Pain, Pain Go Away

So it’s been about nine months since the chronic pain started. I saw at least a handful of doctors to help me figure out what was wrong; the first was a surgeon who increased the pain significantly. The second was a chronic pain specialist who, when I told him my symptoms and my quality of life, dismissed me without bothering to learn my story. Although he was kind enough to tell me my first surgery sterilized me. *sigh* Again, the pain never ended, it only got worse. It wasn’t until I went to a third doctor, another surgeon who has more accolades than I can count, decided a partial hysterectomy was in my best option. At 32, that word and the menopause to follow, were very scary things. At the time, however, I would do anything, and I mean ANYTHING to get rid of the pain, even if it meant officially, no children of my own. We scheduled the hysterectomy for December 27, 2016 (Merry Christmas!).

The day came, my husband and my mom were there with me at the hospital to support me and take care of my mental and physical well-being after the surgery. Everything during the surgery went as well as it could have gone. The surgeon needed to take much more than he planned, however. He originally planned to only take my uterus, but took that plus my right ovary, Fallopian tube, and cervix due to the endometriosis. Currently I am left with one ovary.

After the surgery, the pain seemed to continue, and not in a surgical manner. It was as if every time I moved, my insides burned and felt like they were being stabbed. Something didn’t feel right. I “recovered” and returned to work for a little less than two weeks before I couldn’t teach. I remember my last day: I ran our television studio from the floor in the fetal position and taught my first period journalism class from my desk with a heating pad on. My kids wouldn’t even let me stand; they are a wonderful, caring and a compassionate group of young scholars and I am blessed to have them. They watched me cry as I helped them with the paper and showed such strength for me.

During second period, a colleague of mine (one who taught my husband), saw me in excruciating pain and crying at my desk in our common planning area. Everyone suggested we go to our local hospital’s ER, but time and time again, I’ve been dismissed because they couldn’t see anything on their tests. To be frank, they considered me a drug seeker. My colleauge immediately called our administrators and my husband and I went directly to Mercy hospital in Baltimore instead.

At first they couldn’t figure out what was wrong and said they would send me home with pain pills. The entire visit took less than fifteen minutes. It might have been the pain talking but I finally got up the gumption to say, “If you don’t know what’s wrong with me, admit me. If you send me home with pain pills, you’ll see me again in a week.” My doctor said okay and I was admitted that day. Let me preface this by saying my surgeon is a wonderful man who is kind, caring and compassionate. He listened to my plea for help and ran tests while I was admitted. No one could see anything on either the CT scan or the sonogram and the answer again was pain pills and home. I refused his team’s suggestion and said I wasn’t leaving until he opened me up, looked around and everyone stopped relying on pictures to tell me “nothing was wrong”. Again, pain speaks volumes for me and my courage and my doctor agreed. He even did the surgery on a Sunday morning.

The surgery, again, (3 times in 9 months), was successful. I woke up to my husband telling me adhesions (scar tissue) had built up in my belly and was making my organs stick to my abdomen wall. Basically, every time I moved, I pulled organs that are not designed to move. After this surgery, of which I am still recovering, I am FINALLY chronic pain free! I feel like my old self, not like the shell of a person trying to survive.

If I could have you take away one thing from this post, only one, it would be to be your own advocate. You know your body better than anyone or any picture could ever show. Had I not been my own advocate and basically demanded surgery, I would not be on the road to full recovery!

I am grateful and blessed to have had a phenomenal surgeon, good friends and family check up on me and take care of me, even in the smallest of ways. They have sent cards and small gifts, food, flowers, and things to help me stay busy while I’m resting for one month. Needless to say, I’m getting very good at coloring and hand lettering calligraphy! Two of my cousins even sent me special gifts: one sent me a yellow bracelet, as yellow is the color of endometriosis awareness and the other sent me healing crystals which I keep by my bed to help comfort me.

My husband, during this final surgery, has been such a great support system. He has made sure I have everything I need, while sacrificing his own needs at times. I cannot tell you the love I have for this man!

I’ll also say that animals seem to have a keen sense of pain and healing. Our four dogs have been very attentive to me and don’t want to leave my side. They are loyal and they love unconditionally.

Together, now, it finally feels like we can move on with the adoption journey. We are both working side jobs to help raise the astronomical amount of money we need to have a child of our own. I teach to children in China online and he has a side business called WoodBuryDesigns.  He also does hand lettering and wood burning that started as a hobby and now we are using the money from both of our side jobs to make it possible for us to adopt our waiting Webster.

Now that the pain is gone from my insides, there is room for more love for a family and fun! Thank you to everyone for your support during this difficult time. I love and appreciate all of you and your gestures, big and small! They mean the world.

Next stop, adoption! 🙂 I can’t wait to meet our baby.

~Trenae

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When one comment ruins a day

As an infertile couple we have had our experiences of people saying the wrong thing even when they think it is right and that it will help us cope. We’ve even tried to bring awareness to what should be said and what shouldn’t through this blog, but my wife and I are realistic in the sense that we can’t control what others say. However, it doesn’t mean the words hurt any less.

