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Fibroids aren’t my friend

I was fine…until I wasn’t

By Tee Richardson Published about a year ago 14 min read
My November

On November 1, 2021, I was perfectly fine, or at least I thought I was. Trying to be safe in this pandemic, going to work at a very physically and mentally taxing job every day, working out three to four times a week, attempting to have a social life in the midst of all of this chaos and watch over my mental health. However, on November 4 at about 1 o clock in the morning, I was no longer fine. I was lying in bed when I felt a sharp pain on my right side. I soon discovered, I couldn’t even move to get to the ibuprofen that was maybe ten feet away on the table.

I tried to get up several times and the pain was so unbearable that I couldn’t do it. Panic set in. I realized I couldn’t get up to let the ambulance in if I were to call them. But then I remembered the manager of the apartment complex, who lives upstairs, has a copy of my keys and he is always up late. Oh thank goodness for him. I called him and asked for help. He came down immediately. He was able to get in. Now full disclosure lol, I don’t wear pants (that has since changed in light of these events) when I sleep so he got himself a show. But he remained professional through it all.

He called the ambulance for me. He helped me put pants on and within ten or fifteen minutes, the ambulance arrived. Soon I had six men looking over me asking me about my last menstrual cycle, could I be pregnant, do I have high blood pressure, etc. I’m thinking can y’all just take me to the hospital please? Two of them have to pick me up and put me on the gurney. I’m crying out because I’m in so much pain. Oh by the way, riding in an ambulance when you’re in severe pain is not ideal, especially when they go over those dips. Oh my word. They asked me what hospital I wanted to go to and I told them. This particular hospital is one of the best in the world.

I get there and have to wait in the ER cause well, hospitals. I’m lying on the gurney keeping in constant contact with friends through texting. I finally call my mom and she makes her way over to the ER but I can’t see her until I get a bed. Now I’m in a wheelchair and sitting upright eases the pain but not by much. They gave me Norco which did absolutely nothing for the pain. About three hours later, I’m in a bed and a room. Like I said, hospitals. My mom arrives.

I can barely move because the pain is so severe. I don’t know what’s happening. Then the tests began. The ultrasounds, the CT scans, blood and urine tests you know all the good stuff. Finally, they come in and tell me I have colitis and that’s what is causing the severe pain. And then they added, “Oh you have a football sized fibroid in your stomach.” I’m sorry? What’s that now? What?! How?! When and why?! For many women, fibroids are an all too real problem. I was soon to find out just how much of a problem they were.

I was in the hospital for about a week and a half. I was poked so many times for blood samples and IVs, I felt like a pin cushion. I saw literally a dozen or more doctors and more nurses throughout this process. They would come and tell me that it was the biggest fibroid they have ever seen in their life. For real, y’all? And one doctor said he didn’t know if he could do the surgery because it was so large. This is a world renowned hospital and y’all can’t do surgery on this? Somethings up. They’re playing games now. They said I could choose not to have the surgery but eventually it would have to be done. I also was repeatedly asked if I wanted to have children. I’m like why are they asking me this?

It dawned on me that the nurses and doctors thought I was younger than I am. I’m in my early 40s but can pass for ten years younger. The word hysterectomy was thrown around quite a bit by these MDs. What happened? I came in for colitis and now y’all talking about taking my uterus out?! I was ready to leave the hospital. The doctors came in and told me my blood was very low and they were concerned. I told them I was currently on my cycle and that could be the explanations for the low blood count.

I was discharged from the hospital that day and in hindsight, I should have never left. I stayed with my mom to recover. I’m gonna be really graphic here. What began was an utter nightmare. I didn’t have a bowel movement for over two weeks and I didn’t eat any food for over two weeks. Every time I tried to walk, the feeling of nausea washed over me. Instead of bowel movements, I would vomit. But because I wasn’t eating, it was bile coming out. Green, like the color of money. I would vomit multiple times a day. We tried every anti nausea medicine to help curb it. Nothing worked. We tried everything to help me go to the bathroom. Prune juice (I threw it up), enema, Miralax, and absolutely nothing worked. I was still in a lot of pain. I couldn’t lie down to sleep, I had to sleep upright because of it.

