my lovely lady lumps: adventures in uterine fibroids.

12 03 2012

i am not an animal!

have you ever seen one of those “i didn’t know i was pregnant” tv shows where the lady doesn’t know she’s pregnant until she’s in the delivery room with what she thinks is appendicitis? well, i have. so imagine that you’re me. imagine that you’ve seen A LOT of those types of programs, and that you’re also kind of a hypochondriac. you’ve sworn off web md entirely because maybe it gives you panic attacks sometimes.

now, imagine that you’ve noticed that your abdomen (despite some recent weight loss) has become quite bloated. and when you press on it, you feel something hard and round. imagine that when you lay on your back and look at your stomach, it is notably distended to one side. you might ask a friend or two to palpate your uterus area. you might start palpating your own uterus area obsessively, and work yourself into an anxious frenzy imagining that there is a baby or a tumor or a dinosaur egg in there.

but that’s crazy, right?

i had my yearly physical coming in two weeks, and i spent the entire time bouncing back and forth between utter panic, and feeling like a idiot for thinking that anything at all was wrong (with panic winning out in the final few days). i almost went to the emergency room on at least 3 occasions.

but it’s probably nothing.

finally in the paper dress (and not wanting to sound complete lunatic), i downplayed my concern and waited until my feet were in the stirrups to request an expert uterine palpation.

she paused.

“well, there’s definitely something hard in there.”

i burst into tears.

“well, let’s do the exam, and then we’ll send you to the ultrasound lab.”

the speculum wouldn’t stay in because something big and hard kept shoving it out. (i imagine it went something like this)

i sobbed while i put my clothes back on and the nurse left to go make the ultrasound appointment.

having your abdomen repeatedly squirted with bracingly icy gel is not nearly as bad as having an ultrasound technician give you a lesson in converting centimeters to inches while she points to amorphous grey blobs on a television screen. 12 centimeters= 4.724409449 inches. or, roughly the diameter of a standard supermarket grapefruit. did i mention that there were two? actually, there are two of the grapefruit size, and countless others of varying smaller sizes. basically, my uterus looks like the elephant man.

they’re not cancerous, or even harmful (until they’re sitting on top of you bladder or blocking off passage to your vagina or something like that person i know who totally isn’t me), but they’re still GIGANTIC TUMORS lurking inside my abdomen.

it’s weird to feel claustrophobic in your own body. for years i hadn’t noticed these lumps, quietly swelling and pushing my organs around. but as soon as i knew they were in there- it was all i could feel. suddenly, they hurt. my abdomen was swollen and deformed. i was becoming my lumps. i wanted to tear my own skin off and run into the night.

a hysterical phone call to my doctor produced a prescription for lorazepam and several follow up phone calls from concerned nurses making sure i was ok.

i spent the next week of waiting for a specialist trying to convince myself that reading web md was a bad idea, and then breaking down and reading it anyway. i never actually took the lorazepam, but i probably should have. whether you have them or not, i wouldn’t recommend google image searching “uterine fibroids”.

the cold scandinavian gynecologist informed me that my uterus is the same size as someone who is 18 weeks pregnant. i wasn’t exactly proud, but it did make me feel slightly less bad about my muffin top.

she informed me that i had  3 real options:

1. hysterectomy: i may be 34 and starting over. i may be terrified of having babies inside my body. i may be entirely lacking a biological clock… but it surprised me how quickly i shut down this option. i’m not ready. i won’t do it.

2. myomectomy: basically, it’s a c-section where you give birth to the grapefruits. recovery is no less than 6-8 weeks.

