Oh. Hi there. I have to apologize for now, for the past, for the future. See, as I’ve mentioned a few times perhaps, I’m not really well. The last few months in particular have felt, at times, like a long sickness while I go from menstrual pain to digestive problems to more menstrual pain. It makes it hard to blog. I still remember to do things like go to school, obviously, and other weekly commitments, but it saps my memory. I forget to do dishes, or laundry, or call people back, or send emails, or write. I just don’t remember that those things exist.
About a week ago, almost, I finished what was a low-pain but also high-weakness period; I was losing a lot of, well, fluid, for about 3 days. During those times, I worry. I worry that I won’t be able to teach, that I’ll have to go to a hospital, that I’ll have to go home before I’m done. When I have a lot of pain, I also have worries. That I’ll take too much Advil and have trouble moving (that happens occasionally. Intolerable pain or numbness…What would you choose?), or that my pain will again make me unable to teach, lead me to a doctor or hospital, and so on. It could be worse; I still work. But would I do that if I didn’t feel like I had to? I have a contract. I said I would do it. And in the end, as full time jobs go, mine has less structured time a week than, say, an office job. If I were working an “ordinary” job in the US full time, I would not be able to do it. When I’m not having menstrual pain, I often have digestive problems. I eat something that makes me sick, so I stop eating it, then something else makes me sick; I go a day without enough water, leaving me bloated, then I have a day with too much water and the result of a day with too much water is usually too little sleep and needing to buy more toilet paper.
I think a big part of these problems is that my two major problems, endometriosis and IBS, have sort of opposite triggers. The first requires me to pay close attention to iron levels; this puts me at risk of constipation, furthering the second problem. Then I have to up my fiber. Then the water cycle starts and it all goes around again. I expect, at least I certainly hope, to have some sort of ovarian surgery this summer. While that sounds extreme to some people and probably life-ending to others, it’s really the only option I see as viable at this point. Contraceptives are amazing things for women and they’ve helped a lot with problems like mine; for me, though, they cause all the side effects like mood swings and weight gain and none of the regulation or other benefits. The other option for me is getting some sort of creepy (to me) injection or…surgery. There are not many options for women, which in itself to me shows the problem with the women’s health debates going on lately, but that’s something I’ll talk about some other time.
Another thing you hear when you’re under 25 and considering ovarian surgery (in my case, also from about 3 medical professionals, two of them gynecologists) is that you should wait until you have kids. Um, excuse me? I’m in pain now. If I needed a leg severed, you would not ask me to wait until I’d run a marathon.
The reality, though, is that not all ovarian surgery is the same. It makes people think of getting everything chopped out violently, but that’s not always the case. Getting part of one ovary taken out, or even one entirely removed, does not necessarily affect your ability to have children. It does, however, mean you might have a lot less pain if you suffer from cysts and fibroids like I do. I also had my third gynecologist in as many years admit to me last year that for many women with these problems, surgery will be something they have to do; the other treatments are just delaying the inevitable, or staving off the pain until menopause, which is another thing I really wish these doctors would stop talking to me about when I just finished college a couple of years ago. ..and to me it shows that women’s medicine has a long way to go.
I don’t know if surgery, when I get it, will fix everything. But I can hope. A colleague at school is getting similar surgery (I’m not sure what exactly) this month. At less than ten years older than me, she’s also “young” for this type of thing, and I don’t think she’s too eager. When I found out she was getting surgery, though, I had a hard time showing compassion…part of me was just jealous. While I know surgery for me wouldn’t be a good thing in a country where I don’t speak the language and most people don’t speak my first one well or my second at all (Norwegian, in this part of Europe, is about as useful as, well, Hungarian or Romanian in Ohio), it makes me a little jealous that other people can get this stuff hopefully solved.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is partly because I just don’t know how much blogging I’ll get to before I (hopefully) get surgery sometime in July. I’ve been reading, knitting, traveling, working…I just don’t know when or how much I’ll be able to show you. I’ll work on it, though. When I can remember.