Last week I had my final post-operative appointment since the hysterectomy. Physically I am healing well, albeit a tad slower than we both would like. The prescription to slow down and take it easy is nearly impossible to fulfill when I'm trying to take care of Timmy and Robby. I'm doing my best to take care of them and myself and have come to accept that my recovery may take longer because of my obligations.
After the pelvic examination I was asked the normal barrage of questions. Am I bleeding? Do I have pain? How many hot flashes am I having on a daily basis? All of these questions I expected and have fielded many times since the surgery. At the end of the medical interview, I was asked something that stopped me in my tracks. Are you grieving?
Am I grieving? I didn't quite know how to respond to that question, but it certainly gave me pause. I have been feeling an overwhelming sadness since the hysterectomy, but I chalked it up to pain, fatigue and hormones. I never considered grief; I guess on some level I somehow felt that my situation wasn't worthy of this process.
It took me a long time to acknowledge that I needed to grieve the loss of my foot after my amputation. During those difficult and dark months I was stuck in limbo, pretending to be okay for everybody else while inside I felt like I was caught in a tornado of anger, fear and sadness. As soon as I allowed myself to grieve my little piggies that went to market, I began to heal and move forward.
It never occurred to me that I would be reliving this scenario, only this time I am processing the loss of my uterus and ovaries. On some level it feels silly to admit that I am grieving the loss of these organs. After all, they aren't something that are seen or relied upon daily. Unlike adjusting to my amputation, where I found myself grieving the bone and tissue of my foot, this time I find myself mourning the lost possibilities and dreams.
Logically I know that Timmy is my last child. I'm 40, Scott is 47 and our family is now established. I love my two boys with all my heart, and I am so very lucky to be their mom. I guess I just wanted to hold onto the dream of the potential for more children a little longer.
I've tried to talk through these feelings with Scott, but after being shrugged off numerous times, I've come to accept that he just doesn't understand. His perspective is very pragmatic. I needed the hysterectomy so that I could be alive to raise the Timmy and Robby. We weren't going to have any more kids, so in his eyes I haven't really lost anything. Heal, take hormone replacement therapy and move forward.
Moving forward is impossible until I acknowledge what I've lost. The surgeon didn't just remove the ovaries and cancer. I forfeited something precious in exchange for removing the cancer; I surrendered my fertility. In my waking life I know that we were done having children. However in my dreams at night I always held out a glimmer of hope, exploring the possibilities of what could be. That spark has been forever extinguished, and it hurts.