,June 16, 2019
My doctor told me to name my uterus. Tomorrow morning she’s going to remove it from me.
I came up with a name but I don’t want to state it here it because maybe people I like, or will like, already have this name and I don’t want most people to think they are something I want surgically removed, and those that I might want “scalpeled” and yanked away don’t deserve to believe that I think about them at all- But this name is one that makes me think of parts of my past self that I definitely want “scalpeled” and yanked away. Even if it’s behaviors I’ve long-since changed, some things sit and hide, waiting for the unexpected moment. I’m covering my bases and using this physical removal to try and take care of that, even if it’s a moot effort. This has to be something like a transformation.
Another new me!
I’m noticing some people my age are coming to a perceptual shifting point as their kids are grown up or near that time in their lives. For me, it’s time for the actual vessel that could have grown a human life in it, if I wanted to do that (spoiler- I didn’t), to move on without me. I’m working toward fifty and not unlike what I’m noticing about my fellow mid-lifers, I intend for that decade to be great, if I’m so lucky to make my way through all of it and in a healthy way.
Considering that- I recently shed a few pounds in order to help the surgery and healing go smoothly and now my fibroid-ridden belly appears to truly be pregnant. I’ve been living with these growths within this organ for over ten years. I’m fortunate that I’m feeling relatively well. I’m also glad that my surgery takes place during a full moon and so close to the Summer Solstice. All that I believe in is on my side and I didn’t expect this to happen. I totally live for serendipity and the Wiccan stuff never lets me down. This weekend will hopefully include me writing down and burning regrets and intentions like a motherfucker. I’m super witching it up.
Once I’m well enough to move around I’m going to go to the beach, the woods and I’m buying food from ALL kinds of farmers markets. Even if I can’t afford a lot (I have to take time off work to heal), I can get at least one or two things, here and there. The point is to be like Sandra Bullock in the film Practical Magic, but with no kids and an interesting fashion sense. Just kidding. I’d rather be like her aunts in the film. Childless-by-choice Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest as spellcasting witch-sisters who wake up in the middle of the night to make margaritas, are much more my speed.
Last year I attended a yoga-Summer Solstice ceremony in a city called Pacific Grove that might as well be the actual inspiration for the set of TV’s The Gilmore Girls.
The woman who led the event asked if anyone had any medical issues and I mentioned my fibroids. It turns out another celebrant had recently had a hysterectomy due to them. When the host began to discuss the symbolism of our uterus' (it was a group of cis females); how these organs in our bodies were meant for all kinds of creative growth, I thought about my fibroids and what they represented. I thought about why my body was “choosing” to fill its creative growth organ with these things that may have been blocking countless amazing projects. I also thought about the woman in the group who no longer had a uterus, and just when I thought that, the host corrected herself and changed her statement to say something about the space where the organ sits or once sat, as the source of creative growth. I was glad for her comment as it helped route my inner dialog to one that was vibing a bit more toward the energy of the circle. (Not that I needed the directive of a Yoga teacher to define my personal body-belief system. I have aliens, mermaids and the unspoken language of the trees to help me with that.) I then followed her directions and swirled my hips around like I did when I took up belly dancing and silently asked my fibroids to please shrink and dissolve without medical intervention.
June 25, 2019
Despite my request during the Solstice ceremony a year ago, medical intervention ended up being necessary. The surgery is now complete and I feel great. So good. I had a c-section, so I have a cut in my lower belly that is healing but I’m not feeling too much of that. I have stitches on the inside that need to heal, and my organs have been through a trauma and are beginning to swell. (Health blogs on the internet call this "swelly belly.") I’m not taking pain meds anymore, aside from some over the counter medicine and only at night. I’m resting a lot. It’s been just over a week.
Before my procedure I asked my doctor if I could have a photo of the uterus once it was removed and she took one and gave it to me. It’s nuts! She said it weighed about ten pounds! Ten pounds of uterus and fibroids. My entire uterine lining was gone, and replaced by fibroids. Many, many fibroids.
I felt the release of it instantly, once I woke up from the anesthesia, and once the nurse removed my catheter. I felt my bladder have room, like it was experiencing a nice stretch after a long nap with too many bedfellows. My poor bladder must have been squished or blocked or something. All of these years before the surgery, I could tell I wasn’t fully relieving myself. I used to covet my fellow teachers' healthy pee-stream sounds in the bathroom stalls at work as I struggled between classes to push out my morning coffee. I now truly appreciate the feeling of emptying my bladder. Funny the things we take for granted. May we all have organs that work as they should.
