Wednesday, July 03, 2013

so long, pms

A woman's cycle is an individual thing. Everyone is different under the hood, so to speak. Some are plagued by cramps, some lower backache, some mood swings, some all of the above. When I first got my period, around the age of 12 or 13, lower back pain and an irregular cycle were my complaints.

After I got pregnant and had my daughter my cycles got very regular. Unfortunately so did my PMS. Lower pelvic pain accompanied a really bad attitude on certain days of the month. When my cousin had an ovarian cyst that turned out to be ovarian cancer it seemed that my pms got worse in solidarity. Maybe it was my age and perimenopause. But over the past nine years I have had to have first six-month, and then three-month screenings to check up on what was going on, what was causing so much discomfort.

After not really finding anything significant (whew) that was causing pain, my gynecologist suspected endometriosis was making my uterus swell and impinge on my other organs on a regular basis. I certainly had worse IBS, reflux, and other digestive distress in synch with my cycle. I put up with it. For a long time. Gallstones spurring the ultimate removal of my gallbladder last year did nothing to ease these symptoms.

Ironically the period itself was usually a relief. At least I could assign my aches and pains a reason for being. My pattern became: wicked PMS for the whole two weeks or more leading up to a period, a pretty uneventful period, and then what I dubbed a "post-MS," which was really my PMS discomfort starting up all over again, sometimes as early as day 8. It sucked.

Acupuncture, diet, and chiropractic/alternative medicine was only a temporary balm. My gynecologist said I had three options. Hormone therapy (which I tried but only made my digestive issues worse), surgery, or grin and bear it and keep up with the regular screenings. I did that for years.

I had always considered surgery, a hysterectomy, a last resort, but after two recent successively wicked and painful cycles I finally had enough. My gynecologist had never pushed me towards a surgical option, but I could tell when I told her my (deep breath) decision, she thought it was the right thing for me.

I had everything in place, the surgery scheduled so that I could recover over the summer, when my elderly mom, who has dementia and lives with me and my daughter, took a fall the week before I was due to go in. Talk about when it rains it pours.

What could have been the ultimate nightmare, the combination of these two momentous life events, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had been concerned about how much my mom and my daughter might need me when I came home from my overnight stay at the hospital. But with mom transitioned from the hospital after her fall to a nursing home, I knew she was getting great care, so I could, too. The surgery was robotic, by a system called da Vinci. Seemed like a good omen for this Italian artist.

My cousin is staying with us, so my daughter is fine and cared for. Emotionally and mentally my mom's situation is still preying on me — I'm not sure when, if ever at this point, she can return home. It's seeming less and less like a possibility as each day goes by. At least I don't have to focus on whether mom is getting everything she needs from me while I am trying to recuperate. She's in good hands.

As for me, I would just like to thank my Uterus, Ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and Cervix for all they have done for me (and with me) in the past. For helping me have my beautiful and amazing daughter. I will be forever grateful.

But it was time to say goodbye, farewell, and so long, pms.
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