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The Healing Ways I Slayed My Recovery From Fibroid Surgery

Women's Health

Like millions of black women around the world, I've struggled with managing fibroids. And after successfully changing my diet and eliminating stress triggers, I had to make the tough decision to go under the knife for a myomectomy.

Five days out of surgery and 41 days into recovery, I was relieved but quite depressed and miserable.


I did a lot of thinking and soul-searching in that short period of time, reflecting on major moments from the past three years of my life: running a successful consultancy, living in Jamaica for 30 days, traveling to Ghana with a client, losing two jobs--and my sanity--and meeting the love of my life.

Related: How I Healed My Uterine Fibroids The Holistic Way

Add to that the recent removal of nine tumors from my womb and a C-section-like scar without the baby to show for it, and you've got a nice Netflix rom-com on your hands.

I was hell-bent on using the time of bedrest and healing constructively, so, in an effort to cut the whining, loathing and feelings of utter inconvenient annoyance, I offer the following tips for at least slaying those feelings with a bit of delusion and positive thinking. Oh, and these ain't your Granny's get-well tips:

Replace thoughts of fear, disfigurement and further complications with Netflix binging, meditation and gratitude.

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I've never, in my life, had to have any sort of surgery or be admitted into a hospital. Since fibroids crashed my 35th birthday, I've had two blood transfusions, two lengthy stays in the surgery prep area, two life-threatening visits to the ER, several panic attacks, and one too many days in the hospital for surgery and observation—all within a year.

I really don't do well with being sick and dealing with doctors and their medical possibilities. The whole idea of having a scar across my pelvic area, possibly having scar tissue, possibly having new tumors grow back, and possibly not being able to have a vaginal birth (if I am even able to possibly have a kid) has invited anxiety and depression to bang on my door.

To totally rebuke the nasty, utterly terrifying thoughts going through my head, I turned to prayer (thanks to my awesome sister who actually believes in the concept of "prayer warriors" and is fervent in consistently praying with and for me), Netflix series (gotta love a little Maisel and some thrilling crime docs), and my faith that God is in control. These trumped any doomful possibility any day.

Ignore the “Oh yeah, So-and-So went through the same thing back in ’83. You’ll be alright.”

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I guess people who lack self-awareness don't see how annoying and a tad dismissive it is to immediately compare your hurt to someone else's.

I heal how I feel.

It's great to be able to relate to other women who've had the same or a similar procedure, but those who have never been through a myomectomy or any sort of surgery may have their self-awareness or sensitivity dials turned down to zero. They'll downplay your pain, question why you have to be out from work for so long, scrutinize you turning down that cheeseburger and fries while recovering, or ask intrusive questions about things that have nothing to do with ensuring your well-being or post-surgical peace. Earphones, selective hearing, and closing my eyes to fake sleep were my best friends in these cases. Get you some.

Surround yourself with elements or things that will make you smile.

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After being in the hospital, I felt totally yucky. I'm a super-germaphobe, and I hated wearing that gown. (I could have brought pajamas for my stay, but did you miss the part about me being a germaphobe? I wanted nothing more than the sweats I came there wearing to be in contact with anything from the hospital.)

Pre-surgery, you can't use deodorant, lotions, or perfumes, so, again, I felt disgusting.

After I got home and was finally able to take a real shower, I put on my favorite lotion (along with sesame and coconut oil for my very dry skin after multiple wipes with that God-awful antibacterial liquid they put on you to prep for surgery.) I love Palmer's Moisturizing Body Oil and Bath & Body Works' Shea Butter lotion in Sweet Pea.

(Of course, I also made sure to follow doctor's orders in terms of cleaning my new birthmark—I mean, scar–with nothing but soap and water, patting it dry, and letting none of my good-smelling lotions or oils near it. Today, I still use the oil along with pure African shea butter on my scar, which has worked nicely. My doc--a black medical-industry phenom in her own right --did an amazing job making a clean and neat five-inch incision that will one day become a faint memory.)

My aunt brought me balloons (which I love, even at the ripe age of 36), and my grandmother kept flowers in my room.

When you get the strength, make use of your favorite Plug-in or vaporizer scent, wear a bright-colored scarf to keep your hair under wraps, or play your favorite music. Create a happy atmosphere.

Cliche? Yes, but go ahead and catch up on learning something new.

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It took me hours to even figure out how to change the look and font for a new blog I started, but I did it. Oh, and those Netflix docs: I learned how gullible, gluttonous and wicked people could be via the Fyre Fest docs, how complex the whole issue of legalizing marijuana is via a California community that's apparently a hilly, murderous haven of marijuana farmers via Murder Mountain, and how to say hello and thank you in Russian via the Red Queen.

Seriously, take a few free courses, learn more about recovery methods and healthcare options for reproductive health, challenge yourself to daily writing exercises, or play a new game. Maybe knitting wasn't your thing before you had to go under the knife, but that crochet bikini or dress might look damn good on your next vacation!

Embrace visits from people who maybe thought you’d died and want to be sure you hadn’t.

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OK, I'm being dramatic but it is refreshing to reconnect with family members you haven't spoken to in a while over stories about fertility, hospital stays and the best pain meds to take. I was truly blessed by it and was able to do something I'd been putting off doing for years: reconnecting with folk. Sometimes it takes a difficult situation to do that, but just thank God for the opportunity.

Enjoy the conversation and take in the love in whatever form it comes.

Dealing with fibroids can be one huge annoyance at best and an expensive health disaster at worst. but you can overcome and thrive through it all. Take it from me. I now smile and wink at the scar that serves as a reminder that I've joined millions of other badass women who survive and slay.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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