My first surgery since my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is not a joint replacement surgery.
Can I say I am oddly a little proud of this?
Although would I be needing this surgery if I didn't have rheumatoid arthritis? RA is after all much more than just joint pain.
Now that reality is facing me in the face as I asked a gynecologist to inquire about the best form of birth control I was offered sterilization because the pros vs cons were greater.
What is a bilateral laparoscopic salpingectomy?
Salpingectomy is the surgical removal of one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes allow eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. This may be done to treat an ectopic pregnancy or cancer, to prevent cancer, or as a form of contraception. This procedure is now sometimes preferred over its ovarian tube-sparing counterparts due to the risk of ectopic pregnancies.
So why am I getting this done?
Mistakes and surprises happen. Sometimes you need to make drastic measures for prevention.
Because I am at risk for stroke or blood clot if I take birth control pills, which haven't worked much for me in the past. A mirena IUD almost made me go septic and because I made the choice to not physically carry another child due to my progressive incurable autoimmune disease. Uterine, ovarian and breast cancer run in my mother's side of the family so it is also to prevent possible cancer. While they examined my pelvic ultrasound they also found a little mister cysty, who they'll be checking out during the time of my surgery.
One of the first thoughts inside my head when I was diagnosed was that I would not be able to have another child. I never expected in my prior years to understand the pain women feel behind not being able to carry a child physically. To feel our bodies are faulty, more of a burden than anything. I didn't think that would ever make me so scared of meeting men, to find someone and disappoint them that I can no carry their offspring if that were to ever come up.
It's not even just about the physical aspect of carrying a child but how my disease requires me to take care of myself as a full time job. I do not feel I would be able to handle another child, thanks to illness. I've gone through one child and rheumatoid arthritis, I never want to experience the mom guilt of not feeling enough, such as being able to hold my child without intense pain or weakness. I've accepted I can only have one and look at that as a blessing.
I understand why my rheumatologist told me early on that women with RA often only have one child, just like she suggested going on disability because managing a young child while being a single mother with rheumatoid arthritis would be hard enough. I have been blessed with a knowledgeable, honest and relatable rheumatologist.
That's just one of the awkward parts of living with an invisible illness, never knowing how someone is going to take it when you reveal your illness and how it impacts your life, especially while searching for love.
August 14th 2019 is my surgery date. They were kind enough to give me the later surgery date so I could enjoy some of summer. Living with rheumatoid arthritis, summer is when I thrive the most. It's a bit of a sacrifice giving up half of me and my sons summer together, to have surgery and know I will be sent into a flare.
Now I am experiencing flare fear. I know how my body tends to react during a flare of rheumatoid arthritis but I have never experienced it while also healing from surgery and having to miss a dose of my biologic actemra. My last dose was June 25th 2019 which I receive monthly but because my surgery is on August 14th 2019 it's been planned I am waiting about 3 weeks before and two weeks after, going back in when I feel the incisions are healed, about early to mid September I am hoping.
There is a 4-6 week recovery period for Bilateral Laparoscopic Salpingectomy, if you are a regular healthy woman. Living with an autoimmune disease you have a compromised immune system and can expect a slower healing process, to go along with the flare fear.
I haven't really been preparing my summer body but more so my pre-surgery body. I worked so hard to become as fit as I have ever been at 33. My goal is to exercise as much as possible before and to lightly exercise after with walks and what I am comfortable with after surgery and during the flare.
I know this flare and surgery will teach me a lot about my disease, the health care system, what holistic approaches really work for me, how losing so much weight and a flare will treat me. I know it will more than likely not be my last surgery and it is a minor one, it will help prepare me for the future. I know I will need to bounce back, again. I know it will be hard. I know I will also need to communicate for help or those around me, especially if I find myself falling back and unable to catch up.
I have support from friends. My family isn't around or really old enough to understand surgery yet when mommy's not feeling very well.
This is another lesson of hope, hope for the best outcome and a speedy recovery. I am grateful for the friendships and the offers of support I have for this bump in the road.