth, I saw my gynecologist again for my month post-op check-up. Turns out the stitch at the top of my vagina where my cervix used to be is infected, like I suspected. I curse that idiot NP who thought everything was “normal.” She didn’t even do a visual exam…my doc was not pleased to hear this.

Once again, if you’re a parent, teacher, or someone who doesn’t want to hear the minutiae of my sex life and drive, you might want to skip this one. You’ve been warned. Seriously- I talk about masturbation.

 

Some rule 34 should scare you off if you don’t believe me.
Now that those who need to step out have stepped out (or ran out, depending…I debated going for something much worse for that image, but decided not to be mean), back to the exam.

Although I’m glad he did it, the actual exam hurt like hell. The speculum hit me in all the wrong places (around the wound and on the abcess) and even the exam without the speculum caused me to see stars, and not the kind you want to see when someone has their finger in your vagina. My lady-bits are closed for business until I get the all clear from my doc. That said, as the inscision is weeping pus, I can’t imagine anyone would actually want to put a their penis near it – even though it’s impossible to see without the proper equipment. A note to those with vaginas: puss looks rather similar to the discharge that can come with a yeast infection, but thinner. You see this in your panties, go to your doc ASAP. Another way to identify it – you know the stuff that comes out when you pop a pimple? There’s the hard core and the off-white fluid? Imagine that fluid, but enough to necessitate a pad. Again, if you see that GO TO YOUR DOCTOR. It’s not smelly (thus why I didn’t think much of it until I was told what it was) and it can be missed if you aren’t paying close attention. I’m currently sitting at panty-liner level of discharge. That said, I’ve started seeing blood in it again and will, again, be calling my doc in the morning. I’m so sexy right now.

This infection makes me very glad that I don’t have a boyfriend or husband. I’ve not been allowed sexual activity for the last for weeks, for understandable reasons. Up until the last two, I wouldn’t have been able to help satisfy any needs thanks to exhaustion. Now, I just found out that there will be two more weeks of “nothing in your vagina.” This is why I don’t currently have a Tinder profile. As for an actual boyfriend, well, I’d imagine blow jobs get old after a while.

Granted, I’ve gotten clearance to do other stuff, whether with a partner or by myself. Just, and my doc couldn’t emphasize this enough, NOTHING IN THE VAGINA!! After we chatted briefly about it, my doc was relieved to learn that I actually know what a vagina is. Apparently it’s a common issue. Time for some education, folks.

Probably one of my favorite scenes from OITNB 
The vagina is not the visible part of the female genitalia. That (the lips/labia, clitoris, vaginal opening, urethral opening, perineum) is the vulva. That’s where most of the stimulation during sex comes from for most people with vaginas (we’re not going into the G-Spot here). The vagina itself is the tube connecting the cervix to the outside world – it’s where the penis goes when sex happens. It is internal. Yes, I know that probably blew a few minds. If you’re still lost, here’s a helpful diagram:

BAM! Vulva.
The above is what you see when you go down under. To see the actual vagina, you need a speculum and a flashlight. Before you grab a handmirror and start looking around down there, a note – each vulva is a little different. Some have really long inner vaginal lips, some have barely any to speak of. Vulvas come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and colors. However, if you have concerns, talk to your doctor. Believe me, they’ve heard it before. I’m not a doc, but if you have basic questions about female anatomy, I’m even willing to answer them (or tell you that I can’t and direct you to someone who can – the internet is a wonderful place). I’ve done this for both male and female friends who are curious about their or their partner’s anatomy (because asking the virgin is exactly what you should do when you’re worried about pleasing someone else). Now, let’s discuss the vagina and the parts around it.

This is what it all looks like inside, from the side. This drawing, unlike me, has not had a total hysterectomy.
See? The vagina is a tube that is inside the body. Still need more perspective? Here you go:

Simplified, but as you can see, the vagina is INSIDE THE FEMALE BODY.
Still with me? Basically, when she gasps “Oh, baby, I need you inside of me right now!” she means it literally.

