As told to Mariam

Last month, in a conversation about womanhood, Bee told me she had her uterus taken out. Curious, I asked more questions and here’s what she told me:

woman lying down holding her stomach

The doctor found the first cyst during a routine ultrasound. It was 2014, and I was 18 and pregnant. The doctors didn’t know what it was, so nothing happened. Three years later after I moved to the United States, I went to the hospital to complain about some symptoms I had been experiencing. My periods were never consistent. They would come at different times in different months. Some periods came with so much pain and hurt till I cried. I was also experiencing acne breakouts and mood swings. The doctor said she would test for polycystic ovary syndrome.

After a couple of blood tests and ultrasound scans, they found a ton of cysts of different sizes on my ovaries and fibroids growing in my uterus. That was when I knew for sure that I had been living with PCOS and fibroids for a really long time. I had other symptoms I didn’t catch early like a slight insulin resistance, so I was prediabetic. 

My doctor told me that there is no permanent treatment for PCOS and fibroids. I would have to manage each symptom with drugs like birth control pills. I said no to the drugs because I worried about the effects on my body. She also said I had to cut back on carbs since my body couldn’t process it normally — this is a general PCOS symptom. I was more concerned about what PCOS was doing to my body — my hormones were a mess, from mood swings to acne. I started working out and I tried doing the keto diet for a few months. I felt better but the diet wasn’t sustainable for me because I like to eat everything.

In 2020, I started feeling uncomfortable. Whenever I peed, I felt sharp pains in my bladder. My lower belly had grown big and felt hard to touch. I thought it was a hernia at first.  In August, I went to the hospital for a heartburn reoccurrence, but the doctor said that it was a stomach infection and prescribed drugs for it. Also, she suggested an MRI scan because my stomach was unusually hard. The results showed us that the fibroids in my uterus had grown so large in my stomach that they were crushing on my ureter, and it was affecting my bladder and kidneys. The doctor sent me to a gynaecologist to discuss my options. 

My options were taking out the fibroids or the entire uterus. The problem with taking out the fibroids was that there is the possibility of the fibroids reoccurring. Also, there would be a lot of scarring in my uterus. If I manage to get pregnant in the future, my baby and I could die.

After a lot of discussions with my gynaecologist, I decided to take out the entire uterus. She told me that the hospital sets aside money for necessary life-saving surgeries like mine, so I didn’t have to pay a dime. 

The doctors did the surgery laparoscopically so there are fewer scars on my stomach and vagina. The whole thing took about four hours. After taking it out, my kidneys and bladder started to hurt so bad, especially when I had to pee. They healed over time, but my ovaries started to malfunction because of the absence of my uterus and PCOS. I had premenopausal symptoms — hot flashes, headaches, chronic insomnia, etc. I started hormone replacement therapy treatment in February 2021 and it helps with the symptoms but I need a new insert, which costs $300 every three months.

Honestly, I haven’t processed how all of this affected me mentally. I told my siblings and friends I could trust about the surgery but I couldn’t tell my mum about it. I knew the idea that her first daughter wouldn’t have any more kids would break her. My siblings told her it was a fibroid surgery. Till today, she doesn’t know. I don’t feel so bad about it because I cannot deal with her being sad. Right now, I am focusing on living my best life. 

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