(disclaimer: This can be considered TMI for a lot of people, particularly guys. If you don’t like hearing about girly medical issues, I suggest you skip this entry.)
I’ve been having ongoing medical issues for over a year now. Uterine fibroids and constant heavy menstrual cycles have had me emotionally distraught and physically drained. It makes working out down right miserable. After lengthy discussions with my gynecologist, I decided to try fibroid removal again (vs. hysterectomy) since my last fibroid removal bought me something like 7 years of time with zero problems. I had laparoscopic surgery in March to have 2 fibroids removed and I had an IUD placed, which I was told would also aid my menstrual issues. Unfortunately neither of these procedures helped.
In June I developed a bulge in my abdomen and I immediately worried I had developed a hernia. I got in to see my gynecologist (who is also my surgeon) and she poked around and didn’t feel any organs. She said it was probably just a pocket of fat. Ha. Now I have special pockets of fat. I did discuss with her that my other symptoms had not subsided and a recent ultrasound found that 2 more fibroids had grown since surgery. We decided to remove the IUD and get back on progesterone. So about 6 weeks go by and I’m STILL not getting any relief and I call her back. She says, let’s stop everything for a week or two so your body can “reset” from all the hormones. Ok. Two days later, on a Friday morning (two weeks out from the triathlon), I end up in the emergency room at 4AM with uncontrollable nausea, vomiting and pelvic pain.
I was given IV fluids and anti-nausea and pain medication, an ultrasound and CT Scan. CT Scan showed a lower abdominal hernia, that was only protruding fat (for fuck’s sake), and no bowel, intestine or bladder involvement. The ER doc figured the pain was due to the hernia (exasperated by vomiting), but had no explanation for the nausea. I had the option of staying overnight for observation, but I just wanted to go home and try to sleep. So I did.
Didn’t eat much on Saturday, and ate some soup and crackers on Sunday. It seemed I was feeling better. That was until 4AM on Monday when I was vomiting again and having massive bleeding. I drove myself to the ER (not a good idea, in hindsight, because I was very weak). I saw the same ER doctor and, upon seeing what a state I was in, he called my gynecologist, who just so happened to be in the hospital that day for scheduled surgeries (she’s based out of the Peabody office).
Again I was hooked up to fluids and anti-nausea meds. My labs were taken as well. My gynecologist came to see me in the ER in between surgeries. I looked at her and told her I was DONE with all of this. She was concerned with my level of bleeding and she admitted me for the night. She ordered a high dose of progesterone to reduce the bleeding. Basically to combat my crazy ass hormonal response to being off the progesterone. She thought the nausea was being caused by whacked out hormones as well. More anti-nausea meds (none of which made me sleepy – FAIL), and some ibuprofen and I was hunkered down for the night. I felt so shitty I didn’t even check my phone (which is normally an extension of my arm) the whole time I was in the hospital.
My gynecologist came by my room in the morning on her way to the office to check on me. Bleeding had gotten to a manageable state, and she decided I could go home. But she wanted to see me the following week to discuss moving forward. She also told me that the ER doctor was pretty concerned about my apparent hemorrhaging asking her, “How long can she go like this?” I was also scheduled to consult with general surgery regarding the hernia.
I met with the general surgeon days before my gynecologist. Of course, as fate would have it, he is also the head of bariatric surgery here. Now, for what it’s worth, I’ve been toying with the idea of weight loss surgery for YEARS. Even more so because here I am cycling and swimming and walking/running and I’m still not losing any weight. He shows me my CT scan and the hernia. He had said that the pressure in my abdomen, likely due to the weight I carry up front, contributed to it, as I explained that I hadn’t done any heavy lifting or anything out of the ordinary that would have traumatically caused it. He said that he would not want to perform a repair unless I dropped about 30 pounds. This is for a safer surgery, and a better recovery. And so we got talking about weight loss surgery. Of course, knowing that I’m slightly interested now, he wants to do weight loss surgery before anything else, to make hernia repair/recovery easier, and the likely upcoming hysterectomy/recovery easier. I agreed to have an official consult – a 4 hour meeting with their nutritionist, nurse practitioner and psychiatrist, and scheduled it for mid-October.
I then met with my gynecologist. She tells me the general surgeon was in touch with her. She says, “of course if you had weight loss surgery and lost a bunch of weight, surgery would be easier, but I’m really not concerned about it.” We talked at length about a hysterectomy. How TODAY I was feeling fine, and feeling complacent. But we both know that my uterus is a ticking time bomb, and she said it’s up to me to decide when. My lab results from the morning I was discharged from the hospital showed I was anemic (results weren’t in when I was discharged). So she wants to put me on Lupron for 3 months prior to surgery. This is to reduce the size of my fibroids and uterus, giving a chance for blood counts to go back up and make for an easier less-invasive surgery. Now, Lupron is going to put me into a temporary chemical state of menopause. That just sounds FABULOUS – NOT. I ask if she would repair the hernia at the same time. She said she’d probably “throw a few stitches in there” but they have a chance of reopening. I leave her office with lots to consider.
I think and think over the weekend what I should do. I’m looking at at least 2 different procedures (hysterectomy and hernia repair) and possibly a 3rd (weight loss surgery). In what order do I do this? How does this affect my training and activity? I’m angry because it’s like my body is fighting against me because if I work hard, I suffer ill effects. If I start surgical interventions, I need to modify my activity levels. It’s a real shitty place to be when you’re trying to change your life.
Then, 4 hours after finishing the triathlon (which I’ll write about soon – I promise!), I start bleeding all over again. And I’m reminded of why I was at the doctor to begin with. I need to have my gynecological issues resolved so I can continue being active. Having weight loss surgery will help other things in my medical chart, but it isn’t going to help bleeding, pain and anemia. So I emailed both my gynecologist and general surgeon letting them know my priority is to remain active and even increase my level of activity. In my opinion, this means having hysterectomy and hernia repair before any thought of weight loss surgery. So I asked if they can work together to do both these things in one surgery. I don’t know if it’s medically advisable to do so, but I figured I’d ask. I’m willing to work on weight loss for 3 months before either procedure to make a positive outcome more likely.
Now I’m just waiting to hear from them to see what they advise. I honestly don’t want to spend a year in and out of the hospital having 3 different surgical procedures, but I’ll do what they think is best.
I’ve been waiting and suffering far too long at this point. Something’s gotta give.