Categories
Health

NovaSure, Almost One Year Later — or, I Love My Uterus Again

[Warning: This post discusses cycles! Periods! Cramps! And features photos of my uterus! Kind of!]

Curious About NovaSure?

I underwent the NovaSure procedure, otherwise known as endometrial ablation, almost one year ago after learning about it at BlogHer ’12. I promised to update how it changed my cycle afterward… and then I didn’t. I suppose it’s true what they say: People are more apt to share an experience when it’s negative than when it’s positive. Because let me tell you: NovaSure has been an overwhelmingly positive experience in my life.

In fact, I tell everyone this when they email to ask me my opinion on the procedure: NovaSure is the best health decision I’ve made for myself. Ever.

As I shared before, the procedure itself went just fine. Here’s my breakdown of what happened — or didn’t — in the months after my endometrial ablation.

1. Yes to the watery discharge. My doctor warned me that I could experience up to six weeks of watery discharge after the procedure. He didn’t lie. This ranks as the “worst” part of the procedure — which is to say, not very horrible at all. The end of the discharge ran right into my first post-procedure period. Which wasn’t even a period.

2. My first post-procedure periods were weird. I use the word “weird” to mean both “different” and, yes, “weird.” It’s weird to all of a sudden have vastly different periods than those you have suffered through for 20 years. Really weird. The kicker? There was no crazy, omg-someone-must-be-dying bleeding. I had minimal (understatement) spotting. The end. No, really.

3. My first post-procedure periods lacked almost all period symptoms. Check this: No bloating. No breast tenderness. No cramps! No mood swings! It was the Best Thing Ever!

4. One period-related symptom that may or not have been caused by the hormonal change: Breakout city. My skin (mostly my chin) broke out with the onset of my second post-procedure cycle… and didn’t stop for months and months. I don’t know if this was directly related to how my body was adjusting to having no outlet for monthly woe or if it was just sad, pimply timing. All the same, I’ve got my skin back under control at 10 months post-NovaSure. Whew!

5. Weight loss! I mentioned NovaSure in my weight loss post, and I maintain that the two were directly related. With the lack of monthly bloating, I found myself able to maintain any weight lost during the month and continue forward with my weight loss journey. I know one big search for NovaSure is “weight gain,” and that simply wasn’t my experience. Then again, I was making smart food decisions and running my butt off, so it’s not like I sat on the couch for 10 months and expected a miracle by way of a medical procedure.

6. 10 months later, my period lasts 2 days. I had a couple of cycles after the first few that made me wonder if my endometrial ablation was somehow undoing itself. I had a couple of clots, a couple of gushes, and a couple of periods that lasted longer than four days. (Please note: I had multiple periods that lasted over 14 days in the past, so fretting over a period longer than 4 days felt ridiculous.) Those periods have not happened again. Here’s an example of what my cycle is like now: I was set to get my period the Monday of BlogHer ’13 week. Instead, it started on Saturday afternoon. I stopped to buy my first box of Instead cups in over four months (because I hadn’t used enough in one box to warrant another purchase!), bought extra pantyliners, and packed all of the stuff for a Traveling Period. It was over before Monday. No lie. Over, completely gone, out the door, TTFN. Less than two days. Winning.

7. The only symptom I have now is breast tenderness. A day or two before my non-period, as I refer to it now, arrives, I have a bit of breast tenderness. I don’t even really notice it until I take my bra off at the end of the day and think, “Hmm, that feels weird.” Then I look at my calendar, nod, and go to bed.

8. Yay sex life! That’s all I need to say about that, isn’t it?

Those are the things most asked by people who have emailed me over the past 10 months. Mainly people want to know if I had any horror stories (no), if my cycle is much better (omg, yes!), and if I would recommend the procedure (goodness yes!). In fact, I recommend the procedure to every woman I come in contact with who mentions the word period — though I do remind people that you can’t have it prior to being done having your children, so it’s not a valid option for some women. Yet.

I was thrilled to find out that the Change Your Cycle booth was at BlogHer ’13 this year. I walked up to them and began word-vomiting about how they changed my life. It’s true. Granted, I made a lot of other changes in my life over the past year, but this helped in many aspects — with the allowing me to lose weight, to lose those wicked mood swings, to not be doubled over in pain for a week. The crew at the NovaSure loved my story so much that they put me on video. I’m sure I sounded like they were paying me or that they had sponsored my procedure, but nope! My insurance totally covered NovaSure, minus my first $20 copay. $20 for a life-changing decision that improved my quality of life — AND A PLUSH UTERUS TO HUG AND TAKE ON ADVENTURES?

I Love My Uterus Again

Okay!

If you have questions about NovaSure, please don’t hesitate to ask! I also encourage you to follow @HeavyPeriods on Twitter. Check out both the Change the Cycle website and NovaSure’s informational website.

 

Categories
Writing

What Would I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid?

We sat at the table along the right side of the room as Sheryl Sandberg talked to us about leaning in, sitting at the table, and other aspects of feminism. Our table had a case of the giggles leftover from the evening before, but I still managed to pay bits of attention between the bonding and the tweet-fake-fighting between friends.

