Here are some things people have wanted to know:
No, in fact there is a lot of swelling after a surgery like this, so there's a bit of pressure, bloating and tenderness. Kind of like the worst PMS ever. With cool scars.
What happens to the place where the uterus was?
I'm assuming the other abdominal stuff sort of slurps on over like jello on a warm day. The uterus isn't all that big, so it's not like there is a big space in there to be filled up.
Do you have stitches?
There are internal stitches that will dissolve. Externally I was super-glued closed. I love that. I feel like a big walking craft project.
How's the whole bladder thing going?
This is the hardest thing to deal with. He spent 4-1/2 hours rummaging around in my abdomen, so predictably there is some nerve trauma. Once the Creepy Catheter was out, I had to learn to pee again. You know how newborn babies cry and you have no way of knowing if they're hungry or tired or wet or in pain? Well none of the nerve signals from my nether parts were what I was used to feeling - my Lady Business would start howling and I had to figure out what the heck it wanted me to do. Let's just say each trip to the john was a new adventure. Hey, at least I'm not incontinent.
What does it feel like?
I won't lie, it frickin' hurts and certain things hurt more than others. Driving sucks, walking is hard, but playing guitar is fine. Painkillers are the best invention ever, right after super robotic surgery. I get tired at unexpected moments, but less so every day. I have some hypersensitivity which means stretch pants and granny panties for a while, but to be honest that's how I dress most of the time anyway. As the nerves sort themselves out and come back to life, I experience new and different pains. Good because I was spared having to feel all the pains at once, not so good because I'm really ready to stop taking painkillers.
How does it feel to be a Cancer Survivor?
In a celebratory moment I sent a message to friends that read: "I didn't just survive cancer - I took it out back and kicked its malignant ass." I was Indiana Jones shooting the guy with the whip - my treatment was quick, aggressive and, most likely, very successful.
In the past couple of weeks I've been thinking a lot about my identity as a cancer survivor and realized that I don't feel all that comfortable wearing that label. The main reason is that there are people, including several close friends, who have my undiluted admiration and respect for the horrific treatments they were willing to endure in order to beat cancer, including repeated rounds of chemo, radiation and surgeries. Some survived, some didn't, but they all fought like hell and I'm in awe of their strength and courage. Compared to what they went through, my treatment was a minor inconvenience. I am undeniably privileged to have access to the best health care, full insurance coverage, flexible work hours with sick pay and an absolutely astounding community to support me. I didn't survive so much as lay back and let people feed me soup and chocolates for a couple of weeks. Assuming the badge of Cancer Survivor feels a little like wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "I Survived the Tea-cup Ride at Disneyland" or getting a Purple Heart for a paper cut.
Technically, yes, I survived cancer, but I'm not sure I want to shape my identity around not dying of a disease. There are so many other parts of my life that are way more important to me - family, friends, music, dance, art....Cancer Survivor is just way far down on the list. I also discovered that it galled me to think of it as "My Cancer". That little f**ker invaded my Happy Place and I couldn't get rid of it fast enough; the last thing I want to do is sound attached to it. My mom suggested that if I'm ever tempted to discuss cancer with possessive language, that I consider using the phrase "My Beloved Cancer" instead. Thanks, Mom, as always, you know just the right thing to say.
Also I don't look good in pink.