Finally, I told my mom that I think I need to go back to the hospital. I went early in the morning but luckily got in rather quickly. The same process I went through ten days earlier was in effect. The same surgeons and doctors I saw in the previous visit popped up again. I was told I wasn’t leaving the hospital until I had the surgery. Hmmm where was this sense of urgency when I was in here about a week ago? I was massively dehydrated. My lips were so chapped, if I smiled, they would have cracked.

I never wanted a cup of ice water so badly. But I was told I was an NPO (nothing by mouth. Why there’s a P and not a B in the middle I don’t know). Because even water was triggering my nausea. I have to take a short break and give props to my mother and my friend Diana, who is an RN. They were my biggest advocates. They had my back all the way. Also, a huge shout out to the nurses and caregivers who took such good care of me for the most part. We’ll talk about that one Sunday night crew in another story lol.

Also, no pain med at all worked for me. Norco, tramadol, morphine…none of it worked. The only thing morphine did for me was put me to sleep which is what I wanted most of the time. I had my fair share of freakouts in the hospital. Screaming because the pain was so bad. I would pray to god to take the pain away. It was bad. I was still vomiting and not eating but also not getting nutrients. Finally, another set of doctors recommended putting an

NG tube down my throat to get out the bile that I was puking up.

They said, “it’s gonna be uncomfortable”. I said nothing can be as bad as what I’m going through now so what’s one more thing? Yeah, it was uncomfortable. It took four people to put that thing up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach. All I heard was all four of them say “whoa that’s a lot” A lot of what I asked? A lot of liquid. I watched that thing for two nights take liquid out of my body. When it was done, I had two 2-liters worth of fluid removed.

I was hooked up to IVs because I was low on magnesium and iron and also had to get nutrients through the IV since I couldn’t eat. Surgery was next up. But before that, a doctor comes in and says that I am chronically anemic and I don’t have enough blood to survive the surgery. Lord have mercy. You’re gonna have to get a blood transfusion. *sigh* I discussed it with my mother. I said it this wasn’t an emergency, I would decline but I needed the blood. I was so worried. Consciously I know I’ll be fine but we have all heard of Ryan White or some other horror story about blood transfusions.

And just my luck, as I was being infused with the blood, I had to get up, with assistance, to use the bathroom. I had to take the IV machine into the bathroom with me. The catheter broke and needed to be replaced. The problem? Blood goes bad within four hours. We were already at the two and a half hour mark. Only 50% of the blood had gone in. They couldn’t find a vein on me. I’m severely dehydrated because of the lack of water so it made things tough. I was poked repeatedly and yet they couldn’t find a vein. I’m half conscious because of the morphine as I watched them. They had to get an ICU nurse from the covid unit to come up with an ultrasound to find a vein on me.

She found one within two minutes. But now the blood had gone bad. They had to get another batch. My blood type is fairly common thankfully so more blood wasn’t hard to find. Then the transfusion began again. Luckily I fell asleep and by the time I woke up, the process was over. And then I was told, I still didn’t have enough blood and had to have another transfusion. For women, your hemoglobin level should be at about 12 to 15. Mine was a 6.7 before the transfusions. Less than stellar, I would say.

Two days before surgery, another doctor comes in. He will be on the team who will be performing the surgery. I call him Dr. Doom and Gloom lol. He told my mother and I all the horrible things that could happen during surgery. Of course, hysterectomy was thrown out there again. And there was talk of cancers and other things. I know doctors have to give you the worst case scenarios just in case something goes wrong but my goodness. I told him that all I wanted was to get this thing out of me and do whatever it took to make that happen.

