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As a woman, it seems to me that every new stage of life I enter, there are new social indignities to suffer. Sometimes these are just annoyances, and other times these are very scary. And each new indignity drives home for me just how much this culture doesn't give a damn about women's health care.

Women are a walking black box of mysterious oozes, and squishy thingies, and processes only known to some alien gods out there somewhere. And to be honest, I have had just about enough of that shit.

Follow me through the orange portal into the land of feminine mysteries if you wan to know more.

Tell me it's not cancer.  That's the prayer, the mantra I am muttering under my breath every waking second right now. I am waiting to receive the latest round of tests to indicate whether or not I might have a reproductive cancer.

And it's not as if the thought of Cancer isn't scary enough, absolutely terrifying to tell you the truth, it's the response that the medical profession seems to have about the possibility of cancer. This is the new indignity.

I am in my 40s. I might have a reproductive cancer. I have other reproductive conditions like endometriosis, and I recently learned I might also have a fibroid. I have poly cystic ovarian syndrome. And all of these conditions mess with my hormones and my moods. Conditions I have fought valiantly with diet and exercise and supplementation, until I finally reached a sort of parity hormonally speaking.

And I found recently that I have hypothyroid issues. Yet another explanation for the stubborn nature of my fat. I had just begun to get treatment for that. I just started to feel a lot better, and then, Blammo! The Big C-Word.

Maybe it's the thyroid medication, maybe it's the fact that I have done over 20 years of inner work on my psychological hang ups regarding doctors, but for once I didn't freak out as I went through all the blood tests and exams to determine the nature of the beast.

Actually that I was not scared, scared me the most. I don't know if I can explain this to anyone with any kind of detail. But not being scared was so alien a feeling to me, that the very universe itself felt unbalanced. It must be bad, I am not scared. That's what the unwelcome little voices in my head say to me when the room is too quiet.

I spend tremendous amounts of energy trying to not fantasize about life without my physical presence on this plane of existence. I try not to take inventories of all my regrets, or my fears for the future.

All of these things--this insufferable, constant waiting would be enough, but no--the indiginity of being female, that old ghost must be dealt with too, and she is a scary one, like Green Meg in the swamp, she waits to drag you down, to smother you with the ignorance and the sexism that is so prevalent in medicine.

What is it that has disturbed me so?

I don't know for sure if I have cancer. And even if tests come back positive, which so far, not so much, I don't know what kind of cancer it is. And the first option that has been offered to me, is not to remove this one mass, but to give me a total hysterectomy.

And this offer was made without batting an eye. The doctor ( a male) might have been discussing having my car repainted, or getting a cheese burger. He was smiling. It's no big deal.

Oh trust me honey--It's a big fucking deal.

Your ovaries, produce hormones for 30 years after you hit menopause--which I have not done yet.

Your uterus holds your bladder up.

Those hormones are what makes your skin supple, it's what makes your breasts full, they affect your cognition, your mood, your sex drive, they protect you from bone loss. HRT on the other hand, ups your chances for heart attack and stroke, and do not benefit all women equally.

When a Hysterectomy works, it's great, and when it doesn't, no one wants to know because that's how horrible you feel.

So now, in addition to all the other dark fantasies--the others that come to mind--green-toothed harridan, crazy cat lady, dies alone, eaten by own cats, after total hysterectomy.

Male doctors are just too goddamn casual about yanking women's organs out. Why is that?

Tell me men, if I said you had a lump, we don't know what it is, it MIGHT be cancer, so how about I cut both your balls off, and slap a hormone patch on your ass--would you have a good reaction to that suggestion? Or would you cringe in your seat, cross your legs and start counting exits?

I feel trapped in Oklahoma more than ever right now. I feel trapped in a state with a medical attitude toward women that mirrors it's religious attitude toward women. One that is paternal, ignorant, and condescending.

I talked to other women I knew about various operations. I have been on the internet doing research on reproductive cancers, matching my symptoms to medical pages, and to patient reports. Teaching myself new terms like NeoPlasms, Fibroid, Dermoids, etc., and so on.

When I found out about the mass, hysterectomy was an option in my mind. But it was a last resort. And I expected the doctor to bring it up, but also as a last resort, but instead it was a first resort.

He asked if I planned to have any more children, and I said no. He says--hey why don't we just take it all out--then I exploded like Krakatoa.

