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  #1  
Unread 03-19-2005, 01:37 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

I've been thinking about posting a message like this for some time... upwards of 6 months. And I'm finally doing it.

First, this message might offend some Sisters, and for others, I hope it is encouraging and uplifting.

I came to HysterSisters after my 4th surgery this past summer. What I felt I initially found were a lot of women who seemed lost and confused about what they were going through; certainly understandable. Any surgery, regardless of how minor or invasive, is a tough decision for anyone. But a lot of women appeared to be feeling sorry for them selves and seemingly unwilling to take a stand or personal responsibility for their own healthcare.

Knowing that I am not alone and the first woman to have cancer and related treatments (nor will I be the last!) I used my cancer diagnosis as an opportunity to learn and take a very proactive, personal role in my own healthcare. I'm also an aggressive, stubborn and rebellious woman in many ways, and I chose to stand up and face cancer, with an attitude.

Long story short, I had cancer at 29. Married less than 3 years, with no children, had a radical hysterectomy, removing any possibility of having a biological child (the hardest thing to deal with with respect to cancer). Very soon after, I developed painful ovarian cysts and stress urinary incontinence, causing me to wet my pants at any given moment. I had surgery to correct both, ultimately failing. I had another bladder surgery where another doctor (not my oncologist) left 5-feet of gauze in my body. I had my right ovary and cyst removed this past August, a cyst the size of a child's football. I left the hospital with a Staph infection, resulting in MRSA (methicilin-resistant staph). I wore a Wound V.A.C. for 41 days to heal and close the wound. The resulting scar looked like someone had taken a hatchet to my stomach -- a vertical scar 9-inches long and 2-inches wide. The same week I was cleared by the infectious disease doc in late January, my oncologist found another mass, this time on my left ovary, and was in the hospital less than two weeks later. I have extensive adhesions, characterized as "concrete"; something I'll likely have to deal with again in the future.

To some, I experienced very little and to others, I experienced a lot. But my attitude is, yes, it happened to me, but sadly, there's always someone else out there who has experienced more. What’s done is done. I must learn and move on.

Some people ask me, "How do you do it? Why are you always so happy and upbeat about this stuff?" Bottom line, I do not allow myself to be sad, depressed or angry – it’s just not worth it. Sure, it can happen naturally and sometimes it does, and there are some healthy benefits to feeling and addressing sadness or anger. But for me, it takes too much energy to be sad and angry. Life is too short not to be grateful for your blessings, and we MUST try to find a blessing in any situation -- good, bad or indifferent. It's easier to hold your head up and face the world with a smile. It's easier to be grateful for what you DO have than to spend time focusing on what you DON'T have.

When I see posts on this Web site about feeling sad, blue and depressed, it's hard. I have tremendous respect for the Hostesses here, because after reading some posts, I want to respond, “Buck up! Move on!” But I know we are all looking for the same thing here -- support, compassion and understanding about our experiences. But the bottom line is, what some women seem to be looking for here, they'll never find; courage and strength. Those traits come from within, and as my mother used to say, "You've got to pull yourself up by your own boot straps". I believe they also come with faith.

Additionally, we're women! Our power, attitude and grace carry us through situations men couldn't imagine facing. We are the backbones of our families, the one to bring people together in a crisis, the cornerstone of strength in most of the couples/families I know.

My point here is we all need to stand up and take charge of our own lives and especially our healthcare. Personally, anytime I see a doctor for the first time, I'm armed with a stack of research and I quickly make it known it's not their job to make decisions about my healthcare -- that's MY job. My belief is a doctor's job is to help educate me about my situation and make recommendations. It's then my job to make the most educated and informed decision so my doctor can then carry out and facilitate MY choice. Healthcare is a personal responsibility!

On a personal note, I am not some cruel, heartless witch with a capital B. I’m a pretty emotional woman who carries my faith, family and friendships graciously in my heart. I have my own little serenity prayer – my personal mantra, if you will – that has carried me through some very dark and painful days. I have taken my own cancer experience, coupled with the experiences of others, leading me to a different place in my life. I have taken nothing for granted.

Melissa’s Mantra
God, grant me the ability move past the things I cannot change,
The courage and strength to change the things that I CAN change,
And the ability, wisdom and gratitude to learn from both!

I wish you all of you the best, today and always. I hope for those who are lost and confused, sad or angry, alone or depressed, that you soon find a place to give you deserving, abundant comfort and peace.
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  #2  
Unread 03-19-2005, 01:48 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

You have been through a lot! I support you in your method of coping. You can choose not to be angry or depressed. But I choose not to surpress my emotions. I am angry for you. The cancer was bad enough but all the complications of the surgery you have suffered-insult to injury.

Did you start off as an assertive participant in your healthcare or did you evolve to this point? In any event, thanks for your inspirational posting. I love the way you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it!
  #3  
Unread 03-19-2005, 03:30 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

I admire you for the way you are facing all that has happened. It is important to be educated as much as possible about our conditions and to be an active part of our care. I do have to say, however, that sometimes sadness or depression is caused by a chemical imbalance that cannot be overcome by changes in behavior. In those cases it takes courage to seek the help needed to correct the imbalance.

