Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This Was Not Supposed to Happen

Welp. Two months after the World's Most Complicated Hysterectomy (except for the ones that were more complicated than mine) and here's what I know:

Menopause is not for wimps.

This show makes so much more sense now.

It's also not for me. I don't enjoy it. At all.

I thought, arrogantly, with all my surgical experience that I could bounce back from this surgery just like all the others. After all, this was supposed to be a quick, 45 minute laparoscopic procedure, a couple of hours in recovery, and home by dark. Except the 45 minute laparascopic procedure turned into a four hour abdominal surgery with two nights in the hospital. But still... I've had worse. I thought I could bounce back.

Oh. Oh, how wrong I was.

You see, unlike the simple but excruciating dead gall bladder or the whimsical breast reduction, the hysterectomy brought side effects. I was unceremoniously dumped into full menopause at the age of 37. I thought, arrogantly, that the thyroid cancer had prepared me for the effects of menopause. Hormonal imbalances, temperature swings, crazy moods-been there done that, right? I refused hormone replacement treatment because I thought I could handle it. Also because I don't need the increased cancer risk and because I already take enough pills every day.

Oh. Oh, how wrong I was.

I don't know what menopause is like for others. I only know what it is like for me. I don't care for it.

Some of it is interesting. In a way, menopause is like a fast, backwards pregnancy. It started with the post-partum depression, then went into nesting. Then mood swings and food cravings. I'm expecting the morning sickness any day now.

A very Benjamin Button pregnancy.
But that's not the bad part. Actually, there are two bad parts.

Hot flashes. No matter what the sitcoms have told you, hot flashes aren't funny. They're hot and uncomfortable and unpredictable. I'm not a fan.

Worse than the hot flashes, though, is the hormonal imbalance. That post-partum-like depression? It didn't stop when I started nesting. It just got worse and worse. As my estrogen plummeted, it seems the menopause had a nasty interaction with the thyroid stuff and I got depressed. Not sad. Depressed. It was very dramatic and tearful and miserable and I look back at it with embarrassment.

I can't describe the experience of clinical depression better than Ali Brosh did, so I won't try. I'll just say, it was bad. I had a very involved doctor and a good support system in place. Not sure what would have happened if I didn't. As of now, I'm ok. Yes, I've still got the support system in place, and yes, I'm still being monitored by the doctor. It's going to be fine, I think. I haven't cried in days now.

I'm on a lot of hormones now. I mean... a lot. My doctor started me on a dose... then doubled it... then doubled it again. Being on quadruple estrogen is weird. I'm suddenly enamored with all things pink and I can't believe how much flannel I wore while I was depressed. Hello Kitty is suddenly adorable (in a non-ironic way) and I really want to get a pedicure. And babies. I want to squeeze or steal all the babies that come into the bakery. Also, that crepe-y skin that was developing on my neck is getting firm again. And my nails and hair are stronger. It's all very strange. But better.

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