But back to the other women I talked to--so many of them, when they opted for tubal ligation, their doctor's too--offered to yank everything out. WTF?!

What this communicates to me, this casual attitude towards hysterectomies?

How can you be a doctor that specializes in female reproductive organs and processes and not understand the physiological importance of the uterus and ovaries, in the female body even after a woman is done having children? How can they discount the other processes that it controls, even after menopause?

To me this is the same shockingly casual attitude I encountered toward putting women on diet pills (remember Fen Phen?) the same with episiotomies, c-sections, and the adverse affects of synthetic hormones, and the incredible ignorance about breast feeding in the medical community, etc., and so on.

This hits especially hard right now, during a time when women are being attacked by ignorant zealots on all sides, and it's not unusual to see some of them wearing doctor's coats too.

I don't know where to go. I don't know who to talk to. This is a state that tried to end informed consent for women. And that is it's own frightening fact.

I feel like because I don't want to have more babies, that my value has been depreciated precipitously, and it's okay for them to experiment with my life. Because that's what it is. And the sad part is, they probably don't even acknowledge this as at all, it's probably not a realization that has hit them ever in their male dominated career in our androcentric medical model.

There are other things on mind as well. Remember this diary?  and this diary too.

11:26 AM PT: I am looking at hysterectomies the same way I look at C-sections. Sometimes they are necessary, but when are they a first resort and how would you know. There are lots of "reasons" women are offered hysterectomies and some of them to me, sound down right silly.

Hysterectomy Surveillance 1994- 1999
"Problem/Condition: Hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgical procedure, after cesarean section, for women of reproductive age in the United States. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and approximately 20 million U.S. women have had a hysterectomy. " With a lot more hysterectomies performed in the South than in the North East (which makes one wonder). Perhaps I can find a later consecutive document and compare the numbers?

A story from 2010 about a proposed law requiring doctors to warn women of life altering changes due to hystererctomies.
""Ninety percent of hysterectomy patients who opt for the surgery have non-cancerous, non-life-threatening ailments for which there are alternative, less invasive procedures," Maloney told the audience. "Where is the outrage?""

1997 Chicago Tribune Piece which mirrors my observations thus far

11:37 AM PT: More stories related to this topic:

2/3rds hysterectomies unnecessary

Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 8:09 AM PT: Last night was bad. Finding out how many of these hysterectomies were unnecessary was very upsetting. But then I read that women over 35 are considered candidates because of, "Their advanced age."


I know what it means. But I remember when I was pregnant with my second child. I would turn 35 before I gave birth, like days before I gave birth. And to hear the couple of "medical professionals" say it, that was the magic number.

I had to HAD TO have that baby in a hospital or it would be malformed or dead! Because I was going to turn 35 days before my due date.

You know ladies. You are not stamped with an expiration date. You have names, you are not statistics, you are not numbers. You are human beings with unique health needs, with life experiences, with expectations, and talents and a mind of your own.

Don't ever let some asshole stamp you with a number. Don't ever let anyone treat you like a faceless number. Keep all your options on the table. Always. And make them see you as a person and if you can't. Leave and find someone else who will.

Just because I am in my 40s, doesn't mean it's okay to yank all my organs out. It's not okay to castrate me just because the medical community IMAGINES that I am past my reproductive prime. Because I am more than a baby making machine, and my uterus, and my ovaries are more than baby making machines. And I am going to look sideways at any medical person who pretends otherwise. And you should too.

That flippant, disordered, suggestion was definitely a low point in my year. But it also shows me just how much, women are not seen as humans, as people by the medical profession. My search online confirms it.

As I searched for places that do the kind of less invasive surgeries I am looking for, webpage after medical webpage promotes a variety of hysterectomies, but no discussion about how to avoid them or why they shouldn't be a first resort except in the worst of cases.

Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 8:12 AM PT: What this has taught me is that if this happens to you, and it's not some horribly invasive cancer, if you want to keep your organs (even if only for sex) better tell the doctor with tears in your eyes, you want to have lots more babies. Otherwise....


Women's Reproductive Health Care Options in America:

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| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't know if it helps having empathic co-achers.. (8+ / 0-)

    but I'm aching along with you--and I'm a DOOD....