Oh, I was finally able to move my bowels after the liquid was taken out of my body. I still wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. I could only take sips of water so I could take my medication. The NG tube stayed in until an hour before going down for surgery. The morning of surgery, two of the surgeons come in to talk to me and hand me the consent forms. Dr. D&G and another doctor. He says a hysterectomy is still possible and also a colostomy bag may have to be put in. What happened? I said. I have been passing gas and moving my bowels since the liquid was taken out. He’s doing too much this dude.

My mom arrives and brings me a teddy bear. Even as full blown adults, we still want a source of comfort. I still have Teddy as a matter of fact. They remove the NG tube finally and feels like the worlds longest booger is being taken out. I was tested for covid multiple times during my two separate stays. Negative each time thankfully. I was taken into the prep room. See I’m looking for the anesthesiologist so I can go nighty night. I had an unrelated surgery four years prior so I knew what to expect.

But the main surgeon comes in, Dr D&G’s boss, and talks to me. We’ll call her Dr. Cool Breeze. I instantly felt relaxed when she cane to speak to me. She also came and told me she was concerned about fibroids being on my uterus. Should I want kids, I may not be able to carry a child to term given my age and the fibroids. I said “Doc, if the fibroids are on my uterus, then just take it away. I don’t ever want to go through this ever again.” I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy.

The consent forms were signed. My dude, the anesthesiologist, came in and put me to sleep. I didn’t even make it into the operating room before I was knocked out. Four hours later, I wake up in recovery. It’s gone! The fibroid is gone! I begin to cry. I hear the nurse on the phone with my mom. She’s reassuring my mom that everything is okay and surgery went well.

They wheel me to my own post op room. I finally can have that cup of ice water I have been craving. Oh there is cranberry juice too! I have a catheter in my private parts but I can’t even feel myself going. The night nurse, Tom, comes in and goes “I need you to walk”. Insert blinking man meme here. I said can I do that in a few hours. He said okay. Haha. My mom comes in and I’m so happy to see her face. Because of covid rules, only one visitor was allowed per day and I always chose my mom. But let me also give props to my friends who called, DM’d, texted and prayed for me. I love you all for real.

Unfortunately, I was in the hospital for thanksgiving but my mom brought me a plate of her cooking. I was finally able to eat a meal and keep it down! Cause I’m sure all of you know that hospital food ain’t it. I had PT while in there and did my walking. Walking is exhausting especially when you haven’t done it in a while. I had to take breaks and keel over to get my breath back.

I was considered a fall risk however. My equilibrium was (and still is a little) off and I wound stumble or lose my balance when walking. I am now on iron pills because of my anemia. I was discharged from the hospital the day after thanksgiving. I stayed with my mom again. Animals are very smart btw. My 12 year old cat immediately came to into my lap and lied down right below my healing stomach. As if to comfort me. She would always do this every time I sat down or attempted to lie down.

I am writing this now five weeks after surgery. I still have pain, particularly at night, but doctors say it’s normal. I struggled mentally the first two weeks after surgery however. That’s also normal. I’m an independent person. I’m used to going and doing things on my own and to have it taken away, even for a short, while was agonizing. I am so blessed to have friends who were there for me during this time. Taking me out to dinner, hanging out, or going to coffee bean. Love y’all bunches. Also, thankfully, my moms’s place has an elevator so going back and forth somewhere was relatively easy.

Now I’m back at my place. I don’t sleep on the bed because I worry if I do, I won’t get up again like last time. It’s a mental block that maybe one day I’ll overcome. Luckily I have my grandmother’s old pull out couch to rest my head. I have to sit on a cushion and use a wedge pillow at night to elevate my legs.

I’m walking up to 30 minutes a day. I can’t quite exercise just yet. I’m

used to cardio kickboxing and lifting weights but that will have to wait. I’m not back at work yet and am currently looking for a less taxing place of employment. I did not end up having a hysterectomy. I still have my uterus. I had what’s equal to a 7.5 lb baby on my uterus. How does this happen? I wish I knew.

I close with saying this : please listen to your body, everybody. Even if it’s a twinge and you think it’s nothing, your body is trying to tell you something. Be safe and be well, y’all.

Peace be still.


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