The hysterectomy story: An adventure in two parts

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After safely gestating four humans, I’d come to think of my uterus as a team player. Sure, it had to go through the motions every month, but never really called undue attention to itself.

Not until it got conned by a smooth trickster, anyway.
The hysterectomy story

I knew my womb was special as soon as I delivered my first baby — a 9 pound, 9 ounce girl. Hours after she was born, one of the doctors came by to tell me that I’d been very lucky to deliver such a robust newborn without any complications.

Days before the adventure began
Two days before it all began

When I welcomed my third child — a boy — I discovered my uterus was truly of a gold standard, because that kiddo showed up almost ready for preschool, weighing 11-1/2 pounds. My body pushed him out into the world with great efficiency, and no medications or surgery required.

Fast forward fifteen years and cue the pain. It was a mind-numbing abdominal pain that reminded me a lot of labor, but without the anticipation of knowing there would be a new human to welcome.

That was the very first part of an adventure that lasted seven months and included lots of tests, two major surgeries, eight days in the hospital, 17″ of incisions, and countless doctors and nurses. 

But what stands out more than anything to me was all the support I got from family and friends around the globe, thanks to social media, computers and smartphones.

And so, without further ado, here begins the story of a uterus and her owner — the trials and tribulations thereof, primarily told via today’s technology: Facebook, Instagram, texts, instant messages and digital photographs.

A womb so nice, they took it out twice

Nancy on Sunday, August 10 at 4:00 pm  (Facebook)

This post is just going to an all-female subset of my friends. Any help out there?

Starting the night before last around midnight, I started to get terrible cramps — felt like early labor. (No possible way I’m pregnant.) I’m mid-cycle, so could be exaggerated ovulation pain — but there’s more to it. It feels like constant menstrual cramping — Charlie horse style — and is incredibly painful, and makes it really hard to think. It’s also really messing up my sleep, and I’m even getting the chills every now and then.

I can’t get in to see the doctor until Wednesday, so am wondering if you guys have any insight. I have tried light massage, deep massage, back massage, shiatsu, acupressure, vitamin supplements, ibuprofen, Tylenol, naproxen sodium (opiates don’t work for me), caffeine, no caffeine, extra hydration, food, sleep, heating pad, various positions when lying down/sitting, exercise, stretching, deep breathing, pacing, distraction, music… mostly I just try to work and keep rocking back and forth to try to manage it for now. It was a fair bit better this morning, but now it’s back.

Any suggestions/insights/experiences welcome! Thank you!

There were numerous messages of support, and interspersed throughout…

Nancy at 4:19pm: I really don’t want to go to the ER – it’s crazy expensive, and I’ll be paying it off forever. Urgent care won’t likely do a pelvic exam, so that’s sort of pointless.

My mom at 5:01pm: Agree with those who say that you ought not wait until Wednesday. I’d go to ER. Acute pain is a signal.

Betsy [best friend & Lilyvolt co-founder] at 5:05pm: XO – remember I’m just a phone call and ~20 minutes away. Here if you need me!

Nancy at 5:24pm: Waiting at urgent care now!

Nancy at 6:57pm: Update – urine shows nothing, external palp, no pain etc. Going to do a blood draw now and give me something like Tramadol. Ultrasound tomorrow. It’s kind of like pregnancy without the baby! lol Uterus may be out of pelvic girdle and is firm, so that might suggest something. Like fibroids maybe?

Nancy on August 11 at 4:19pm (Facebook)

fibroids on ultrasoundBlood tests clean, waiting for US results — but I snapped a couple photos when the tech went out of the room. My guess is a peach-sized fibroid.

Nancy on August 11 at 6:32pm: [After talking to doctor’s office staff] Probable fibroid – singular – 15.6 x 9.6 cm. That’s roughly 4 x 6″. I impress myself. Lol

Nancy on August 12 at 10:23am: [After doctor’s office staff calls back] Turns out it wasn’t that big – they read me the uterus size vs the fibroid size! 8.2 x 7.9 x 6.7. That works out to 434 cubic cm, or about 1.8 cups.

Nancy on August 14 at 5:03pm (Facebook)

Quinn [my youngest] was born more than 13 years ago, and, in the meantime, my uterus apparently got bored. Therefore, it decided to start a DIY project. Unfortunately, without a design in mind, the end result is a kind of ugly ball of random muscle tissue (known to some as a fibroid).

not a baby

TMI? Stop reading here!

Since the last two occupants of the region were evicted only after reaching 11 pounds, this little thing is also trying to grow big quickly, and as of yesterday, has made my womb with no view about as big as you’d expect around week 18 of pregnancy. The ‘broid itself is about the size of a big orange/small grapefruit.

The main indication I had that this was all happening was pain – lots and lots of it – starting last week. I’m better now – as evidenced by the fact that I can actually sit up for more than a few minutes at the time – but it’s still uncomfortable, strange, and sometimes painful.

After discussing with a surgeon and other people, I have decided to remove the fruit-sized freeloader and its creator. My surgery date is not yet scheduled, but I’m hoping will be within the next two weeks. I will have to be in the hospital for a couple DAYS, which will be strange and not-so-fun. But things could be so much worse, so I’m counting myself lucky. (Plus I’ll have an awesome new scar.)

I’m writing this because I will be probably posting photos from the hospital at some point, maybe some cool medical studies, etc. and this way, I can just refer people to this post to explain.

Words of wisdom, been there/done that advice, ideas for non-opiate post-op pain relievers, and amusing stories all welcome!

Questions and messages of support from the audience, prompting responses:

Nancy at 5:12pm: Been calling it Pinocchio because it lied to my uterus and keeps on growing.

Nancy at 7:23pm: It’s grown too big to be taken out [vaginally] – or endoscopically.

Pinocchio wasn’t inside the uterus (like a baby), but rather was growing within the muscle of the uterine wall (termed an intramural fibroid). Though the stretching and pulling wasn’t a great feeling, what really caused the pain was probably the fact that the tumor was growing too big for its blood supply. It was essentially starving itself.

Nancy on August 19 at 11:39am (Facebook)

Just got my surgery date: In one week from today, I will no longer be hysterical. (Love how “hyster” is the Greek root of hysterectomy, and of a common word to describe an apparently feminine freak out.)

Nancy at 3:29pm: Aaanddd they just moved me back 2 days to the 28th. Bright side: 9am check-in vs 5am!


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Nancy J Price

Nancy J Price

In addition to being the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lilyvolt, Nancy J Price was one of the two original founders of in 1999, helping turn it into one of the world's top lifestyle websites for women. More recently, she spent more than two years as the executive editor of Grateful, a Gannett/USA Today Network site. Nancy is also the founder of the Click Americana vintage & retro website. She lives in Arizona with her four kids and partner, novelist Daniel Price.

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