Okay, time to get back to where this is relevant in what’s happening right now. Vaginal stuff is off the table. Instead of a cervix (don’t know what that is? Go back to the diagrams – that’s why they’re there), I now have an incision. That incision is currently weeping pus and blood – fun, right? And for those of you wondering what I look like inside, I would have a diagram, but I’m having trouble finding one. Every image of a total hysterectomy I can find has the tubes intact – mine are gone. Basically, subtract the uterus, erase the Fallopian tubes (but not the ovaries), get rid of the cervix, and just close the top of my vagina. From the outside, I still look more or less like the diagram of the vulva.

So, no dildos, no fingers, nothing inside at all. My vagina is healing so that it can be of fun use in a few weeks/months. But nothing was done to my vulva so…can I masturbate yet?

My doc said yes, by all means yes. If you’ve been following my blog, you know my sex drive has gone through the roof since the hysterectomy, leaving me more than a little frustrated. I finally tried to take care of some of that pressure the other night.

Well, there was success…but holy hell did it hurt – and not in a good way. First, some of my muscles are still really weak from surgery. Second, when aroused, the vagina produces fluid. This natural lube got on my infected incision…ow. Really ow. I had to cancel plans with Ed the next day (sorry I lied to you about the reason, Ed) because of the pain and the exhaustion from the resulting pain. From here on in, I think I’ll just take a cold shower when needed, at least until I’m completely healed. The pain makes sense, and I didn’t break any rules, but it wasn’t worth the orgasm.

Wick


I don’t often share my tattoos online. Even when I got my first, I didn’t take any good photos. They are all originals – my artist is amazing at taking my words and turning it into something beautiful. Each one is entwined with layers upon layers of meaning for me and are, to my knowledge, unique (yes, even the Harry Potter one on my foot, if you look closely).

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been through rough patches. This tattoo was designed partially to cover up self-harm scars. I’m not ashamed of them, but the sight of them ended up being a lure back into the world of razors on wrists. It was my artist’s idea to put the foliage over the more obvious ones. The roots subtlety spell out the word “wick” as a reference to one of my favorite books “The Secret Garden.” In the book, the protagonist finds a garden and thinks it’s dead. A friend shows her that it isn’t, it’s just dormant. He cuts into a branch, revealing a green core, proving that the plants are “wick,” alive.

This is the best film adaption of the book I’ve seen.
Today has been the roughest day yet in my hysterectomy recovery. I was expecting to return to school this week. I have a major paper due on Thursday, a major exam on Thursday, and major edits on another paper due on Friday…and those are just the assignments that I know about. Next week is spring break.

I’ve already been out longer than I’d anticipated – though some of that is probably due to my anticipation that I’d be able to bounce back quicker because I’m young (and arrogant). I returned to my lessons on Thursday and they wore me out so much I was scared to drive home. I had one lesson Saturday and picked up some Gatorade to combat some hydration issues I’ve been having (it’s hard to drink plenty of water when you’re only awake for 5-10 hours a day). My WBC count is higher than it was before the antibiotics, but the NP (not my doc) isn’t concerned and I’m left feeling ignored seeing how I still have a fever and my pain got bad enough today that I was swearing uncontrollably when I took the painkiller (maybe I hurt something carrying the six-pack of Gatorade…or my cat jumped on me wrong or something). Today, I’m feeling pretty down in the dumps. I’m not mourning my uterus or anything, just upset that I’m not back on my feet and have been hit with unexpected complications.

You bastards had something to do with messing my recovery timeline up, didn’t you?
This brings me back to my tattoo. If you’ve done the math, you’ll notice it’s taking a hell of a lot longer for me to complete my BA than expected. If everything goes as planned and I graduate at the end of this semester, I’ll have spent seven years as an undergrad – a fact that I am ashamed of, even if circumstances do say I have every right to be perfectly okay with the extra time. Being out of school this long and, worse, falling behind while I’m out makes me seriously concerned for my future. Yeah, I’ve got backup plans upon backup plans, but they aren’t what I’m aiming for. I feel as if my life is sitting on a point, ready to tip one way or another and I have little to no influence on which way it goes. In a way, I feel dead,* as if my body is sitting stagnant while my soul tries to flit off to another place.

