Catch Up

I feel like I have left some parts of my life un-updated of late. So, just in case you were wondering:

I had my last post-surgery check-up seven weeks after my hysterectomy. The doctor had predicted four to six weeks for the internal healing to complete. So she was a little surprised (but not alarmed) that my internal stitches had not dissolved yet. No big deal, everything looked fine, I just needed to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for two more weeks. To be honest I felt perfectly well and wasn’t sure I had still been avoiding heavy lifting! But, everything is good.

I have opted to hold off on hormone replacement therapy for now. While I am 100% positive the hysterectomy was the right choice, now I am not sure I need HRT. No hot flashes, sleeping well and the hormonal roller coaster has been reduced to the kiddie version. Not sure if that is the St. John’s Wort or just my body changing on it’s own. So for now I just wait and see what happens.

I am making progress with weight loss, yeah! I am down to 140 pounds. The intermittent fasting works. I don’t have a hard and fast routine but take it day by day. Most days I only eat one or two meals. I wait until I am really hungry and don’t worry about what time it is. I have found that ignoring the first hunger pangs and drinking some water or tea is pretty easy and effective.

I think the other key to success is I try and eat what I really want. The cravings have ended. And surprisingly I don’t want junk food so much. I often eat salads or omelettes or a simple meal (say grilled pork chop, baked yam and veg). I don’t worry about carbs or sugar but I do try and eat whole, real food. And when I do want something sweet I keep homemade brownies and cookies in the freezer. I am hoping to lose about two more pounds but I am not stressing over it, I trust it will happen in time.

I mentioned I was working for the Census Bureau here. And I mentioned how hot it was. And then it got humid. And I found myself walking 15k steps one morning in triple digit heat. And the next day? Not so much. So I had to quit. I felt bad but I was not the first to quit that week because of the weather. They were sorry to lose me and said I was one of their better workers.

What I did learn was that I rather enjoyed working part-time and I am currently pursuing some other options.

I think that covers all the big stuff! Have a great week!

More on the Rock

I think menopause is like childbirth. Once you are on the other side all the gory details quickly recede from memory.” – Tracey: April 17, 2019

So I had my follow up appointment with my doctor and it went very well. For one thing she explained about how in the last appointment she could really only do the pap smear because the insurance company won’t let you schedule one appointment for two things, like talk about menopause and a pap smear.

So we had a good talk about all my symptoms (which I had written down and she made a copy of) and she did the biopsy and scheduled me for an ultrasound later in the week. And she said we will see a lot of each other until we get things figured out.

ONE WEEK LATER

I get my results back from various tests:

  1. My FSH level is now 12. (Up from 6.7 last time, down from 22 two years ago.)
  2. My ultrasound showed three fibroids.
  3. My ultrasound also showed a 7mm thick lining of the uterus indicating I am not in menopause.
  4. My biopsy showed polyp cells.

MY INITIAL REACTIONS

  1. Considering how bitchy I feel right now I am sure another FSH test today would be back in the 20’s.
  2. Oh, these must be the culprits of all my woes!
  3. What? I never thought I was in menopause.
  4. What? I thought I was being tested for endometrial cancer.

REACTIONS AFTER SOME THINKING AND A BIT MORE RESEARCH

  1. FSH is not rational. And how does one manage Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) if your levels are all over the place?*
  2. Something like 70% of women have fibroids and mine seem pretty small (if I remember correctly) so probably not an issue.*
  3. Ah, I think the doctor was making sure I wasn’t in menopause and all the bleeding was caused by polyps/fibroids. It would be pretty funny (not) if I actually was in menopause already and just didn’t know it.
  4. Well, maybe I was tested for cancer too but she was looking for polyps which she found. Am I the only one who hears biopsy and thinks cancer? *

I am writing down all my questions so I don’t forget anything.*

From the on-line ‘Sketchbook Revival’ I am participating in.

ONE WEEK BEFORE THE NEXT APPOINTMENT

I must confess I think I am secretly hoping she says, yup, you need a hysterectomy. How does May 20th sound? (After bowling season ends and just before school lets out.) Perfect. And then we’ll set you up with HRT and by Flag Day (June 14th) you’ll be right as rain. But I am pretty sure major surgery is not going to be the first option.

My biggest fear is that I will spend months/years being miserable while various drugs and uncomfortable procedures are carried out and in the end I end up getting a hysterectomy anyway.

In the meantime I am surviving one day at a time. I’ll watch “Poirot” and work in my sketchbook and listen to Cubs baseball.

AFTER THE APPOINTMENT

It was a good visit despite being 30 minutes late. My doctor had two patients in labor so I didn’t get upset. Even crazy hormonal me can’t be mad at tiny babies trying to be born. And once the appointment started she was very focused and explained everything. I got all my questions answered and we have decided on a course of treatment: I am getting a hysterectomy!

I have a large polyp in a bad place and something about a clearly visible blood vessel feeder. So that is why I am having such long/heavy bleeding. I could just have the polyp removed but then I couldn’t have HRT and there is a chance I would just get another polyp. I can’t have HRT because of the fibroids. They are small now but HRT may make them grow and then they would cause bleeding.

