Country Roads, Take me Home

I put on street clothes today, and drove my car; in my little snowy mountain town, with the sun shining. I watched my friends teach dance class and I loved it. I sat in the back and wore my not dance clothes and moved my feet along with the tap lesson. Two weeks ago today I had surgery to remove 14 big growths from my uterus. I’m happy to report it was a big success, I have a womb now.  ( I have decided to call it a womb now that I have transformed it.)

 

When I got transferred to my room after surgery I was only slightly awake, and I’m told that I kept bursting out about my uterus and how I have one still. I could barely keep my eyes open, the peep of sunset I saw from my mountain view room was so joyful,  and it felt like my little town was celebrating with me.

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here we are celebrating. yay!

In addition to having a ten inch incision on my belly I woke up feeling like all my insides were bruised. I hadn’t really thought through all the kinds of pain I would get to learn about. I have never prayed so much in the bathroom; digestion is really important guys, really important.  Lots of nice people came to visit me in the hospital, many visits I percoset slept through, some I chatted with, most of the visits I tried not to laugh during (laughter is only the best medicine if you didn’t just have abdominal surgery).  Many cookies were eaten and it was a good time for all.

I’ve taken up residence on our new couch and I’m 4 seasons deep into Downton Abbey, and I’m catching up on my saved episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I am extremely grateful and ever so indebted to the dog walking friends, the food bringing friends, and the visiting episode watching friends, and the drive me places friends. Grateful for the Mom who does what only a mom can do. The guy who made the vows…I’m really thankful for him. My groom sees me at my worst when I’m whiny and not tough and it seems that he still likes me. He’s stringing up Christmas lights right now to bring holiday cheer in here!

 

 

Sometimes you get the bear,Sometimes the bear gets you.

As i have tried to make my journey transparent it seems necessary to tell you how i am processing this last week before surgery. I cry a lot. Usually without provoking.  I speak out loud “its going to be okay” every time i worry.  Also: So many hot flashes (because of the Lupron injection, it seems to be in its prime). I like to imagine that the fibroids shrink a little with each flash. I dress in layers so that I can withstand the constant heat from within my body and then cover back up when the reality of our current temperature, 36 degrees, hits my flesh.

i have so much to be thankful for. I do try to focus on the positive. I receive every word of encouragement that comes my way, every “you’re going to do great”i take to heart and let it sink in. I have prepared as much as i think one can for such a transition. But i’m not ready…i don’t want to…waaahhh. I feel like this.20150306_001136

One of the things that seems crazy to me is how seriously my tribe is taking my surgery. Everyone is so kind to listen to my complaints and offer to help and honestly ask how i’m doing. There are terrible horrible injustices and tragedies taking place across the headlines of our news. Awful things that really matter and should truly warrant friendsgiving dinner discussions; and here i’m carrying on about having an operation on my uterus and my people are listening as if it was very important. i’m trying to keep myself in perspective, to let the thing be small. The longer the date takes to arrive the less small my uterus seems. If you are the owner and operator of  a uterus you may know how very not small they sometimes seem.

I’m scared of any number of things that might happen. I don’t like to admit that i will need help sitting on the potty because my abs have been sliced open and are healing. I fear that my sweet groom will tire of taking care of me and hold my weakness against me in years to come. I’m Truly disinterested in depending on the generosity of my closest people to get me through this. The stretching of my boundaries has begun and its uncomfortable. I’m scared of being needy, of being incapable of doing my favorite things, of missing out on all the cool holiday parties. I’m just a mess guys.

Here is right where i see Jesus.

I cannot understand what He is doing, which does not make me distrust Him. Confident that there is a bigger picture, a greater good, a story whose ending is not in focus, i lay my head down on my pillow tonight. I rest easy, with my eyes closed and my trust expanding.  I can not choose every adventure, I can choose to live every moment of this chapter with joy. yeah. i said joy. call me cray.