But I’m not dead – I’m dormant. Today was the first day in a while that I had to dip into the Vicodin to manage the pain, so I’m pretty loopy. I was lying in bed (with Sophie and Dinah curled up by my legs) and looking at my arm. I was disappointed in myself; why wasn’t I living I kept asking. And then it hit me. I am alive, but dormant. This is not a time for me to display flowers or to bear fruit. My leaves have fallen off and I am covered in a blanket of snow. My tattoo has come to my aide again. Sure, I have some dead branches I’ll need to clear out (things like not being able to use stairs again and not carrying something bigger than a gallon of milk), but I’m alive. This isn’t the time to be spreading my branches wide, but rather to shed and to rest.

He speaks the truth.

Part of why I’m writing this blog, it occurs to me, is because it gives me something to do. I don’t have the energy to translate medieval Latin poetry. I don’t have the energy to do an in-depth critical analysis of anything; I can barely read for pleasure, let alone for academic pursuits. Blogging is by far and large not academic writing. It’s not writing in a diary (what I find to be the “easiest” writing), but it’s not an 8 page analysis of a single stanza of Steven’s “The Man with the Blue Guitar” either. Also, have you tried reading metaphysical poetry while one painkillers? It’s not much for academic extraction, but I can’t deny that it wasn’t an experience either.
So, no, I haven’t seen “Deadpool” yet. I’ve missed productions my friends are in that I really wanted to go to. I’ve been spending what most people would consider, under normal circumstances, an unhealthy amount of time with my cats. I’ve fallen behind in my classes. This does not make me dead though. If I were to stop trying to get better, stop trying to create things (like this blog), stop making to-do lists that get just a tiny bit longer everyday so I can get a tiny bit stronger, then and only then will I stop being wick.

 

*Please note, this is NOT depression nor am I suicidal or crying out for help. I WANT to be back in the real world and am doing everything I can to get back. I want to get BACK to living.

First image from here.

Baby Steps, People, Baby Steps

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.

Please ignore the scaly dry skin – it’s from the steri stips they put on after my stitches came out.

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

Accurate depiction of my life right now

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.

 

See?

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.

I don’t go quite this far, though…

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.

Preach.

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.

 

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Before we get to the dirty stuff, here’re the things that have been happening. The infection returned with a vengeance and I’m still out of commission. I’ve not been blogging because I’ve been sleeping. Nothing with the surgery went wrong – this isn’t anybody’s fault. I just have bad luck and a bad immune system. However, I’m noticing improvement every time I’m awake, so I’m optimistic about rejoining the world next week.

Keeping up with the world at large had been tougher this week than the last two because of how much sleeping I’m doing (and how stung-out painkillers make me…more on that in a bit). Writing, which used to take about half a spoon (more if academic), now saps me of energy. Reading is tough too, since the painkillers blur my vision and make my usual logical self start wondering if butterflies in any way or form relate to classic Latin.

So, that’s where I’m at. If you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or anyone else who doesn’t want to hear about my sex life, sexual history, and so on: stop reading. Seriously. I promised I wouldn’t be holding back in this blog and, given the nature of this surgery, sex is kind of integral to not only healing, but the decision to even have a hysterectomy at the fresh age of 25. So, like I said, if you’re not comfortable hearing about the nitty-gritty (or should it be wet and slippery?) parts of my sexuality and sex life, stop reading.  And yes, it’s NSFW.

Last warning…

Hi, all of you who stayed! Welcome to “Talking About Sex with the Sorta-Virgin!” My virginity is questionable (I’m talking strict penis in vagina) thanks to events in my childhood. To be honest, I don’t know if I am or am not a virgin as I’ve blocked most of the abuse out (though most of my memories point to “not a virgin”). A quick aside, I usually just call myself a virgin – I’ve never had consensual sex. I don’t consider rape sex, it’s an act of violence and therefore can’t take what society has defined as “virginity,” but society at large disagrees, so yeah. Just call me the “Sorta-Virgin.”

