I experienced my last period in the beginning of April. Though I had visualized doing a fire or other ritual (with red candles) to honor it, when it came, that felt unnecessary. I got rid of clutter, caught up on banking and did the chores that involved lifting heavy stuff (because after the surgery I'm not allowed to lift over 20lb.s for 6 weeks). The surgery was on a Friday and on the Monday of that week, I got a haircut -- simplifying my funky layers into a classic bob. This felt terrific and symbolic.
On the night before the surgery, I got to sleep with no trouble, but was awakened at 3:30. We had to be at the hospital at 10:30 that morning, so I didn't need to wake up early. Fear woke me -- visceral and irrational, it clenched. I needed to go through this without disturbing my husband, so I got out of bed, took candles and my Mesas (Shamanic healing bundles/tools) and went to the guest bedroom. There I cried -- all along, witnessing this surge of fear with amazement -- it shook through me. Then, the Nustas and other Spirit Guides said that everything will go smoothly, I'll heal quickly, and feel energized afterwards. I mentally repeated their words several times, until I felt their calming effects. Then they said "These aren't just doctors and medical staff, they're Shamans and will do their task with love, gentleness and honor, with full acknowledgement of all that it means." This felt like a panacea and I repeated it until my fear spent itself. Cleansed and tired, I went back to bed.
Getting ready, driving to the hospital, checking in....all went smoothly. I shed my clothes for a hospital gown and silly footies, and nurses --- all wonderful in their own right with their soothing talk -- took information from me and attached an iv. My doctor was performing a short procedure before mine, so I was waiting in my hospital bed, when dread and anxiety returned, making my legs quiver and my hands sweat. Though it was non-verbal, now I'm sure it was the fear of something going wrong -- my expanded uterus was hugged by many organs and they were to use tiny instruments through little holes, how can they identify things? I said to my husband, Drew, "This is aweful." He said, "What?" I showed him my wet palms. He said, "Why are you sweating?" "Nervous," was all I could say before crying took over. I was surprised and embarrassed. Anxiety gripped me like a boa constrictor. I think Drew was shocked -- I was chipper for my hip operation. He made goofy jokes and a nurse wrapped me in a cocoon of blankets straight from the warmer -- that helped a lot. I began to pull out of fear, thanks to the kindness and humor of others, but remembering that I'm going to Shamans for healing loosened fear's grip. When they wheeled me to the OR a few minutes later, I was cheerful. The anesthesiologist said, "I'm going to put this mask over you for oxygen." I said, "Ok," then I was gone.
When I came to, I felt relieved and not groggy, like for my hip arthroscopy. I was alert and aware of my surroundings. I had 3 small incisions -- stitched and taped: one in my navel and the other two on either side of my low belly. A different nurse helped me through the transition to being discharged. She administered pain meds, gave me ginger ale and apple sauce, and helped me to the toilet. She needed me to pee -- an indicator that things went well. My doctor had let me know before that if she needed to dissect the uterus away from my bladder, she would fill my bladder with blue dye to orient her -- the color would gradually go away. Given my bladder symptoms, I expected it, but it was still funny to see my Smurfy pee. The nurse was happy with my output, also funny. But, my limbs trembled, especially when sitting on the toilet. The nurse explained that my muscles were trying to rid themselves of the anesthetic drugs. While I was recovering, bouts of trembling rose and fell, prompting her to say, "You're an athlete." I remember saying "an athlete who doesn't look like one." She said, "why not?" Ah-ha! An old wound of mine closed over at this.
I was allowed to ask for Drew when I felt ready. I was protective of him, after witnessing my mini break-down, so waited until I'd experienced the range of post-op symptoms before having the nurse call him. My doctor came and told us that my uterus was 3 times normal size and I had a "garden" -- 25 fibroids and some endometriosis too. She removed a cyst from my left ovary as well. "I'm so glad we did this now," she added. I agreed heartily.
I was awake for the 45 minute drive home (again, unlike my hip operation). I didn't want more shivers, so when we got home, I had Drew walk with me in the driveway until all traces were gone. My feet and legs felt steady, but walking without using my abdominal muscles was a new experience. For the next few days, my strong legs and arms were dependable -- I used them a lot, in avoidance of my midsection. The first 2 days, Drew had to help lift or lower me into bed, because laying on my side was also painful, so I couldn't roll. I had to wake him a few times a night to either to lift me to pee (I drank gallons of tea and water), or for my next dose of pain meds. I apologized each time, but he was happy to help.
As anyone who's had surgery knows, all drugs -- from the anesthesia and iv meds, to the take-home pain meds; cause constipation. By the third post-op day, I was in lots of gastric discomfort. I'd been eating gently, drinking Get Regular tea and taking stool softeners since I'd been home. I'd also had daily short, slow walks for circulation. Yet, the cramps and gas pressure had reached intolerable levels. That night was like giving birth! In half an hour, I emptied my entire system, going from hard to fluid discharge. Thank you, Dr. Ayahuasca! (See previous blog posts).
I tapered off the oxycodone (narcotic) as soon as possible, like 4-5 days afterwards, but I needed the extra strong ibuprofen a bit longer, then I went to Advil. All along, the nature of the abdominal pain changed quickly from the acute, to more of an ache, which slowly faded. 3 days afterwards, I'd already begun to roll in and out of bed and by the following week, I could use my abs (sparingly -- to lower my head in bed). Apparently one's hips and belly are heavily relied upon for walking, but as my pain lessened, my normal stride and pace returned the following week. Best of all, my bladder showed quick improvement.
My energy took longer to return. Talking to people was draining for the first couple of weeks (due to my introverted nature). As much as I enjoyed reporting my healing progress to my lovely well-wishers, and otherwise shooting the sh**t, I needed rest afterwards. Also, my belly swelled with fluid -- so it hasn't really shrunk. The swelling is expected to go away in a few weeks. Not being allowed to have sex also has presented some challenges.
Yet, I've done it. I had to celebrate -- thus the henna at the Festival of Legends. It's brown decoration still maps my belly as I write this. Though my full range of movement is not back, I belly-danced at the festival -- and have pledged to find a way back into that, since eliminating sugar, gluten and corn has lessened my hip pain. My soul hungers for that kind of movement and sensuality.
Today, I'm 3 weeks post-op and doing very well. My energy seems to have normalized and I'm looking forward to swimming (soon!) and doing more vigorous exercise, but I'm not pushing it. In 3 more weeks, I'm allowed to lift heavy things and have sex. Considering the alternative of endangering my healing -- it's no time to take risks. Occasionally, I've searched for a sensation that something is gone and wondered at not finding any residual sadness. Maybe that will surprise me some time, or maybe not. I don't feel any less feminine, in fact, I feel the opposite, because I've had to ask for and receive help and care from others. I've learned that being vulnerable and asking for help gives others a chance to let their gifts shine for you, and to show their love. This beautiful opportunity was new for me -- the "strong one." Whatever else I need to go through around this experience, I'm willing. Meanwhile, I feel free -- ready for a broadening horizon of blissful embodiment.
My heartfelt thanks goes to all who have supported me on my journey. I may write more about it at a future date. Until then, thank you to my faithful readers who've kept up with this rather epic telling. I hope that my story may somehow shine a new light on your or your loved ones' lives and that we've shared some laughs a the adventure that is life.