11. The click
When I think about how this recovery process has been, I feel like I started recovering when I decided to go ahead with the operation. As if by taking that decision something clicked, and my mind and body started to coordinate, ready to face the path towards change, towards a state that would not only mean an improvement in my health, but also open other opportunities. As if little by little I had been flooded by a new energy, guided by determination and will. The click that made me go from fearing and rejecting to desiring the change, to create that compromise with myself that I have already spoken about (Packing).
The first time I knew about my fibroids was in 2015. At that time, I was very anaemic, and life was a constant physical effort. My anaemia was the result of more than one factor and at some point I will also dedicate a post to what it has meant for me, but for now I will just say it was physically a very difficult time, in which I bled very often, with and without my period. Sometimes I was bleeding for most of my cycle. By then it had already been a few years since I had stopped taking the pill.
Work was causing me lots of stress which, together with the physical fatigue, was making me feel really exhausted. Despite this, I think I was in an environment which provided more support than I have experienced in the last few years. In the lab there were lots of women, of all ages, and sometimes bonds were created as well as an environment where we could share stories. And normalise them. Share bonds and an environment of respect and empathy, and laughs, and advice, and love. In my current environment and job, I have felt much more alone, as a woman, and I think that despite being better physically, I have faced a much harder time emotionally which has made me feed and nourish that rejection towards my female self that I have already written about (Rejection). That rejection that I am trying to tear down with each post I write. And by deconstructing, by understanding, I continue building too. I am creating a new version of myself, one that accepts herself and loves herself more, and is ready to fight for herself. I feel that until now the drive behind my fight has been directed towards others. I want to fight to achieve my dreams, and make my reality clearer, for myself and for everyone else. I also want to share, to continue growing.
When I finally decided to go the gynaecologist in 2015, it was a very unpleasant visit, almost aggressive. The doctor was very nervous and dealt with me in a hurry and with an authoritative attitude that allowed little time for questioning. They did an internal scan and decided that I had to have an operation. They also put me under Esmya treatment for 6 weeks, to recover from the anaemia and get ready for the operation. Esmya is a medication that induces a temporary state of menopause. At that time, they detected three fibroids in my uterus: two intramural with diameters of 33mm and 15mm, and a submucosal one with a 20mm diameter. Despite completing the Esmya treatment, I didn’t have the operation. I didn’t feel safe, nor prepared to take the decision. I thought that I’d be able to carry on putting up with it. I didn’t understand what was happening to me very well, but I thought I’d be able to manage. Now I realise that I was never aware of what managing really meant. How much I would put up with? How to put up with it? How long to put up with it for? I suppose until a new stage arrived where I’d be better. I don’t think I ever understood the extent of what putting up with it meant. It is very difficult to anticipate the consequences. I often succumb to thinking that I am able and brave enough to take on whatever comes. Sometimes I think that I am fair in my evaluation of that ability, but sometimes I think I have been very unfair. Unfair through ignorance, not through pride. Little by little I am learning and understanding, and I think that I now know how to differentiate between what is putting up with injustice and what is accepting a challenge.
Later, in 2017, now with a new life and a new job, I carried on bleeding, although my anaemia had improved massively. After a new gynaecological review, the scan showed two intramural fibroids 25mm and 23mm diameter, one 9mm submucosal fibroid, and a 37mm subserosal one. The fibroids were growing, feeding off the hormonal imbalance caused by stress, fatigue, and a lifestyle that fought against my own biology (Victim and culprit). A new doctor again offered me the possibility of an operation, the same one that they wanted to do the previous time, a hysteroscopic myomectomy through the intravaginal tract. The operation would only get rid of the submucosal fibroid, the type that usually caused the bleeding problems, being located towards the interior of the uterine cavity. This time I accepted the offer. I understood that the operation would help me to get better, but I was mistaken in thinking that I wouldn’t have to do anything on my part. It was like treating the symptoms without solving the cause.
Although I improved at first, a short while after I started bleeding between periods again. As part of the required treatment after this operation, I had been prescribed tranexamic acid, which is an agent that helps coagulation. Currently I am still taking it, but I take much less than when I started, and I hope to be able to stop it one day. It has been so helpful for me, but, being a coagulant agent, I think it is a medication that you need to get the hang of to be able to use it well.
In 2019, I asked for a review and in a new scan they detected three intramural fibroids with 42mm, 46mm and 25mm diameter, this last one indenting the endometrial cavity, in addition to an 8mm submucosal fibroid. The fibroids were continuing to grow, because despite the first operation, nothing had changed, not the stress, not the fatigue, nor the lifestyle. On this occasion, given the size of the fibroids, it was the first time that they insisted on me having a bigger operation. And like I did in 2015, I refused.
The doctor that saw me this time wasn’t nervous, nor in a hurry. He conveyed boredom, and a strange enthusiasm to do an operation, as if to leave his boring routine. After this consultation, Juanpe and I tried to inform ourselves thoroughly on the pros and cons of the bigger operation. I had many doubts and he tried to support me in the decision I was taking. Over time in all these gynaecological consultations, they have always asked the both of us if we were planning to have children. If that were the case, they would always tell us that the operations were much more necessary if we wanted to avoid a high-risk pregnancy. The answer to this question was neither a yes nor a no. If it happened, then so be it, but we weren’t obsessed with the idea of wanting to have children at all costs. We were convinced that our life would still be full if we didn’t have them.
The fact is that doctors put so much focus on the topic of fertility and given that our stance wasn’t a categoric yes to having children, I was convinced that if it weren’t for having children, a bigger operation wasn’t justified, as if my own health wasn’t a sufficient cause, as if the fact of not being desperate to have children made me not deserve that opportunity. The message from the doctors made me keep putting myself last on my own priority list, so I thought I had to keep on putting up with it. Nobody asked about the stress, the lifestyle, nor my emotional state.
One year later, as the bleeding problems and belly pains continued, I saw a doctor again. I think I was reaching my limit. This time, and for the first time, I saw a woman, who had the determination to do the maximum number of tests so that I could take the best decision. The last test, which was an MRI at the start of 2021, showed two intramural fibroids with 60mm and 40mm diameters, both with significant indentation of the endometrial cavity, in addition to several intracavitary fibroids ranging from 3mm to 28mm. If I try and make a connection with the previous results it is difficult to make a correlation with the fibroids detected previously. The truth is that I don’t think it matters much, but it surprises me.
This gynaecologist helped me to understand that the operation (Three days two nights) was necessary for my health, whether or not it was for having children. And when I understood that and accepted that I was important enough to take the risk, the time and the energy, there was a click. Although physically I am practically recovered from this operation already, I started to recover some time before, because I wanted to put myself first, to understand the causes and not just eliminate the symptoms. I started to recover because I decided that I wanted to delve into a new way of connecting with myself. And with that click, this journey started. I am reconnecting.