Since having written my last few posts, I've been feeling very vulnerable and at times panicked to the point where I have felt physical pain in my chest. I have broken down three times in the last 72 hours into an uncontrollable fit of teary convulsions - the first time with my husband and two very close friends of ours, the second whilst on the phone to my mum the following day and the third while reading through the draft of this post just yesterday afternoon. Why? What could I possibly have unearthed in the past few days to provoke such a violent explosion of emotion?
For the first time since it occurred, I have dissected and analysed my emotional response to all the events leading up to the surgical removal of my second fallopian tube - and a little bit beyond. My mind hones in my unconscious body laid on the operating table, limp and helpless as the surgeon slices into my belly, severs my second and last tube from the womb and hands it passively to her assistant to be 'disposed of'. Her face is calm and collected, poised in a blank expression of indifference whilst she makes a few banale comments to her colleagues - perhaps in relation to the procedure, perhaps not. Did she conclude with 100% certainty that there was no way of rescuing part of the tube? Did she not even query the benefits of a biopsy in order to investigate the exact cause of the ectopic? Did she not think about how that might ultimately help us in our struggle to conceive through IVF which was tragically now our only option?......or did she go through the technical motions of the procedure without thinking and without feeling?
A woman's fertility is sacred. It is the embodiment of creation and a life-giving force inside us. And yet, I can't help feeling that she just didn't care. She didn't even notice that a part of me died on the operating table that day. And for that reason, I feel violated. I've always been hesitant about using that word because it is a word so often used in the context of rape and abuse. But if you look up the dictionary definition, you will find the following -
Violate: to treat something sacred with irreverence and disrespect.
It's taken a lot of courage for me to write this post (with a view to publishing it). I've always been scared to admit how I felt about the doctors that treated me during that time and especially the surgeon who performed the final operation. I am only too aware that a lot of people will react with rationale and logic at the forefront of their minds and perhaps an urge to defend them with the comment, "They were just doing their job." As I clutched my husband in tears last Saturday night, I could sense that even he was going there in his head, but before he could think about uttering the words, I interjected with an explosion of repetitive cries to "please....please.....just let me hate her!"
I am not normally an angry person and so, for me, admission of such intense rage is very difficult indeed, but I believe my unconscious effort to keep it locked away for so long has been debilitating beyond all measure. And now, I guess I'm imploring you, as my readers, to let me feel this way too, to be compassionate towards me in my need to be angry and to recognise it not as a failure, but as a sign that I am finally grieving what I lost on that day back in October 2008....because only then can I even think about "moving on" and "letting it go".
Upon searching the internet for literature on grief experienced by women following the removal of both tubes, I was quite disheartened to find that there was nothing really out there. I did however find a website called Hystersisters about women who have had to suffer a hysterectomy. And it seems that, amongst these women, the big burning question is, "Does it ever go away?" This has been the most difficult thing I've had to face since becoming infertile - that sense of emotional agoraphobia and a fear of the infinite.
I'm going to conclude this post with the response to this question which I read on the Hystersisters website. It's a lovely message that simultaneously provides hope and acceptance of your right to feel the way you do:
"Almost all negative occurrences in our lives are tolerable, as long as they're temporary. Will you ever feel like the same person you were before? No-one can answer that question with certainty. But for many women, it does transpire that with the passage of time, the "strange and unusual feelings and unsettling emotions do fade.
But what if they don't? Just as the world is constantly evolving, so are our lives. Perhaps if the feelings do not some day truly go away, they will change. And because human beings by nature are adaptable creatures, you will likely adjust to the phases involved in the transition. To put it another way, you will slowly get accustomed to the new and different way that you feel. It's prevalence and steadiness will make it grow ordinary.
You will come to terms with what you have been dealt and adapt accordingly. As one woman put it, "I think the best thing we can all do for ourselves is to ride that wave of change and passage."