I am now nearly 3 weeks post op for a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo oophorectomy. The recovery process has been slow, which is fine, and willing to continue to take it slow.
I am very happy to report that my HRT (hormone replacement therapy), which is estradiol .1mg/day patch twice a week, is keeping all symptoms of menopause at bay. No side effects either mental, emotional, or physical. Because I am so young I know that I will be on HRT for quite some time and it will take some work to ensure that my levels are optimal through the rest of my life. I will happily add testosterone into my regime once my levels are stable and if I feel like it will help keep my energy levels up. I want to be active now, so I need to ensure that my hormones are able to keep up with me. I never want to go back to the way I was before.
I cannot express how thankful I am for this chance at life again. For finding a doctor that would listen compassionately to me, listen to my story, and agree to try experimenting with me. I never felt comfortable with my previous diagnosis of Bipolar. It never sat well with me, because it did not fit me. I have been in many support groups, hospital programs, and groups and I just did not fit in. I want to champion mental health issues, there is way too much stigma attached to them, however I want to ensure that the root cause identified and treated correctly. I do not want to minimize a bipolar diagnosis. Seeing as my symptoms were classified as such being bipolar would be terrible and a fight I cannot honestly answer if I would have been able to hold out against for the rest of my life.
I also want the medical community to stop shaming women for asking for such treatments as I underwent and hormone replacement therapy. Doctors are so worried about law suits and side effects of hormone replacement therapy they are willing to place women on multiple anti-depressants and mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications that can easily cause just as dangerous side effects as HRT.
Medical professionals use menopause to scare women away from the same treatment that cured me and allowed me to live. Menopause affects every woman who has normal reproductive system. They hold it out there like it is worse than the PMDD that we are suffering from and will kill us. This is simply not true. No menopause is not a cake walk and for some women it can surely be hell for a while, but there is much more support for women who are under going menopause, many more treatment options, and it (in majority of cases) has a finite end. However, women with PMDD often find that during perimenopause that their symptoms will get much worse and perimenopause can last years and even decades. I, myself, was terrified of facing perimenopause and PMDD. The two combined would surely have done me in, especially should they have held HRT out of my grasp.
In demanding that women not have hysterectomies or refusing to provide the appropriate HRT after a surgery is essentially telling women that they would rather that a woman suffer for longer and in most cases much more severely than taking a slight chance later in that woman’s life. I did not make the decision to be on HRT lightly, but I also understand that the studies currently used in regards to hormone replacement therapy are not appropriate for all populations of women, in fact they are very limited, and thus their basis often doesn’t apply to the vast majority of women. It is a scare tactic. The doctors and insurance companies are choosing for us how we should live our lives and what we should be willing to suffer through. This is as much a reproductive right as abortion is. It is my body. It is me that is suffering. It is me that would have killed myself had I not gotten proper treatment.
If estrogen HRT kills me later on down the line (which I highly doubt), at least I got to live the life I chose, not the one that some doctor chose for me. This is about freedom to pursue your happiness, your health, and your rights as a woman.
Going on 4 months post op, I have learned quite a bit! There are just days where I gotta take it easy first off! I don’t have a baseline normal that I can remember from before PMDD (thanks ECT!) so I am pretty much just going with the flow of things and I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere. Most of how I feel seems pretty new to me.
Things I have learned since surgery.
1. My migraines and daily headaches from since I was 14 must have been my progesterone intolerance. They are gone.
2. My anxiety since I was 14 and panic attacks are gone.
3. What I thought was just simple PMS must have actually been PMDD all along!
4.No depression, no manic episodes, no hypomanic episodes, no hallucinations, no psychosis
6. Insomnia since I was 14 is also gone.
7. The number of PTSD flashbacks has greatly decreased.
8. No rage
9. I am still an emotional person. I get upset, frustrated, happy, sad, excited, scared, and so many more emotions. But they don’t push me over the edge, they are not too much to handle, and I feel in control.
10. I love myself. This one is hard to explain and its not something I expected after surgery. Since a young age I have battled very poor self esteem. I was always bigger as a child and then as an adult I gained a lot of weight for a variety of reasons. On top of that I was cursed with pale skin and tons of splotchy freckles. These last 6 years I didn’t want to leave the house because I was sorry that people had to look at me, the hideous monster. Today, I am still significantly overweight, but I look in the mirror and I see a sparkle in my eye, I like the color and style of my hair, and you know beneath the freckles my pale skin is a beautiful peach ivory. For a fat girl, I have a good figure and my legs are nicely toned and shapely. The thoughts of hating myself, thinking that I am making people suffer by their having to look at me, all disappeared after surgery too. I haven’t figured out why but I am so happy!
11. Losing weight! This is a bonus for me. I had decided that I would be happy with my weight (I weigh 257 pounds now) and just concentrate on being healthy. Since the surgery I have been able to be much more active (swimming 5-6 times a week with my kids) so things are really working for me. Like a lot of women I was very concerned about being on HRT for weight gain issues as I am already so obese. Happily though, like in #10 my obesity is no longer an embarrassment for me and as long as I do my best to be active and healthy now anyone who thinks its their right to have an issue with my weight can also bite me!
The most important thing I have learned since surgery for me is to keep my HRT on a steady keel! I am on .1 mg/daily patch twice a week. I change late evening on Wednesday and early Sunday morning. If I change them at different times (either too early or too late), my moods get wonky again within hours. I have a reminder set up on my calendar that my Husband gets notices on so we can make sure that it is always taken care of. It has taken me this long to identify just how I need to use my HRT.
My fatigue levels are high right now still. However I have a couple other issues that could be contributing to that so I can’t just blame it on being in Menopause at the moment. I won’t be able to take testosterone HRT as with my PCOS my adrenals still over produce androgens (testosterone too!) Next week I start iron infusions for my anemia and I have been taking B12 injections for the last month on a weekly basis. I am hoping this will help with the fatigue.
I would have to say that my life is better now than it has ever been. I’m not sure if it can get any better but I will keep trying new things and seeing what I am capable of! I know I have had a smooth ride throughout all this, maybe because I had such a horrible time these last few years, I don’t know, but I am extremely greatful that I had my operation.