3. uterine artery embolization: they shoot the arteries that feed your uterus with tiny grains of medical grade something something, blocking off blood flow to the uterus. i guess the uterus can get blood from elsewhere, but the fibroids can’t (suckers!). this will kill all of the fibroids in one shot without major surgery. which is cool, except for the part where the fibroids die inside you and the pain is so intense that it will make you throw up.

despite the pain and guaranteed vomiting, i’m going for door #3. i still have to have an MRI on wednesday to make sure that i’m a good candidate, but the rapid recovery (only a week of pain barfing!) and the not getting cut open factor really make this the most desirable option out of three horribly not desirable options.

this is going to be my life for a couple of months, so sorry to bait and switch you with from “i’m single and starting over” to “i’m riddled with produce sized tumors”. but hopefully the content will be equally as embarrassing and awkward as me going speed dating or activating my okcupid account. stay tuned.

p.s. if anyone out there has had fibroids or the embolization surgery, hit me up. i’m terrified, and web md isn’t helping.

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26 responses

12 03 2012
Miss Catherine

Goodness, girl…THAT is what I’d call an ordeal! I appreciate your description of how you felt in your body after being made aware of the fibroids…thanks for sharing that much of yourself. And seriously? Take the lorazepam!

I’m truly sorry you’re going through this. Keep us posted on when you’re having the surgery and ACCEPT HELP WHEN OFFERED, OK? xoxoxoxo

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

thanks sweetie! it was so nice to see you yesterday and have a chance just to wallow and vent. sometimes sucky things happen and it feels good to be grouchy about over trashy margaritas. i’m hoarding the lorazepam until i really need it!

12 03 2012
kate.

uh sucks? hopefully you can still drink and i’ll buy you one? or at least some sort of friend recover pizza thing. xo

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

you don’t even need to buy it for me. but yes, french 75s and girl talk ASAP. we need to talk about boys.

12 03 2012
Cathy Wheelden

I’m so sorry you’re going though this! Glad to know that it will be resolved, though, and that it’s nothing worse. Make them give you some meds for the pain and for the barfing! Also, Lorazepam is some good stuff. lol The ER gave it to me when I had a really bad stomach flu in 2010 because I was getting panicky due to all the barfing. It killed my nausea and it put me in a “happy place”. My mother says I had a goofy grin on my face as I was *finally* dozing off. You’ll be over this ordeal and it will be a thing of the past, just keep reminding yourself of that. 🙂

Take care!

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

thanks cathy! apparently i get some transdermal ear patch thing that will help me barf less. although, knowing me, it won’t work. mostly, i’m just impatient right now. i want it to be OVER already, but i still have several weeks/months ahead of me. but i just bought like $90 worth of books on amazon, so if nothing else, i’ll be able to get some reading done. maybe my body is just telling me that i need to lie down for a minute.

12 03 2012
Alicia Willette-Cook

Hey Lady, I JUST went through this. (36yrs old) and honestly. Seriously. As terrifying as it may totally seem at first…when you’re lying in your bed in the dark imagining your body attacking you for some wrong you did it earlier on in puberty (At least that’s the image that I had for some twisted reason..) I had the easier choice I think. I had so many tumors that it wasn’t an option in a way. I had to have the hysterectomy. That and, never wanted children, so Voila!

I CAN say that even still…it was Not a simple thing to do. I only have one ovary left and the hormone imbalances are a bit fun. For me and everyone in a 5 mile radius. Though that was one of the key indicators that something was wrong to begin with. (That and the killer pain). I had another friend do the (Her words) “Clean Out Surgery” for endometriosis (sp). Discovered some fibrous tumors whilst in there, had those removed at the same time. She was back at work within 3 weeks.

I was given the option for #3 on your list and something about it didn’t feel right to me. Mainly because, as the doctor explained it to me, and this could have been the type that I personally had!!, The tumors that I had will come back, it’s just a matter of when. I’m more of a deal with it once type of person. But there again, I’ve never wanted kids!

