Pre-op was a week ago today. I saw my doctor and a nurse I’d never met. The nurse drew my blood so the hospital lab could, in the doctor’s words, “get to know me.” When she drew the blood, she also gave me a plastic wristband. It’s red with a clear rectangular window for a custom label.
Said label is customized with my name and birthday, my doctor’s name, a bar code, and the date and time of my surgery. She told me once she fastened it, I was not to take it off until I arrived at the hospital.
She looked at me and paused to let it sink in. So you’ll have to keep this on over a week.
I blinked, taking this into consideration. You’re welcome to come back and draw blood in a few days if that’s too long. I wasn’t excited about it, but I thought it a waste of time to return. I can take showers with it? I confirmed. For a week?
It’ll be fine. Just leave it on.
So she drew the blood and fastened the bracelet around my wrist. She even gave me flesh-colored gauze to hide it if I wanted (a pretty close match to my actual flesh!). And for the most part I forgot about it. It didn’t irritate me as I thought it might. I am not self-conscious about it. I more or less forgot about it.
And just like that, a week came and went.
Tomorrow, when I check in for surgery, we’ll swap it with a new one.
The technique involves insertion of a tiny instrument with a rapidly rotating blade, the morcellator, that breaks up the fibroid so that it can be sucked out through the small opening of a laparoscope.
The grotesque image that comes to mind is that of a food processor. I won’t elaborate, but the technique is designed to allow large tissue to be extracted through small incisions. This is ostensibly less invasive and allows for faster healing.
As recent reports have shown, however, power morcellation can also cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications. … This problem is all the more serious if the fibroid that was morcellated happens to have contained a hidden cancer.
Today the FDA released guidance which doesn’t halt, but does discourage the technique. From their press release:
Based on an analysis of currently available data, the FDA has determined that approximately 1 in 350 women who are undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroids have an unsuspected type of uterine cancer called uterine sarcoma. If laparoscopic power morcellation is performed in these women, there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient’s likelihood of long-term survival.
I woke up this morning and felt high on endorphins even though I had only a few hours of sleep and no exercise. Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt more and more myself.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist as a first line of treatment for my fibroids. Dr. Liu is a trained medical doctor who learned Chinese medicine later. She aims to help the body achieve optimum health with the belief that it will then be able to dissolve the fibroids. She’s had a lot of success with patients, and although there are no guarantees, I can definitely say I’m feeling better than I have in months. That is a huge win.
In addition to my higher energy levels, my insides no longer feel twisty, and I can breathe normally (all month long) in everything from dresses to jeans to yoga pants. Blue says I look more “sleek,” and because I feel it, I walk it, too. #hotmama
I wrote a piece for the Body Narratives, a project founded and curated by Hana Riaz. The project creates space for women of color to reclaim and share their experiences. It’s a beautiful platform, and I’m honored to have a piece included in this body of work.
Here’s Hana’s introduction:
Our bodies are often physically and emotionally tied, and yet the disconnect experienced, the gap between the two can often seem overwhelming, painful, difficult. In this moving and deeply honest piece, nicole d. collier talks about living with fibroids and the body as a site of trauma.
Naturopaths and nontraditional healers often mention the healing properties of sunshine. And depending on where and how we grew up, our parents and grandparents spoke of it, too. My personal relationship with the sun has always been one of respect and admiration… my mood and energy levels often mirror the brightness of the sun. So it pleases me whenever “traditional” research makes linkages between sunshine and good health.
As one in a growing number of women who live with uterine fibroids, I’m interested in understanding their causes. Like many complex questions, the more we understand about the genesis of a thing, the more we can do to heal it and prevent it.