When my babies are old enough to understand sentances tell them i gave up cheese so they could grow in my womb. Tell them i was scared to have surgery. Tell them i hoped they would join my family even though i’m a weirdo. Tell them i loved them before they existed, before they could ever get grounded, or spanked, or lectured. Tell them i faced my insecurities and fears and laid them down at the throne for them.

I’m going to sleep now. I’m going to dream absurd Lupron dreams. (that is is its own post, so many odd dreams) I’m going to freak out sometimes this week and maybe the weeks that follow, please have grace with me. I’m doing the best i can to hold it together. I’m going to smile a lot also, sometimes when i’m alone. Sometimes you fall on your head, some times your head falls on you, in the end there’s no apologies. thank you to my community for not making me feel like an idot. especially to my groom for constantly reassuring me that everything is going to be ok, (some one say that to him this week) i picked the right guy to be in the foxhole with.

use the sleeves of my sweater, let’s have an adventure

When i was young I was existentially opposed to talking about the weather. It seemed to me shallow, and that any meaningful conversation was not to be started with talk of whether it is raining and how wet everything is. As I have been forced to grow up some I can see that the weather is something we all experience and thus can be the beginning of connecting with a stranger. Meaningful conversations can only occur if one human is connected to the other. So lets apply meaning to our visit today by starting with how incredibly long the Autumn has been here in Central Oregon. Thursday is “remember remember the 5th of November” and we have yet to see the snow fly here in town. While I have the Egg Nog chilled and ready to drink for the next season, I’m really enjoying the showy changing of leaves in my neighborhood. Come down to the far end of Delaware ave and see the large perfectly symmetrical maple tree in its brightest yellow flood of color. You’ll thank me.

ad·ven·ture: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
There has been much talk of adventure in my tribe. “Ships are safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are built for” John A. Shedd from Salt in my Attic. We are encouraging one another to untie our ships and see what awaits us a few hundred miles from shore. My groom and I feel that we have been at sea for a while. This adventure is not particularly fun as some of our adventures have been. I resonate more with the hazardous description. With a heavy dose of optimism we are finding our way through what seems like a little storm.
We went to the pre-op appointment yesterday and got some happy answers to our most brow furrowing questions.  Like “can i see the little punks after you take them out” and “will my intestines ever be on the outside of my body”.  (yes, and no) The thing I was looking least forward to confirming is that I will in fact spend definitely one, probably two, and possibly three nights in the hospital. I wrestled with that as I tried to fall asleep in my dark room last night. Today I have concluded that the real reason is that I will have to receive around the clock care from strangers, depending on them to help me with normal things. I’m a nurturer by nature, I have chosen 3 career paths that are overtly care taking. Accepting nurturing is not my best position. I know I’m not alone because I spend a fair amount of time convincing people that they need me to take care of them; “thank you for trusting me” is how I close each massage session. So I’ll take some of my own medicine and imagine that my possibly 3 days in the hospital is like a retreat for me… Spa weekend! Okay, maybe not quite a spa weekend, you get the idea: Positive visualization.
A word about drugs. I took the Lupron injection after a blissful two weeks in France. It has made me constantly overheated, and wicked tired. Like fall asleep halfway through a glass of red wine while watching my favorite show at 8  pm kind of tired. At first it also made my heart beat all caddywumpus, and ruined my appetite. (both of which have passed now) It seems to be doing the shrinking job though. If you are person who asks God for things for other people, i would like to solicit your petitions for extremely shrunken fibriods by surgery day- which is November 25th. The smaller they are the better chance i have at having a reconstruct-able uterus. Overall not that bad of an Rx if you ask me.
Lastly many of you have offered to help and i can’t say how lucky i feel to have a tribe like that. Its hard to imagine needing help, and in what way really. I have been ordered to drink 4 cups of bone broth daily after surgery for 10 days. So maybe homemade bone broth would be helpful since that’s a lot of cooking for my groom. ( i guess i can make some now, but i don’t have that big of a freezer!) I will certainly be concerned about my little dog, so if anyone likes to walk dogs it would be a relief to know that my creature is being cared for as i am incapacitated. If you think stopping by the hospital to visit a lady in recovery would be fun on Thanksgiving or black friday then you are invited. I’m not a person who likes being alone much, and even if  two of you just catch up with each other as i doze in and out of consciousness i would feel like i had a party in my room and that would be funner than being all alone with nurses and machines. I’ll make cookies the day before i go in for visitors, k? k.
Really and truly thanks for following along with my journey. I’m still scared, but knowing that people think i’m brave makes me feel like i can go forward from here. I hope the snow does come, and soon. My life always seems to reflect in the seasons, does that happen to you? While the snow can be a bother to drive in, and to shovel, and for the heating bill, it seems worth it to me. The soft white silence it brings, the floaty way the flakes fly, and the way it makes you want to cuddle up together is its reward. I’m ready for winter, and for holding still, and for *gulp* being taken care of. But really though, come to my end of Delaware and see the colors before they’ve fallen.
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Its okay in the clouds, But I love it right here with my feet on the ground

