Surgical Menopause -Guest Post

When I saw a reader's comment on the Estrogen: Curse Your Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal article posted last week, I immediately sent her an email asking her to write a guest post talking more about her experience with surgical menopause. She agreed, and today's post is her response. Sharing stories, wisdom, fears, joys and triumphs is what GHG is all about! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

After reading GHG’s article on Estrogen and its effect during menopause, or "Mentalpause," as I call it, I feel fortunate that my menopause came on fast and somewhat furious.

I had a total hysterectomy at the ripe old age of 43, four years after giving birth to my second child, and 18 years after having my first. The difference between having a baby at 25 and one at nearly 40 is a story for another time!

I had heard a lot of horror stories, and I had a lot of fears about being thrown violently into menopause after my surgery. It didn't take long before it seemed my worst fears had become reality.

On the day of my hysterectomy, I packed a bag and brought it with me to the hospital. At some point during my surgery, my mother, who was staying with us to help take care of the little one, decided I didn’t need it and brought it back to my house.

Well, for reasons I can’t remember now, the first thing I asked for as they were wheeling me out of recovery was my bag. When Mom told me she brought it back to the house, it was like the gates of hell opened and demons poured into room 714. I lost my mind completely. I couldn’t speak until my head had done its third exorcist-like rotation, and when I could, let’s just say, the words were not kind. I was in such a rage, I didn’t even notice that my daughter was behind her in the doorway. Years later, when I could finally laugh about it, my mother told me that when they got into the elevator 15 minutes after my tirade, my daughter asked about mood swings, and “was it supposed to happen that fast?”

Whether that was the hormones or just general irritability after major surgery, it did get better. Hearing my sister and friends talk about hot flashes and mood swings and all the other menopause symptoms lasting for years and years, I have concluded that fast and furious was the way to go for me. Over and done with, bam! Not slow and mean. Not waking up every day wondering what was going to happen to my poor body today. What kind of cruel and evil punishment would I be delighted by this week?

I was on hormone replacement therapy for a year after my hysterectomy and then was taken off of them by my PCP; I no longer saw an OB/GYN as there was nothing for them to check on anymore. "Good luck and good riddance," is what I felt like my OB/GYN was telling me as he handed me my prescription and showed me the door.

When my PCP took me off of the hormones, I remember him saying, "I don’t like hormone therapy, and so I’m not refilling the prescription." WHAT?! He wasn't even the doctor that put me on them! I knew there were alternatives, but I decided to go cold turkey and try to get through it as best as I could. Besides, I could always try something else or ask to go back on the hormones if the symptoms were more than I could live with.

It was pretty scary because I sort of thought of the hormones as Buffy the Vampire Slayer in pill form - the only thing keeping those demons at bay. Was I going to wake up the next day with every menopausal symptom there was? Was I going to have epic hot flashes? Not remember my kid's name? Fall down because my bones suddenly all became brittle at once? Was I ever going to sleep through the night or want to have sex ever again? Would all of this hit me like a wrecking ball because I suddenly stopped taking my hormone pills?

Well, the answer is NO. Not for me at least. I’m sure the year of being on HRT helped, but other than some mild hot “flushes” and insomnia issues, it wasn’t bad at all. Now I can happily say, "Whew!" I’m glad I'm all done and so much quicker!

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