Could I be cursed? It’s honestly beginning to feel that way! I must have been a very very bad person in my previous life! So after I wrote about having a good cancer check up and bloods, I went for my annual CT scan just as a routine additional check. The next day I was sitting in the SAA lounge about to fly to Johannesburg when I received a call from my dear plastic surgeon to tell me that they had found a growth in my uterus 10cm x 9cm. I was completely calm and carried on my day as though I hadn’t even received the call. It couldn’t possibly be anything serious could it…not after everything else…
He sent the results to my gynae and she saw me 2 days later. From the CT and ultrasound it was impossible what the mass was, but what we did know was that it needed to come out. Rewind 4 weeks, when I had my miscarriage – because of the amount of blood I had already lost, and how awful and vascular the whole uterus area looked, my Gynae opted to take the more conservative approach and not do a D&C as she was worried of the risk of haemorrage and needing to give me a hysterectomy, and she hoped that nature would do its thing and help us out. Nature however, has not been able to do what it needed to do and this growth was most likely left over placental /pregnancy tissue (as opposed to cancer) but we wouldn’t know until we were in. In her wonderful, straightforward, Germanic way, she took me through what it could be, all the risks, everything she would do to try and avoid these, all the support she would have with her in theatre, and what the worst case scenario would look like. I assured her that if she needed to give me a hysterectomy that was what she needed to do and she just needed to ensure I was around to be mom to my darling Murray.
So, I know it sounds weird (and perhaps overly dramatic) but I spent the weekend ensuring everything was in order with my will and updating my letter of wishes – prepare for the worst and it won’t happen right? The benefit of being the daughter of an advocate/judge I guess – always be sure that all the legal stuff is in place and then you won’t need it. But given the events over the last few weeks leading up to this, and the concern I could see Steffi felt about doing this operation, it does make you think about things you normally try to avoid. And I knew that if anything happened to me I wanted my estate to be as easy and straightforward for James to have to deal with and for there to be no ambiguities.
Monday morning came around and everything was very organized. Steffi (with her partner on standby) the anesthetist, the radiologist with a stack of machinery (so he could scan once the mass was out to ensure Steffi had got everything out) all the nurses, etc. The Anethetist did his thing and off I went to sleep.
The next thing I knew I was waking up, with no idea where I was with what felt like at least 10 doctors and nurses around me, poking and prodding, an oxygen mask on, in unbelievable pain, vomiting. I was in and out of consciousness but knew that things didn’t go well. I could hear that I had lost more than 2 liters of blood in theatre and that they still weren’t sure they had managed to stop the bleeding. I was in recovery and they were trying to stabilize me there so that if the bleeding didn’t stop they could take me straight back into theatre. They had used a fairly unorthodox approach of blowing a balloon up inside me to put pressure on the vessels rather than immediately give me a hysterectomy (Steffi called James from theatre at 10am to tell him she was going to do a Hysterectomy) and they wanted to see if that would work. They also hadn’t managed to get the whole growth out. They were giving me 6 units of blood to try and get my HB up. I was shaking uncontrollably because my body temperature had got so low and they were blowing warm air into this special blanket thing to try and warm me up. Steffi came to tell me what had happened and that I might have to go back into theatre that day or the next. They also couldn’t give me too much pain medication in case they had to put me back under anesthetic and the awful pain continued. The main nurse also then came to me and told me she had asked someone very special to pray for me. At that point I really did think that I was going to die. It’s a really really awful feeling!
After about 4 hours in recovery I stabilized and they moved me to ICU to monitor me there.
Fast forward 3 days and I have just been allowed home. The balloon solution seemed to work, and I didn’t have to go back into theatre for a hysterectomy. The good news is that the growth is only placental/pregnancy matter and not cancerous. I was really terrified that this wasn’t going to be the case, as both Steffi, her partner, and the radiologist in theatre said they had never seen anything that looks like that come out of a uterus. Unfortunately they couldn’t get everything out as some of it has lodged into the wall of the uterus. They either need to get rid of it by doing the hysterectomy or giving me a low dose of chemo drugs to kill the remaining placental cells (or my body might just get rid of it itself). We will make a call next week depending on what my blood work shows.
So it’s been a very very scary few days! But…
- I am alive
- I don’t have cancer
- I am home with my precious family
- My body has given me one last sign that I will never carry another pregnancy again myself
- I am alive to be the best mom I can possibly be to my darling son, Murray and the best wife to my amazing husband, James
- We will look at whether the surrogacy option is something that might work for us, using my egg and James sperm but that is a whole other conversation and decision, and one which requires massive energy and dedication. So we will begin the conversation and see where it leads us…
- So for now I need to just focus on getting me properly well and better again, being able to thrive every day. I also need to deal with the psychological impact of everything that has happened in the last few weeks as I definitely have some PTSD again
I am truly grateful too for the remarkable medical care I have continued to receive, the doctors that have really really cared for me, way beyond what their profession required them to, who held my hand and stroked my hair when I was terrified and who made me feel like it was going to be okay.