I’m staring at the cold floor of the treatment room. There is familiar artwork on the walls here which reminds me I’m in a normal place, a place where my friends have been. He is looking over my images and reports, and my husband is with me because he participates in all things, but I can’t make any sentences I just space out looking at the cold floor. When he comes back in the room he’s only halfway through the door with a printout for me; he says “how long can you keep up this diet and herbs routine?” He proceeds to congratulate me on roughly 30% shrinkage, saying that he has not ever seen “the natural route” yield results. He asks the name of the Naturopath and Acupuncturist, and is genuinely surprised that I have become such a smaller version of myself. I don’t really receive the compliment, because I’m sure there’s a but…

There’s no but.

It occurred to me only last night that the smaller they are the better chances I have of keeping my uterus in tact and using it in my future. Smaller may not be enough, smallest is the only option that really bears the fruit I want. So if there is more than one way to shrink these punks, i need it. Even if its a pharmaceutical. When I reveal my thought process to him, he agrees that its the best option and he seems pleased that i came to it on my own thinking. I really wanted it to be his fault though. I wanted him to say “well kate, this has been a fun experiment, but i think its time for the big guns”. He didn’t say “your clock is ticking, you better get going in the family direction if you’re going”, and he wasn’t in a hurry to get to the next patient. He talked scotch with my husband, and we laughed about what a funny character a mutual friend is. He is not the bad guy.

So I’ve scheduled my Lupron Injection for right after we come home from France, and my surgery 8 weeks after that. The Lupron shuts down hormone production (giving the patient false menopause) and without the estrogen to feed off of the fibroids shrink by 50% in just 8 weeks. So I have 12 more weeks of this diet reducing the size of my unwanted growths, coupled with the drug I should have tiny little pearls that need to be removed. Which will be really easy on my uterus, and the recovery will be faster, and then I can get to the baby carrying part.

It all sound so matter of fact. Its a plan. We’ve made our decision. Lets proceed. I feel powerful that the intention i made to shrink them, and the work I put into that was successful. All that time I was thinking that I was doing it to avoid the chemical shrinker. Feels like i might have been lying to myself, but i was so focused I couldn’t see a bigger picture. Truth is I”m scared. Scared of taking injections, of turning off my hormones, of being cut open, of taking time off work, of not being a strong dancer again. The thing I’m more scared of is not having a baby, which I’ve been hoping would be my blessing almost as long as I’ve been alive. Some of you remember when I was 7 and telling people what I will name my babies. So with fear I step into a strange new chapter of my life where everything becomes about my insides, and what doctors think of them.

If you are reading this and you have fibroids, and you have a couple years to spare before you want to grow a human inside you: Go Paleo, be strict, and maybe you can shrink them to nothing. See a naturopath for supplements that will help you make the most of your digestion, and an acupuncturist for Chinese herbs and treatments that make you feel like you can win. You can. I just did.

If you are reading this and you have had babies after fibroids, please message me. I’m craving reports of success.