I’ve done some stuff – I’ve made out with enough guys that I’ve lost count. There’s been a little above the shirt action and above the pants action (though that was me on him, I’m afraid). I’ve experimented enough to know that I’m about as straight as a ruler. Usually by the time I get to the point of kissing a girl, even if I see how she’s attractive, I just don’t feel anything. Sorry ladies.

I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to sex (and arguably still am). My first kiss was at sixteen. It took years for me to get another. I lived in a small community where everyone was related to everyone, so finding a partner involved travel. The dating pool was…small. On top of that, though my thirst for romance developed at a young age (I’m lookin’ at you, Disney) but my sex drive was almost non-existent. I wanted to date, but I wanted nothing to do with penises or vaginas. I masturbated sure, but it wasn’t a thing I needed, more like something to do when I was bored or trying to get some sleep (kind of like reading or drinking a cup of tea). I never understood how people needed sex to the point where someone was willing to shell out $100 for something that goes buzz just to simulate it (granted I’ve seen the light and now have toys of my own). I never got the “Must. Fuck. Now.” urge that I saw my friends going through. I liked the idea of romance, and even used (okay, still use) those free dating sim apps instead of reading smutty novels because they focus more on the relationship than on the sex.

I wonder which one will get fixed first?

Finally, I got to college and found out that there is something called the “asexual” spectrum. I never came out, but I identified as a grey-ace for a few years. Whether or not this is true is up for debate – I argue that sexuality is fluid and therefore my sexual identity was valid at the time. I also realized that part of the problem came from the abuse I’d experience as a child. Therapy and psychiatry are worth the time and money, folks.

Then it all changed. When I was taken off of birth control, the “sex” part of puberty hit and it hit HARD. I still remember the first time I felt sexually attracted to someone and not just “yeah, I see how that person is attractive.” Holy fuck did it ever floor me. A customer walked into work and it was like a switch flipped. It was all I could do not to grab him (or have him grab me, GOD he had muscles!!) and have my way with him in the back room…or let any of those dirty thoughts show on my face. For the first time, I didn’t care what his personality was like, I didn’t care what his relationship-status was, I wanted him.

Nothing happened (I was at work, remember?), but my eyes had been opened. It took me a while to get a handle of my new sex drive. Remember what high school was like, with all those hormones going crazy and making you want to do everything in sight? Yeah, that hit me in my twenties. I finally understood why people swooned over Tom Hiddleston and Matthew Lewis…and started swooning too.

…I’m sorry, I got distracted on Google for a while.

This added a new dimension to my hysterectomy (betcha thought this was going to all sex-talk, huh?). I was still okay with not having biological children, but I was worried about what would happen to my sex drive afterward. It had taken me so long to get it. Now that I had it, I didn’t want to lose it. My gynecologist and I talk at length about this.

An aside: I remember the appointment when I told my gyno I had a sex drive. He was so happy for me. I never brought it up as an issue before because I didn’t think it was an issue. Even so, he giggled he was so pleased that the animal inside had finally been awakened.

When we scheduled my hysterectomy, I was given about a week and a half to decide what to do with my virginity. I was risking a drop in sex drive (hasn’t happened, more on that later), but it wasn’t nearly as big of a risk as it would have been with going back on birth control. Because my cervix was being removed, I’d heard that sex would feel different. Problem was, I didn’t know how sex was supposed to feel in the first place. I seriously debated going to some of my male friends and asking them to help me out (I KNOW exactly who I would have asked and KNOW that all of them would have said yes after making sure this is what I wanted). I almost went through with it, too. I was ready to send out the text asking friend #1 to sleep with me. I ended up not, though. I’ve never operated that way. I want things to progress naturally; that’s always what’s felt best when it came to making out, so why wouldn’t that logic follow to sex?

So, I went into surgery a virgin. While I’m healing, I’m not allowed anything going up the vagina – not tampons, not penises, not fingers, not things shaped like penises that also buzz. Here’s what I didn’t anticipate: and increase in my sex drive.

