Thursday, August 1, 2013
Figuring it all out
Well, I will finally know the answer. The doctors always ask the same questions. You would think that I would be better prepared.
"What is the first day of your last period?" Today. 7/31. I always had to guess at the doctors office before, not really sure, and make something kind of plausible up. Unless Mother Nature has a surprise, this is the definitive answer. For all time. My ovaries come out 8/29.
On the one hand, this is a very good thing. An end to discomfort and inconvenience, both physical and emotional. I joked with my LFS friends that I am trading up in a way...cranky and irritable only every 3 months for scans, rather than the more traditional waxing and waning of my emotions on a monthly basis.
I will be limiting my cancer risk. But more important to me, by having these various tissues sampled and studied, I will hopefully discover what that overall risk actually is. Less organs, more information. Information is good, and these organs can only go bad.
These answers might, in a way, provide some guidance with regard to our children. Should I have mutation in my breast tissue, for example, but have not developed breast cancer, this could suggest that our mutation isn't one that runs aggressively in breast cancer. Each LFS family mutation is different, and some families run brain tumors, or are rife with breast cancer, always with the sprinkling of other malignancies, of course. Of course.
We are fortunate to have a short LFS story, because we haven't had a lot of cancer up our family tree, which would be difficult in obvious ways. But the flip side of that is that we have no family history. Many screenings are slated to begin a few years before the earliest family onset of a particular cancer. We have a giant question mark, which is its own challenge.
I am a giant question mark, unto myself.
So, this surgery is a good thing.
I am not an automaton, devoid of emotions about this. I did look up menopause to figure out what I will be abruptly jumping into. Plunging into that change will be no picnic. It doesn't alter my thinking about this, but it does pinch at my heart a bit. How could it not?
I had Olivia just before I turned 39. I felt comfortable playing volleyball and hanging out with friends much younger than me who also had little ones. While much of the past few years have been a nightmarish blur for me, this surgery seems to be fast forwarding me to 50. What the hell happened to my 40's?
There is something about my corporeal identity that my girl parts seem to represent. I am a wife and mother. This is what I am, and what I do. Somehow, as irrational as it sounds, I feel like this identity is somehow threatened, evidenced by the fact that my uterus and ovaries are now unnecessary, and are in fact a problem worthy of such effort, to eliminate them.
I have mentioned that there is often a disconnect between my head and my heart. My head always wins, but my heart usually makes a good showing. This would be a prime example.
It is my choice to have this surgery. But among my menu options, while this seems to be the best one, it still is complicated. Everything with LFS is more complicated.
What is simple (and obvious) is that I won't look different as a result. Brent will always have giant scars and a limp, having lost his entire right hip bone. Lauren has a special part in her hair, one that most other girls do not have, a scar from ear to ear. This is reminder of her losing a piece of her mind, literally, while I was losing mine in a more figurative sense. It occurs to me most of my closest friends with LFS have had mastectomies.
These losses are externally apparent and naturally bring identity challenges in all sorts of areas, complete with looks, and questions. I won't have those sorts of challenges. However, while I might not look different, I do know that I will feel different.
When I got my tubes tied, I felt 'broken' for a while, understanding that again, I chose to do it, and the broken part, in fact was the whole point. We didn't want more children. I didn't want more children. (Hello?!! We were already a Nation, as things stood. I was no spring chicken). But it was still difficult, somehow. I chalked it up to postpartum hormones back then.
And maybe I should just chalk up this current mental battle to my ovaries giving me one last hurrah of hormones, simply because they can. A parting gift to remind me that there are always good things to be found with the bad. It all in where you focus. Sometimes, it is just hard to focus at all.
Like before tomorrow's scans.
Next month, I will be done with PMS, in order to be in a better position with LFS.