Written by Evi Idoghor
When I awoke to gentle taps on my right arm, I remember feeling excruciating pain. As I cried out in agony, my eyes struggled to open. My throat was achy, and the oxygen mask which lay over my nose and mouth irritated me. Carefully, I searched the room where I lay, with my eyes still dilated, in an attempt to find a clock to tell me how long I had been unconscious. The clock that hung directly in front of me was invisible the first time. Another look around the room, this time a little more aware, and there it was, staring me down at 2pm.
It came as a complete surprise to me when I was diagnosed with fibroids only three years after having an abdominal myomectomy. “How did these things regrow?” I asked myself “I am not prepared for any more surgeries,” the doctor however, said to me “relax, they are still very small.”
I began experiencing heavy bleeding during my period, 10 months after my second diagnosis. The usual scene that followed each uprising resembled something out of a war zone. I recall crawling around on all fours at my cousin's house in Abuja, frantically wiping the floors before anyone noticed the gruesome scene of my accident. Fortunately, her floors were made of tiles. After four consecutive episodes, and one menstrual period which lasted two weeks, I was put on medication by my doctor to regulate the bleeding.
One year had elaspsed when I said to myself, “I am tired of constantly taking this pill; I'll skip it this month and see what happens...” The first day of my period for that month arrived, and I was feeling great. Hmmm, maybe this thing has healed itself, I thought, until I stood up and spilled blood on the floor beneath me. When I returned to my gynaecologist, he ordered an MRI, which revealed that I had 23 fibroids both inside and outside my uterus – the last time I had 13. As such, I had to consider another surgery if I wanted to stop the heavy bleeding and excruciating period pains. My heart began to race at a breakneck pace - I don't want to have surgery, I don't want to be put to sleep, the pain! All the pills and shots in my hand and thighs! I don't want to go through all of that again.
My doctor explained that continuing with the medication he prescribed earlier, would not stop the tumours from growing; it was like slapping a bandaid over a wound. “I'd like to perform the surgery before your next period,” which was three weeks away. When he asked, “Is it too soon?” he must have noticed my mood shift. Of course, it was too soon; I wasn't mentally prepared to undergo such a major operation.
When I got home that day, I told a few people what had happened. While they were generally supportive, some of them were opposed to me having another surgery (understandably so). “God can do anything,” someone said, "let us pray instead for healing instead." “When you pray, what do you even say to God?” another asked, “Let’s join an online prayer platform, there are loads of testimonies about how people’s cysts and fibroids disappeared,” someone else concluded.
Every morning, without fail, a friend would send me the prayer link to join; I tried once but left after a while. I remember feeling the same way when I was told I needed surgery for the first time, five years ago. There was this new online prayer and worship service, and people who joined with various prayer requests, including fibroids, were being healed. At the time, I felt as though my faith wasn't strong enough; why wasn't God answering my prayers for healing? I could still feel the pulse of the tumours whenever I touched my stomach. Then I shifted gears and began praying a different kind of prayer: Lord, I pray for a successful procedure, without complications, and with a quick recovery. Please grant my doctors the wisdom they require to complete the procedure without human error. I was at peace in the days leading up to my procedure. It only took 90 minutes, and I didn't need any blood transfusions.
So, while people prayed for me not to have surgery again (which was wonderful), I prayed for a successful procedure. I prayed that God would be with us in the operating room, and that there would be no human error or oversight, as well as no complications or risks. My heart, though, was still bathed with fear. Fear became an unstoppable force as soon as I heard the doctor explain, "an open myomectomy is a significant procedure, and as with all surgeries, there are risks involved." The hairs on my back froze.
There was a risk of excessive bleeding, vomiting while under anaesthesia, and eventual loss of uterus if bleeding could not be stopped, among other things, which resulted in my constant tussle with anxiety in the days leading up to the procedure. Every day, I wondered, what if I have a bad reaction to the anaesthesia? What if I lose my uterus? What if I lose my life? Then people would say - there was nothing wrong with her, so why did she have to go ahead with surgery? Ignorant of the heavy bleeding and excruciating period cramps that I have had to put up with each month.
I considered canceling the surgery, “but I don't want to be that woman who looks seven months pregnant with no child to show for it,” I said to myself, “it will only be delaying the inevitable.” Due to the fibroids, my stomach was already larger than usual, and I didn't want it to get any bigger. Thus, I researched a lot of articles about abdominal myomectomy and general anaesthesia.
“I'd like to be awake during my procedure,” I told my doctor as we went over my MRI scans. “Why? Are you afraid of being asleep during surgery?” He asked, looking at me. I agreed with a nod of my head. “Then you will have to take an epidural,” he said. “No, the needle for the epidural is huge, and I wouldn’t be able to stay still,” I replied firmly. Then he asked, “have you had any side effects from general anaesthesia?” “No,” I said, “do you know anyone who went to sleep and didn't wake up after general anaesthesia?” “No,” I said again, “So, why are you scared?”
I had no other answer for him, other than the fact that I had many negative thoughts swirling in my head. It was going to be my second time, and my insides were not as brand new as the first time - my doctor made a remark to this reality. And because of this, there had to be a general surgeon on ground, in case I suffered any adhesion from the first time. After a week of extensive testing to certify me “fit for surgery,” I received the dreaded call from the hospital, “your surgery has been scheduled for Wednesday." The news left me with just five days to prepare. I felt a pit in my stomach. Letting out a deep sigh, I said to myself, "So, this is really happening."
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