the things we don’t discuss

24Aug16

I’m here to talk about a health issue…

Not MS, this time. One that doesn’t really get discussed… but should. I’m talking about certain women’s health issues.

I was in a doctor’s office about a week ago, waiting and flipping through a People magazine (seeing names that I didn’t recognize, for the most part) and found a short article on…an American actress (one I’d actually heard of! but I’ve since forgotten whom) who struggled with uterine fibroids. The fibroids were surgically removed, and her life went on, but she made a point to publicly talk about them — a condition that no one ever brings up. After all, it’s a “women’s problem” that can cause “excessive bleeding”. No one wants to talk about that.

But what about when the bleeding becomes extreme? In combination with a lot of pelvic pain? (Fibroids may also interfere with ability to conceive a child, which I was not trying — but I had a very low likelihood of a safe pregnancy, had I wanted…)

Anyway, yes, this was an issue I dealt with, as well. I had three large uterine fibroids that were rapidly growing bigger in my late 30’s — and several smaller ones, I was told — but I kept ignoring them, because I had the little niggling thought: I didn’t really want children, but what about that 0.001% chance that I’d have regrets in the future? (And all existing fibroid treatments, at the time, eliminated all future ability to conceive.)

Well, you know what? I ignored by issue for too long. Long enough that I bled for 20+ days at one point… ladies, having a heavy period for over 20 days, not something you’d want to experience, no? Leaving the house wasn’t really an option (heavy bleeding/inconvenience), and toward the end of that time, I’d just had so much blood loss that my body couldn’t handle it anymore.

In terms of “awareness”, I want everyone to know that this isn’t just a problem of inconvenience, but this can be life-threatening. I don’t remember how many days I’d been bleeding at that point, but after two days of basically no sleep (blood pouring constantly out of me, so I had to be in the bathroom all night), my husband figured I warranted and ER visit when I could no longer walk a straight line.

At that point… yep, no more uterus, and a few liters of blood transfused. (I am grateful for those of you who donate blood! I am a common blood type, but still… thank you!) After not too long, I couldn’t even sit up without fainting.

So, if you have uterine fibroids, don’t ignore them. If you think you may, PLEASE start a conversation with your doctor and get them removed sooner rather than later. (When I was in the ER at that point, mine were so big that a hysterectomy was the only solution.) And… if you think your periods are “unusually heavy”, this is something to also get checked out. Please, for your health…

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