My sex drive personified

Yep. You read that right. My sex drive has shot through the roof. And I still can have intercourse for another 3ish weeks. I can’t even take care of things myself. A couple years ago, this would not have been a problem. Now, I understand why it’s so serious when a couple says “It’s been a month.” Worse, painkillers make me clingy, as in cuddling – clingy. They don’t make me into a horn dog, but I know how one thing leads to another (well, I don’t know, but I understand).

A while back, one of my friends speculated that one of the reasons I haven’t gotten laid yet is because not only was my drive low, but I was missing the signs that people wanted to sleep with me, like the hormones from the birth control were making me blind to the pheromones in the room (I’ve reflected on this and my friend was RIGHT). Not only is my sex drive through the roof, but this thought has been circling around my brain since it was said – how many opportunities have I missed simply because I didn’t see them? Sure, some of them were blessings (thank god I didn’t sleep with that one creep freshman year), but what about the others? I’ve been lucky and have dated pretty attractive people (or at least, I think they’re attractive), so to have their faces swirling in my memory while I can’t relieve the figurative pressure is more than just a little frustrating.

Overall though, this makes me excited for rejoining the world at large. Dating is going to be so much different now. I’m not saying I’m going to go jump the first guy I see, but I won’t be holding back as much as I had been prior. I still want a connection with the guy. Tinder isn’t for me, nor is sleeping with a new guy within the first week (that is NOT in any way or form a judgment – you do you and get it!!)…I need a connection and I need security (survivor, remember? I would like to NOT go into a panic attack right in the middle of my first time). But, watch out world. I’ll be coming back with my high heels on.

Okay, not literally because I don’t want to know how that would feel after surgery, but you know what I mean.

 

 

Healing isn’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be.

Time for me to admit it: I’m not Wonder Woman. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you, and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. I’m a week and a day out of surgery – according to the NP who removed  my stitches earlier, most women take four to six weeks off of work. And here I was hoping to max it out at one (so far it’ll be two).

Pictured: not me

The infection is under control, for the most part. My stomach still hurts, but the abscess is going down (or at least I think it is). Don’t get me started on what using the commode is like in terms of pain. I can do simple things around the house, like making sure that the dishes get to the dishwasher. Vacuuming is still a little out of my reach though.

I thought I’d be back on the scene by now – groovin’ down the collegiate hallways, helping my students figure out the complexities of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (hey, startin’ ’em out on Mozart!) and cheering my friends on in their shows. But no. I am still on my couch, still playing videogames when I’m awake, and still hurting enough to validate the heavy-duty prescriptions. I think my cats are at least happy to have me around.

It’s been a week and no regrets (yet). I still have no doubt I made the right choice and the pain I’m going through right now is so much less than the pain from the endo was. But this pain is different too, just like stepping on a lego feels different than stubbing a toe. Both hurt, but differently.

Usually, with endo pain, I could grit my teeth and push through it. Movement was only hindered by the amount of pain I was in rather than from making the pain worse. Endo isn’t just pain, but I’d been living with it for over a decade – I could make it work, but I was miserable.

Preach.

Hysterectomy pain isn’t bad. I have yet to experience levels of pain comparable to my worst flares (and I’m pretty sure I have morphine to thank for that). Every time the pain gets to a point where anyone with decent sense would reach for a percocet, I have to lecture myself into taking it. “I just had a whole organ removed. It’s been a week. Lots of women take four to six weeks off from work, it’s okay to still be hurting.” And yet, every time I so much as pop a Motrin, I’m feeling guilty, weak because I can’t just “push through it.” It’s not a pill thing, either. I have no qualms about taking the antibiotic they prescribed me because that doesn’t make me weak.

But the pain, it’s so different from pain I’ve felt before. It’s an ache that’s always there, even with the medication. It’s my body getting used to there being a little more space inside it. Every thing I do, my abdomen had to readjust to the new sensation. It’s incredibly tiring. Endo was exhausting; I’d get home and be good for nothing else because I’d used all my energy getting through the day without curling up in fetal position on the classroom floor (I don’t know why, but cold felt better than heat – heat made me nauseous).

