The new year has begun and many of us have started our 2023 with resolutions and high expectations. The beauty of a new year is the opening for so many new and fresh opportunities. As I began this new year, I made it my mission to start off on the road to good health. For the past years, I have struggled with my health. Dealing with severe anemia, I made a decision recently that is destined to change my life.
On January 3rd, I had a full abdominal hysterectomy. Suffering with fibroids, an oversized uterus, cysts, adenomyosis and anemia, I had been running on empty for far too long. Originally, I was slated to have this surgery in January of 2022 but I cancelled the procedure at the last minute. Statistically, African-American women generally do not receive fair medical treatment. I know from personal experience that some doctors simply do not listen to us which makes us reversely distrustful of medical professionals as a whole.
After continuing to suffer last year with menstrual cycles that were excessively heavy and uncomfortable, in addition to receiving iron infusion treatments for my anemia, I had to revisit the idea of having the hysterectomy once and for all. After the last series of iron infusions in the Oncology Center doing nothing to change my energy levels, I was at my wit's end. I couldn't stand up for longer than 5 minutes. This altered my life in so many ways and even took a toll on my family. I was unable to do the simplest of tasks. I couldn't make dinner without being on the verge of passing out and getting profusely nauseated. I was unable to walk up the stairs in my home without being totally out of breath. Doing regular tasks in the grocery store was an impossible one because I would be on the verge of passing out at any given second if I was in the store too long.
A while ago, I was booked to speak at a local event. Even though I was booked months prior to the date, I had a glooming sense of fear leading up to the day of the program. I kept thinking, I hope I am able to stand up for the presentation without getting sick. The day of the event, I was relieved to see there was a podium I was able to lean on for the duration of my speech to keep me on my feet for thirty minutes. I had to finally make terms with the fact that I could no longer live like this. I had been to my primary care physician, my gynecologist, a gastroenterologist, as well as my hematologist and received no ultimate resolution to my problems. The only constant was the suggestion of surgery to remove my uterus.
I had so many reservations I grappled with. I don't use the "F" word of fear, but I definitely had an intense feeling of helplessness. In my mind, I kept thinking if I was unable to stand up for a simple five minutes while dealing with extreme low blood pressure and anemia, how am I healthy enough to handle a major surgery? After seeing my gynecologist again in order to discuss finalizing this plan for the hysterectomy, I simply had no other option.
After an exam with my gynecologist, he confirmed that my uterus was about the size of a cabbage when the average uterus is the size of a lemon. The results of an additional ultrasound confirmed that my uterus was approximately the size of four-month pregnancy accompanied by fibroids which were calcifying along with cysts. My doctor mentioned that he would normally perform the procedure in an outpatient laparoscopic procedure but due to the size of my uterus, the only way he could remove mine was in an abdominal surgery.
After hearing this again, I moved forward to schedule my surgery as soon as possible. I waited a long 2 and 1/2 months to reach January 3rd. In that time period, I was extremely sick with a dangerous low iron blood count and absolutely no energy whatsoever. I had come to terms that I was ready to face the risks involved in surgery. Did I feel that my doctor had listened to all of my concerns? To be honest, not necessarily. One thing I will say about medical professionals is that they see the same cases all the time and perform the same procedures over and over so they are familiar with these matters. However, as a patient, we are naturally scared because we don't want to feel like just another case when our lives and health are involved. Despite these reservations, I felt like I had no other alternatives. I did my own research---something I advise to everyone to do---however, some of the questions I needed answered should have been answered fully by the medical professionals to ease my anxiety.
Nevertheless, I went through with the procedure and I am so happy I did. Prior to the surgery, I was scheduled for a pre-op appointment where they took an EKG of my heart in addition to taking more blood work. The nurse I spoke with covered EVERYTHING and she really made my heart feel comfortable with her kindness, knowledge and understanding. I had no idea in 2022, that my heart and blood count would even be checked prior to the procedure. Again, giving patients all the information needed makes a huge difference.
I was so sick days leading up to the surgery that my pcp suggested that I head to the emergency room in order to receive a blood transfusion. While I did not follow through with her orders due to how close I was to the surgery date, I did in fact have a transfusion the day after the procedure due to my labs still being severely low. As I write this entry, it has been a little under two weeks and even though I am very sore, I am happy. I feel like I have so much to live for and look forward to. And more importantly, I will no longer be losing blood every 27 days to further deplete my energy.
In addition, via sharing my story on social media a day after my procedure, I have connected with so many women who have gone through the same thing that I can even offer a correct count. It is amazing the number of women who are suffering with debilitating cycles and fibroids. These issues alter our lives in ways that are so hard for others to understand. The one thing out of this experience that brings tears to my eyes is thinking of how the many problems having a cycle presented in my life. It feels unreal that I will never deal with another cycle again at age 45 after having my very first cycle at the age of 12, almost 33 years exactly to be frank. 33 years of a terrible cycle, four miscarriages, life-threatening anemia, fibroids and adenomyosis. After finally having this procedure, I know my life will never be the same.
Again, as I said before when I had my first colonoscopy in December of 2022, please if you don't do anything else this year, please prioritize your health. Start your year off right:
•Schedule your physical with your pcp
•Schedule your pap
•Schedule your mammogram
•Get your teeth cleaned twice a year
•Make sure to get your regular blood work. (You'd be surprised how many things are related to your iron levels)
•Be conscious of your diet
•Lay off the alcohol
•Drink more water
•Exercise. You don't have to go all out and get another gym membership that you know you won't use. Start small. Walk around your subdivision a few times a week.
•If you're of age, schedule your colonoscopy
•Men: get your prostate checked.
A new year has arrived and let's not just be a part of the living, but let's LIVE! We have a new gift, a new beginning and a fresh start. A part of self-love is truly making sure we take care of ourselves. Health is wealth and it is important that we focus on longevity, vitality and good energy. Please prioritize your health and love yourself to know that you deserve to be healthy. You deserve good love, good energy and good health! In order to be the best version of yourself, the only way you can achieve that is through a healthy life and a healthy body. Again, please do everything you can to take care of yourself.