I believe in doctors and am super impressed by what they do, but sometimes they just don’t give you the whole story. I don’t blame them, our society as a whole has a thing when it comes to talking about our weird, wonderful, and disgusting bodies. I hung on my doctor’s every word, read every pamphlet, and even did some research on the internet (webmd is awesome – they don’t try to scare the hell out of you), but still wasn’t completely prepared for my hysterectomy.
My hysterectomy was what they call non-invasive which means that I had three small incisions, two on either side of my lower belly and one in my belly button. They removed my uterus, my fallopian tubes, and a fibroid tumor measuring in at about eight centimeters. This type of hysterectomy cuts down on the recovery time and severity by a bunch. The only bummer part is that you don’t have any scars worthy of having a body part removed. It seems anti-climactic.
Here’s my list of what I wished I knew:
Prepare to slow way down. After the first few days you might feel pretty good, but don’t let it fool you. You will pay in pain and exhaustion if you overdo it. When the doctor says that full recovery will take four to six weeks, she means it. First, listen to your body. It warns you with a twinge of pain, a bit of swelling, or even a weird tightness across your midsection. If any of these occur, stop whatever it is you’re doing and relax. Second, become a nap taker. If you’ve never taken naps, enjoy the fact that you can now and your family has to let you – doctor’s orders. In short, your uterus, even though it’s gone, is still going to dictate your daily routine for a bit. You should let it have its last hurrah.
Slowing down is not the same as becoming stagnant. Walking as much as you can is a great idea. Your doctor will tell you this. At first, just a trip around the house feels like a two hour workout. You can increase it a little bit each day. When you walk around the block for the first time, you will feel like the winner of the Boston Marathon. Avoid sitting, especially upright, for long periods of time. Do you know how long Hamlet is? I do, three hours and thirteen minutes. By the end of the first hour sitting in a hard plastic patio chair, I felt like I was in labor. By the end, I was right there with the characters writhing in pain after being poisoned. To move, or not to move, that is the question. Move!
Take the drugs. Don’t be me where you do this stupid thing and believe you are super tough and can handle pain without pharmaceutical help. You’ll learn quickly that you need the drugs. After all, a body part was removed. Your body has to deal with that and it’s going to be painful. I only did the heavy duty drugs and the anti-nausea meds for the first couple days. After that, Aleve became my best friend. Getting and staying ahead of pain is a real thing. Your body will let you know when it’s ready to abandon the meds.
Pooping is an issue. Religiously take the stool softeners the doctor gives you. In short, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or poop, in this case. Know that mere softening may not be enough and you may have to move up to more invasive measures. I had my first experience with Milk of Magnesia. I will say here that movies like Dumb and Dumberdo not exaggerate the laxative experience. If you get to the point of needing this kind of help, you don’t care how explosive your body becomes. Passing gas hurts, pooping hurts, but it’s better than allowing your body to keep that stuff captive for too long. Like the other hysterectomy nuances, this doesn’t last for long.
Peeing feels weird. It’s really not that I’m obsessed with bodily functions, I promise. It’s just that all these things happen in the same general area as where your uterus used to be. Weird is the best word I can come up with to describe how peeing feels. Peeing is not painful, but it’s not, not painful. See, weird. I did ask my doctor about this one. She told me that she hears the weird pee thing a lot. And it makes sense. The uterus and the bladder are right next to one another. It goes away after a few weeks, and then you become a champion pee-er, even better than you were before.
I actually can’t believe I’m writing this one, and I’m going to be really embarrassed if I’m the only woman who experienced this. I actually felt some sexual arousal during the healing process. Not only is that crazy, but it’s incredibly cruel because you can only imagine following that urge would lead to unimaginable pain. It could possibly ruin sex forever! This is definitely the time you need to get up and move. Give your lady parts something else to do.
There are some Hell’s Fridays involved with a hysterectomy, but all in all, it wasn’t bad. The best part of the whole experience was when I handed over all my monthly “treats” to my teenage daughters and really realized that I don’t need that crap anymore!
The dictionary says ‘hyster’ means womb, and ‘ectomy’ means remove. Makes sense, until you think of the words hysteria and hysterical which in essence both mean bat-shit crazy. Anyway, the point is that not only did you have your uterus removed, but also your crazy. Our language is super sexist, isn’t it?
I would love to hear your hysterectomy experience, so leave a comment!
For my grandma, who I called Gram, naps were for lazy folks, meditation was for hippies, and too much TV would rot your brain. Relaxation for her meant working with her hands and creating something. The only way to relieve stress, to exorcise the Hell’s Fridays, was a project that required sweat equity.