Also, I have read some stories on this site where the sisters know something is wrong but cannot find a Dr. who can or will help. I understand their frustration, and I hope that they are able to find healthcare providers that listen and take their complaints seriously.

Michaelat
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  #4  
Unread 03-19-2005, 03:40 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

((((Melissa))))

You are a wonderful, strong, inspiring woman! You truely are a role model for the rest of us and I respect and appreciate your post! I agree with you completely and wanted to let you know you have my support and I wish you a healthy and happy life!

THANK YOU!
  #5  
Unread 03-19-2005, 04:02 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

(Raising right hand...)
"I promise to look on the bright side, find the silver lining, and make lemonade with life's lemons."

Thanks Melissa2000 - it's easy to get overwhelmed, upset, angry, anxious, etc - and normal too. But, it really does help to re-focus and pour energy into the positives.

I'm thankful for my supportive DH and friends, my surgeon, the ability to take time off work, the insurance that will cover most of the costs, the finances to cover the rest, a happy home, an otherwise-healthy life,,,,,,,,
  #6  
Unread 03-19-2005, 04:04 PM
I'm with you, Melissa!

Melissa, I couldn't agree with you more! I have clinical depression but I've taken responsibility and taken care of myself. Sometimes we do feel blue but it doesn't do us any good to focus on that sadness--I choose to get up and move. I go for a walk, I play on the internet, I pray! Before I know it, I'm all better! So, Melissa, you GO GIRL, you're an awesome example for all women who are struggling!

God bless you,
Angie K.
  #7  
Unread 03-19-2005, 04:59 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

Amen Melissa. You are everything I try to be.

After reading your moving post I think that you will forever reside in my memory and heart. You are an inspiration to be treasured. Life is a path we follow in search of good moments. May you find many along your travels.
  #8  
Unread 03-19-2005, 05:09 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

Yes I feel happy sometimes and yes I feel sad.

Today I feel great and I enjoy it!

Sometimes I feel grotty and I pamper myself and try and pick me up. I have had depression and have been sectioned. Not a good time in life!

Sometimes I feel cross. I have put up with gyny problems for 20 years and I hope they are now over. But I keep getting other problems, cysts and stuff...............

I get upset because I know I will never have anymore children, I always wanted a son, but I am lucky enough to have the 14 year old female alien upstairs who acts like she hates me tonight........ and I can share in the life of my husbands son, who for all intended purposes is my son too. Its the closest I am gonna get to having a son of my own, so, so what if he's "borrowed". I am not his mum and never will be his mum, and I would never dream of trying to take the place of him mum, cause he has a mum. But I haven't got a son, so its nice that I can borrow him when I want and pretend! Sometimes he is the most sensible one round here!!

I love my animals to bits, my 2 dogs and 2 cats. and they love me too......

Big hugs to you. I am a waffling beast, but I do know how you feel.... xx and my heart shares your pain. xx

But I always think, well I am here, so there's no problem.

And if I am not here, well, there is no problem!

xxx god bless xxx
  #9  
Unread 03-19-2005, 05:22 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

Melissa_2000

Thank you for submitting your post. You did it with a great combination of eloquence and frankness. I was getting a bit disappointed with women complaining about their misaligned incisions when so many others on -line are struggling with cancer
and not being able to have children. Hopefully your post will give them a different perspective of their situation.

Thoughts and Prayers are with you Melissa
  #10  
Unread 03-19-2005, 06:00 PM
Stand Up Sisters!

Melissa, I admire your courage, and you've been through so much more than most of us have been.

But....

This IS the post-op message board, after all. Many women find this to be the only place where they can express how they really feel deep down because they don't think anyone else will understand. This is where that 20-something woman who had a medically necessary hysterectomy but who still wants children comes to express her sorrow that she will never have a/another child. This is where that woman who just had a hyster but can't take HRT comes because her suddenly depleted hormones are causing severe menopausal symptoms. And this is there the woman who just had a hyster for whatever reason comes when she's scared about what's happening to her body and wondering if it's normal.

After what you've been through, I'm sure these problems seem petty and self-pitying. But to these women, these are important issues as they face a tremendous change in their bodies and their lives. I agree that courage and strength come from within, but there are times that some ladies just need an extra boost from others who've been there to gather that courage and strength and go forward. A little moral support from others helps bolster us and makes us stronger.

My mother died of ovarian cancer last year. She went through many surgeries, chemo, and eventually ended up with a colostomy, then an ileostomy, a port for the chemo, and a feeding tube when her body could no longer process food. She died a miserable, horrible death, and when I compare my hyster with what she went through, I know that there is no comparison. At the same time, we all have our problems, and they are important to us, even if they seem small to others.

Yours is an inspirational story, and I'm glad you've been strong enough to overcome. I would just hate for other ladies on this forum to feel that they can't come here with their concerns because their problems are not as devastating as someone else's.

Peace.
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