If you are a woman in the United States, you’ve either had a hysterectomy, will have one or know someone who has. I joined thousands of other women on November 26th when I underwent a hysterectomy (uterus/cervix removal) due to suspected adenomyosis and other issues. A salpingectomy (surgical removal of fallopian tubes), single oophorectomy (removal of one ovary) and endometriosis removal was also performed.
Hysterectomy is so commonplace in the U.S., and now that it can be performed on an outpatient basis, the seriousness and full recovery time is often downplayed. You will hear about women returning to work 2 weeks after surgery. You will hear stories of little to no pain or complications. It’s truth for those women. You will also hear about women who were couch-bound for weeks, as well as women who had to go back in for revision surgery due to complications. No surgery and no recovery is going to be exactly the same. Even if you have a complication-free surgery and are fit going into it, a smooth recovery is not guaranteed. It doesn’t mean that those who have a bumpy recovery did anything wrong. My surgeon told me that I’d start to feel awesome after just a few days. Well, it’s been just over two weeks and I am only now starting to feel anything resembling “awesome”…and that’s only immediately upon getting up in the morning.
As you know, I work with women as a personal trainer/coach. One in three will have a hysterectomy by age 60. For that reason, I’m sharing my experience.
When we share our stories, what it does is, it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories. And it gives us the sense that we are not alone on this journey.” - Janine Shepherd
NOTE: This is not a recommendation for you to cut dairy and I’m not saying that dairy is "bad".
It’s the trend these days to eliminate entire food groups. For some, the reasoning is sound. For many others, it’s “the thing” to do. I never imagined I’d willingly cut dairy from my life. I LOVE cheese, Greek yogurt, and ice cream but after reading What Dairy Does to Periods and an article about inflammation caused by A1 casein by Dr. Lara Briden, I wondered if I should consider it. It wasn’t the first time I’d come across information suggesting that some types of dairy may contribute to period pain. However, I found plenty of information and data supporting dairy intake as a healthy part of a well-rounded diet as well. For example, several studies have concluded that dairy products have anti-inflammatory properties in humans not suffering from allergy to milk. I am unaware of having a cow’s milk allergy, so where does that leave me?
I wasn’t entirely convinced to give it a go…until my next period arrived. It was BAD. It’s gotten to the point that I’m a candidate for hysterectomy due to suspected adenomyosis. I knew that cutting out most dairy products would be difficult. But not as difficult as the painful cramping and bloating have been. What if I could make dietary changes and feel better? I want to eat foods that support my health and sense of well-being. I definitely don’t want eat foods that could potentially cause higher levels of physical pain. I weighed the pros and cons; it was time to try the cheese-free life.
The average woman will experience over 450 periods in her life. That's anywhere from 1300 to 3000+ days. Days in which we do what we need and want to do. But when you have a period problem, it becomes more challenging. If you are doubled over in pain or have to change your tampon every 45 minutes for several days each month, of course your productivity is going to suffer. (which we know is not normal and warrants a doctor's visit!) While figuring out a treatment plan for improvement, it’d be nice to have the option to plan around the times you feel the most awful, however, how many women can actually do that? The show must go on. While we may not be able to plan around it completely, we can develop a better understanding of what’s going on at different points during the cycle and become aware of symptoms and how they respond to various activities. It’s important to give yourself grace too. Sometimes sweatpants and a hot water bottle is required!
Needless to say...don’t read this if period talk or personal stories bother you!
“You can do this!” I say as I take two more ibuprofen. I sort through my leggings and find the black pair that has some, but not too much, compression. My belly feels large and heavy as I pull the waist band up and over. Now that my oversized sweats have been replaced with uncomfortable fitted leggings, I search for a loose shirt. Being a group fitness instructor means class must go on! I can’t cancel classes monthly so…I take a deep breath and hope that the ibuprofen works well enough to keep me from feeling like my insides are being ripped out. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do…I just wish my body was more cooperative!
I’m far from the only woman who dreads each month.
We don't talk about periods very often yet so many of us suffer each month. I am interested in other women's experiences. Maybe you are too. Continue reading for mine.