Gram’s favorite project was making bread once a week. She hummed or talked to whoever was in the kitchen as she threw dry ingredients into one bowl and liquids into another. There was no recipe, and the use of measuring cups and spoons was optional. I remember bits and pieces of this part of the process. I think potato water was involved because Gram took living in Idaho very seriously. I also remember the artist’s care she took when creating the crater in the flour mixture for the liquids.
What I will never forget, and the part that taught me all I needed to know about relieving stress, was the kneading. When Gram spread a handful of flour onto her yellow formica countertop, I knew it was time for reverent silence. She placed the dough gently on the counter and gave it a few reassuring pats. Gram took a deep, complete upper body breath and closed her eyes. Then she thrust the palm of her hand violently into the doughy mass and pummelled the hell out of that dough exactly one hundred times. If I listened closely I could hear her counting under her breath. Breadmaking was how Gram reached nirvana, recharged her chi, released the dopamine in her brain, and simply prepared for another week of life.
Exercise is awesome, drinking is divine, even watching TV is great, but if I really need a break from my brain and the thoughts coursing through there, I take on a project. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it. I don’t do baking. For me, it’s like the Indigo Girls song says, “I gotta get out of bed/Get a hammer and a nail/Learn how to use my hands/Not just my head.”
As a sixth grade English teacher, I absolutely became an expert on the fidget spinner. After much experience and hands on research, I will say upfront that I am not a fan. At first, I was open to them because they promised student focus in my classroom. Like many things, however, the agenda for fidget spinner owners became much different than advertised. Kids really want them for the following reasons:
Hypnosis by fidget spinner. Many a student became stupefied by the blur of spinning color, the soft whirring, and the gentle breeze kissing their faces. Perhaps if I’d studied the ways of hypnotists I would have known how to manipulate my students. As it was, I couldn’t bring them back from wherever they had gone.
Temperature control. Spin them fast enough and a fidget spinner becomes a personal fan. A room full of sixth graders this spring looked more like a room full of menopausal women experiencing hot flashes.
An experience in capitalism and criminal activity. Students bought, sold, and traded fidget spinners. Sounds innocent enough, but middle school brains took over. For some, stealing was the easiest way to get the coolest spinners. Others formed a spinner cartel to restrict competition and keep their profits high. And, perhaps most shocking of all, the time-honored middle school rule of no tradebacks was eliminated.
To throw. Even with the risk of losing your fidget spinner forever, the urge to throw a spinner like a Ninja star, or to see if it could fly like a helicopter, became too strong. We all found out, a multitude of times, that a spinning plastic object does hurt if it hits you, and fidget spinners do not make good propellers.
Make a monotonous noise. If thirty spinners spin in unison, it creates a sound that reminds one of being in a beehive. For the adult ear, this leads to massive headaches and facial tics. The advanced fidget spinners figured out that for a more robust, dentist drill like sound, you can place your fidget spinner under the hand dryer in the bathroom.
I gave fidget spinners my best shot, but in the end, I, like many other teachers, banned them from the classroom. I emailed my parents to let them know of my decision, but also said that if they felt like their student needed the spinner to focus, they could contact me. I got zero replies which tells me that parents knew what their kids were up to. Even the “experts” found that fidget spinners don’t help focus, unless you’re talking about focus on the fidget spinner itself. Click here for an article on the subject. Fidget spinners had a good run, but I’m really hoping that by the time the new school year rolls around they will have lost their appeal. Well, fidget spinners, here’s to the biggest Hell’s Friday of the 2016-2017 school year!
Hell’s Friday may be an odd name for a blog. Particularly a blog that I intend to be not at all hellish. ‘Hell’s Friday’ is actually a catch phrase my grandmother used often. As a kid growing up in a very small, very Mormon, very conservative Idaho town, I liked when Gram said ‘Hell’s Friday’ because it felt rebellious, perhaps even a bit dangerous. And, there’s nothing quite like a good ‘Hell’s Friday’ to express an emotion that’s somewhere between a ‘damn’ and a real get-your- mouth-washed-out-with-soap cuss word.
Hell’s Fridays are those instances that leave us frustrated, irritated, and surprised. It’s also the Hell’s Fridays that make life interesting, and often funny. And, of course, it is through those Hell’s Fridays that we learn those lessons we need to make it through this thing called life.
I Googled ‘Hell’s Friday’ once. After spending way too much time digging into some obscure scholarly work on the history of England, and watching clips from Monty Python movies, I found the meaning was not quite as optimistic as my own. Hell’s Friday, according to one scholar, was the day during the plague that the cart came through to pick up the dead. Like “Ring Around the Rosie”, I think the meaning probably evolved as time went on. At least I hope so because I want this blog to be helpful and humorous for the reader.
Hell’s Friday, let’s do this thing!
Watch the “Bring Out Your Dead” clip from Monty Python: