This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve ever written. Mainly because this story is so personal. As I type these words so many feelings and emotions resurface, however, I truly believe every story shared is a chance to make someone feel less alone, so here it goes!
Today marks four years since my fibroid removal surgery. To be honest, I can’t believe four years have passed and I’ve never publicly shared my experience with Uterine Fibroids. I am finally at a point in my life where I feel the time is right for several reasons.
The first, its Women’s History Month. Of course, we should celebrate women every month however, this is the time to honor all that women are and our powerful stories. Over the last four years, I realized just that. This experience has made such a powerful impact on my life, therefore it’s more than worth sharing. Additionally, I hope this post will create awareness around a topic that isn’t openly discussed enough, women’s health.
After my diagnosis, I quickly learned how challenging it was to find online support or women just sharing their experiences in general; I immediately knew I wanted to share mine. I hope my story will inspire, support, and, help other women who may have been diagnosed with Uterine Fibroids.
What Are Fibroids
“Fibroids are round growths that develop in the uterus. They are almost always benign, or non-cancerous. Fibroids range in size from as small as a pea to as large as a melon. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime. They are also called leiomyomas or myomas.” -UCSF
Like every year it was time for a routine check-up. Since I just relocated to a new city, this was my first appointment with my new gynecologist, and just like every year the appointment was going well until the doctor said the words, “your uterus is enlarged.” Me: Okay? What does that mean? He then proceeded to tell me about fibroids and how they are tumors that grow inside the uterus. Not understanding this diagnosis, I immediately broke down in tears. Thousands of questions entered my mind. Tumors inside my body? How serious is this? Are the tumors cancerous? And the most important question as a woman at that moment, will this affect conceiving or childbirth?
Luckily this specific doctor specialized in fibroids removal, therefore he was able to answer every one of my questions in addition to explaining the next steps and the options to remove them. He was also very supportive and comforting which made the news less harsh. He explained how common fibroids are in women and how they develop because they’re hereditary. Of course, after I left my appointment I hit up “Dr. Google.” I know, bad idea.. but I needed to know more. Before this appointment, I never heard of fibroids so of course, I had to do all of the research I could.
The next step was to take images of my abdominal and cervical areas to locate where exactly the fibroids were. The images would also determine the amount and size of them. The doctor advised the most common test for imaging is an ultrasound however, after doing more research on my own, I found that an MRI would be the best test for a more accurate result.
One week later I received the results of my MRI. The results definitely shocked me but stated very clear, three tumors (5cm-the size of a tennis ball) (13 cm-the size of a golf ball) and (15cm-the size of an orange.) Like what!? How?! With always having a thin frame, I didn’t understand how these things were even growing inside me. I am not going to lie, this was a difficult time in my life. Next was scheduling the surgery and scared was the say the least since I never experience a major surgery.
Five months would pass before I had the courage to proceed with the removal process. My decision to remove the fibroids had nothing to do with pain or discomfort as I felt none. It was simply so they would not grow any bigger.
After more research, I found there were several options for surgery. The surgery I chose was a Laparoscopic Myomectomy. I chose this procedure for a couple of reasons, one being the recovery time (6 weeks) and the second and most important being the preservation of my uterus. Allowing me to still have the option of having childing in the future.
So here we are, it’s surgery day March 23rd, 2017. This was the first day I started journaling, I wrote down all of my thoughts and prayed before arriving at the hospital. With my mom and sister by my side, I had so many emotions running through my mind. I’ve never had major surgery, let alone a surgery that could affect my future in being a mother someday.
As I was rolled into the operating room, the anesthesiologist made a joke, that made me feel a little at ease “It’s top shelf cocktail timeeee!” Then I experienced the best nap of my life. The procedure took 5 hours luckily I had no complications. When I woke up, I was surprisingly in no pain, I’m pretty sure this was due to me being was heavily medicated, which didn’t last long.
Okay, I am not going to sugarcoat this part one bit. As someone with a high tolerance for pain, this pain was something I never experienced. After I was discharged the car ride home was very unbearable, to say the least. I felt EVERY single bump in the road. Not to mention it was very hard to out of the car. I never knew how much I use my stomach muscles even just for simple things, like walking and talking. The next few days were a big blur and sleeping was very difficult. The best way to describe the feeling was something that felt like it missing from inside my stomach. Other than to get in and out of the bed to use the restroom, I did not want to move. Eating was also a challenge as I felt very nauseous.
Around day four I started feeling more like myself. Still, in a lot of pain, I was finally able to sit up in the bed and eat meals. One week later when I was able to leave the house and go to my post-surgery appointment to have the stitches removed and to make sure I was healing properly.
The remaining few weeks of recovery were not bad at all. During week two I no longer needed the pain medication and by week three I was able to get fully dressed. Overall my recovery time was a total of four weeks, however, the inflammation in my stomach did not go away until about two months after the surgery.
Four Years Later:
It’s been four years and as I finish writing this post, I can honestly say I am proud of who I am today. Yes, I have scars that will forever remind me of this difficult time in my life but I have come a long way physically, mentally, and, spiritually. I can also openly share that during the first two years of my diagnoses following post-surgery, I suffered from depression. The thought of both, my mind and body would never be the same was a difficult reality I had to overcome. With the support of therapy, family, and friends I was able to heal from an experience that was truly life-changing and I honestly wouldn’t want to have it any other way. This experience has truly changed me for the better. I am much stronger and I have this story to share.
I want to acknowledge that every woman’s experience can be different, this is my story and I was really nervous, yet excited to share it with you all.
If you are a woman reading this with fibroids I am here to tell you to know you are NOT alone. You are NOT less of a woman because of your diagnosis. You ARE stronger than you think. I am always here for support. If you have any questions I am more than happy to answer them, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or reach out directly via email: Felicia@simplyherfav.com.