At this time last week, I was just going into surgery to have what turned out to be a 5-lb tumor removed from my uterus, which had expanded to 16 times its regular size and was roughly the size of a watermelon. I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days due to pain and bathroom issues (ummm my bladder had to re-learn to pee when a tumor wasn’t sitting on top of it) but I’ve been home since last Friday, shuffling around and trying to sleep and don’t worry, my bathroom issues are fixed now. I’ll go back to working from home tomorrow, probably half the time in my desk chair and half the time from my bed. I’ve already reduced my dosage of pain medication, but if you ever want to check my progress on that point, please check my Twitter feed to see if I’m lucid (normal words, legible sentence structure) or looped out of my skull (my mom watched Pawn Stars and shows about Hitler during her visit, so these are seeping into my sleeping brain).
Now I’m just concentrating on not hurting when I’m conscious, booking Iceland for late April, and signing up for a gym membership in early May. I can’t be truly active until then, and I’m already anxious to get rid of all this weird extra almost-pregnant-lady skin. It turns out that I was kind of a secret thin person under the giant uterus, but that it’s still hard to see because of this big fold of skin that’s just kind of flopped there. A month and a half of pain-related inactivity before this didn’t help in reducing that, and my current/ongoing immobility isn’t making me feel any better about it. But with any luck (and a whole lot of cursing come May), Graham and I might be able to swing a semi-affordable beach vacation in the fall and I won’t feel like a grotesque sack of laundry and potatoes someone threw out of their car while driving down the highway.
Speaking of my garbage dump of a body, it’s remarkable the transition that a person is a capable of making between their mortifyingly Catholic teenage years and their hyper self-aware 30s. Back then, I would have been humiliated had something happened in my reproductive area. Going to get my first Pap smear was upsetting enough to make me vomit in the bathroom across the hall from the exam room. Today, though, I would discuss this with anyone who would listen. I signed to allow medical assistants to watch the procedure. I was fine with photos and video. When the anesthesiologist asked me if I was a real redhead, I offered to show her my pubic hair as proof if she needed it (redheads require more pain medication because we have a genetic mutation that affects pain receptors in our brain and produces an enzyme that blocks more pain medication than a normal person; this is actual scientific fact and something I have to tell every dentist I ever see and only half of them believe me until we’re midway through the procedure and, as I predicted, I need at least triple the standard amount of Novocaine). My first words upon waking up from surgery were “Who’s going to help me use the bathroom?” I accepted giant hospital underwear and even more giant sanitary pads with a grim resolve. I gleefully reported to a nurse that I farted for 30 straight minutes in the middle of the night (because yes, farting is hilarious, but also this was an accomplishment because the gas that builds up after abdominal surgery is painful enough to make you want to die). When I had to get 2 catheters in one night because my body wouldn’t pee on its own, I apologized to the nurse by saying “I’m sorry you’ve had to look my urethra in the eye more than once in the same shift.”
I just don’t care anymore is the thing. All the things I feared in childhood make no sense anymore. If it hurts to the point where I am debilitated, I will let absolutely anyone with a medical degree and a nametag look at my private parts. Can you administer morphine and order me some applesauce? Great, lift up my gown and take a gander. It’s a free-for-all down there.
But really, the key is to accept that you don’t have control over your body anymore, you can’t affect how you look (you really shouldn’t be looking in the mirror, anyway), and that when your surgeon tells you not to do any ab exercises for 6 weeks, it’s fine to laugh and say “let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
It would be easy to look at May as Gym Month and to interpret it as being so far in the future that it will never actually happen; however, I was given an instantaneous 5-lb weight loss as kind of a head start from the Universe, so it’d be pretty foolish to pass up this chance. Plus, without a complete reproductive system to slow me down, I’ll no longer experience weeklong exercise amnesty periods or cramps so severe that they feel like exercise on their own.
I shall be motivated by my Mystery Chasm and the promise of an all-inclusive resort and its accompanying tropical drinks and no-consequences sex on hotel sheets, I think, which is a far more promising system than anything I’ve been able to come up with before.