Surgery #4 But Today I Am Ok

The saga continues, I need another surgery. 

For quite a bit I have been having sensations in my abdominals. I was never sure if it was scar tissue adjusting, my abdominals acclimating to their new healing or what. I remember twinges in early COVID when Jenn, Ella and I did a little workout one night. I thought it was my body settling into itself. Well, three months later I have a full seperation of my abdominals. A hernia, they are saying. I just finished my online pre-surgical questionnaire for my new surgeon whom I have not met yet. In the questionnaire they ask what may be the cause of the condition. My honest answer is that I had a stomach bug about 5 days after my surgery in January which left me writhing and heaving like any good bug does. That was terrible with a 14 inch new incision. That could have done something. Or maybe the fact that I over-do things and think I am better than I actually am for projects and day to day life. Who knows?

What I do know is that after this surgery I am going to really lay low for 4-6 months. This will be very hard for me and for my lovely wife if I am to be honest. We are doers and not doing or doing without our buddy is not fun. I am over all of this health stuff though. For real. This is the last of it. After this 50 years of an amazingly healthy vibrant life. 

There was one scary part that turned into a bright side with the unfolding of this next adventure. In the past month I started to distinctly feel the tearing of my abdominals heading north behind my belly button. At that time I started to come out of my denial and messaged my last surgeon for an in person consultation because something was not right. Two days after I sent the message I had some bleeding/spotting when I went to the   bathroom from my vagina. Mind you after having a full hysterectomy (uterus, ovaries and all removed) and they have sewn your cervix shut, bleeding from that area is a bit alarming. We were also a few hours from home and not headed home for a couple of days. I told Jenn about it and she said to call my doctor. I hate adulting in these moments. These are moments that I do not like to deal with. But I put my big girl panties on and made the call. I spoke to a couple of nurses and made an appointment for the day after we got home. 

The bleeding was one time incident but it was enough to throw me off my equilibrium. I did not know how to relax or be until I saw the doctor. I had the sensation of my abdominals separating under my belly button and my vagina was bleeding. I was falling apart. All I could think was “Not again. Please not again.” 

I have never been one to Google any of my health stuff. Friends of ours have Googled for us but we usually shy away from that. This day was different for some reason. After I called the doctor’s office I went to go meditate by the water. That was good, but difficult. While sitting there after trying to quiet my mind I looked up on the internet about post menopausal/hysterectomy vaginal bleeding. Of course cervical nub cancer came up. I did giggle at the use of the word “nub” even though the prospects of that being in my body were terrifying. Another explanation was associated with menopause, this was vaginal atrophy. 

Vaginal Atrophy is the thinning of the vaginal wall after menopause. That along with reduced lubrication, vaginal dryness, can cause spotting. This information was all great and good because it offered me a beacon that was not cancer. BUT I immediately took issue with the words used to describe a female condition. 

Working in childbirth for almost 20 years I have come across many words that were most definitely thought up by men about women’s bodies or bodily functions. An example is “prodromal labor”. Prodromal labor is the early stop and start of labor also called false labor. Prodromal from the dictionary website is “an early symptom that signals the onset of an illness or disease”. I like to use the term “warm up labor” where the body is cooking but not quite in the groove yet. 

“Atrophy”?! For real? That is the word someone chose to describe a change in a woman’s body after menopause. That term lacks the respect for the beauty and strength of the female body.  Excuse my emphasis but Fuck That Noise.  

Back to my story. I Googled what could be happening with my body and cancer was on the list. This is when I took a Big.Deep.Breath. There was nothing I could do but wait and try to not worry. I actually did ok. I did not spiral out and tried to hold onto the truth that “Today, I am ok”. Jenn had to remind me of that. “Today, I am ok”

Walking into my doctors appointment days later I was sitting with a pretty significant abdominal separation and an episode of bleeding. My doctor was not available so I saw the nurse practitioner who was very sweet. Due to COVID I was there alone, when I would usually have Jenn with me cracking jokes and asking all the questions I forgot to ask. The nurse practitioner and I chatted for a bit then she proceeded with the exam. I did a good job of being only with the information I had at the time and not borrowing trouble (freaking out about cancer). She very quickly let me know that she saw no sign of cancer and found the source of bleeding which was granulation from my scar tissue. 

Have you ever cheered and pumped your hands up and down reclined in the lithotomy position on the exam table from excitement during a vaginal exam, feet in the stirrups and all? I have. I literally cheered at this news. I was even ok with them using silver nitrate to burn the area of my cervical nub – not fun but I was thankful that’s all I needed. The nurse called in my doctor to offer her opinion of my abdominals and after only a few seconds of palpation she said “Wow, thats a big hernia.”  You will need surgery and we have just the person to refer you to. 

Here is where the universe was smart and sneaky. If I had not had the vaginal bleeding I would have just received news that I needed another surgery and been super bummed. But throw in a little vaginal bleeding and a cancer scare, I am overjoyed to hear I do not have cancer and just need surgery. 

This is where we are today. I meet my new surgeon on June 12th and we will go from there. My Eastern medicine doctor is preparing me for the surgery on his end so I am well taken care of. 

I will admit mentally I am struggling a bit thinking about another surgery. I don’t want to and the COVID era does not help. I am tired of this saga. I was looking forward to backpacking and other mundane things this year. I am finding light weight activities to do in the months ahead. I do not like not being able-bodied, but I must remember this is only a phase of my very long life.  I am learning to love and take care of my body better than I ever have. One last push to a healthy whole vibrant body. 

The bottom line is “Today I am Ok.” regardless of all the things “Today I am Ok.”

Last week social distancing in a friends backyard.


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