By having the hysterectomy I can have HRT for my other symptoms. I won’t have to worry about uterine cancer (another potential HRT risk), fibroids or polyps and no more periods!

Once the insurance company gives the okay I will schedule the operation. It is done robotically, four small incisions, one night in the hospital and about 2 weeks recovery time. I won’t be able to drive for a week or two or swim for four to six weeks. I am dithering between before or after our planned summer vacation.

After the surgery my doctor and I can figure out the HRT. Apparently the FSH level is ignored and she goes strictly by symptoms. So it sounds like there may be some trial and error there.

There is a plan, an end in sight. I am sure once I schedule the surgery and it gets closer other feelings will be generated but for now I will enjoy my feeling of relief.

I don’t know why but I am absurdly happy with this sketch.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

You probably don’t want to read this post. It is full of frustration and indecision and fear. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day or good mood so seriously, you don’t have to read this. But I have to write this. I have to get all this out of my head and throw it into the universe. I am secretly hoping by doing this that I will magically be shown the path I should take. So here goes.

I had my doctor’s appointment on Friday and I got what I wanted, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Only now I am afraid to take it. Let me start with the doctor. I have seen her a few times but I don’t really feel comfortable with her. I can’t be positive but she looks like she has had plastic surgery (face lift kind) and something that plumps lips. And she has blonde hair that looks dyed. I feel like I am looking at a Barbie doll. I am not questioning her competency or intelligence but it made me uneasy looking at her.

Secondly the office was really crowded and she was running rather late (I thought) for a 10:00am appointment. Things felt rather rushed I realized later. She asked me about getting tested for the breast cancer gene, how I wanted the therapy delivered and we talked the cost of bio-identicals. Bam, Bam Bam.

When I climbed into bed Friday night I realized I had made a pretty big decision in a rushed and ill-informed manner. I panicked and then told myself it wasn’t set in stone.

We were very busy Saturday, lots of errands and by the time we got home I was exhausted. I laid down on the bed and started crying. The fact that I am in a lose-lose situation hit home. I suppose an important fact I should add here is that my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 33. There can be no doubt that colors how I think.

And now it is Sunday morning. Spouse and small child went up to Phoenix for the Nascar race so I have the whole day to myself. I am still in my jammies, still in bed with my name on a homemade blueberry muffin. (Just waiting to digest my thyroid meds, about 1 hour.)

So let’s run through some scenarios:

SCENARIO ONE: I get tested for the breast cancer gene, find I have it and decline HRT. Now I get to continue to feel miserable and hear the ticking time bomb ALL THE TIME.

SCENARIO TWO: I get tested, don’t have it and take HRT. I feel better but still worry because frankly it seems like nothing conclusive has been discovered about HRT and cancer without the gene.

SCENARIO THREE: I don’t get tested and take the HRT. Will I still feel better? Or will all the worry about probably triggering cancer cells (if I have them) cancel that out?

SCENARIO FOUR: I don’t get tested and I don’t take HRT leaving me right where I am now. All I can do is hope that once menopause kicks in I feel better. Let’s say that takes another 2 1/2 years at most. (I’ll be 55 then, surely I will be in menopause?!) I have already survived 2 1/2 years of this craziness. My biggest fear is that the mood swings and irregular periods and hot flashes are going to get so much worse before subsiding. That is what triggered looking for help in the first place. I am afraid I am going to get worse and have the summer from hell. Life is too short to lose a whole summer if you don’t have to.

SCENARIO FIVE: I accept the crazy situation and move to a one room cabin (two with the bathroom) up in the mountains on a lake. I walk around the lake and do a photography project where I take a picture of the same tree everyday and document the changes until I am done with this phase of life. There are no inconveniences and keeping warm with just a woodstove is a piece of cake. I eat healthy by default only shopping at farmer’s markets and local places. I sleep when I am tired and hardly ever have to clean as it is just me. Okay, this isn’t a viable scenario but it is in my head so I am putting it out there.

And then there is the as yet unknown scenario. I think about how the anti-depressant made me so sick and wonder if I should try St. John’s Wort? Studies appear somewhat inconclusive but it is used a lot more in Europe. And yet I find myself hesitating. Has anyone out there used it? Can you share if it worked or not?

My biggest fear is what happens if I run out of hope? If have nothing left to try? I like to think I will be okay just soldiering on. If I continue the yoga and meditation and 10k steps I will survive one day at a time. And one day I will wake up and it will be like magic, my energy and enthusiasm and patience will be back.

For now I am holding tightly to that hope, it seems that is all I can do.

As for today, I will survive. Later I will get dressed and go to the library and pick up the copy of “Enchanted April” that I requested. A trip to Italy this afternoon seems to be just the thing. I have lots of happier posts to work on too and I figured out my next sketchbook idea which I am excited about. I will enjoy the peace and quiet and not having to cook. I’ll take a nap if I feel like it.

And now I wait patiently for the universe to send me my answer. Thank you for listening.