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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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.

Tug of War

To say that it has been a long time since we have written is an understatement. We have had so much on our plate it hasn’t only been difficult to find time to sit down and gather our thoughts but we haven’t even been making dinner. I think in the past month I’ve maybe cooked like twice. For those of you that know me know that this isn’t ordinary considering cooking is a strong passion of mine. Let’s pick up where I believe we left off….

We were in Annapolis finding out answers for my beautiful wife as she had been suffering for almost six months. Well She was finally placed in the right hands or shall I say back in the right hands of our current surgeon. He previously did a surgery for Trenae years ago that provided her with relief for quite some time until her endometriosis had progressed. For the past two years my wife has been made to believe it was “all in her head” by several very respectful doctors because they couldn’t see the issue on your run of the mill tests. Blood work showed nothing, CT showed nothing, and internal sonograms showed nothing. It wasn’t until this past week that we truly found out what was wrong. Now granted as Rumpelstiltskin says everything comes with a price and for us it was the price of my wifes uterus, Fallopian tubes and her right ovary. I will not say it came at the price of us having children because that is simply not true and a very negative way to think of things. This price was one My wife and I were willing to pay and had I known this is where we would be today I would have encouraged her to have this done years ago. What was found during the surgery was that after two different doctors told her she didn’t have endometriosis our surgeon said her right ovary was covered in it and removed it with her request. Every other month for as long as I can remember my wife would have excruciating pain associated with her menses and on December 27th we found out why.

For months I have watched my wife fade as a lighter version of the woman I fell in love with because of this awful health condition. She became more anxious than ever, angry about many different things, and just over all very sad. Honestly who could blame her. I can’t say with an honest voice I would have handled it anywhere near as well as she has. She is one of the strongest people I know. But when I tell you what happened simply two hours out of surgery I knew we made the right decision even in spite of all the anxiety the build up of the surgey caused. My mother in law and I went back to see my wife. Now at this point she was in the recovery room lined up with multiple other patients in recovery. When you walk in you get hit with a very distinct smell that i associate with hospitals. One that doesn’t bring back memories that i enjoy. In fact at one point I had to step away from my wife because I felt like i was going to get sick. But I digress what happened when I saw her is I saw her again. She had that sparkle back in her eyes. The one I hadn’t seen in months and possibly a year. Two hours after surgery she had humor back and was making jokes about her surgery. As dumb as it sounds I walked away not only because I was nauseated from the familiar smell but because I was choked up. I had my wife back. I always knew she was still in there and I would get glimmers of her from time to time but this was the real deal.

One day after surgery she was up walking and laughing again, and while she was in surgical pain, the pain that she lived with in her heart had gone away. Now I am not going to sit here and say it will never come back but this surgery provided us with closure. It allowed us to let go of control and realize that sometimes we don’t get to make all the decisions. It allowed us to set our sights on what it is we have been yearning for these past four years and that’s to be parents. I’m not saying it will happen tomorrow or that adopting is going to be a piece of cake either but what i am saying is that we will have a child and they will be ours forever. If you’ve read my past posts you’ve heard me talk about  riding on a rollercoaster that never stops. Well I can finally say it has stopped for us and we are buying new tickets on our ride that has an end and its one that leads to becoming a family of three.

Trenae was discharged the day after her hysterectomy and we headed back home. Now before we went up to surgery our beloved long-haired mini dachshund had injured his back. He seemed like he was improving the couple of days we were home, but then we get back and his back legs weren’t working very well. In fact they were dragging at certain points. Is this where I began to feel very overwhelmed. I had my wife who was recovering and now my dog who we are thinking is paralyzed in the back legs. I called our breeder to find out what she suggested to do, and she gave me the contact info of this amazing veterinarian that does physical therapy, acupuncture and multiple other modes of therapy. I called and made an appointment right away and we were to be seen two hours after I hung up. We go in and this place is like the Ritz of vet offices. I mean not a speck of dust or dog hair on the floors. They take Walter and I back and assess him and determine that it is either a bulging disc or herniated disc. She suggests two options one is surgery and the other is a culmination of different therapies. She goes over the pros and cons of both and makes some calls to get me an estimate of what the surgery will cost. Now keep in mind we are a day of being home when all of this is occurring. So you can imagine the level of stress in our  household because our dogs are our children. She comes back and says Mr. Webster the estimate for surgery is going to be between 12 and 15 thousand dollars for Walter and they can take him today. Now my first thought was how can I make this happen because my wife and I love this little dog with all our hearts, and then my second is how the hell are we going to afford this when trying to adopt and everything else that has hit us in 2016. She suggested calling our breeder and seeing what she would recommend. She recommended the multiple therapy route. So Walter has been “lasered” and given a gamete of meds and he is walking again. He will be crated for weeks possibly months to regain his strength and allow his disc to move back into place.

I literally do not know how we would be standing without my mother in law here helping us or our friends that have brought us food and visited with my wife and I. I am in this strange tug of war right now with a sense of relief but also a sense of being very overwhelmed. In the end it will all work out however it is supposed to but I would love nothing more just to be able to enjoy my wifes recovery with her and to have our little Walter snuggled up next to us in bed again. Only time will tell whats in store but for now I must go to bed because tomorrow is a big day for me….. I turn 30. It’s insane to think I am that young and have experienced all these different things in life already. Good night all and stay tuned for whats up for us next…

-Steffan