For those of you that have read our blog from the beginning you know the journey we have been on and more recently the surgeries that have taken place. For those of you that haven’t and are just tuning in, My beautiful wife at the age of 32 had a hysterectomy and it closed the door to us having a biological child. A hysterectomy is more than just the physical removal of the female reproductive organs. We as men will never understand what it means to our wives even though we try desperately to. This surgery is so much more. It takes an emotional toll on a woman like you wouldn’t believe. My wife has told me a while back that she can’t do the one thing she was put on this earth to do and that’s to carry a baby. Now I don’t buy into that is why women are here but I sympathize with my wife in this feeling knowing what hand she has been dealt what hand we as a couple have been dealt. The surgery is over but the emotional effects still linger and probably to some extent always will. She is only human to think will I ever hear the sweet little voice shout out to me and say “Mommy.” I have watched my wife cry over many situations that people who haven’t walked a mile in our shoes will never understand. Things that before we went through this I would have said oh for the love give me a break you’re reading into everything. The truth is though you don’t ever know what someone else is going through and it’s not fair to expect people to walk on egg shells but I do think people should try to understand your situation and the impact words can have on a couple struggling with this. we have been hurt many a times throughout our marriage and journey to become parents by friends, by family, and by people who we don’t even know and in most cases not at any fault of their own people just are simply unaware. Most recently though a very simple conversation wrecked our day in a big way.

We were in a store where my mom works just browsing some of the vintage items that they have. A gentlemen was talking to my mom and I got the sense that he was a regular customer because it was very clear he knew my family and my nieces and nephew. My mom is a grandmother of three all of which have come from my sister. She is a very proud grandmother and no ne can fault her for that because we hope to experience that someday. The gentleman was just talking to her about his grandchildren and commented on how lucky my mom was to have this new grandbaby. It was a very casual conversation, one that you would never think would have such a profound impact on us. I instantly noticed my wife’s demeanor change. She went from smiling and happy to very stoic and quiet. Now for those of you that know me know that I can read people and their emotions really well in fact its art of my job to do that. So I instantly ask her what’s wrong to which she replies nothing it’s stupid. Now me being me I continue to ask (totally annoying and not my best quality but I’m a fixer and don’t like seeing people I love in pain) She tells me again its stupid but I won’t let up. She finally, holding back tears says I just wonder if your mom will ever get to talk about our child like she does my sisters. Now let me say this wasn’t her being upset with my mom or what the gentlemen sais it was her worrying we will never get the opportunity to provide my parents with another grandchild. It was her fearing we will never be called mommy and daddy. It was her showing raw emotion with everything we have one through. Our overall tone of our day shifted completely. It went from a light airy fun day to being pushed in a hole and trying desperately to pull ourselves out. Even as I write this I fully expect for some people to still not understand the situation or get the impact such a simple conversation had on us as couple but I did it wrecked our day.

I’ll be the first man to admit I am not the perfect husband even though I try so hard to be. When my wife first told me why she was sad I minimized the situation. I told her she was reading into the comment and to not take it so personal. I thought about what I said and realized that’s not what she needed from me as her husband. In fact I didn’t need to say a thing I just needed to be present and let her know I am there for her. All she wanted me to do was to hold her. That’s exactly what I did after we got home and it helped but as I mentioned before I am not the perfect husband but I am man enough to admit that I am a work in progress. There are times when I question if I am enough for my wife and if she deserves better. I have certain tendencies and tones I take and they are not always pleasant but I am working so hard on that because she deserves that. And guys listen very carefully with what I say next. When speaking to your wife or your daughter  or son it’s not always what you say that matters it’s how you say it. For me this is my area I have to work on to be a better husband. My wife and I have been through hell and after this surgery she is still healing emotionally so now more than ever I need to keep my tone in check and be there for her no matter what. This is the overall theme of this post though how words can hurt people even when you don’t intend them to. Everyone has their own shit going on for lack of better words so next time you judge or don’t get why someone is upset take a step back and think about what they could possibly be facing in their life. Know it may not have anything to do with you that they are just going through a hard time. Be there for them and don’t try to solve or fix just be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on because for us that’s all we want from our support system.

The Beginning of the End…

It’s been a little less than one month since I had my hysterectomy where the surgeon intended to take only my uterus. Instead, he was forced to take my uterus, cervix, right ovary and Fallopian tube. Needless to say when I woke up and gained consciousness, I was a little taken aback by all that needed to be removed due to my endometriosis. According to my surgeon (no one else saw it), my right ovary was “indiscernible”; no one understood my pain or took the time to understand it. No one except this man. This wonderful man whose bedside manner is something to be commended. He reassured me and hugged me more times than I could have ever imagined. His staff was caring and compassionate and to put the cherry on the sundae that was this experience, he sent me roses during my recovery.

