On March 6th I am having a total hysterectomy. I am eighteen years old. You may not understand why that’s a big deal so let me tell you what my life has been like lately.
For the past several years my period has run my life. I was not living, I was just constantly wondering if I’d be getting my period soon. I have incredibly irregular, heavy, and absolutely debilitating periods requiring multiple hospitalizations, blood transfusions, strong painkillers, and iron infusions. For what seems like as long as I can remember, I’ve been getting a period more than once a month and it was one of the worst pains I’ve experienced, which is saying a lot. I have probably spent as much or more time on my period absolutely debilitated as not.
About a year ago I got into twelve colleges, each with a scholarship. I worked really fucking hard. I chose to go to Simmons University in Boston. It was one of my top choices and I was so excited. I moved across the country and absolutely fell in love with the school and city. This was short lived though. I would end up having to come home after only about two and a half months in large part due to my period. In that time span I had been to the ER three times for period pain and went from a week long inpatient stay to the airport to come home.
We just had no solutions. To date I’ve been on about seven different birth control methods to try to manage the severity of my periods. With each one came no improvement in symptoms and each one exacerbated my EDS and POTS symptoms. So this is not an option for me and will never be. Doing nothing is also not an option.
A pregnancy would be extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening to me.
I have lost so much to my period. I want a hysterectomy and have been asking for one for a really long time as I watched life pass me by.
Each time, when the idea of a hysterectomy was brought up, doctors and those around me were not supportive. There was more priority put on a presumed future husband’s (that’s never going to happen) wishes than mine. I would ask about a hysterectomy and presumed to not actually know what I wanted, how could an eighteen year old girl ever want to give up the chance to have biological children. My pain has been trivialized and undermined for so long because it is menstrual pain. I lost count of the number of times doctors would come into the room and tell me that this level of pain is normal. So hear me now: this is not normal. I should not have had to give up my education because of my period. I should not be stuck in bed due to period pain. I should not have to give up things I love. No one should. They would tell my mom that I was exaggerating and to just give me some Tylenol.
It may have been easy to settle and stop fighting for a chance at a better life but this is not what I was going to do. I knew that something was wrong and I craved to live the life I dreamed of. A life of adventure and college dorms and seeing the world instead of watching time rush by me stuck in bed. I will never get the years back that I’ve lost. I will never get a second chance for so many firsts and experiences I have lost because of my period. Fighting for myself was the only acceptable thing for me. If you are in a similar position know this: you are worth fighting for. Life is worth fighting for. Your pain matters and you deserve better, even if it is not what your future husband wants.
I cried when I finally saw a doctor who said “ You’re right, this is not acceptable. Let’s do what we need to do to get some quality of life. It won’t fix everything but it is worth it if it can fix one thing.” The tears were not ones of disappointment but of utter relief.
Am I scared? Yes. Am I upset that I have to make this decision? Yes. Am I heartbroken that my dysfunctional body has taken something else from me? Yes. I am angry mostly just out of spite that another sense of normalcy has been taken from me. And that’s okay. I am still entirely confident that this is the right choice for me. And that’s the thing, this should have been my choice the entire time. I was not being denied this life changing procedure because it was too risky or because I had less drastic options, it was because my input was not valued and I was undermined because of my age. I should be the one to make these decisions about my body and sexist, ableist, and heteronormative presumption should be entirely left out of the conversation. Unfortunately this is just not the case. I was not even being denied this because we were really trying to preserve the ability to have biological children because it is common consensus among my doctors that a pregnancy would be very dangerous. It was not being preserved out of my wishes to preserve this ability because this is not something I have ever felt I really wanted.
So I will no longer be entertaining assumptions about my pain and opinions about what I should be doing with my body. I do not care about your objections. Do not tell me you are sorry when you hear this news, I am not. I am ready to get back to my life.
Getting this hysterectomy in five days means I get to go back to college in the fall, I get to make memories with my friends, I get a small piece of my life back from this incurable disease.
This is my choice and my choice only and I have made up my mind.
Let’s get busy living. And let’s get busy fighting for menstrual equality.
Thank you to the doctors that listened. Thank you to my mom who has been supportive of my autonomy and choice (even if it gives her anxiety dreams). Thank you to my best friends for always bringing life to me, let’s go on a grand adventure now.