Spoon theory ahead! 

The hysterectomy – I can’t just push through it. It’s like the pain is slowly sapping each of the spoons that I had put aside for the day. I don’t get a choice on sleeping – I’m out when my body tells me to be out. With endo flares, I’d be giving two spoons where I’d normally only have to give one (multiple chronic illnesses – yay.). This time, it’s as if my spoon-bag has sprung a leak and I can’t fix it. Every time I reach in, there are less there than should be. I can’t gauge how many spoons each task will take since I’m not used to this pain, so I can’t mentally plan my days ahead in accordance with my number of spoons.

Through all of this, I mostly feel like I’ve just been a whiny little brat. I fought for this surgery – I should be able to “handle” the side effects with a smile, right? Yes, I know that logic is screwed up on a lot of levels.

What’s really getting me through, though, is the fact that if I don’t rest, don’t take a painkiller, don’t used the temporary handicap permit when appropriate (my walk to my classes is about a mile), that’s when I’m actually a burden. If I don’t take care of myself, then I really am being a whiny little brat. And on that note, I’m going to go take a painkiller and get some more sleep.

 

 

We’re Off to See the Doctor at the Altru Emergency Room

Today sucks. A LOT. I have a fever high enough that I’ll be headed to the ER ASAP. My stomach and abdomen hurt like they’re balloons that just popped.

 

My world on the painkillers
  
Something is wrong. Maybe it’s just my paranoia, but something is going on that shouldn’t be. I have laparoscopies before, this is not the kind of pain I usually get.Not to mention my fever is breaking through both acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I hurt. I’ve been in worse pain, but this isn’t a “normal, after surgery pain.”

Now I’m in the ER with my mom. The nurse and her student laughed as the painkillers hit (not unkindly). I’ll keep things updated as I learn more.

  

Update – it’s an abscess. We’re attacking with antibiotics and rest. It’s going to take a couple of days for us to be sure it won’t get worse, but we’ll have more info Monday. I get to go home though!

Naps and Narcotics and BMs, oh My!

HEADS UP – this post will contain pictures of my incisions and a large discussion about my bowel movements. If you don’t want to read or see this, maybe skip over this blog.

Narcotics fuck me up. I hallucinate. I can’t tell dreams from reality. I (usually) am projectile vomiting when I try to do anything other than sleep. This time around, it hasn’t been as bad as it usually is. I think some of it might have been the anesthesia they used (they skipped the gas and just went straight into IV since I have such a pukey history). So far, 3 days out, nothing has come back up, so that is most certainly a win.

You’ve won this round, Ted

I’ve forgotten how needy I get when on narcotics. The last time a friend of mine had to take me to the ER, it was all I could do to keep myself from asking him to hold me (he probably would have, but it would have been WEIRD once I sobered up). This time around, with my mom in town, I can get a little more human contact, though I still don’t like asking for it.

Being touched didn’t become an issue for me until high school. Before that, I was the kind of person who said “We don’t shake hands in these here parts; we HUG.” I’m not really sure what set off my DO NOT TOUCH policy, but it’s lasted the better part of a decade. Sure, I’ve got Dinah and Sophie, but sometimes (and I can’t explain WHY) it needs to be from a fellow human. Essentially, I want to find the nearest person and play little spoon.

This pisses me off. It makes me so NEEDY. I’m – usually – independent to a fault (just ask any of the poor souls who’ve tried to date me).  But this isn’t something that I can just take care of on my own. I crave physical closeness when on pain meds. There’s nothing sexual about it. They need to have a Tinder-like app just for situations like this. Hey, developers, get on that!!

Or I could just get one of these bad boys

Another side effect: “the good stuff” wreaks havoc with my eyes. I can type alright, but I can’t read. The words start moving around on the page. I should probably email my professors and tell them I might not be as close to caught up as I’d originally thought when I was planning this out. This is also why there won’t be any editing done on this post – I literally can’t read what I’ve just written. It doesn’t help that I start to doze off within a few paragraphs of anything I’m reading.