Whatever you decide to do it will be the right decision because you will make it with the best knowledge you have. ASK tons and tons of questions. I drove my surgeon nuts. But he dealt with it. They may see 30 women a day with this issue, but you don’t. And you don’t have nearly the type of CORRECT information at your fingertips as they do. The internet is Great for supplying all sorts of crazy crap. I found a Great web page, called HysterSisters. But I’m not sure if it’ll have any info that will do anything for you if you don’t have a hysterectomy? hmm. It was great support though. This is great support too. You aren’t imagining anything. You Are going a little crazy (hormones are out of balance because of the tumors). You DO have to pee allllll the freaking time. (Tumors sitting on your bladder funny). I thought I was losing my mind when I had to physically force myself to Put the Cast Iron Pan Down after my husband asked me how my day was, for the third time, I was so furious. Ah yes. Good times. 🙂 But you’ll get through it! I promise! Start talking to women. You’ll be Amazed how MANY have gone though the same thing. It’s amazing there are any uterus left! HA!

Ok! I’m done with my (Hopefully helpful) rant. BREATHE! It does get better.
Loves.

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

wow! thanks so much for sharing your story. i really wish that there were more resources out there. hystersisters has some good stuff on it, but not enough about fibroids, and specifically about embolization. i want more people to write about exactly what they went through, and to tell me exactly how long it took before the bloating went away and they could have sex (my current 2 biggest concerns). i guess i’ll just have to wait and find out. unfortunately, my MRI results showed that i have 5+ fibroids of “significant size”, which means that they can’t be removed laparoscopically. in fact, they can’t be removed at all. it’s embolization or hysterectomy. hopefully, the embolization will work! i’ll have many more fibroid posts ahead before i sleep. thank you for all your kind and reassuring words, they are much needed.

12 03 2012
Alicia Willette-Cook

Oh PS…Got sidetracked. I forgot to mention. It’s good to ask/wonder aloud at your doctor/surgeon. My Total Hysterectomy was Laproscopic. Meaning they didn’t have to cut me open like a c-section. If you opted for option #2, would you be able to do this laproscopically? The recovery time would be HUGELY cut down. It’s way less invasive. And a C-section cuts muscles in your abdomen that won’t heal right (if I remember correctly). Just something to look into. Ok. No really, I’m done now…

12 03 2012
Bingo Beads Julie

Oh my goodness.. my uterus has the sympathy pain right now. So sorry you have to deal with this crapiness! I second Miss Catherine up there – let those who offer help you. Hope they take care of you quickly and recovery isn’t too much of a bitch!

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

thanks julie! i am very lucky to have a very close group of friends and family who will soon be waiting on me hand and foot (as soon as i ask them nicely). i hope to not be completely incapacitated, but i feel confident that there will be people there to clean up my blood and vomit.

12 03 2012
Anne W

“Wow, that really, really sucks” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say hi for more than 30 seconds at B’s on Sunday, but at least because I saw you there I know you’re (basically) ok.

I’m thinking of you, and if there is anything this friend-of-a-friend can do, don’t hesitate to let me know.

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

dude. your fondue was totes the best. and yeah, this fibroid shit does suck. on the upside, it’s not life threatening, and will be over pretty soon. thank you for being sweet!

14 03 2012
Roxanne

It is never ever fun to have things go wrong in this region and I am sorry that none of the options available are pain free and superawesome. Twice now I have had surgery to remove precancerous lesions from my cervix. it is not fun to have someone poking around down there and even less fun to know it can effect your ability to have kids in the future. But hey, once they put my cervix up on the big screen so a few medical students (who were in the room while all of this was going on) could get a good look. How many women can say that they have seen their own cervix first hand!? hah. I hope it goes as fast and painless as possible!

21 03 2012
bessmarvin

ooh! i’ve never seen my cervix before- certainly not up on the jumbotron. you’re lucky! thanks for the well wishes! here’s hoping that it doesn’t suck too bad.

28 03 2012
Ambre

Hi there, I just wanted to tell you I also have a fibroid (about 8 inches in diameter, ugh). Mine popped up when I was pregnant, I was so big people thought I was having twins, haha. It caused SO many complications that I hope you never have to deal with, but I now have a beautiful healthy son, so the outcome was fine. I am also facing the decision about what to do about having it removed. I am so sorry you’re going through this, but I have to tell you, it is a relief to see that there are other women, especially in the area, who are dealing with a similar situation. I hope that your procedure goes well, and please keep us posted, I will keep an eye out!Good luck!

