When you are reading this, I will be in an operating room having my lady box removed by a robot. For the last year or so, I have been dealing with the inevitable reality of having a hysterectomy. Severe menorrhagia that has left me so anemic I have needed blood transfusions, an ovary that has a very large cyst which causes searing pain in my side, and the fact that I’m done having children, has led me and my doctor to this operation. Other less invasive procedures haven’t worked for me, D&Cs, ablations, all gave me a few days of no bleeding before I resumed my role as an unwilling star of my very own menses horror movie, unable to leave my house because of the severity of my bleeding.
My life for the past year has been hundreds of dollars spent on tampons and pads, never-ending laundry and trips to the doctor and emergency room. I look like shit. I’m unusually pale. I’m always cold. I have no energy and I get dizzy walking to my mailbox, taking the dog out. Leaving my house require a purse full of feminine supplies and careful planning about where the bathrooms are located where I am going. I don’t go to the mall, to grocery stores. I’m always tired. I’m sick of taking iron supplements, the endless amounts of red meat I’ve eaten to try and compensate for the amount of blood I lose daily.
I’m sick of my children being witness to my blood. It’s everywhere. No matter how careful I am, how much “personal feminine protection” I use at once, there are always accidents, the puddles of blood on the bathroom floor or the stray drops after I get out of the shower. The one time I stood up to greet my teenager as he entered the kitchen after school, a surge of blood gushing from my uterus and soaking my jeans as I steadied myself against the counter and my husband rushed home to take me to the hospital.The blood clots the size of small kittens.
Lots of women have had hysterectomies. One third of all women before they turn 60. But no one talks about it. It’s a terribly unglamorous procedure. It’s viewed as a loss of womanhood, fertility, youth. There isn’t much sexy about it, unless you factor in the points you will no longer need birth control and you won’t be bleeding so much that having intercourse requires hurricane levels of mattress protection. If 20 million American woman have undergone a hysterectomy, why isn’t anyone talking about it? The only famous people who have talked openly about their hysterectomies are Fran Drescher, Beverly Johnson and Chaz Bono. Twenty million women and the only famous people admitting to it are two who haven’t been terribly famous for over 20 years and the offspring of a very famous person who had a hysterectomy for endometriosis.
We talk about everything in this country. We talk openly and bravely about our rapes, about our abortions, about everything having to do with our bodies, ourselves. Except the loss of our reproductive organs.