It was final. Not only would the door be closed for good, it would be slammed shut. Slammed. Shut. The imagery was quite powerful when my husband first said those words. He admitted that he didn't completely understand what I was going through. But he understood enough, I think. He understood about the door slamming shut.
Was I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Was it just me and my hang ups? Was I merely being melodramatic? Or was it the truth staring me in the face? The simple and unavoidable truth.
It would be a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy. I also learned a few new words along the way, something about the left salpingo oophorectomy and possible right salpingo oophorectomy. (The "salpingo oophorectomy's" sounded quite humorous to me at first and I supposed it was good to find some humour in it). The left ovary would also be removed and possibly the right ovary as well. An ovarian cyst, they called it. A huge one. And the good doctor would also check the right ovary, to make sure that it was good to go. If it wasn't, and there were other cysts or problems that he encountered, he would make a judgement call and remove it as well. I had to trust him on that.
As he was speaking those words to me in the examination room, something broke inside me. I wanted to cry. And I did, just a little bit. It was mildly embarrassing at first but then I didn't care. I would be losing my uterus and cervix. I would never be able to have children. Not that I would have had children anyway but that was not the point. Who cared if it didn't make any sense? It hurt. The truth hurt. The good doctor asked if I was okay, squeezing my hand lightly. My husband sat nearby but he had no words. All he could do -- and needed to do -- was look on with quiet understanding. The doctor said a few reassuring words , ending with, "The finality of it." And I nodded. Yes, that door would be slammed shut, never to be opened again.
And it was final. I had just had surgery and later woke up in the Recovery Room. Whether I had imagined it or not, I thought I had even heard voices earlier telling me to wake up. My eyelids felt heavy. I couldn't open them. My eyes were closed and I was breathing through an oxygen mask. I had never been hospitalised before, never had surgery before. The whole experience was completely new to me. So this is what it was like. It was very cold and I was shivering. And I think a nurse came over and I told her how cold I was. She said something about "shivery cold." She was nice. She returned and covered the sides of my face, chest and shoulders with a warming blanket. It felt warm and reassuring. Then she went away. I don't believe that I was thinking about anything in particular. Without warning, my body heaved as I started to sob. Just a little bit. Then I stopped. A few moments later, I sobbed again. This went on three or four times. The nurse was by my side again. I tried to open my eyes. They were wet with tears and she gently dabbed at them, asking if they were happy tears. I don't remember if I shook my head or not but I remember responding with, "Sad."
The nurse in the Operating Room had also been very kind to me, asking me to rest my head on her shoulder -- to steady myself -- as the anesthesiologist inserted the epidural into my back. I will probably never see her again but I will always remember her. Those two nurses were kind and I suppose kindness is always remembered. How else could nurses be, one might ask. Well ... I don't know. I just know that they were kind.
It was later revealed to me that my doctor had taken out both ovaries as the second one had a large chocolate cyst hiding nearby. Craftly little devils, aren't they. Plus it was also discovered that I had endometriosis. That came as a surprise to me. I never knew. The doctors had to clean everything out in addition to removing the second ovary. Everything was done. And now all I had to do was recuperate.
I can't seem to write very much these days. I experience but I can't seem to write down those experiences. Not always. Or not always the way I had intended to write about them.
My third oldest brother telephoned long-distance to enquire about me some time later. Our mother had told him about my operation. He wondered why I hadn't notified any of our brothers. I had only told our mother and I had assumed that she would let them know if she had felt that it was important enough to do so. He mentioned that it was a major surgery and it was then that I knew that he cared and had wished that I had let them know earlier. We are not a demonstrative family and words of care and concern don't always come readily. But at that moment, I felt touched by his concern and I loved my brother a little bit more, if that was ever possible. In response, I said that it was such a personal experience and added that it was also an emotional experience. He seemed to understand.
It is now weeks later and I know that the door has slammed shut. I know. The head knows but the heart can still hurt at the most unexpected moments, triggered by something as silly as a television commercial or hearing a baby cry in church. Surely the heart is allowed to break again and again every now and then for there is more than physical healing that needs to happen. There will always be babies and children around me. There will always be mothers around me. Whatever happened in my past, for whatever reason, I never bore a child. I'd often wondered what I would do if menopause should hit as I got older. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would have a hysterectomy. Weren't hysterectomies for other women? Or so I thought. And because I was still somewhat ignorant about it until it actually happened to me, I never really understood what a hysterectomy entailed, what it was truly about. But I did have a hysterectomy. And I found out what it was about. I was not happy about it but I finally found out.
I reached the final chapter before I was ready for it. But I suppose I can close that book now and put it away. And I suppose that is the end of that story.