Monday, April 25, 2011

Blame It On the Uterus

Gentlemen, if you don't like hearing about womanly issues, read on at your own risk!  I intend to be very blunt in this post!  Consider yourselves warned!

Me with a uterus
A couple of years ago, due to health reasons, I had my uterus, ovaries and cervix removed.  I was in my late 40's and had already raised six children so I knew I wouldn't be having anymore kids.  I took a long time to discuss with my doctor, do the research and talk with my husband before I made my decision to have the surgery.  Afterwards, I began a regimen of a very low dose of bioidentical hormones.

Let me say right from the outset, that from the day after my surgery and going forward, I have felt better emotionally than I felt in years.  I seemed to experience a lightness and liberty that I hadn't known previously.  I became much bolder and clearer about what I want out of life and what I desire to accomplish.  I don't know what the medical or physical explanations for this are, but I just know it to be true in my case.

One of my favorite sayings by George Bernard Shaw is "Life is not about finding yourself.  It's about creating yourself."  And that's exactly what I've been doing since my surgery.  Maybe it's a combination of the surgery, kids being grown and gone and plain old freedom, but I've been on a journey of creating myself that shows no sign of stopping.  It seems strange to begin that journey in my early 50's.  You would think that is a path you start in your 20's.

But there is something about having a uterus and all that goes with it (if you're having children) that puts your path and your dreams on hold for a while.  Oh, I don't mean you can't have a career and a uterus at the same time.  Don't get your panties in a wad!  It's just that,  for me, even though I've had a career the past 30 years, my most important goal was making sure that six other little human beings in my care were set on their path, moving towards their dreams.  SO...losing my uterus was very symbolic for me, of a new journey that was moving towards MY dreams.

Me without a uterus
But, there is a downside to my hysterectomy that I wasn't prepared for at all.  My mother is gone so I didn't have her to warn me about the changes.  My doctor had told me of all other kinds of things to expect, but we never discussed what was about to happen to my body.  It has been a little shocking to say the least.  I used to look at women in their late 40's and early 50's and see the small, almost inperceptible changes and think, "Why are they letting that happen to themselves?"  Well, honey, I've joined the club!!!!

Let me just tell you about a few of the changes since surgery.  My hair has become thick and wiry and doesn't want to do anything it used to do when I styled it.  My skin...oh my skin...it looks like some worn out old leather.  When I look at my hands, I don't recognize them.  Then there's my nails.  They've become so thin and peely.  And the weight gain...well let's just say, I don't even want to talk about the weight gain.

My face, that's a story in itself.  First of all, I look tired, even when I'm not.  My skin sags here and there and my eyelids droop and fold down so far, I don't have any where to put eye shadow!  One morning I walked past a mirror, did a double take.  It was as though I was staring at a complete stranger!  Who was that person in the mirror?  I could really see my mother and my grandmothers in the reflection looking back at me.  At first I was horrified.  Then, I just laughed.  I remembered all the times I had looked at my older friends and wondered why they weren't taking better care of their skin and face.

While all of that is a little disconcerting and I don't look in the mirror too often now, I must say that I feel beautiful.  I really feel beautiful; from the inside out.  I really mean that.  I'm on a journey to places unknown to me yet.  Along the way, my skin will sag a bit more.  My hair will become even more unruly and my eyelids just might fall all the way down over my eyes!  But it will be MY  journey and my joys and my heartaches.  Hopefully, I can bring joy and encouragement to my family and friends along the way!

32 comments:

  1. Candid and moving.

    And love is always possible, as you show here--even when it seems the door has been shut, but then we keep that door ajar.

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  2. Yes, Mary! I'm keep the door open for all kinds of possibilities! Who knows what will come!

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  3. Ugh! It's all too true! Commiserating with you! Top that with chronic illness and the body falls apart! Oh, well! Praise the Lord I'm still alive! :D

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  4. I love this post, Erin. When I was in my late 20s, I was working with a woman who had just turned 50. I had jokingly asked her if it was a "tough" birthday since it was one of the milestone b-days. I didn't understand her response then, but I DO now (as I approach 40). She said, "Hell no! I'm happy. At 50, I know who I am. I'm more secure in myself and me - more than I've ever been. It's GREAT being 50." What a lesson I learned. I do think, the older I get, the more comfortable I become in my own skin, even if it's sagging, dry, peeling and not like it used to be.

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  5. Lynn, isn't it fun? ;) Melissa, that's so cool that you were challenged by that way back in your 20's! :) Now you will know what to expect and you won't be so shocked!!

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  6. Erin, I'm feeling your pain. I love the internal maturing but the body changes are not for the faint of heart. :)

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  7. Boy, you said it, Lisa! It's not for the faint-hearted. They sure don't say my daughter and I look like sisters anymore! HA!

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  8. You are just perfect and that's why I LOVE YOU!!!