If you are still reading this and you have nothing in common with my uterine journey, you must be doing it because you love me. Thanks. I can feel that. All that positive energy, all those thoughts you have of caring about my guts, and what weird thing i might tell you about them next. I seriously love how not alone I feel. You rock, buy yourself something nice for being so nice to me-or open a bottle of champagne. (that’s what we did after this appointment) ooooh oooh, i’m going to end with a lyric from Stephen Kellogg’s song Gravity.

“Celebrate, before it’s too late
Your fear of the future’s your greatest mistake
Here’s a song, we sing it out loud
And ain’t nothing as sweet as the sound of a crowd” IMG_20150306_145605

One slice of perspective to go, hold the cheese please.

Its been 5 weeks without dairy entering my mouth-hole. with the love and support of my friends and my fabulous partner i have survived. The acupuncturist says i have a dampness in my body that is creating excess phlegm, and that’s why i have fibroids. Cheese is the main perpetrator of dampness. I’m taking something like 21 supplements with breakfast, 2 with lunch and 11 with dinner. I’m also collecting my saliva in tiny vials to be mailed off and analyzed by hormone scientists. Also i must mention that i’m drinking a tincture of many many many herbs half an hour before each meal. My new healthcare regime has become quite high maintenance. I’m doing breathing exercises in my garden most mornings and trying to go to bed at a respectable hour.  I’m very aware of everything pertaining to my body, and its starting to feel self focused.

But that’s not all. the world keeps turning, and time keeps ticking, and life keeps handing us things.Someone i love lost their brother to suicide, another loved one was diagnosed with ALS, and my lovely father in law is making progress in his healing from the scare in February where we almost lost him. I try not to carry these things, as they are not mine. What i try to do is make sense of suffering, of pain, of loss. I think of Jesus in the garden the night before he was betrayed. “Father everything is possible for you.Take away this cup from me; yet not as i will but what you will.” My prayers are often similar, i find that i’m begging for healing for my friend with ALS. “do a great miracle” i say “this is your chance to shine” i say with my most persuasive tone. What is the Father took the cup of suffering from his son…what if Jesus did not die . Where would all of humanity be? If you believe what i believe about the Cross, that the purpose was for Him to defeat death once and for ALL, the history and future of humanity would be drastically different. What i hope this means about my lumpy uterus and the bad news i find around each corner, is that suffering is worth something. But what i know that it means, is that God knows suffering. He gets it, because he did some suffering while he was here.

Why does that matter? Because the creator of the universe, gets me. He walked among us experiencing the human condition, even the unjust treatment that was his brutal death. I keep saying “its not fair” and He knows that. I can’t explain why he doesn’t save us from these gross unfairities. (yeah i make up words when i’m passionate,ok?) The other thing is that God is God, i’m just kp. Do i know how to “keep the sea inside its boundaries, and clothe it with clouds, and wrap it in thick darkness” have i ever “commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east” nope. I just brush my teeth and drink coffee in the morning. For now I will let Him just be Himself, and i’ll just be me. Little old whiny, begging, me. Complaining about giving up cheese and ice cream for a while. The God i worship knows things i do not know, could not know, probably don’t want to know. What I know is that My name is Katharine, and I am not alone. Not. Alone.

not wishing for rain , though I stand in the desert

every day this week was like its own week. Tiny little pokes of light in between what seemed like a constant deluge of water falling from the sky. usually i like the rain, cleansing and renewing and all that jazz. But this week it felt like the weather was playing out my heart story. today, saturday, is a new day the forecast is sunshine and only a few clouds. The sky is a strange bright grey right now, and everything in my desert landscape is green! This also matches my insides.

