Last summer while standing in a beer line at a festival on the Fourth of July, something happened that would change a lot of things in my life in a very weird way. An older gentleman I definitely did not know asked me if it bummed me out when my boyfriend got to drink and I couldn’t. Wait a second — what? This person I don’t know at all just pretty much just implied that I must be pregnant and couldn’t indulge in an adult beverage and … yeah, what? Did he skip that day in common courtesy class when you don’t assume a lady’s pregnant because she’s got a little (or a lotta) midsection pooch?
Because, you know, as women we are especially prone to struggling with body image already on our own, without the help of randos implying we’re growing a bun in the oven instead of maybe having a few too many Rhinegeists. I mean, yeah, I’m a little thicc in the midsection and it’s a combination of having hypothyroidism (the doctors nuked my thyroid in 2006) and enjoying the finer delicacies in life such as french fries and craft beers and not enjoying things like … exercising. I didn’t gain 50 pounds post-high school by accident.
Thanks to Friendly Beer Line Guy, I was suddenly mortified and horribly ashamed of my body. Can it always be winter so I can wear sweaters and scarves and live under 40 layers of clothing? Bye, I’m moving to Alaska or Siberia or somewhere I never have to wear shorts. But somehow, this began my progression toward a healthier lifestyle and better physical shape. But not entirely; lest anyone think I was going to drop the CARB LYFE for good. It wasn’t really until December when I struggled with a gallbladder issue that I was finally committed to it for real. I had to eat better and I had to start being more active. Except it just wasn’t working for me. The more I worked out, the more and more my belly started to round out. No matter how healthy I’d eat or how much I worked out, I couldn’t seem to get my midsection to flatten out even though I could see changes everywhere else.
Two years ago during the process of getting an IUD (which I definitely recommend), I discovered I had a large fibroid. I’d never heard of such a thing before then and the ultrasound technician seemed worried about it, but my OBGYN was not overly concerned. It wasn’t hurting anything and I wasn’t attempting to have children, so it “wasn’t a big deal.” But eventually the IUD and my body stopped getting along because of this fibroid which was hiding it from the ultrasound and making it hard to find, so I had to have it removed (RIP). I switched instead to Depo Provera (the twelve-week shot), which turned out to be the opposite of a good thing for me even though it is allegedly a good treatment for fibroids. But as with all things, we all react differently to it, and I drew the short stick.
I went back to my OBGYN after the miserable reaction to Depo, who said the fibroid had now grown “too big” to take out and that my uterus would be destroyed by doing so, and we should just wait for a new medication coming out which was meant to shrink them. This was my breaking point — I was miserable and tired of waiting. It was time for a second set of eyes on it because the status quo isn’t good enough when you’re bleeding for thirty days at a time and peeing hourly. I switched to a doctor in the Christ Hospital network and had another ultrasound done — for the third time in less than a year. The fibroid had grown again, from 7cm to 11cm. A uterus is only 6cm x 10cm, normally, so imagine how this must be; mine had now grown 3x its normal size!
It’s just like (you guessed it) being pregnant. Weird.
So all this time I was hustling at the gym and eating tasteless veggies (just kidding, I love veggies) and trying to generally “be good” — I was trying to lose weight that was never going to leave me because it wasn’t just tummy fat, it’s a fucking cantaloupe-sized clump of useless cells living in my uterus. And nobody thought this was a problem? I’ve been walking around looking eternally pregnant and my old doctor was just like, “welp, this sounds like a *you* problem not a *me* problem” and sent me on my merry way.
Thankfully, my new doctor realized the problems caused by this little monster inside of me really are legitimate problems and is willing to take it out for me. The further I get into this process the more it angers me how dismissive my old OBGYN was about it. A few days ago I ended up in the emergency room because the fibroid had pinched off my urethra and I was just retaining urine like a camel saving up water and I had never felt such terrible pain in my entire life. This had happened before to a lesser extent and every time, the doctors at Trihealth acted like it was my own fault, as if a 31 year old woman doesn’t know how to use the damned bathroom.
My surgery is on Monday and I have an uphill battle facing me for the next few weeks in recovery, but in the long run, I will finally feel better and my body can start to get back to normal (“normal” for me anyway). I’m so thankful I switched networks and I feel incredibly lucky to have found such an amazing doctor. Not only is she quick to respond to my concerns, she always personally calls me to update me and coordinate the plan of care.
Word of advice to the ladies out there: Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. If you feel like you’re not getting proper care, go somewhere else. It’s important to feel like your health and comfort are respected and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
See ya soon with an update and a cool new scar!