A few friends have already posted responses and personal information of their own--those things we all wished we had known but nobody writes about publicly. I said, "Well, I should write about what happens after a hysterectomy."
jaylake said, "Have I started a movement?" Followed immediately by, "I can't believe I said that!"
Once I picked myself up off the floor laughing, I thought, Yeah, I should post that. So my TMI below, cut for those who don't want to hear about bloooooood:
I had a hysterectomy in 2003 after years of miserable periods (and bleeding between periods) caused by fibroids. On the fruit scale by which the medical profession loves to express such things, I was diagnosed with a "small lemon" in my early twenties, which grew over the years to "large orange" and ultimately "larger than a grapefruit".
I've written elsewhere about the process of deciding to have the hysterectomy, my lifelong desire not to have children, the surgery itself, the healing, etc., so I won't rehash that here. Suffice it to say that I researched the whole process a great deal, I asked a ton of questions, everything went very smoothly, I've never regretted it. My life is so much better now.
The word "hysterectomy" can describe a number of slightly different operations, though. In my case, the surgeon removed my uterus and fallopian tubes, leaving my ovaries and my cervix.
Now, the cervix isn't actually a separate body part. It's merely the end of the uterus.
Healing from the surgery, I experienced a small bit of bleeding. Which was normal, unremarkable, unworrying. Then it stopped.
Imagine my surprise when it started again, a few weeks later. A panicked call to the surgeon yielded up the information that, Oh yes, since you are still having menstrual cycles, and the cervix is merely the stub end of the uterus, it will still slough off a bit of lining every month. Which, gee, nobody told me that, in all my research. Not that I would have decided not to have the surgery: no. But it would have been nice to know. All I'd ever heard was, No more periods, ever!!!
So: yeah. I still have periods. I can (and do) track my cycle by them. They're pretty tiny periods--way too small for a tampon, and I don't even bother with a pad, although sometimes I sort of regret that. (Though I'm sort of stubbornly clinging to principle here, since I took so much joy after the surgery in scouring the house and all my purses and throwing away "feminine products"...)
I'll also go through menopause, some day. I think I'm perimenopausal now--the cycles are sort of erratic, and the amount of blood varies widely from period to period. And I've had an increase in other kinds of shifting-hormonal symptoms, like yeast infections and the like.
Maybe we need a new term for TMI. This kind of thing is not "too much information," if it's something relevant, important, something that happens to our bodies. Or to the bodies of our loved ones. Information is power, information is useful; it helps allay that panic. It makes us feel less alone. Maybe we just need a, "Not at the dinner table" kind of warning. You think?
Okay, that's mine. Who's next, for jaylake's movement? ;-)