Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Big "H": Hysterectomy

Yeah, it's official. I have eluded to medical problems lately. Now it is confirmed and scheduled. Hysterectomy. Total Radical Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo Oophorectomy.

Monday, January 24.

This involves the removal of uterus, both ovaries and of both tubes.(Insert SCREAM here)

I've put it off for six years. I only hope that I don't regret putting it off as long as I have. It was just never the right time, I had too much to do, races to run, who wants to sit around for 6-8 weeks for recovery and was it really necessary?

Ever since my Mom was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer six years ago I have had ovarian cancer screenings every six months. My local gynecologist told me every six months that she felt I should have a hysterectomy soon (but not how soon), that the cancer screenings I was having were better than nothing, (but not that good), that it was too bad I wasn't in menopause yet because sudden surgical menopause is a bitch. So I waited. I continued with a trans-vaginal ultrasound every six months, a CA 125 blood test and promised myself I'd have a hysterectomy..soon...whenever that is..

Six years later and I have begun to have pain. Now, I have a high tolerance for pain. I have had 'doubled over at the waist' kind of pain from my ovaries. Sharp, jabbing pain. It scared me. My periods became heavy nasty affairs that I had never ever had before. My ultrasound showed tumors for the first time. My CA125 has increased for the first time. This time I took hysterectomy seriously.

I made an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist at Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. He looked at my familial cancer tree. See, my Dad created this document for I and my sister after Mom was diagnosed. It goes back 4 generations and lists all of the cancers with the relations. Very awesome. My surgeon commented on how great it was to have my 'cancer tree' at his fingertips. He then examined me. He asked me what the hell had I had been waiting for. My reasons (excuses) sounded ridiculous coming from my own mouth. I told him so. He did more than suggest a hysterectomy. He insisted. I let him schedule one for me.

The hope is that this will be proactive to cancer, not a treatment for cancer. During the surgery he will send tissue to pathology. If no cancer, he'll finish, I'll be on my to recovery. If there is cancer, he will remove it and I'll treat as necessary.

I am actually very lucky. My Mom gave me a gift of knowledge that she didn't have. She didn't realize she was at risk, didn't realize she should be screened, didn't realize that she could lessen her risks with diet and exercise.

I have had CA125 tests every six months, trans vaginal ultrasounds every six months, prescription for birth control pills as they are a risk reducer, genetic counseling, genetic testing, etc. I know my risk.

I am fortunate that I have accrued enough sick time so that I will have a paid leave of 6 weeks. I will have a job to go back to. A job that I really love and am really going to miss. Students have told me they will miss me, miss talking with me 'and who is going to bring us Bath and Body lotions and soaps?' I brought in a few of each today for my desk so that they don't run out while I'm away. I told them to think of me while I'm gone.

..and then I think..oh my god, what am I going to do for 6 weeks? I will go back to work in the SPRING. SPRING. That's crazy. 6 weeks? Really?

..and sudden surgical menopause? Great. Sweet. Memory loss, hot flashes, no desire for sex, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, joint pain, stiffness to name a few. No wonder I put this off. I am not a candidate for HRT because of my cancer risk.


My surgeon told me that because I am lean, fit and strong that I should recovery quickly. He told me that I am at a lower risk for infection and other complications because I am in great shape.

He told me I may have to scratch Zumbro 100 for April; or not? I make a great cheerleader. I can work an aid station. If I can't run I'll be there to help out.

I've changed my way of thinking. 6-8 weeks of recovery is a whole lot better than treating for cancer. I'm now looking forward to the surgery so that I can heal, recover and move on.

So ultra girls, do tell: how long post hysterectomy until you ran your next 100? Or until you began to train for it, or until you began to RUN?

Wish me luck. I need it. 6 weeks of recovery. Good grief.

16 comments:

Julie said...

I'm so sorry to hear you are having to go through that Julie! But I'm glad that you are able to catch it early and take care of it.
I had to have a total hysterectomy when I was 24. Luckily for me I'd had my kids when I was young and already had three sweet boys. I've been on HRT for the past 17 years so I can't say what instant menopause is like without the hormones..but for me, life just got better after that. I'll be thinking about you and hope you have a swift recovery.
You are in my prayers!