Last and probably most unpleasant: pooping. We all know how great it feels to have a good BM (admit it, don’t be ashamed, we all do it). I’ve had trouble with moderate constipation since I was in diapers. I’ve been careful, making sure to drink plenty of water and get plenty of fiber each day, but I knew that my surgery was going to throw this all off.

Pain killers are notorious for constipation. I’ve had issues with them in the past, and I wanted to avoid it as much as possible this time around. A swollen colon is not a pleasant sensation when you’ve had lesions burned off of the outside of said colon. I learned this from my first laparoscopy. I came prepared for this one – prunes in the fridge, miralax in the pantry, Smooth Move tea by the coffee, even a bottle of Mag. Citrate if I didn’t have a BM in a week.

Here’s where my plan fell apart though – I’ve lost complete track of the days. I was starting to worry last night that I hadn’t pooped yet. I’ve been sleeping so much, it feels like over a week has passed rather than just a couple days, so I felt the situation especially dire. I wasn’t constipated (or if I was, I wasn’t feeling any pain), but I didn’t want to get to that point…so I doubled my prune rations, drank a HUGE mug of Smooth Move (seriously, this stuff is great if you have regularity problems), and had a does of Miralax on top of all that. I didn’t do this all at once – keep in mind that I’m not doing a very good job at tracking the days.

“Easy go…” Yeah, not so much. 

I woke up to my alarm reminding me to take my painkiller a few hours ago. Something felt…wrong. I wasn’t getting the telltale cramps of an impending toilet annihilation, but something was up. In hindsight, it probably just was my colon signaling me to get my ass to the WC – a lot was done in my abdominal cavity. It makes sense if some of the sensations have/will change.

I’ll spare you the goriest of the details. I’m pretty sure you can guess what went down in the bathroom. However, as I’ve been nosing around hysterectomy forums, I’ve noticed that quite a few women worry about that first bowel movement being incredibly painful. It makes sense that it would be.

Here’s how I felt. Before, as in right about the time I waddled my swollen abdomen into the bathroom, I wasn’t in pain. Right as I was getting ready, there was pain to the point of tunnel vision. This stopped as I sat down. The movement itself was nothing spectacular pain-wise. Urinating still hurts. and it hurts more than pooping does, but they are far from unbearable.

One very VERY weird sensation is that that of the missing organ and tubing. I’m not experiencing anything “phantom” (is there such a thing as a phantom uterus anyway?), but I can feel were there used to be something. It’s a bit like getting your hair cut and trying to tie it back. For a moment, you forget you have less hair and there’s a bit of a surprise. The same goes for the uterus – certain movements or even just the act of bearing down feel different. Things inside have moved around. It’s not painful or unpleasant, just insanely weird. Abdominal binders have helped with this a LOT.

Last but not least, here are some photos of how the healing is going:

 

 

Just an update

Hi folks! Surgery is done and I’m going to be released in an about 20 minutes. Things went really, REALLY well.

Here are a few pics from the day: 

  Before everything – just call me doughgirl   
 Checked in and waiting!

   
I kid you not, this was what was on in the waiting room

   

Blue is SO my color

    

I’m a hard stick. The poor nurse felt so bad about having to go twice (I don’t really mind since it’s far from the worst pain in the world).
    

The waiting area where I met my doctors and got all ready for a nice snooze.
  

Post surgery, high on morphine selfie
  

Post surgery not awake photo by my mom.

  
Unedited post-surgery belly
  
Edited for lighting, circles show insciosn sites.

Again, things went well. I’m not in nearly the amount of pain I was in last time and am actually looking forward to my days off to heal…though that could be the Percocet as I am seeing double.

 

“This is a Sad Surgery”

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’m pretty sure all but these two have vacated headquarters, so it’s a small mosh pit.

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.

Breasts – not just for those with a uterus

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.

To everyone with endo, not just those who identify as “female”

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.

Losing is not an option.

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