Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stitches in time

When I posted yesterday about my wonderful new job, I asked you to please keep up the prayers for me.

I had a particular reason in mind as to why I needed prayers, but was holding off on reporting it because I first wanted to share my joy and thankfulness over my new position. It was because I will be undergoing surgery on June 11—not as serious as the operations and radioactive-iodine treatment I had last year that eliminated my thyroid cancer, but a concern nonetheless.

If you do not like reading descriptions of women's physical ailments, I recommend you stop reading here and just send up prayers for me—thanks.

So—I have a uterine fibroid tumor the size of an orange. As far as my doctors know, it is benign; they nearly always are. For some time, it has been causing extremely heavy monthly bleeding and has been putting pressure on my bladder, making it uncomfortable to sit through long grad-school classes.

It has been very hard for me to get straight answers from gynnecologists about what, if anything, I should do about the fibroid. The answers I have gotten from several doctors in the past is, "If you can live with it, do nothing." It was only this year that I learned from my gynecologist that fibroids grow larger but, until menopause, do not grow smaller, and that mine would most likely prevent me from getting pregnant and would certainly bar me from carrying a baby to term.

Although the symptoms are troublesome, I made the decision to have the fibroid removed primarily so that, if I do have the opportunity to be married before menopause (and my surgeon says I might have another ten years of fertility), I will be able to bear children. To that end, I am having a laparoscopic myomectomy, which is the least invasive procedure. If you have a strong stomach, you can see photos and video of that type of surgery on this highly informative Web site; scan down the page for "What Is a Laparoscopic Myomectomy?"

Last week, I met with my surgeon for the preoperative appointment. I was doing OK until he started telling me all the things that could possibly go wrong.

Then I started crying. I explained to him that it was painful for me to undergo this procedure for the sake of an uncertain future—because, although I would like to be married and so have children, it is possible that it may never happen.

He reassured me that, "although we can discuss this surgery in the light of day," it is "not elective surgery." It is necessary, to the point that it is covered by Medicaid. He said that, given how many years I may have until menopause, it was possible that, without surgery, I might wind up like the women he has seen who have to receive monthly blood transfusions until their fibroids are removed.

Learning of the necessity eased my mind a bit, but it is still difficult for me to contemplate the surgery, because the reproductive system is intimately bound with so many emotional issues—especially, I suspect, for women. That is another reason I have refrained from discussing my surgery here until now, because, in the past, bloggers and commenters who oppose my being pro-life and pro-chastity have used my opennness about my life experience as an opportunity to make personal comments intended to hurt. And they do hurt, although I know I shouldn't let them. But I would rather be open about what I am about to undergo, in the hope that the information might guide you in praying for me, especially since your prayers brought me so many blessings and graces during my cancer treatment last year. Also, I would be grateful for information from anyone who has undergone similar surgery.

Again, the surgery is June 11. I am expected to stay in the hospital for one day and then spend two weeks recovering at home. Thanks so much again to all the readers who have given me prayers and support. Please e-mail me if you have any prayer needs you would like me to have in my intentions as I go into surgery. The one thing that I am looking forward to about the experience is being able to offer up my suffering in the hope that God will use it to help others.

UPDATE, 5/29/09: Thanks so much to everyone who has commented and written to me with prayers. I hope to write back during the weekend to everyone who has sent e-mails.

Photo by Danuta Wegiel.