I shied away from reading Sandberg’s book prior to the conference. I simultaneously heard glorious, fantabulous, best-things-ever and horrible, no-good, very-bad-things about the book, the message, and the delivery. I figured to come to the keynote with little-to-no bias might benefit me more than showing up either super-hyped for the speech or super-annoyed at the concepts held within the pages of her book. And so I sat, half paying attention, half loving my life and the people surrounding me at the breakfast table.

As she showed her video and I got a little weepy, her words began to pull at me.

When Sandberg said, as she has in many other interviews, that we need to do whatever it is that we do unapologetically, I felt a physical tug on my being. My attention withdrew from the table for a moment and I sat face-to-face with all of the things I’ve never done for so many reasons — or, rather, for so many excuses being posed as reasons.

I’m an apologetic person. I may seem all “I Stand for This No Matter What You Say,” but really, I like people to like me. I am a people pleaser to a fault. I can talk a big, bad talk, but really, I don’t like to make too many waves or upset too many people. I want all of the people to be happy all of the times. When I tell my story and share my truth, I feel guilty for making people feel uncomfortable. I understand that when people lash out at me for speaking, for sharing my truth, they do so because they are uncomfortable; it’s more about their issues and not about me. But I still feel bad; I feel like I shouldn’t have shared, shouldn’t have poked at their dark places.

That’s stupid.

Pieces of paper sat on the table with printed words: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Afraid. Fear. I know those well.

Most people, or maybe people who don’t know me well, act shocked when I talk about being afraid, when I talk about my fears. “But you’re so… brave!” No. No, I’m not. I might seem that way, but that’s only because I have stopped putting myself out there, stopped taking many chances. I play it safe all too often, because risk scares me. Because the fear of failure often stifles me into quitting before I’ve even begun. Draft after draft of posts on bigger topics — the stuff that matters — sit unfinished, abandoned and neglected for fear of being judged, for fear of words being hurled back at me in retaliation.

That’s stupid. Human, true. But still stupid.

I eventually grabbed the green Sharpie — because everything is better in green — and began to write. I got out, “I would…” before I stopped. I couldn’t write it, couldn’t give voice and color and paper space and finality to the thought in my head, in the depth of my being. I sat there, marker hovering over the paper for quite some time. I carried on conversations and made jokes, ignoring the unfinished sentence.

“If you don’t know what to write, maybe you’re not afraid!” I smiled at my well-intentioned friend. “I know what to write, but doing so means acknowledging it and committing to something big. And scary.” “So, just write it.” The table agreed, including my husband.

I wrote what I would do if I wasn’t afraid — a lump stuck in my throat the entire time, tears edging at the corner of my eyes while I willed them to stay in as my mascara was not waterproof. I wrote it down in green ink on white paper in front of other people. Other people who would know if I failed, or if I did as I have done so many other times and never started in the first place. I avoided eye contact, certain to choke on a sob if anyone saw the vulnerability in my soul at that very moment.

Later, as I whined about the realities of doing the big thing, I got put in my place. “But it’s a lot of work!” Michelle from BurghBaby.com turned to me on the shuttle and held up two hands. Having just come from the International Activist Scholarship Recipient Panel, she knew just what to say to put me in place, to make me understand her point. “It’s a lot of work versus house arrest.” I glared a little. I muttered, “Ew!” She knew she had a point; the taking of time and the legitimate hard work that will be involved pale in comparison to being put under house arrest for simply helping other people as Zeng Jinyan from China endured. I sat with the realization that I had just been schooled. But it wasn’t over.

“A chapter. By the end of the year.”

I narrowed my eyes, ready to fight. But I didn’t.

I didn’t fight even though I have all of the excuses, the same ones I’ve always had at my disposal. I am busy. I do all of the things for all of the people because I haven’t quite learned how to say no, or not right now, or that’s enough. But in that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to utter a single excuse. My youngest starts all day, everyday Kindergarten in 19 days. Sure, I’m training for another half-marathon, but that just gives me more time to think, to form coherent thoughts, and play with words as I pound the pavement day in and day out. Maybe I’m tired of making excuses.

Maybe I’m finally ready.

I’ve changed a lot in the past year, physically and otherwise. I feel like a real, grown adult woman who not only has survived a number of things but finally found the strength to own those things without letting them define who she is or who she wants to be.

Maybe it’s time.

I wrote down my “what I would do if I wasn’t afraid.” I took the picture in the provided photo booth, complete with a accountability photobomb. And then I came home and hung both the paper and the photo on the bookcase next to the desk in my office, the place where I sit and write every single day.

What Would I Do If I Wasn't Afraid? I Would Write the Damn Book.
What Would I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid? I Would Write the Damn Book.

Now I’m faced with the doing of the thing, the actual making of time and sitting down and writing the story that I want to tell. Not all of the stories, just the one that needs to be told in the certain way it needs to be told. It is not my job to tell all of the stories, either all of mine or the related stories of others. I accept the challenge of telling this one story in this one way in hopes of getting rid of the gnawing ache the not telling has left me with for all these years.

It is time.