Julie

Julie B said...

Thank you, Julie! It is so good to hear that you are doing better post hysterectomy that you were doing before. Wow, you had to have the procedure young. I'm glad it has gone so well for you.

Kirstie said...

I am sorry to hear of your condition. Take care of yourself now so you don't miss out on anything later. I'm sure you will recovery quickly because you are in good shape.

JojaJogger said...

Sorry to hear you have to have a hysterectomy. I had one eight years ago and feel better now in my 50's than I did in my 40's. Plus, now I'm running ultras. A website I found helpful before and after surgery that answered a lot of questions was hystersisters.com, it initially might seem a little corny, but there is a lot of good information there about surgery, instant menopause, etc. Wishing you a quick and easy recovery.

Julie B said...

Thank you Kirstie and Joja Jogger I appreciate the kind words. JJ-I have been reading over hystersisters.com for the past few weeks. There really is a wealth of info. there!

SteveQ said...

Hang in there and remember that the "surgical menopause" symptoms do not all happen to all women at all times. And the surgery's probably better than a wait-and-see attitude... and the recovery won't seem as long after it's over than it sounds now.

I still expect you to kick my butt at Sawtooth.

160or16 said...

Julie, I know you'll do what you have to in order to nip this in the butt and get back on your feet. I will however be sending positive vibes your way so you're in abundance with them.

And I love your attitude. I hope you'll run but better a cheerleader than not being there at all!

olga said...

I had 2 girlfriends had it done in the last 3 years, and both of them, due to fitness level, came back to exercise in 4 weeks. Neither ran a 100 that soon (one wasn't interested, and another had it done about 8 months later). In either case, girl, who cares about Zumbro - hot flashes or not. Live!!!

Anonymous said...

Julie,
I also need to have my ovaries out, i have a history of ovarian Ca as well in my family.. My friend had one here at Mayo with the Davinci( robot) and was running in less than two weeks. They told her no restrictions, when you feel like running you can!! Is yours an open procedure??? Good luck and hope you recover well.

Sara Lovett

Julie B said...

Olga, yes, you are correct, thanks! Steve, thanks for the vote of confidence for Sawtooth! Woow! Sara, so good to hear about your friend's recovery. I'm going da Vinci, too. My local gyno told me abdominal since I have had two c sections, my surgeon at Mayo said no, he would go open if pathology states cancer in tissue, then he'd open me. Otherwise robotic. So relieved!! I feel so blessed that I am able to have surgery at Mayo where surgeons are trained to use da Vinci procedure. This will be MUCH less invasive!
Thank you 16016, i appreciate your thoughts and well wishes!

Robin said...

Julie, I am sure you will breeze thru this. I have been running marathons and ultras since 1985. I also was put into surgical menopause7 years ago. I had no issues what so ever. I have never had a hot flash, or been really bothered by the standard menopause symptoms. I DO NOT use any HRT. I truly beleive the fact that I am very active and fit has the most to do with this. As one of the other comments stated I feel so much better now than before.
Best wishes! Robin

Anonymous said...

Thinkinn of you always
All will be fine
Kathi P We leave for the Mountain in the Morning.
Prayers to you!!!!!!!!

kelly said...

Good luck with your surgery Julie. I will keep you in my prayers. You will do fine, though. You will be racing in no time.

Sara said...

Well let me know how it goes, I will be interested in hearing how fast you recover. I will probably do the same, but of course have to plan it around races:) Good luck to you.

Sara

Robin said...

Wow amazed I came across your blog. I am finding myself in a similar situation. The ultrasound is now showing mural nodules and I just had my first C125 blood test(don't know results yet). Next steps to be determined Feb 15. I too am a runner though not nearly as accomplished. I'll be following your journey. All the best. I wish you a speedy recovery and negative pathology for cancer.

Julie B said...

Kathi, I hope you are having a grand time climbing that mountain! Amazing.
Robin, so good to hear that surgical menopause is treating you well and Robin, it is something that you found my blog at this point in my gynocologic care. I'm glad that you did.