Why I don’t tell people I’ve had a hysterectomy

I frequently want to tell some friends and family members that I had a hysterectomy about eight months ago.  But I never do.  I never tell them about this surgery.  I’d like to mention it though because it’s been a big part of my life.

I don’t tell them because …

  • They don’t ask me about having a baby anymore.  So, I wouldn’t need to explain how would be impossible now … at least a baby coming from my body!  The baby house is gone folks!
  • They are too focused on telling me about them so I end up listening instead. safe secret
  • It seems weird to suddenly say, out-of-context, Hey, by the way, I’ve had a hysterectomy!  Especially when we’ve just been talking about 50 Shades of GreyThere really is nothing sexier than a love story and bondage mixed with a hysterectomy … NOT!
  • Recently I’ve even forgotten about the hysterectomy myself.  Seriously.  Apparently my husband has too because at about six months post-op he mentioned “that hysterectomy you had a year ago”  while I had to remind him I hadn’t even had my hysterversary* yet.

HYSTERVERSARY: An anniversary of having had a hysterectomy

  • I want to talk about other things … and there are so many other things to talk about.
  • I don’t want them to feel like I left them out on a part of my life when I had the hysterectomy, just now including them several months later to spare their feelings.
  • My hysterectomy went well emotionally and physically so there isn’t much to say … at least out loud to others.
  • I instead tell women who are about to have a hysterectomy about my experience … they seem to genuinely appreciate the sharing.
  • I would rather my friends and family read this blog instead … but I don’t even tell them I have a blog!  They don’t ask.  I don’t tell.

secret self

Don’t think I don’t tell them because …

  • I’m squeamish about talking about anything medical.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!  I can talk about almost anything medical without flinching and go into great detail … well, except eyeballs.  Eyeball surgery makes me squeamish.  Bleh!
  • I’m a prude.  Nope, not me.  Again, I can talk about the female body with ease.  And have.  And will.
  • I think they’ll feel sorry for me.  No again.  I can’t imagine how they would feel sorry for me unless they’re still hung up on the notion of a near-fifty-year-old woman giving birth!  I’d actually have to set anyone straight who expressed sympathy in regard to my hysterectomy.
  • I’m such a private person.  Well, yes and no.  I’m sort of private but I’m also very open when talking to most friends and family about life experiences.  Things have to be in the right context at the right moment for me to share many details of my life though.
  • They might think differently about me.  This is possible but I certainly wouldn’t care they thought I was different due to having had a hysterectomy.  I am different.  I am no longer fatigued and in pain every single month … but otherwise I’m pretty much the same ol’ every day me … sans uterus.kitty does not care
  • I’m ashamed to tell people I had the surgery.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I’m actually relieved I had the surgery and would like to tell people how much my life improved.  I also feel grateful I had good medical insurance coverage, not to mention an extremely supportive husband.  I’ve always thought I should have had a celebratory hysterectomy party but my husband thought that would be too much.  Too much fun I say!

Through one other particular life-changing experience I learned that sharing intimate details of my life isn’t always necessary and won’t always be appreciated.  I have learned to live in the space that it’s OK if everyone doesn’t know something I’d like to share with them.

At this point, all the people who need to know or I feel really need to know that I’ve had a hysterectomy know.  If and when the times comes that it’s necessary to share with others about my past surgery I will.  But until then, it’s still a semi-secret part of me.

Here’s one secret I’ll leave YOU with … the secret as to why cats purr:


cats purr beecause

My SECRET hysterectomy

OK, it’s not a total secret, my total hysterectomy, but there are some people who I didn’t tell for various reasons.

I told everybody at work because well, I was going to be off four weeks and I had no shame getting the baby house taken out.  My boss really wanted me to have a baby, but I’m older, my eggs are few and defective, and well, the only time I did get pregnant there were chromosomal problems.  Alas, the fate of advanced maternal age.

I’d actually been thinking about a hysterectomy for YEARS but didn’t get one because having a healthy baby seemed like a good and possible thing.  I suffered through years and years and years and years and years … did I mention years?! … of painful periods, lost time and utter fatigue.

At one point in my mid-twenties I was on a Fentanyl patch for the pain — three days every month.  It worked well, but I completely lost those days of my life … I mean I remembered virtually nothing.  I decided this wasn’t the best way to continue and stumbled onto Vioxx!  Oh how I missed Vioxx!  Vioxx made my periods completely manageable; I’m not sure how this drug did that but it did.  Why question what’s working?!

2004 — The year Vioxx died.

Wow!  That was TEN YEARS AGO!  I tried Celebrex, a related drug, but never had pain relief and instead got facial flushing, mild chest pressure and pedal edema.  So, I was back on the pain-med bandwagon … 😦

My recipe for my best attempt at pain control every month became a cocktail of Tylenol #3 (acetaminophen with 30 mG codeine), Tylenol and ibuprofen — all at the maximum safe doses.  This has been my regime for the last decade combined with the use of a hot water bottle, heating pad, patience, hot baths, emotional support (from my dear husband) and copious sleep.

I have often thought how I would keep this regimen up month after month, year after year, wondering about the health of my liver and kidneys due to all these chemicals?  When I turned 45 I thought this would be the year to say good-bye to my uterus.

Oh, back to the SECRET part … well, I had this surgery and have not told either my father or my parents-in-law.  I haven’t told my dad because he’s a typical high-functioning genius Aspergian and his response would be … well, weird.  I also feel there is no benefit for him to know of this surgery.

I’m pretty sure our conversation would go like this:

ME: Hi Dad.  I just wanted to let you know I’m having a hysterectomy on [insert date].

DAD: Oh?  Why are you doing that? [with a very puzzled tone]

ME: Well, I’ve had really, really painful periods for years and we’re not going to have children. [me, kind of embarrassed that I’m talking about periods with my seventy-something-year-old dad]

DAD: I planted a sweet potato vine out in the front.  It’s not ready to harvest yet.

ME:  ????!  [thinking WTF?!, he didn’t even address my surgery] 

So, suffice it to say, he’ll never know about my hysterectomy.  It’s not that he’s an uncaring man; he’s simply VERY factual.  In all honesty, I would like a bit more attention and a caring sympathetic response from my father but he is who he is.  C’est la vie and que sera sera!

In regard to my parents-in-law, it would be a WHOLE other story.  I would get loads of attention, lots of questions — not the kind I’d really want.  Just last year I was walking around the block with my father-in-law who is well-aware of our previous baby loss, but remains hopeful, and told me about his 56-year-old friend — FIFTY-SIX! who got pregnant.  Naturally.  No IVF (in-vitro fertilization).  Um, all I could reply was, “That’s interesting” and keep walking.  When I told my husband about this he cried bullshit on the whole thing his dad said.

My father-in-law is a GREAT man.  Seriously.  No joke.  And I love my mother-in-law dearly too.  But what they won’t be getting from us is grandchildren. Ever. They have a grandson and granddaughter from my husband’s sister … so they do have grandchildren, simply not from us.

I didn’t tell them about my hysterectomy because there would have been the “whys” and “you can still have children” and “you’re young” and “blah, blah, blah” … not the conversation I wanted to get into.  I may tell them one day when I’m in my 70s that we’re not having children … until then I’ll let them remain hopeful!

I certainly didn’t make this decision on the fly; it’s been brewing for many, many years — in fact, I’ve thought of a hysterectomy every month now for years!  Pain is a lovely reminder (sarcasm).

So, my secret’s out with some … just a few.  Sadly, the people I’d most like to share this life-changing event with are the ones I’m not.

shhh secret