The last time I wrote about fibroids, I said I was expecting to undergo short-term menopause before having a myomectomy (fibroid removal surgery). I was never really nervous about the surgery, I’m not afraid of hospitals, needles, any of that. I’m good with it. I was, however, pretty afraid of short-term menopause. I didn’t want to experience the mental symptoms as I knew I was already in a difficult place. I had a job I wasn’t enjoying, I’d been very unwell for a long time, etc. I also was slightly concerned about how my work would support me through surgery and recovery or if they would at all.
Since then, my symptoms have actually lessened. I still experience a lot of bleeding and random spotting, I still feel the enormous lump because it is just that, I still get quite sore if I stand or walk for too long. But my cramps have eased up, I don’t live with a hot water bottle attached to me anymore and I’m sleeping a little better. This has been a total relief and due to, I think, cutting down on caffeine and refined sugars. I now have a maximum of two coffees a day and eat a lot more vegetables. My flatmate has even dubbed me “Soup Witch” because I obsessively make so many different soups. Physically, you can still very much see the fibroid – it protrudes out of my stomach. I was made redundant at the end of January and the stress of travel and the job itself really took a toll on my body but since I’ve been freelance, I have been able to look after myself and take things a little slower when my body requires it.
A lot has changed in 4 months and my body is in a better way but I was still nervous to meet with my specialist and discuss potentially undergoing menopause.
I went to the hospital alone by choice because I wanted to figure out how I felt about it all by myself. I’m not sure if that’s a healthy approach but it is the one I tend to lean towards when things are particularly tough. My specialist spoke to me about my options. Temporary menopause, surgery, or undergoing intermittent treatment to shrink the fibroid over time and… no surgery… !
The thing with surgery is, I am not afraid of it but I have so much scar tissue and damage around my uterus and ovaries. I want to have children. I want to avoid incurring any more damage that could further prevent me from having children. With endometriosis, my chances are lower as it is so if I can avoid surgery, I will.
The treatment I’ll be going on is called Esmya. It’s a 90-day treatment that acts by blocking the receptor of a hormone in the body called progesterone, which is involved in controlling the growth of the lining of the womb. This stops the growth of the fibroid and over time, causes it to shrink. It doesn’t come without problems and side effects. I have to have my Mirena coil removed as it limits the effectiveness of Esmya and I can’t drink alcohol whilst undergoing the treatment. The issues that have come to play with Esmya in the past have been liver damage. So, on Thursday, I had to have a liver function test and once I start the treatment, I’ll need a new test every fortnight.
Once the treatment is over, we’ll review the size of the fibroid and if it hasn’t shrunk enough, we’ll wait a couple of months and start again. My specialist is extremely optimistic about my chances of having this over with by June and he has only, personally, seen effective results with it. I’m excited. I really feel so hopeful for the months ahead.
My specialist has been incredible throughout all of this. I have spent 16 years of my life speaking to doctors, specialists, etc about my reproductive health issues and a lot of the time I’ve felt dismissed, ashamed and misunderstood when I’ve spoken about such intimate, painful things. Even once I’d been diagnosed. Even once I’d been treated. I still struggled to be believed and felt like the choices I could make about my own body were taken away from me.
This specialist listened, understood and presented all options. He told me that he wanted me to take Esmya but my body was my own. I knew my body better than he did, I knew my experiences and I knew my plans for the future. It was all entirely in my hands, he could only provide his own expert guidance on what he felt may be best for me. This was huge. This was essential and this made me trust him because he didn’t treat me like a number or like a hysteric woman, he treated me like somebody who has been experiencing pain for 16 years. It made all the difference. It was so validating. From so much experience. I can’t emphasise the importance of a good doctor enough.
I start the treatment in 2 weeks so I guess, see you then?!