28 03 2012
Ambre

I also forgot to say that I had the fibroid partially die inside me already, they called it degeneration. I want to wish you luck, it was one of the most painful things I have ever dealt with in my life. I honestly thought I was dying, and even on morphine was in hysterical pain. I hope this doesn’t scare you, as much as just let you know that you WILL get through it! It does go away, I promise. It will suck, but should only last a little while. It will definitely get better, and then the pain will literally just disappear. I hope you are doing well, and again, goodluck!

3 04 2012
bessmarvin

why did you tell me that?! ok, that scares me a lot, but ready or not hear i come!!! thank you so much for sharing your story, the solidarity has been a big help. 8 inches! that’s pretty impressive. i have more, but you definitely win the “biggest fibroid” contest. we should get ribbons or something like at the county fair. i will definitely be posting about the procedure, and you should keep me posted when you decide to do about yours! good luck.

29 03 2012
Bobbi

Whoaa!!! I’m totally always paranoid about my appendix bursting and my right side has been totally puffed out and a little hard at times (I’m hoping it’s just gas, because it goes away again), so your story makes me even more paranoid. Also, things work out the way they do for a reason. You won’t even know what that reason is yet, but some day you will. At least that’s what I have to tell myself. I’ve gone through minor lady bits drama, back when I was a wee bit younger and I also have a friend (in her early 30’s) who actually had cancer in her lady bits and had to have a hysterectomy. You are not alone!

3 04 2012
bessmarvin

how did i not respond to this sooner? i think i probably let the whole fibroid mess go for longer than i should because i am such a hypochondriac. i’ve run to the doc for imaginary lumps on more than one occasion (one time leg lump in jr. high, one time abdominal lump in college, one time boob lump a few years back [although there really was a cyst there in that case]). i almost think that this experience is to remind me that i really do want a family. when offered the choice between the embolization and hysterectomy (the only guaranteed cure), i just couldn’t let go of my uterus. who knows, maybe i’ll get a chance to use it someday.

17 10 2012
satoya sanders

My mom is 43 years old she has Fibroids on one side of uterus she is crying throwing up consistantly and balled up on the couch she wont go to the emergency room cause they gone send her back and her gold card has to get renewed inorder for her to make appointment to take them out.what should she do I am worried please help

17 10 2012
bessmarvin

Oh my! I’m so sorry to hear that your mom is having a tough time. I am in no way a medical professional, but would definitely encourage your mom to go to back to the ER. It is possible that if she is in pain and is vomiting, that there is something else that is the issue that could be very serious if she doesn’t get it treated immediately. I’m sorry I don’t have any immediate answers for you! Good luck, and let me know how things turn out.

3 04 2013
Tracy

I just had found out I have fibroids and also a palop which they sent to get biopsies on ! My ultrasound isn’t til the end of April can’t stand waiting makes me more nervous

19 12 2015
dot

Thanks so much for sharing the paranoia. That’s me… I palpate every morning. Even sometimes take a marker and outline my big “alien baby” that lives on the right side. Afraid of cancer (already did that twice) and afraid of surgery. Most days I just try and get up and keep busy to forget about it. But I’m vulnerable at the days end when I’m tired and my mind starts to worry. I did actually call to schedule the surgery. Then had days of panic attacks and avoided the surgery schedulers call. Still haven’t addressed that. Yup. Fibroids suck and make you a little crazy too.

24 09 2016
Tammy Johnson

I myself are going through this…they first tried an ablation and a DNC… The fibroids got bigger..so now I have no other option but a hysterectomy.. I’m looking like I’m five months pregnant.. In excruciating pain… Always bleeding… Don’t wish this on no one…

24 09 2016
Allie Munier

I’m so sorry to hear that! Fibroids are so hard. I eventually ended up having a hysterectomy anyway a couple of years later. And honestly, it was the best decision I ever made. The surgery was nothing compared to the embolization pain, and I’ve just felt so much better. Be strong, the end of your fibroid drama is coming! Good luck 🙂

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