Blog Project Day 68: There’s something growing in me…& I wish it was what you think
This photo has nothing to do with this post. But I promise you that you really don’t want to see a picture of the subject of the post.
There’s something growing in my uterus, and it’s not a baby. Well, actually, there are multiple somethings growing in my uterus, none of which are babies…or puppies. As far as I know they’re just benign lumps of cells that have nothing better to do than hang out on and in my uterine walls gorging themselves on the network of blood vessels that are actually hanging around hoping to have a baby to feed.
For those of you who are not as dramatically inclined as I am, let me speak plainly for a moment: I have fibroids. Or as women of a certain age call it—the F word. It’s one of those things that no one actually talks about, the fact that for many women, especially African-American women, these suckers start growing in your 20s and finally achieve critical mass—by which I mean you really start to notice them—in your late 30s and early 40s. Well, I should say, no one really talks about them until you get a diagnosis, then you somehow find out all the women in your life who have them. It’s like they give us an extra pheromone so we can find each other or something.
Fibroids are not life threatening, usually, just annoying. As my doctor told me, with a uterus that’s three times its normal size*, I can kiss the thought of skinny jeans goodbye no matter how well Weight Watchers is going. (As a matter of irony, the more weight I lose, the more pregnant I look since the rest of my flab is no longer good cover for my bulging abdomen.) Symptoms differ among women, but most of us experience at least one or two extremely heavy menstrual days. That means that you literally feel like you’re peeing on yourself all day long. And I don’t mean delicate, ladylike #1; I mean racehorse quantity #1! And then, of course, there’s the joy of finding out you’ve stained your couch/your bed/your carpet/your office chair/your seat on the bus no matter how many times you’ve changed your feminine protection that day (or how many layers of feminine protection you’re wearing) or how super thick and absorbent your black pants are or how many towels you’ve layered on your bed and/or couch.
If there’s one thing all of us women who have fibroids have in common it’s embarrassment. And a tendency to turn down any social invitations—no matter how desperately we want to see the band/the play/visit a friend—during that time. Oh yeah, and if we can’t telecommute on a heavy day, then we’re the ones sitting at our desks unsmiling, head down, desperately trying to ration our energy so we can make it through the day without any major screw-ups. Did I mention they give you an extremely heavy flow?
There are options, of course. You can have a hysterectomy, and you can have a procedure which permanently blocks all blood supply to the uterus. I ruled out both those options, surprised to find that my near lifetime of ambivalence about children was actually hiding a deep-seated near-hysterical desire to be a mother. You can also take birth control pills but those can backfire and make the little buggers grow faster instead of shrink. And, as a woman in her early 40s, the birth control pills option would have left a significantly narrow window for getting pregnant (you know if Ryan G. finally popped the question) between when the effects of the birth control pills wore off and my fertility dropped naturally (which is around 43-44 for most women).
There was another surgical option: basically the surgeon would go in and search around my uterus for the fibroids trying to remove as many as she could without, hopefully, damaging my uterus…well, not too much anyway. There was a chance I’d have too much scar tissue to ever conceive but it seemed like the best of options, albeit one that made my teeth clench and my stomach tie itself in knots. And I also hated having to make the decision by myself, not knowing if I was ever going to get married or if we’d want kids. Still, I made plans to take 6 weeks off work and have my sister come play nursemaid. And then I prayed.
And while I was being prayed for at the altar one Sunday, God whispered in my ear: Surgery is not my will for you. Which was awesome. Because I really didn’t want to have surgery. Of course after God told me to ixnay the urgerysay, he immediately healed me. Well, in my head he did. In reality, I found that while I sorta kinda wanted instant healing, I was also profoundly uncomfortable with the idea. I mean I work with a lot of people who don’t believe in God and I also have a lot of friends who believe in God, but only up to a certain point, and I just didn’t want to deal with the skepticism and doubt and possibly accusations of me having fabricated the whole thing when I showed up the poster child for miracles. I also didn’t really want to be miracle girl at church either, and have to give my testimony and all that. But on the other hand, I was disappointed and angry as all hell With God when he didn’t make the fibroids disappear instant presto anyway. And I was angry with myself for clearly not having enough faith or being enough of a Christian.
So what’s the moral of the story? There isn’t one. I still have fibroids, and sometimes they get in my way. But I don’t regret not having surgery. And if God hasn’t physically healed me yet, there’s a reason. And maybe some day he’ll share it with me. I think maybe this whole thing is really about faith, not the having of it but the showing of it. I mean it was incredibly difficult for me to write just now that God’s the one who told me not to have surgery when I know there’s going to be a lot of SMH over that particular statement. But maybe these fibroids are God’s way of teaching me to be bold about him anyway. Which is definitely a lesson I continue to need to learn.