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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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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