This article was made possible through the financial support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has sponsored Qcitymetro’s Health Page since 2010.
Friday, January 29, 2016 is a day stamped in my memory.
As I staggered to get up at approximately 4 a.m., my heart sprinted. I showered, got dressed, reached for my suitcase and gradually headed for the door.
It was a chilly 29 degrees, and I was expected downtown for a 5:15 a.m. check-in. I dreaded what would lie ahead.
On this day, I was scheduled to have surgery.
At approximately 7:30 a.m., I underwent an operation to remove fibroids — benign growths in the uterus, the most common type of growth found in a woman’s pelvis. The good news: In most instances, fibroids rarely become cancerous.
And the not-so-good news: Fibroids affect African American women vastly more often than other races. For example, Black women are diagnosed with fibroids three times more frequently than Caucasian women. And in African Americans, fibroids occur at a younger age and grow more quickly. (Although fibroids can occur at any age, they commonly appear between 30 and 40.)
I put off removal as long as I could.
In the interim, my fibroids grew larger, multiplied and presented problems — frequent urination, lower back pain and irregular periods.
For the good of my health, after doing some research and having several lengthy discussions with my doctor, I opted to have them removed. Because mine were very large, surgery was the option my doctor chose.
It’s been a long, four-week trip.
I have roughly four weeks remaining before I can resume “normal” physical activities, e.g. weight lifting, etc. However, as I journey toward wellness, I’ve learned a lot and don’t regret the surgery. If you’re considering fibroid removal (or any major surgery), I’d like to share a few tips:
1. Be Prepared – From my research, I assumed a minimum of four weeks recovery. Because I didn’t know what to expect, I paid bills in advance, canceled commitments, had a variety of foods in my home and made sure my bedroom was accommodating.
2. Good Help – After my surgery, it was impossible to function solo the first few weeks. I’m blessed that my daughter arrived the day before surgery and stayed 13 days. Upon her departure, a good friend stopped by daily to ensure all my needs were met.
3. Eating – Loss of appetite is often normal. In fact, mine diminished for nearly three weeks. In between, I nibbled on “real” food and chugged plenty of nutritional drinks, e.g. Boost, Ensure.
4. Where’s the weight? – My meds caused my sporadic appetite and I unfortunately lost weight. As my appetite slowly returns, I’m hopeful to regain the pounds I lost. Just as obesity is unhealthy, so is being underweight.
5. Follow doctors orders – Before I weaned myself off the pain pills, I first discussed with my doctor. I also followed her recommendation to eat multiple small meals, stay hydrated and walk (indoors around my house).
6. Take it easy – As much as I savor a return to the gym, rest is the best thing when recovering from surgery. For me, this means forgoing things I normally enjoy — the gym, exercising and the CIAA tournament… at least for now.
Until next time, I wish you joy and wellness!