One of the first things people notice about me is my healthy rosy complexion. Good skin is nice, but when it comes to health issues, it has not been a good thing because I always look very healthy. It seemed like I first had to prove I was not crazy when I began having problems during my menstrual cycle.
Classic problem symptoms began to affect my menses. I was in my late teens when my very regular periods became heavier and irregular with severe cramps. This was not normal for me, so I went to my family doctor to report the changes. I was taking birth control pills. My doctor thought they were the problem and changed the brand. That did not help and I seemed to be getting worse because I had developed pain along my rib-cage just above my waist.
Still, I looked so healthy. My doctor decided to refer me to a neurologist because of the pain near my ribs. He found nothing, but decided to give me a mental assessment test. Good news: I was not crazy. The next step was a laparoscopy, which showed evidence of endometriosis.
Then, while visiting relatives in Boston, I passed out during my menses. So I went back to my family doctor. He decided that an exploratory surgery would be the next step. During that, three conditions were discovered. I had a retroperitoneal appendix, which was removed; I had endometriosis; and I had uterine fibroid tumors, which were removed.
From then on, when I went back to the doctor I was taken seriously. Sadly, I had three more surgeries over the next year and a half as my reproductive system seem unravel. Two of the surgeries were to remove fibroid tumors in an effort to give me time to get pregnant. The surgeries seemed to make the tumors come back larger as my system went nuts.
Finally, one morning I felt a large tumor in my abdomen. Shortly thereafter, I had a hysterectomy. The surgeon told me I had many fibroid tumors and also a couple of cysts on my ovaries. There was no more choice about having children.
Some years later I read a great short story by Sherman Alexis called “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor”. The lead character’s tumors were described in comparison to fruit like lemons, grapefruit, and grapes. This was exactly how my fibroid tumors were described to me.