I’m blessed to have had such a great support team, from the doctors and nurses at Mercy Medical Center who took such good care of me and tended to me overnight, to my husband and my mom who never left my side for three weeks during and after surgery. My husband even slept on those awful hospital couches just to be with me. I’m one lucky lady. My mom, who I can’t thank enough for taking three weeks off from her own job to be with me and take care of me, Steffan and our furry family. My school family who called, texted, sent flowers, cards, Meal Train dinners to help lighten our load and focus on healing and taking over my classes; you are all wonderful and I’m proud to call myself a Clipper. My in-laws who came to visit and bring dinner to cheer me up and visit. There are too many friends to list, but your gifts and time meant the world. Lastly to a woman who, despite her own medical issues, took time to think of me and my classes and won a contest and gave my kids the money. Twenty years of knowing this wonderful lady and not seeing her in almost ten, and she still thinks of me. I am lucky.

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There is always a flip-side to the positives. This has not been an easy journey. Surgical pain sucks. Knowing my childbearing years are officially over sucks when all I see are baby announcements. I try to be happy, but it’s a challenge sometimes. I am truly grateful for the people who show empathy for what Steffan and I have dealt with in regards to our infertility; you are our family. Therapy is helping. I’m learning techniques to keep from crying when it gets overwhelming; to put it into the words of Carrie Underwood, “This mountain is just a grain of sand.” Maybe mine isn’t that small, but I know this “mountain” is something I can climb over with time and support.

I’m learning to be kind to myself, which is incredibly difficult because I hold myself to such a high standard that when I am not perfect, I feel like I have failed. Kindness takes a LOT of breathing and patience, but I will get better at it.

Honestly, the hard part comes now. Surgery is over. Healing is underway. It’s time to take on the biggest journey of our lives and we’re ready. We’ve been ready. I know, because I’m nesting the heck out of my home, despite the chagrin of my hubs. Let the adoption process begin! We’re giving ourselves until June to reunite as husband and wife and grow in our love again and heal from this monstrous minefield.( “Dancing in the Minefields”by Andrew Peterson)

We can’t wait to have a child of our own; someone to dress and play with and spoil with love. Our turn is here. Our wedding song talked about “the beginning of the end starts with the words ‘I do'”. Well here is another beginning of the end, and this one is just as wonderful as our first one nearly four years ago. So here we go, time to get ready for another glorious minefield!

If anyone has suggestions for agencies or adoption lawyers, please leave your comments below! Thanks!

~Trenae

It’s Time to be Dealt a Good Hand Now

It’s 4:32 am as I sit alone in my bed and write this. This is my new sleep schedule. Go to bed at whatever time, be it 8 pm or 12 am and wake up somewhere between 3 and 4 am.

I’m a little over one week post-op and to say it’s been hard has been an understatement. I was doing great at the beginning; sitting downstairs with my family; and I even walked to get the mail, which is a huge accomplishment two days post surgery if you have A – been through this or B – seen my driveway.

After about day 4 is when things started to go downhill. I couldn’t do as much and I started to feel like a burden to my husband and my mom. They were doing everything; when you can’t lift more than 5 pounds, it’s excruciating painful because that’s less than my purse. They basically had to help me get dressed, make me food, help me into and out of bed and take care of my babies…my dogs. One who is now going through IVDD treatments because he hurt his spine and I can barely touch him, let alone hold him and it’s killing me inside.

I’m sorry if this is a rant, but I’m sleep deprived and a very independent woman. To not be able to put on my own socks is mortifying, but I know it’s in the best interest of my healing. I am crying a little right now as I write this because it’s so painful…that and coughing / sneezing.

My poor husband has been a rock through all of this and he’s starting to show signs of hairline cracks and I know it’s because of me. That alone is making me feel guilty. Not to mention the fact that now it is permanent: no baby. The uterus, ovary, Fallopian tubes, and cervix made sure of that. I helped it by falling three days ago and took a lovely trip to the ER where nothing was done…literally, not even an IV or any monitor when I got there. You go hospital*. You go.

*Not the same one as the surgery.

The finality of it all is setting in and it’s starting to break me down. I hear stories from women about how sorry they are for me; they had this two, but luckily they had a kid or two before…please, if you read this, comment about being in my situation: I have none. Zip, zero, zilch. No one yet to call me mommy, to draw me a picture or make me something god-awful in art class out of macaroni. My mom still has everything I ever made.

I guess my ex was right: I’m not a good “breeder”, nor will I ever be, but thank goodness I found someone who actually loves me for good times and in bad, sickness and in health. I got lucky that way.

Therapy is helping. Meditation is helping. But is it too much to ask that I be allowed to heal physically and mentally? Because this is harder than I ever imagined. I know my family, friends and colleagues are on my side and I appreciate that so much. But this is a solitary process if you don’t know what it’s like. I got a phone call from my first boyfriend’s mom, a woman I’ve known almost 20 years now, and she thought of me when she won a contest. She emailed my husband after surgery. She is a wonderful woman; compassionate and thoughtful. She made me smile and gave me the courage to keep fighting without being ostentatious. Thank you friend.

I think over the last 4 years I’ve been dealt my fair share of crappy cards. Can I please be dealt a good hand? I’m ready for the next steps…mine and tiny little ones that cause massive amounts of destruction, chaos and cuteness….and for once, ones without four feet.