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.
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
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."
WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DOES THAT MEAN?
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....