I am writing this post from bed, on my phone, under the influence of painkillers, so there’s a fair chance it’s rather sloppy. I’m not concerned. I think it’s important to share what I’ve learned from a recent health situation that, to be honest, freaked me out more than a little.
So – five things I’ve learned from dealing with endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and a hastily scheduled surgery to deal with all that:
1. Try not to assume the worst before you have all the facts. I had to wait six weeks between the first ultrasound that confirmed I had ovarian cysts and the second that confirmed they had gotten bigger, then undergo surgery before I knew whether the cysts were endometriosis and benign or something else and not. It was hard to keep my mind from going straight to cancer, even though I don’t fit the profile and my doctor said the likelihood was slim. The worst part of this is that when you’re scared, that fear influences your behavior about many things beyond the topic at hand.
I learned that if you recognize this, you can fend it off a little. It also occurred to me that my daughter tends to “awfulize” like this, too, a habit I think we will work on together.
2. Talk to the women in your life, especially your family members. You will be surprised how many people have had similar experiences, and grateful for the perspective and advice they provide.
If nothing else, they will take you for coffee (then cocktails) in the middle of the day. Also, if a first-degree relative (mother, sister) has suffered endometriosis, you are more likely to as well.
3. I am tremendously grateful to have such loving friends and family. They have been there for me and for each other in all crises, great and small. This little health scare and surgery was no exception.
Reach out to your people when you are scared, hurting, or overwhelmed and you’ll see: They will do for you exactly as you would of course do for them.
Side note: A helpful little service I will definitely use the next time I have a friend in need of meal help: takethemameal.com. I didn’t know about this site until my friends Courtenay and Emmely used it to coordinate several other dear hearts who wanted to help Lily and me. When my mom and I got home from the hospital, there was a lovely dinner and sweet note waiting for us from my friends Jase and Chuck.
4. Listen to your body and find a doctor who will listen to you. I have known for years that something was not right with me, but I either dismissed it or was dismissed. In short: Ladies, your period should not knock you out of commission. You should be able to run, bike, do whatever you do to enjoy life without pain. Men, especially if you are doctor types, please take us seriously if we feel something may not be right “down there”. Our bodies are magic and complicated, and I suspect that even if you have an MD after your name, we know them better than you do. I have a doctor now who totally gets this.
5. We all need our mamas. Whether it’s a surgery on our lady parts, childbirth, a broken heart, career advice, or any other number of fast pitches from the universe, there is no better lady to help us knock the jacket off.