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 09:42:30 AM PST

  •  Do you have family out of state that might (4+ / 0-)

    help arrange an appointment with another doctor that may approach things differently?  I don't know what to say, really.  I generally have a rather cynical attitude towards the medical system as it is, and try to avoid if at all possible.

    Good luck, and I wish the best possible outcome for you.

    Through early morning fog I see visions of the things to be the pains that are withheld for me I realize and I can see...

    by Keith930 on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 10:08:37 AM PST

    •  I am definitely looking into just that (3+ / 0-)

      It seems strange to me in this state that is so "pro-life" and I say that with a smirk. Do they do this because they really think it's no big deal? Is this how doctors skirt the pro-lifers that might otherwise drive them out of business?

      There are lots of factors that could be driving this behavior, but I haven't observed it long enough to even begin to formulate a hypothesis. And given the time sensitive nature of my condition, I have other things to worry about.

      Which is probably the major factor that keeps women from dealing with the problem and ensures each new generation keeps running into this same problem.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 10:18:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wish I could recommend a physician (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, mettle fatigue

      but you are too far away and so many of the best have retired/died.

  •  I'm so sorry your doctors have been so cavalier. (4+ / 0-)

    Part of the problem is just not knowing what it is, so I hope you will find out soon. I will tell you that my experience with cervical cancer with a male specialist in gynecological oncology was that he told me he could take everything out, but then I'd have to have chemo and radiation anyway, so it made more sense to do that first and not remove anything. So that's what I did. He was the surgeon, too. So they are not all like that.

    •  I figured, that the first thing to do was to (3+ / 0-)

      remove this mass, it's isolated. And examine it after it's removal, and then discuss whether it's cancer, what kind and if anything else needs to be removed.

      If they don't know what it is yet and they cannot no, without a biopsy--then removal of the mass seems the best first step. It's not like we don't have the surgical know how to do that without rupturing it.

      I don't like gambling.

      They yank the mass and everything out--oh well it was only a dermoid--no biggy-so hows that patch working for you? Anyone find the bodies in your back yard yet? (snark)

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 10:27:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  GreenMother, (5+ / 0-)

    I am very sorry for your situation, and understand what you are going through.  From the perspective of a 60 plus year old who knew from an early age I would not have children (bad genetics in my family), and from extremely painful periods (from my very first one), I was ready and prepared to undergo a complete hysterectomy in my early 40's.  I have never regretted it, and have never felt better in my life. Gone was the emotional roller coaster my hormones caused, and gone was the pain.

     Again, I was in constant pain and discomfort most of my life until I had the hysterectomy.  But even so, it was definitely a major decision, so I know what you must be going through.

     I hope your tests don't show cancer, and it is simply a fibroid that can be removed.  However, please don't fear the loss of your reproductive organs. You may feel depressed or  angry for a while, but hopefully you will feel better emotionally when you feel better physically.  

    I have had two very close friends who got cervical cancer in their 60's, and I am grateful that I haven't had to worry about that or any other forms of reproductive cancer since the hysterectomy.  I think many doctors understandably are concerned about this, and recognize the benefits of removing these organs once they are no longer needed for reproduction.  (It doesn't help their flippant attitude, though.)

    The difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice.

    by rlharry on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 10:42:24 AM PST

  •  When it come to Doctors, trust but verify is very (3+ / 0-)

    important.  Good luck in '14
    remember the line from the song
    "next year all our troubles will be far away"

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 10:52:57 AM PST

  •  It's odd, but ... (4+ / 0-)

    I had a friend who really, really, really wanted a hysterectomy. Just take it all, I've had it, leave me alone! was her attitude---and they refused. Yes, this happened in Oklahoma.

    Me, I avoid doctors like the plague here and, when I do have to go, I am very, very careful who I go to. I spend a lot of time researching them. I used to be much more cavalier, but not anymore, not after whole series of medication errors and botched minor procedures and ridiculous diagnoses and whatever. I'm somewhat lucky, though, because I have family and friends with medical backgrounds, and they tell me stuff. And I listen. Eg, I knew, even before this latest news about dropping the BP meds that funny stats were showing up in patients who took BP meds. They've also taught me when and how to get my BP tested. Etc.

    I guess my point is, it's not just women's healthcare that's a problem in Oklahoma---it's all healthcare. My advice: proceed with caution, and listen carefully to your nurse and doctor friends. They know things that can help you sort it out.

