To the Person With Endometriosis Who Just Decided to Get a Hysterectomy
Dear Endo Warrior,
You don’t know me personally, but in a way, I feel like we understand one another better than a lot of other strangers do. We share the bond of enduring the tumultuous road of having endometriosis. People who haven’t experienced endometriosis can be supportive but they can’t really understand the hell that it can be.
You have made the brave and likely difficult decision to move forward with getting a hysterectomy to help end this debilitating condition from influencing almost every aspect of your life. And you know what? I’m proud of you. Without actually having met you, I know the thoughts that have swirled in your head while contemplating moving forward with this. You’ve considered what it means to you. If you haven’t had children and perhaps wanted them, you’ve had to prematurely grieve the loss of the potential of ever getting pregnant and having a baby. That’s no small feat and you deserve to take all the time you need to process that grief.
If you are married, you have likely considered what that means for your relationship. I’m sure you’ve had thoughts swirl about the way society perceives and questions people who haven’t had children and pondered what kind of answer you would give if someone asks you if you have children and why not, because they will. (Hint: It’s none of their business and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. People seem to feel entitled to asking and that’s not OK.) And I’m sure you’ve wondered in what ways your physiology will change once you no longer have a uterus. All of these things swirled through my head in the weeks leading up to my hysterectomy.
I felt simultaneously excited, elated even… and yet I was scared. I mean, a hysterectomy is a pretty major surgery even if the procedure has gotten less and less invasive. It still involves anesthesia, IVs, pain meds, and a recovery time that they “say” should only be 4-6 weeks. You have likely heard that often this isn’t the case, but how long will it really take to fully recover? The truth is that every woman is different, and frankly, your physical wounds may be healed but it may be some time before you feel completely healed — body, mind, and spirit.
And maybe you are afraid of what life post-surgery will be like. You’ve lived with this invader in your body for so long, what will it feel like to be freed from the trauma it has caused you? Will you miss it in some way? Will there be a sense of ambiguous loss? What will it be like to never have a period again? How will you fill all that time? Is it too early to wonder, imagine, plan, and dream? Will you jinx it if you do?
The truth is that neither I nor any other survivor of endometriosis who has opted to have a hysterectomy can know exactly what your experience will be. But what I can tell you is that I’m so excited for you. Having my hysterectomy was a long time coming for me. Once I finally had it over with, I was so relieved. Even with some minor complications post-op, I can confidently say that it was the best decision that I have ever made in my life. For the first time in 25 years, I didn’t have to deal with the debilitating pain, bleeding, exhaustion, bloating, and other symptoms that my endometriosis had caused me. There was an adjustment period for sure, but no matter what I may have lost by having my hysterectomy, what I gained was my life back.
So here’s to gaining your life back. I am here to witness and applaud your rebirth. I am here to encourage your newfound independence from endometriosis and I’ll be cheering you along as you rediscover the fullest potential of your being free from that hell. You’ve got this. You deserve this. You are strong. You are worthy of the new life journey you are about to embark upon.
And if you ever doubt your decision, just think back on all that you lost or missed out on due to endometriosis. I can say with some certainty that when you remember that, you too will feel a sense of peace.
All my love and best wishes for a speedy recovery,
Your Endo Warrior Sister
Getty image by Jorm Sangsorn.