I wrote a little about my health history in the "parents" tab at the top of this blog. Normally that isn't news that one shares on a public blog but I'm not normal. See I was surgically diagnosed with severe endometriosis, just two days after my eighteenth birthday. It had been speculated for a few years prior. After my first diagnostic laparoscopic surgery, my surgeon said that from the looks of things internally, the extent of the endometriosis that I had made my uterus look like that of someone who had already had "a couple" kids. I had a prolapsed uterus, endometriosis and "mild" PCOS. Not great news when you just turned 18 and as someone who had always dreamed of having a houseful of kids, dreamed of just being a mom. I found myself a new doctor and went on.
It was a lot to take on at 18 years old. Between the timespan of turning 18 and finally getting pregnant at 21years old, I had four total laparoscopies to remove endometrium and ovarian cysts. I had been on several birth control pills, taking them continuously as to not have a period. I did the depo lupron shot and it was horrific. Mood swings like you wouldn't believe, night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, headaches...horrible stuff. At this point B and I were engaged, we eloped and decided to immediately try to have kids.
My odds were crap but they were best while I was young. I did several rounds of clomid (a fertility drug) and it didn't work. I ended up with a husband who deployed to Iraq and me finding out I needed surgery again. While B was deployed, I read a book called "taking charge of your fertility" and it made sense. Maybe my cycles weren't normal. Maybe I was ovulating, just not when I should be. So I charted my temps for months and learned that I did ovulate; just later in my cycle. For the first time in three years I was off of any birth control, I was charting my cycles and taking pain killers for the bad days. When B came home for r&r, we got pregnant.
It wasn't an easy pregnancy; my husband was deployed, I was really sick, I ended up with PIH and on bed rest. But I was *pregnant*! And March of 2006, three weeks early, I gave birth to Ryan. Afterward I nursed/pumped milk and went on the mini-pill. In September we were SHOCKED to find out we were surprisingly pregnant again. Logan's pregnancy was picture perfect. (I should add that once I was pregnant I was completely pain-free. While nursing, my period stopped and I was pain free.) But after Logan was born in May of 2007, I learned not to trust the mini pill and went with a Mirena IUD instead.
By November 2007 I knew something was wrong. I was in a LOT of pain and I went in to the doctor on a Friday only to learn I would have surgery Monday. I had a huge cyst in my left ovary. I ended up having another diagnostic laparoscopy; where my doctor removed both the Mirena as well as my left ovary and left Fallopian tube. It was extremely hard for me to process but I was so blessed with my two boys that I didn't hesitate nor regret losing the ovary. After the surgery I went on seasonale; the pill that you take for three months straight. Only when I got to the end of the three months, I didn't get my period. On a whim I ran to walgreens and bought a pregnancy test. More to give myself piece of mind than anything but what we learned was that I was pregnant again and that a)my body doesn't respond well to hormonal birth control and b) that apparently I didn't need two ovaries.
I had Connor in November 2008, nursed him until September 2009. By that December I was in pain again and we were talking about a hysterectomy. After all I had three healthy boys, I had tried everything else to control the pain and even though I was 25, it made sense. B and I talked and decided that we would try for one more baby. And if it didn't happen right away and I couldn't handle the pain then I would have the hysterectomy knowing I had the three boys that we were meant to have.
That first month, I got pregnant with Maggie. I cherished being pregnant for what we knew would be the last time. It was an easy pregnancy and birth and Maggie nursed until she was almost two years old. While extended breast feeding was never the plan, it worked. She was thriving and my periods hadn't returned, so I was pain free! Best of both worlds. Sissy weaned in August of 2012 and since then, it's been an uphill battle trying to control my pain. April 2013 it got bad but we were overseas. Birth control pills, naproxen, Percocet...it was to the point where nothing was working. We started talking about a hysterectomy but I didn't know how I could do that overseas. How would B miss that much work? We lived in a two story house, how would I get Maggie, groceries, the dogs even...in and out? I put it off.
I managed to deal with the pain for eight months. Eight months of pain, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, periods that would be three weeks long and I couldn't take it anymore.
I found a gyno doctor here who came recommended and was knowledgeable with endometriosis. His action plan was the same as my previous doctor: a laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy with removal of all endometriosis. My right ovary had been functioning just fine, I got pregnant with just it twice, so the plan was to leave the ovary so I wouldn't need hormone replacement drugs.
On Thursday afternoon I had surgery. Yesterday evening I came home and today I am resting in my bedroom. The surgery took over four hours but was successful. My right ovary was perfectly healthy and remains. I have three incisions on my belly and while I am in some pain, it's not even as bad as my period cramps used to be.
I'm 29 years old and for the first time in 18 years I'm not dreading my period. It's an amazing feeling! While I do worry for my daughter, and I hope she doesn't have to go through this, I know that if she does, I will be able to support her. Despite what doctors say about endometriosis, every person is different and it doesn't mean you have to settle.
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