    •  I don't have nurse or doctor friends (2+ / 0-)

      And yes, Oklahoma health care is squirrelly But their disdain for women is especially pointed.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 11:29:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. (3+ / 0-)

        Can't rec because I've had to turn off javascript for DKos (o/w it crashes my computer), but yep and verbal rec.

      •  It comes from medical schools accepting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMother, mettle fatigue

        so few women.  As late as 1978, med school admission committees at schools were still asking female applicant about marital status marriage plans, birth control practices and sexual histories which they did not do for male applicants.  I was hoping over the years, an increased number of women in medicine would change these attitudes but it appears it has not

        •  more women R in medicine. But residencies still (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          limited according to Medscape

          Despite record numbers of students applying to medical schools in 2012-2013 and enrolling this year, the United States still faces an impending physician shortage if Congress does not raise caps on residency funding, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced today.
          sorry i can't find the article i saw recently that shows the male/female med student ratios have improved.  

          if the usual pattern of social changes holds, 'tho, the first wave "in" are the pioneers, but they're often followed by opportunists (Sarah Palin is merely 1 in a time-'honored' tradition of opportunist women profiteering on the freedoms painfuly won by feminists fighting the real battles) and in medicine as in politics the opportunists support the majority power, not the dissidents.  and there are always opportunists.  but also, our expectations go up another notch further about ideals every time reality improves by a notch, and my observation of healthcare is that the increase of women physicians has improved reality but we rightfully want and expect and demand even better.   and of course woe betide the time when we do not demand better in every area of human need.

  •  this is one of the reasons i have women doctors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, mettle fatigue

    and do all the background on everything, too.

    not that all female medical personnel are competent - some are not - but it helps a helluva lot to have someone who knows the mechanics of a woman's body!

    EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

    by edrie on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 12:26:16 PM PST

  •  now, for the reason i started to post - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, mettle fatigue

    here's to a NOT cancer diagnosis!!!  sending positive energy your way!

    EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

    by edrie on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 12:27:04 PM PST

  •  I am sorry to hear of your health problems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, mettle fatigue

    To illustrate the problems women can face, I remember years ago a med school instructor/surgeon who opined at a cocktail party, "there is no ovary that is so good that it cannot come out and no testicle that is so bad that it has to come out"  It has been 30 years but I remember that so clearly.

    I can empathize about your concerns; you are concerned about cancer and my father died from multi-site metastasized cancer. My personal concern currently is about an aneurysm as several of my relatives have suffered from/died from such a condition and I have noticed some body changes in the past couple of years which have caused me to be concerned that I may have such an aneurysm.  My physician and I have discussed if these changes are a result of hiatal hernia or an aneurysm.  Since some of the changes could be either, though he thinks it is a hernia, the uncertainty remains

    •  And there is no preventive care you can take (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue

      to possibly mitigate the worst case scenario?

      As for the earlier:

      "there is no ovary that is so good that it cannot come out and no testicle that is so bad that it has to come out"
      This does not surprise me. As I travel about the internet reading not only medical papers, but also individual women's experiences, I told my husband that if this were a problem with my dick, there would be a helicopter dispatched, people would rally a fund raiser, news media would attend, and by golly we would find a way to save that penis!

      No offense to all the good men out there, but seriously, this level of institutional sexism has been painful to deal with for me. It's been a lifelong issue I have encountered repeatedly, and unfortunately it appears to infect both male and female practitioners in the form of "medical culture."

      I have my whole life ahead of me. I might not be 20, but I ain't dead yet. And I am certainly not some stray cat that needs to be spayed either.

      I am going to be busy looking for centers where they offer the sorts of treatments I am looking for. So far, I found one in California. Hopefully I will be able to find such a place, near one of my out of state relatives or friends. I say that because I am not hopeful that such a place exists here.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 06:00:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  at the risk of sounding like a Medscape shill, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    i'm always hoping people get more access to understandable medical information that doesn't hypersimplfy to 8th grade reading level which is almost no use at all.  I can't abide webMD, but i'm always touting Medscape (but read critically!!!! ) which is the professional affiliate.  it's free to everyone (but again, read critically!!! can't emphasize that enough!!) and here's the most recent diary i've written that's mostly an intro to using Medscape

    hoping for the best for you, GreenMother. (BTW i SO identify with your paragraph about feeling anxious about not feeling anxious enough).

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