real life

The day my doctor told me: "You need a hysterectomy, and you need it next week."

“You need a hysterectomy, and you need it next week.”

I stared at my doctor in absolute horror. I’d made an appointment to see him about horrible periods – by horrible, I mean two-weeks long and so heavy that I’d developed anaemia.

As it turned out, I’d developed a uterine fibroid the size of an orange. I listened patiently as my doctor outlined four or five different options and then I replied, “You delivered my two girls, and I trust you completely. My expertise is in Shakespeare, not this. I’ll go with whatever you think.”

Dr Ginni Mansberg shares the biggest misconceptions women have about their bodies. Post continues below.

It probably sounded flippant, but it was true. Given I failed year nine science, I figured my obstetrician/gynaecologist was the best person to make a decision on treatment. I just hadn’t expected he would make this one.

Two thoughts ran through my head:
1. ‘I’m too young for this.’
2. ‘What if my husband and I split up, and I meet some 20-year-old snowboarder who wants kids? Do I really want to deny the snowboarder his right to have children?’

The doctor sighed and explained that I actually wasn’t that young in fertility terms, and that at 45 my chances of having children were less than those of a 20-year-old woman on the pill. It would take approximately 100 IVF cycles.

“You and the snowboarder will have to look at other options,” he told me, in all seriousness.

Things moved quickly after that.

"Things moved pretty quickly after that." Image: supplied.
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Work, which I was sure could never do without me, quickly choose a replacement, and she immediately started redesigning my office. My CrossFit membership was suspended and my fake nails were removed (they need to be able to see your true nail colour in theatre, as it's apparently an excellent indicator of your oxygen levels).

Suddenly I was lying on a hospital bed in a blue gown (not on my colour wheel) facing a very serious-looking anaesthetist. I was terrified and quickly voiced my biggest worries:

"What if I die from the anaesthetic, like Kanye West’s mother?" (Apparently, it's 20 times more likely I'd be killed in a traffic accident on the way to the hospital.)

"Exactly why do I need six weeks off work for what is now keyhole surgery?" (It’s a serious operation and you need to recover. Enjoy it.)

"Will my two little ballerinas be OK?" (They’re about to get their Mum home for six weeks; they’ll be fine.)

"Will I turn into a blob after six weeks of no exercise?" (Running was out, but I could in fact become a “walking queen.”)

"What if the pain or the anxiety is more than I can bear?"

With that, possibly annoyed by the delay my questions were causing him, the anaesthetist pulled out a large needle and said, “Well, this little ‘gin and tonic’ right here will fix all of that.”

I don’t remember much else.

I woke up in a beautiful hospital room surrounded by flowers and the most caring nurse you could ever imagine.

The operation and recovery - like any other - were serious but manageable. There was pain, vomiting and migraines, but thanks to a special spiritual mantra I had prepared earlier (“Give me the drugs!”) they weren’t too bad.

In the end, I came to appreciate that a hysterectomy was the necessary solution to my very serious problem; a solution more than 37,000 Australian women take each year for conditions like fibroids and prolapse.

No, I may never hold my own newborn in my arms again, but I will be healthy for the two children I already have.

As for the snowboarder, after my husband drove me around for two weeks and delivered almond lattes to the hospital more than once a day, I think the snowboarder might need to find someone else.

Sonny Granger lives on the Sunshine Coast. She works as an English HOD and enjoys running and Crossfit (...just not at the moment).

The above is not intended as medical advice. For information regarding abnormal menstruation, please speak to your doctor.

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