I had to junk my old clunker due to fire damage. It was sputtering, completely unreliable and severely unpredictable. My old faithful helped me bring three babies into the world. Yep, we had 40+ good years together when my mechanic, Dr. Sebastian, OB-GYN confirmed my suspicions; “Valorie, you must have a hysterectomy.”
I sat, very uncomfortably I might add, on that decision for a year. I read how having a hysterectomy at my age (then 42) could bring on early menopause but it was the fear of being put to sleep that haunted my every waking moment. Oh I’ve had dental surgeries, birthed three kids and had a miscarriage where I tried to bribe the anesthesiologist to let me stay awake because of this fear. Finally, he said, “you don’t wanna be awake for this.” Well, that just traumatized me.
Mentally paralyzed, I dodged Dr. Sebastian’s repeated calls even as things got worse. My new normal included having underwear, pads and tampons within reach at my desk, in my car and often hidden in my clothes. There was no escaping it. I swear if someone accidentally bumped me with a basket in the supermarket, my cycle would start!
“Okay, Valorie,” I said to myself, “put your big girl panties on! Thousands of women have this done.” I knew I had to get this diseased, polyp-ridden organ out of me for fear that leaving it in place would invite some abominable evil worse than it.
It was my mom, Shirley, who asked if I wanted the rest of my life to be like this; on vacation or at a restaurant with friends nursing a flash flood? She was right. I decided to schedule the surgery and live the days after the fire damage. Of course, then my Mom said, “I don’t understand you young women needing surgeries all of a sudden. I’m 65 and I still have all my parts!”
Now free from the fear of being put to sleep, I played the What If game with myself. What if I don’t make it? What if they clip my rectum behind the uterus and I have to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of my life? What if? What if?
So like most overly dramatic women my age, I took to my bed the night before the surgery, gathered all my children along with their Dad and starred as the brave dying damsel circa 1940’s Hollywood.
“To you, Camden (18), my first born, finish college and make our family name great.”
“To you, Jordan (15), I leave all my business holdings and please remember when it’s your kitchen night.
“To you, Kayla (12), I leave all my make-up, high heels and my coveted bottle of Chanel Chance. Wear it, my darling. Live its meaning!
“And Tyrone, love of my life,” I pulled his strong hand to my cheek and caressed it. “I’ve given you the best of me. And I want your happiness always,” I told his wondering eyes. “I promise to haunt you and your new wife if she looks better than me or mistreats my children.”
Well, obviously, I didn’t die. The surgery went off without a hitch and it’s still one of the best things I’ve ever done. My uterus was schizophrenic which, in turn, made me crazy and scared.
I adjusted my life around something that wasn’t right as an excuse to maintain it. It doesn’t matter to what part of life this truth speaks (avoiding a surgery, staying in an unhealthy relationship, justifying a chemical addiction), doing that is never a good idea.
I asked Dr. Sebastian to snap a picture of my old clunker post surgery. Perhaps it was an odd request, but I was born with it and it served me well. I keep the picture of it in my nightstand. You know, like keeping a lock of baby hair or a kid’s first tooth because of its sentimental value.
Oh God! Is that where I’m headed? Becoming the weird Old Mrs. Taylor who sits on her porch rattling a jar of odd baby teeth waving a faded picture of her uterus at passers-by?