One of my very nice nurses aids at the hospital said she had the same procedure a few years back and she believes fibroids hold stress. (There is no official medical explanation for fibroids growing in the uterus.) I guess that could be some of it but I’m more of a “there is something I had to go through in order to learn something” kind of person and so of course I see something of that in my experience. Ever since these things made themselves something I could not ignore, I've been trying to listen.
The fibroids, themselves, weren’t the only culprit, in regard to the body changes I experienced, once they started to grow. I began to eat more than I should, at night, after a long day of working and commuting, as a source of comfort. I looked for comfort from a busy schedule, from the process of my dad dying, from the energy-suck that life in Los Angeles had become. The streets. The traffic. The level of addiction and mental illness surrounding me in Hollywood and through public transit. Living paycheck to paycheck without energy or time to engage enough in my art practice, and visit with my beautiful and creative friends in L.A.- all while living with the discomfort of my womb full of non-cancerous tumors.
Maybe there is something to the “stress” theory.
The good of it.
My parents, as well as society (obviously), planted the seeds of how I “should” look and be, so I’m very pleased that I was physically larger than I had ever been and my hair was graying and shaved short when my father was dying. He and my mother were able to understand my value through all of their shattered (ridiculous) expectations. “Proving it” to them was really only about proving it to myself and I did. My body change put me into a position of getting that over with and I'm thankful for it.
Now I’m working toward better health so that I age with energy and vitality. There’s more that I’d like to do and make. I have a life partner and friends I want to spend a whole lot more time with. There are people I miss. There are some places I want to travel to. Art I've only seen in books and on the internet. There are causes to contribute to and changes to help make in the world, in whatever way I can.
I look at myself in the mirror and in digital images posted online and I'm taking in the things that happen with age. Aging is inevitable. It’s the best thing if one wants to live, right? That’s totally the goal.
Right now I’m sore and puffy while I heal but I’m feeling lighter and that reminds me of the physical feeling of youth. I’m just starting to recognize how I’ll be able to move better, like I used to, before the fibroids. I've been thinking a lot these past few months and I truly think, based on who I have been my whole life, if I didn't have the gradual shift that effected my level of physical comfort as well as my appearance, my aging might have been something that disturbed me more on a superficial level. We see this in people every day.
As I age, it takes more intention and effort to stay healthy and that’s okay. (Can't eat everything I want at all times and must schedule exercise.) That is now going to be a part of my “thing.” Part of my crone thing. I love that word, in the form of the aforementioned Practical Magic sisters-aunt-type crone. I don’t want to appear young again but there is a definite fight within me for this. It must be a natural struggle, or else we wouldn't have developed the agreed-upon term, midlife crisis. Truly though, deep down where the good stuff is, I don’t want to recreate it. I don’t want to fill my face up with fat injections but I do plan on wearing clothes that young people wear, if I want to. I’m no model or daughter of wealthy, creative legends but I want to age like I’m mother-fucking Isabella Rossellini in her Instagram account. But who knows what's "correct," right? Maybe people who fuck with the way their faces and bodies look are simply doing what feels right to them.
Embracing this word (the way I see it in my head) feels, to me, like a meditation on wisdom. I'm not super-crazy about blindly accepting common definitions of it, and the whole "triple goddess" (maiden, mother, crone) thing. I feel like that can perpetuate the idea that women have roles to play/fill throughout their lives, as opposed to defining their own. I suppose I very much like the idea of an elder matriarch.
I just finished watching the revival of the classic mini-series, Stories of the City and something the trans matriarch character, Anna Madrigal said in a flashback of her youth (one of my favorite episodes of the series), when asking someone what their "true" age is, she stated that she always felt like someone in her seventies. I can't say that's exactly how I feel but I do feel like I've been waiting a long time for these gray hairs and wrinkles. I've been waiting for menopause. I'm feeling more and more like I’ve earned the right to trust my opinions and ideas because I’ve lived through shit. That being said, I’ve felt that before and also I'm not even fifty yet. I have time. I just like to make plans.
In the meantime, it feels good to be in my healing space, both literally and figuratively. Getting some rest. My friends and family realize all that I was living through before, because I seem different now, and their awareness is some kind of reflection I needed in order to confirm of a lot of things I thought I had been feeling, but was too distracted to know for sure.
So I’m sitting calmly and enjoying the breeze moving through my apartment and being with Kenny while he works and takes care of things for me. I'm watching French movies and a game show called, The Match Game (from the 70's, which is currently on Amazon Prime), and birds from my balcony and I'm making lists. I'm worrying less and thinking about fashion and art. I'm painting and writing and reading and sitting and staring and trying to distinguish between the sound of waves and the sound of cars, both a similar distance away from here. I'm writing about this big thing that happened to me because I like to live. I adore life.
My name is Linda Lay and I'm an artist, a writer and a teacher.
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