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.
“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.