It’s time that I used it.
Did you know that over 600,000 hysterectomies are preformed annually in the United States? It’s the second most frequently performed surgery for women after a Cesarean section. Yet, unlike a C-section, we don’t talk much about hysterectomies.
I guess it’s a little more taboo, and definitely something women are less comfortable discussing. I get it. I really do. I think we’re often conditioned to stay quiet about the strange, uncomfortable issues we face with our bodies. So we don’t talk about it. We keep quiet, and in doing so, we often face big and scary things with a muzzle on — which, if I’m being honest, can make you feel incredibly lonely.
Here’s the thing though. We need to talk about these things. Why? Because no woman should have to battle loneliness and isolation on top of the battle she’s already facing with her own body. Women’s health issues are more common that we realize, and for those of us struggling through them, knowing that we’re not alone can make all the difference in the world.
So I’d like to go on the record here and say this: finding out that you need to have a hysterectomy sucks. And no matter how much the doctor tries to reassure you, there’s really nothing that can prepare you for how you’re going to feel before and after. No amount of googling will make you feel ready or answer all of your questions. And even though you know it’s the best choice for you, it still doesn’t stop you from feeling disconnected from your own body, from feeling like you’ve failed somehow.
I know all of this about hysterectomies because… I had one. Six weeks ago.
When I first found out I needed a hysterectomy, I felt so many emotions. But you know what stood out above the rest? Embarrassment. I don’t know why, but I was embarrassed by the fact that I needed one. I felt…ashamed of my body. So ashamed that I didn’t want anyone to know. When I mentioned my big surgery to people, I did so under the vaguest of terms.
On top of shame and embarrassment, there was also a lot of fear, worry, doubt, and a whole myriad of other uncomfortable emotions I didn’t really want to face. So, I simply asked for prayers and kept the why to myself.
But here’s the problem with that. I’m six weeks post-op now, and I find myself NEEDING to talk about it. To discuss the things that have surprised me about this surgery, to rant and rave over the things that have been frustrating, to cry about how painful it’s been and to laugh over all the silly things that have come up too. I need to ask questions and compare notes. I need to make sense of what happened to me and how it’s made me feel. But I can’t do that quietly, not when I want to scream about how I’m feeling at the top of my lungs.
So why haven’t I? Well, for weeks now, I’ve been telling myself that my hysterectomy story was too personal to tell everyone about, to discuss publicly. I convinced myself that my story wouldn’t matter to anyone, that people might be uncomfortable by it. I was also afraid of what people would say about me, how they would judge me. Women’s health issues are taboo, remember? These are the things we don’t talk about. These are things we suffer in complete silence.
But you know what?
I’m sick of not talking about the hard things. I’m sick of feeling like I’m the lone resident on “No More Womb” island. I’m sick of not saying the things I so desperately want to say. And most of all, I’m sick of navigating this experience all by myself — especially when I know my fellow hystersisters are out there.
I’m not a doctor or psychologist. I’m just a 35 year old mom of three who’s trying to make peace with her body.
My uterus may be gone, but my voice isn’t….and I think it’s time that I used it.
So, I’ve decided to stop the shame spiral. I want to embrace this new change, even though it has not been an easy road so far, and to erase the taboo of it from my life. I want to talk about it, and I want to share my experiences. Why? Because I know I’m not the only one who has walked or will walk this path, and if telling my story can help just one other woman feel a little less alone in her own journey, then it’s worth it.
So this is me. Kim “I no longer have a uterus” Chance. And I’m done being ashamed by that fact.