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Did you go public about your surgery? Did you go public about your surgery?

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Unread 05-17-2019, 01:24 PM
Did you go public about your surgery?

I am outgoing by nature and a little bit brazen, I'll admit. I'm pretty active in my community, and a lot of people know me in my town, mainly because that's the kind of town I live in.

About three weeks after my surgery, I saw that Alec Baldwin's wife, Hilaria Baldwin, documented her miscarriage online. She had decided to be open about her health in effort to take away the secrecy about women's health in general. This struck a nerve with me. In my generation and my mother's generation, women have always been very cryptic about hysterectomy. It was NEVER discussed, and people treated it as some sort of tragedy. When I was getting ready to have mine, I was shocked to hear so many positive hysterectomy stories. I learned that the odds are about 1 in 5 to have a diagnosis that will lead a woman into the operating room for at least a partial hysterectomy. When I finally made it over to this web community I was stunned at the numbers and the longevity of the site.

I made up my mind that I was going to be one of those women who helps remove the mystery about women's bodies. My thought is that once REAL information is out there, people won't be inclined to make up stories that aren't realistic or true. So I posted it on my Facebook wall, as an announcement. It explained why I had been declining so many invitations and made it clear what my boundaries had to be for a while. For someone who has been active in a tight community, to just drop off and go dark online worries people. The post got over a hundred likes and almost as many comments, thanking me for being brave enough to go public. People were surprised, not that I talked about it, but that I had been unwell and they didn't know. Lots of people offered to provide help, too.

A few days later, after I had been to get my hair colored and cut, I posted a full body picture of myself, with make up and a nice outfit, bloated belly and all. That time I got even more likes! The compliments I got on the picture were a wonderful boost to my healing process, too. As I look at that picture now, my belly doesn't even look that bad, at three weeks.

Let me tell you, it was heartwarming to have that much support in my big/small town, and I know that people cared enough to cheer me on. It was 100 percent positive. I guess anyone that didn't care to respond simply didn't. I am not embarrassed about my slightly puffy belly, instead I am proud that I had the courage to take care of my health and go through that intense experience so I can still be here to do what life has in store for me. I feel like a warrior and it's empowering to know that I'm not alone.

What about you? I know that not everyone is as open and unabashed as me, but who else "went public" or plans to, about their surgery? I should note that I'm almost 58, and that may have something to do with my attitude.
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Unread 05-17-2019, 05:57 PM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I didn't tell everyone but those that needed to know, knew. I know some nosey, gossipy people who tend to spread news maliciously or make it about themselves so I didn't say much to some and more to others.

What you do find out, say at work, is that an astonishing number of women have had one.
Unread 05-17-2019, 07:55 PM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I was and still am completely open and public about it. Good health is important. Nothing about health, at all, should be taboo or embarrassing. We ALL are humans in human bodies having human body experiences.
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Unread 05-18-2019, 12:55 AM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I told friends at my gym that I was having my surgery and why and some of my other friends. I found out a lot more people have had this surgery or similar issues and haven’t decided to have one yet. I did post an announcement on my Facebook to let everyone know what was going on and why I would be at events, etc
Unread 05-18-2019, 01:31 AM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I've also been fairly open about mine. I don't tend to tell random strangers I'm only meeting once, but anyone I see regularly like friends, work colleagues, my gardener etc I was happy to say what I was having/had had done if asked. I posted on Facebook too for much the same reasons as you, to let everyone know why I might be off the radar for a while, and also to encourage my friends to go for their smear (pap) tests or make sure their loved ones were having theirs - and a couple replied that they had booked theirs after putting it off for several years so that felt good

I suppose I wanted to normalise it, just like if you had surgery on a broken leg or for appendicitis you wouldn't usually be secretive about that so why be secretive about a hysterectomy. It's just surgery! Turned out quite a few female friends had lots of questions about it that they'd never been able to ask anyone and were grateful that I was willing to talk about it.
Unread 05-18-2019, 06:06 AM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I've moved this thread from our Recovery Forum to The Polling Place - it's a better fit for non-recovery questions which may still relate to surgery.

I let folks know at work, plus family members. I mentioned it in a women's sewing group at church and a private FB page - and got positive feedback from those who'd had hysterectomies. Like you, I found that more women had this than I thought. Still, I chose to not post publicly on FB feed beforehand, for I didn't want "advice" from people who'd not had this surgery but "heard all about this, that and th'other and here's what you need to do" - well-meaning, but clueless . I went public afterwards when I was several weeks healed and wasn't likely to receive such comments. I also shared about my involvement here.

I'm not on FB much anymore, but face to face, I talk very openly about my surgery, sometimes to the benefit of those facing a hysterectomy, sometimes to the embarrassment of others who still keep it under wraps. One church acquaintance who had hers 3 weeks before mine asked me a question about my own recovery in a fitness class, and then urged me to talk more quietly. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ She shouldn't have asked!

Unread 05-18-2019, 07:06 AM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

Thanks, Cussette...I don’t have enough familiarity with this site to know exactly where to post. It’s an interesting question, though, isn’t it? We live in tricky times. I think we’re pretty much heroes for having this experience.

It occurs to me that a number of factors affect one’s comfort with discussing ‘girl parts’. Age, certainly. How conservative one may feel because of the social circumstances, like your church friend, I think is a biggie. As much as I want to shout it from the rooftop that women’s health is the same as all health, I recognize that there are plenty of people who raise their eyebrows at the thought. I have a good male friend who kept his distance from the whole thing, even though his wife came to the hospital and was with us right after surgery. He couldn’t deal with his own embarrassment. (I’m still mulling whether I give him some grief about that)
Unread 05-21-2019, 04:52 PM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I was pretty private about it while my mom felt the need to tell every person she came in to contact with that I was having surgery. I told the “need to know” group, but didn’t want a ton of attention.
Unread 05-21-2019, 08:24 PM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I kept it to a few females at work and a private Facebook group of women that are very involved in fitness. I only told my male boss that I was having “female surgery” because I didn’t want the conversation to be too awkward, but wanted him to know I’m going to have restrictions & be out for appts. etc.

I realized that it’s such a secretive thing. I’ve also had surgery for fibroids & didn’t realize how many women are affected by that as well. We shouldn’t have to feel ashamed by all the “odd” things our bodies do, but it’s still hard to find where is “TMI” land.

I’m so happy to have found this forum where we can openly discuss all the things our bodies have been through & will continue to experience as we recover.
Unread 05-22-2019, 08:08 AM
Re: Did you go public about your surgery?

I certainly did go public. I consider myself a bit of a private person but I posted on my blog my whole schedule and unabashedly asked for prayers. Since then I have regularly posted updates describing my experience including limitations and frustrations as well as the excellent treatment I have received. Posted pictures of my bald head and then the fuzz when it grew. I always always thank others for their prayers. Even DH, who is more of an agnostic, is thanking others on my behalf when they tell him they are praying for us. Cancer is a difficult journey. I need all the help I can get.

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