Uterine fibroid myomectomy: commence freakout

mri pic
My mri. My fibroid tumor (highlighted in yellow) is about 12cm across.

It’s inching closer and closer to the date of my abdominal fibroid myomectomy, and the panic is real. I’ll be admitted to the hospital tomorrow afternoon, and the surgery is scheduled two days later.

I’ve spent so much time looking forward to getting it over with, that I skipped over all the bad stuff. “Recovery will be nice,” I thought. “I’ll get some reading done. I’ll watch movies.” Now I’m facing my complete mental disconnect, that the reason I’ll be taking it easy is because I will be in pain, and because it may be physically impossible to do anything else. Lately when I’m running up stairs or at a ballet class, it’s hard to suppress the thought, “Soon I won’t be able to do this.” I know positive thinking is important in recovery, but so are realistic expectations.

About three weeks ago, I went in for my hospital pre-check. I was sent to a variety of rooms with a checklist of tests they were to perform. I got an EKG, breathing test, blood tests, urine tests, and more. After everything was complete, I was sent to talk to my doctor, with my wonderful supervisor to translate. Dr. Furukawa discussed my results and a little more about my surgery. I was scared when he noted that my EKG was borderline (I have an irregular heartbeat), but he said that the test is very sensitive and my cardiac activity was healthy. He was confident that I am okay for the surgery.

Then he drew pictures of my incision options: vertical under my belly button or horizontal “bikini” cut. He wrote “Easy” over the vertical one and “Beauty” over the bikini one. I got the point. He told me that the safety and pain factor are the same for both, so he recommended the bikini cut. He said for my future potential c-sections, the doctor may even be able to cut into the same place again. I guess if I have multiple kids they can just keep opening up that same flap like one of those creepy pregnant Midge dolls from the 90s, because being a woman is horrible.

I’m struck by the simultaneous fragility and resilience of bodies—the fact that I can be cut apart and sewn back together—but wishing that we’d somehow evolved past cutting by now, to the ability to think away tumors or to not even grow them in the first place.

Dr. Furukawa scheduled me to return to have my blood drawn and stored in case I need a transfusion. It was his first exposure to my terrible circulation, and I was amused by his and the nurse’s baffled conversations in Japanese: “Is it coming out? Did it stop?”

Unlike many women who have uterine fibroids, I wouldn’t consider my symptoms debilitating. Still, I’d like to document how I’m feeling so that I can mark my progress throughout this experience.

Some of My Symptoms

  • Lower back aches, especially after standing for long periods
  • Difficulty bending over
  • Feeling of pressure on bladder and frequent urination, usually getting up 1-3 times in the middle of the night
  • Full, bloated feeling
  • Uncomfortably full feeling+ shortness of breath after what most would consider a normal-sized meal
  • Crampy periods

Some Fears

  • That it’s cancerous (very unlikely for this type of tumor, but the doctor is doing a biopsy just in case)
  • Dying on the operating table (also very unlikely, but shit happens)
  • That the pain will be unbearable
  • That I’ll be a moody bitch to anyone who is helping me or comes to visit me (see unbearable pain above)
  • That the pain meds will make me really nauseous.

Things I’m grateful for

  • My kind doctor, who speaks some English, and even studied in Chicago! He puts me at ease by reminiscing about parts of the city he used to visit.
  • My awesome husband who will hang out with me at the hospital and cook for me once I’m out.
  • My awesome supervisor who has come to all of my appointments to translate.
  • Japan’s over-cautiousness. In addition to an extensive array of pre-checks, I’ll be hospitalized for 10 days vs. 2-3 days in America for the same procedure.
  • Japan’s National Health Care system. The entire procedure, including 10 days hospitalization, will cost me around $1,000.

That’s all for now. Will post updates sometime after the surgery! Going to enjoy my last evening at home with some chili and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

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