I am in an abusive relationship with my uterus. I only just realized this which is so often the way in any kind of abusive situation. The signs are all there, but it’s a foreign language and usually translates as, “wah, wah, wah,” much like Charlie Brown’s teacher. So, even though the message was there, I didn’t see it for what it was.
It started simply enough. I can sum it up in one word … cramps. One minute I was fine, playing Star Wars or King of the Hill on the playground. My uterus and I on friendly terms, the next it would attack for no apparent reason. The pain would hit full force. There’d be no lead up. No warning. One minute, I’m fine, the next I’m brought to my knees, hunched over and whimpering. I’d beg and plead for mercy, promise to be better if only the pain would stop. But this only seemed to enrage my uterus further until the pain was so bad I would be puking and the tears would be mixing with the snot now running down my face.
I didn’t understand why this happened to me. My sisters and mother didn’t seem to have this same pain. So, I rationalized, I must be being punished in some way. Eventually, someone would notice my distress and send me to the nurse where I would languish, moaning and writhing because the nurses weren’t allowed to administer pain killers and my mother was in no rush to come to my aid.
The message I received was clear. Suck it up. Be strong. If I wasn’t so weak, this wouldn’t happen. So, like a good girl. I set about to do just that. I learned to appease my uterus. I took narcotic, prescription pain killers even though I was only 13 and used hot water bottles religiously. I massaged, pampered, and catered to my uterus trying to keep the unprovoked attacks at bay. I learned to appease my uterus’ every whim. For a while, it worked. But, as with any abusive entity, they only go dormant. They don’t truly change and when they finally strike again, you’re never prepared.
Last year, my uterus tried to kill me. It was the final straw. After three decades of enslaving myself to satisfy its mercurial nature, my uterus repaid me by attacking me so viciously only emergency hospitalization saved my life. I bled and bled and bled until I almost died and required transfusions and surgery to survive.
The authorities were sympathetic. They’d seen this type of domestic dispute before. They made it clear that I was going to have to make a decision. My abuser was not going to just change its ways. I needed to decide what I wanted to do to seize control of my life back. I chose to liberate myself and gave the authorities permission to cage my abuser.
Having taken the necessary steps to break up with my uterus, I thought I was safe. I thought this unhealthy relationship was finally over. That I’d gotten out intact.
I thought wrong.
Just this week, I found out that my uterus has been lying in wait, stalking me, waiting to launch it’s final attack. As a result, I’m now faced with a decision that no woman wants to make. Should I go ahead and remove my uterus, excise my abuser once and for all, or should I once again cage it and hope it goes away.
All metaphors aside, my doctor’s have informed me I have tennis ball-sized fibroid growing in my uterine wall. The pain, though intermittent, is excruciating when it hits. There’s no pattern to it, so I’m never prepared and it’s like getting kicked in the stomach. The fibroid is pressing on my other internal organs and causing me all kinds of problems. It has to go. The only question is how.
There is a lesser procedure I could have, a myomectomy, which will leave my uterus intact, but offer me no protection against the fibroids returning. A hysterectomy solves my problem once and for all, but I find myself reluctant to do it. I wonder if I’ve got some kind of battered woman’s syndrome going on with my uterus, but it feels like I’ll be neutering myself if I have my reproductive organs removed.
This is especially painful as I feel as if I’ve only just made peace with my feminine identity after fighting it my whole life. Though, as I write this I see, that my experience with being female has been riddled with pain, so it’s no wonder I rejected that aspect of my identity as long as I did. It was only after I thought I’d stopped the attacks that I was able to reconcile with my inherent femininity.
I think, in my heart, I know I’m not willing to have a hysterectomy. I’m not emotionally ready to do it, but damn I’m tired of this. Tired of dreading the first week of each month, tired of feeling beaten up and raw from the inside out, tired of the roadmap of scars that criss-cross my abdomen spreading and growing. There’s the C-Section scar that dissects my pubic hair, the various and sundry laparoscopy scars from three separate procedures that failed to end the relentless abuse.
I’m just fucking tired.