This post is from Lori Ann King, best-selling author of Come Back Strong: Balanced Wellness after Surgical Menopause.
I went into surgery, hoping and trusting for the best-case scenario: the simple removal of an ovary, cyst, and fallopian tube. I was excited to erase the pain that was burdening me. I didn’t expect anything else to happen.
I awoke to learn that the worst-case scenario had happened: I had received a full hysterectomy as well as a double oophorectomy. Uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes—everything had been removed due to the severity of endometriosis that had been found.
I expected to be pain free when I woke. It didn’t work that way. I was in severe pain. I was tired. I was afraid. I couldn’t pee or poop. My body felt and looked swollen and bloated. This was uncharted territory, and I had no idea how to fix it.
I suddenly experienced all the symptoms that many women report in natural menopause including weight gain, slow metabolism, low energy, fatigue, insomnia, lack of focus, and a roller coaster of emotions that leave us feeling overwhelmed, highly stressed, and out of balance.
In addition, hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness affected my health, relationships, and even my passion and sense of purpose. The more symptoms I had, the more hopeless and powerless I felt.
The worst part was that these symptoms hit me all at once. And, in spite of following a strict diet and exercise plan, I gained 26 pounds in 26 months.
In the weeks while I was at home recovering, I found myself explaining and clarifying and justifying to family and friends. Conversations would go something like this:
Friend: “What’s new? I haven’t seen you in a while.”
Me: “I had a hysterectomy.”
Friend: “Oh. Wow. What else is new?”
Me: “No. I had a full hysterectomy.”
Friend: “Okay. And?”
Me: “I had a full hysterectomy. They took everything. Nothing’s left of my womanly parts except my va-jay-jay.”
Friend: “Oh. Okay. So that’s simple these days, right? An in-and-out procedure? Laparoscopic? Barely a scar? When will you be back to work? Wait, why are you crying?”
This experience had turned my world upside down, and it would feel as if my friend was saying “So what? What’s the big deal?”
The big deal was that I was struggling physically and emotionally, and I didn’t know how to help myself feel better again.
As my doctor worked with me to find the right dosage of bioidentical hormones, I learned that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not an exact science. In fact, it seemed a bit like a guessing game as we attempted to balance my hormones and emotions and help me feel good again. The hardest part, perhaps, was that it simply took time to get it right.
I discovered that wellness is more than a state of health where you are free of illness. It is a state of well-being that is the result of deliberate effort.
In the months that followed, I found solutions for my symptoms through complementary medicine and lifestyle changes. I worked on improving my thought life and my emotions turned toward the positive. Overall, through the journey of surgical menopause, I found hope in my ability to come back strong.
For more information or to purchase Come Back Strong, visit www.LoriAnnKing.com.
Giveaway: Lori is offering a copy of Come Back Strong to one Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by April 1. Thanks!