Several people reached out to me after i wrote my first post, which is honestly what i was hoping for. voices of guidance and stories of hope and a whole bunch of “we’re on your team” which made me feel like this is not that bad after all. Neither of the Dr’s i saw said i can’t have babies, no one told me i have a weird unknown disease, no one said they couldn’t operate. In fact what they said was i think you have a pretty good chance at getting your dreams here. Cue the Wicked Soundtrack Flashback…

Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
Well – not “simply”
‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost

One of the things that was heavy is that the Dr. wants me to take this drug that will shrink the fibroids to a more surgically triumphant size. As they are now everything in there is a jumbled mess and difficult to decipher whats what, and who’s the perpetrator and who’s the warden. I’m not a super big fan of injecting drugs into my body. I like hippie stuff like diet and nutrition and essential oils and herbs and NOT DRUGS. This particular medicament gives you menopause symptoms including but not limited to….hours of research later i’m terrified. I begin (again) to research alternate ways to shrink the beasts. Which I have already tried to do for two years with the opposite result. Cue the Ramona and Beezus line…

I’m about to say a really bad word.

GUTS! guts,guts,guts!

Friday night, at the very end of the night,at the last possible minute of the night I hear the words that I was looking for all week.

“How was your appointment Monday Kp?”

“Good except He wants me to take this drug to shrink them”

“Oh, Lupron? I did that, for a year, and if i hadn’t i wouldn’t have been able to have kids”

But…but, your normal and your 3 pregnancies were healthy, and you don’t have a long list of strange symptoms that never went away and changed your life forever. Oh. Ok. Living testimony is worth its weight in gold. I’m only asked to take it for 2 months. Don’t you think for a second that i’m not going to spend my summer making tree bark tea, and snake venom supplements, and whatever else my naturopath suggests will help me win the war against my own body.(don’t worry mom, i made those up) After I’ve tried all those things, I may have to take the drug after all. If I do, i have a compatriot to commiserate with; and 3 kind of fabulous humans to watch grow as a reminder that for this one person, it worked. For me it is possible.

So today, we eat bacon, and we drink hot coffee, and we dance. Because today there’s a sploosh of sunshine on my sprouting garden and there is a chance i may just thrive after all. My groom says to me “you look like you’re ready to kick some ass, don’t go all super trooper on me, i want to help too.”  Ok then, lets get at it.

the second opinion

It’s raining and i’m on my covered porch wrapped in a blanket my auntie made me as a wedding gift. I’m drinking red wine and trying to absorb the beauty that the rained on lilacs are emitting. My second opinion is in the morning, it took nearly a month to get this appointment and i plan to take cupcakes as a thank you for the very popular doctor who accepted my case. Tomorrow we will have a plan, or the correct information to formulate a plan. This rainy evening is the last without direction. At least that’s my hope.

I wake up at six even though the appointment isn’t till eleven. There’s no coffee, so we will have to go out. It smells like zesty orange and vanilla miniature cupcakes in my house. An alarm goes off on my phone, my groom asks if i’m ready for the appointment that is an hour from now. Ready as I’ll ever be. How does one ready oneself?

Still raining. Now drinking sparkling wine. its 5:30 and we have a plan. Its surgery, probably in August. I have 15 non life threatening growths on my uterus, which is as big as 20 weeks pregnant. The largest is bigger than a grapefruit, but i like grapefruits, so i’m going to say its as big as 2 VHS tapes stacked together, because who cares about VHS tapes. Today I don’t mind the rain.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time deciding what to do with these things. I’ve had the fibroids for  3 years so i know them well. What I didn’t know is that I can’t use my uterus for growing humans until i take the fibriods out, at least not safely. I tried acupuncture and essential oils and nutrition and supplements, but still they thrive. I have been mad, sad, indifferent, and now i’m experiencing acceptance. I have decided i will have to get a little tougher, be a little stronger, and face them with a little more gusto.

I’m still afraid of being cut wide open. Of complications during surgery that might result in hysterectomy. Of the things coming back before i can get a kid to grow in there. I have really spectacular people in my world who are encouraging me and believing in me and being patient with my soggy mood. My groom is beside me, he reminds me that although God may not rescue us from circumstances that cause suffering- He gives us occasion for festivity and the opportunity to flourish during hard times. And so we raise a glass of bubbles, and say “here’s to whatever comes” and drink L’Chaim.

A Blog about Guts & Uterine Management