    Amy

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  9. Erin,
    You are beautiful, inside and out!
    Don't get your panties in a wad! LOL! You're too much!
    So what all that exterior stuff is going on with us. It's just an old space suit (according to your dad's book) that we only need for a short time on this earth. When we get to heaven and have our glorified bodies, we won't even care what they look like, since we'll be eternally with Jesus.
    I had a hysterectomy in 1992 at only 40 years old. Then in 2005 I had my thyroid removed. What a double whammy! But despite the issues that go with both (no natural female hormones nor thyroid hormones), life is still beautiful. It's nice to not worry about body image. As long as we are trying our best to eat healthy, exercise, etc, I am going to keep on enjoying life until I take my last breath. Then, what a sweet release from the bondage of all this stuff! :)

    Love In Christ,

    Susan

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  10. My Dear Sweet friend Erin!!! I could not have said this any better!!! I am right there with you sista BUT you are right the real beauty is from the inside and now that I am in my mid fifty's I too am content with the woman that I have become and looking in the mirror I too see my Mom but to me that is wonderful....I love you!

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  11. You are beautiful, Tonya! I love you!

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  12. Whether you become big fat or ugly (I really can't see that happening!!) I will still love you! Janet

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  13. Thank you, Janet! Does that mean I don't have to hide my cellulite from you??? ;)

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  14. I hope you know how inspirational you are. Your positive attitude and sense of humor is reflected in every post, and I look forward to them. I'm glad that so many others are discovering you. Barbara

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  15. I love your blogs they ALWAYS make me smile and feel good :)))) Love you so much! Your sister, Kelly.

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  16. Erin - I loved it. I have not gone through the surgery, but I have been noticing the sames things. I'm not alone! KF

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  17. I'm not all that far behind you friend!

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  18. Erin we are hystersisters! I felt so much better after my surgery I can't believe I suffered for as long as I did. You ARE beautiful inside and out! Your kind, loving and a true friend! xoxo

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  19. I will throw you a party when you join the club, Angela!!

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  20. Thanks, Beth! We are hystersisters! I love that! Let's drink to that! Cheers!

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  21. Hi Erin, your post was quite entertaining and enlightening. I am going to share with one of my employees who just lost her uterus about 8 weeks ago just 2 months after a mastectomy so I think she would really benefit from your insights. Carol Mathews

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  22. Great job Erin! Loved your post - been there, done that (in 2000 lost the uterus!) and I'm feeling a lot of those feelings. Especially the kids (almost) grown & gone, and finding myself! You are a great writer! Xo Terri

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  23. "Erin - I loved this! I really connected with it and the stage I am in my life right now. It is hard to focus on your own path when you have a bazillion babies."
    Love ya!
    Stephany

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  24. Erin, you are precious and beautiful! I, too, am experiencing the "freedom" of my new life, my age, and my grown children. It is a strange thing to think... "Ok, now what do I want to do?" The sky is the limit! Ok, that is a bit of a scary thought, I admit, and certainly intimidating.

    For me, the hardest part was the FIRST step. But a dear friend told me, "God guides you as you are moving, not when you are at a standstill. He lights your path one step at a time. Choose something, take a step. If it's not the perfect fit, he will turn you another direction. In the process, look at all the new things you are experiencing!" How exciting! I think this former Baptist may even take DANCE lessons!

    Take lots of "first" steps! Have fun! Enjoy the ride!

    P.S. - The ladies at Sephora showed me some WONDERFUL products that are making my skin look young again! Hopefully soon I will look as young as I feel! :-)

    Love you,
    Jeannette A

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  25. Jeanette, thanks so much for the kind words! Please DO TELL the skin care secrets that Sephora shared with you!!!

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  26. I'm 58. My mother died when I was in my 20s. The last 5 years have been tough. I have been post menopausal for a year now. Every time I look at a photo of myself, I think "Who is that?" I loved the humour in your post. It gave me a chance to smile and take a breath...

    Thank you.

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  27. I feel your pain, Robin. I figure I have to laugh about all the changes in my body. If I don't, I'll do the ugly cry!! ;^D

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  28. Hey, wait a minute! I'm not yet fifty and I have all those sags and bags! Waaaaaa! I hope that when I turn 50, I'll have all the GOOD side effects that you've had. :)

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  29. Wendi,
    I think you're absolutely beautiful!!! And I love your blog! http://wendiwrites.wordpress.com/

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  30. I had a partial hysterectomy about 15 years ago, followed by HRT when my ovaries stopped producing hormones. All of what you say is so true! At 63, all I can say is to repeat the old adage: getting older is not for wimps! I'm looking forward to more wrinkles as I continue to learn & hopefully get wiser about this life we're in!

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  31. I'm a guy, but after having two children (read: my wife had the children, I watched) I'm not as scared of talking about stuff. :-)

    I appreciate your vulnerability and it sounds like you are in a really good place.

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  32. Thank you, Matt. Though it took some time, I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be, doing just what I should be doing. Thanks so much for being a man who can talk about and appreciate what women go through!
    ~Erin

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Thank you for giving us a little nugget of truth from your heart!

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