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AudreyS. - Hostess Alumni 2002

From the Alumni Staff Bios Articles List

Hi there, and welcome to the Hormone Jungle! My name is Audrey, I'm 47 years old, and live in Los Angeles, in between Hollywood and downtown. I've been married for almost 10 years to my DH, Bill, who has the patience of a saint when it comes to my involvement with Hystersisters. We are both medical people; I am an ultrasound technologist, with a specialty in adult and pediatric cardiology. BTW, we prefer it when you call us "sonographers" -- and make sure that yours carries the RDMS, RDCS, or RVT credential as your guarantee of quality! My DH is director of pediatric respiratory care at a large hospital here in Los Angeles. We have one DD, 7years old, who had three intestinal surgeries before her third birthday and battles adhesions already. My DH also has a son who lives with his mother in Seattle. He has severe ADHD and heart problems which will probably need surgery in a few years. Both kids are also way too bright!

BTW, just so you all know I'm more than a (former) uterus, working woman, and mom (and wife), this is me: I like to cook pure, healthy food; I used to be a singer (classical choral music, mostly) and have appeared with the LA Philharmonic and SF and Seattle Symphony orchestras (and 80 other singers, lol). I used to like to read, but most of my reading now is research, both for my role here, and for my hoped-for new career as a medical writer. Photography is still a passion, although I've not tried to sell my work in a few years. For all you scrapbookers out there, come to LA! I've got enough photos to keep you busy for a year or two...

Unlike many of the women here, my hysterectomy was not really by choice. I'd been having some pain which I thought due to gall bladder problems, and asked my co-worker to take a look with the ultrasound. We didn't find anything there, but I'd had some cramping on and off for a couple of years, along with some heavy bleeding and passing of tissue for the six months prior. So I asked her to look lower, in my pelvis.

What we saw shocked us both: I had a complex ovarian cyst, over 5 inches in diameter (think huge grapefruit). I didn't even have a GYN but my friend referred me to a wonderful woman, our age, who herself had a TVH a few years ago. I went to see her, thinking, "OK, laparoscopy, ten days off work. I can do this, no big deal". I've had 3 laparoscopies, two diagnostic for endometriosis (the first at 19 years old) and the third for an ectopic pregnancy that wound up in the cul-de-sac, between the rectum and the uterus. So laparoscopy was territory I understood.

I took my DH with me to the appointment. It had been three years since my last visit to anyone -- we'd moved to another state, then lost the HMO we'd had for 10 years, and I just never re-established my medical care with anyone (typical healthcare worker behavior, BTW!). By then, I'd had a "real" ultrasound, transvaginally, which confirmed the diagnosis and also visualized a thickened endometrium and some small fibroids. The doctor did an exam, and found my organs so adhered to each other that she said, "we'll need to do a full hysterectomy."

Needless to say, I was startled. At 47, I was done with reproduction. I had my DD at 40 after a pregnancy complicated by such severe pre-eclampsia that I nearly died. My DD went into her first surgery at 2 days old with only 50% odds of survival. And I'd had my tubal ligation during the crash c-section that they did to deliver her. So it wasn't that I was particularly attached to my uterus or anything, it was more the idea of the 8 weeks off work (I only work per diem -- if I don't work, I don't get paid) that was so daunting.

I had a CA-125 done that came back at 200. Somehow I always knew that this mass (in the face of all evidence to the contrary) was in fact benign. But that didn't change the fact that it had to come out, along with everything attached to it. My GYN referred me to an oncologic surgeon, who discussed my options with me. Given my family history of prostate and colon cancer in my father, and breast cancer in his mother, and the fact that I really wanted to make sure that this was my last surgery for GYN problems, I agreed to TAH-BSO. Yes, I'd suffered from endometriosis for years. I just never thought that it would end in hysterectomy.

I found Hystersisters in researching my options pre-op. I lurked for a while, as the only computer in the house at the time was DH's laptop. So I couldn't log on until late at night after he was done working on it. But my fifth day home from the Castle, he brought me home my very own HP Pentium 4, set it up, and my first act was to log onto and register at Hystersisters. I tell my GYN and my surgeon that it's the best thing their patients can do, as so many of my questions were answered here rather than by calling their offices with each new problem. Actually, I had a fairly uneventful recovery and was volunteering (with my feet up) at my daughter's school by the third week pre-op! And I have continued to learn here -- about HRT options, nutrition, supplements, and most of all, about myself and my dreams.

I hope I can give back some small percentage of support that I've gained here. I was astonished, and honored, when Kathy asked me to hostess. If one post that I write helps one other woman, the way so many have helped me, then the spirit of "Mitzvah" (good deeds) is alive in my life.

To all who have supported me (and read this far) thank you! And welcome to the most supportive community of women on the Net.

04-29-2003 - 09:11 PM


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