Recently I read an article about post-surgery trauma on Salon.com. Psychological trauma—as described in the article—was indeed what I feared before I made my decision to undergo a major abdominal surgery to remove several large uterine fibroids and two ovarian cysts that have been inside my body for at least five years.
That psychological fear, combined with the negative experience of my father having died under the incompetent care of medical professionals in a so-called prestigious hospital, put the fear of God in me whenever hospitalization and surgery was mentioned. Since he died five years ago, I had been in search of natural methods to cure myself.
The search, while not exhaustive, covered a whole lot of ground. I have documented some of my efforts on this blog. Part of me did not want to give up trying—the same way as certain vegans did not want to disappoint their “followers” and “audience” when they finally decided to go back to being an omnivore when veganism didn’t serve them right. Many of my friends know that I have been a proponent of natural methods of healing, especially using food as medicine—specifically the Blood Type/Genotype Diet. Subconsciously, going under the surgical knife would amount to a sort of “defeat.”
However, having met my naturopath in America last November, who herself is a supporter of the said diet, I realized that I was fighting a Sisyphus battle. The fibroids themselves, according to my naturopath, were producing excess estrogen, which was feeding back into my hormonal system in a vicious cycle. Since the fibroids were of a substantial size, it would be best to surgically remove them and then “focus on health” instead of disease. This made a lot of sense to me.
Things took a strange turn shortly afterwards though. My fibroids suddenly shrank a lot—probably due to a sudden drop in estrogen—confirmed by an ultrasound scan this January. So I decided to wait and see before I proceeded to surgery. Unfortunately, a series of stressful events led to a sudden enlargement of my fibroids in just two months’ time—so much so that they became too big for a laparoscopic procedure to be carried out. The time was ripe for an open abdominal myomectomy and ovarian cystectomy. At this point, I was ready. There was no going back.
My strike of luck was having come across and read the book “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster” by Peggy Huddleston, in good time before the surgery. I prepared myself according to the suggestions in the book, including listening to a relaxation tape every day, visualizing the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes after the surgery, and avoiding certain food and supplements such as garlic and fish oil a week before the operation. The evening before the surgery, I spoke to my anesthesiologist about some healing statements that I wanted him to read while administering anesthesia and when the surgery was over. I also asked that the relaxation tape be run on my MP3 player during the entire surgery. I was glad he was amenable to my requests and fully complied.
This mind-body technique worked, as documented in numerous medical studies over the years. I am glad that I do not feel any sense of post-op trauma at all. My short-term goal, which was to feel comfortable and regain normal digestive functions, was quickly achieved. My medium-term goal, which was to be able to do simple cooking, take walks in my village and take photos with my camera, has also been reached. In addition, I was able to get off painkillers less than a week after I came home from the hospital.
Yes, there is still some pain, and yes, there are scars, but post-op trauma? Not a bit! I was ready when I finally made that decision after five years of my diagnosis and am so glad I have come out of it feeling good and complete again.
During this entire process I have gotten tremendous support from my family and friends. I was overwhelmed by their warmth and love, and at the same time really enjoyed being enveloped by this feeling. Receiving love without feeling compelled to give back was something I was totally unused to before this surgery (this was caused by a false belief instilled in me during my upbringing). I had always been an over-giver and self-sacrificer. So asking for and receiving love—and enjoying it as my birth right—was something new to me!
I especially remember the words of an online friend of the Blood Type Diet/Genotype Diet/SWAMI community:
“The BTD/GTD/SWAMI may have helped to prevent the fibroids, but sometimes once a disease state is established it just can’t be reversed by diet. You fought the good fight and you are to be admired for that. You can now enter into your surgery knowing you did your best to avoid it, but accept it with grace. Whether or not you reversed your fibroid condition, we all know that you are healthier for all the years on the diet. It’s hard not to worry about what others think, but assure them you are more healthy and fit than you were before.”
These words have meant so much for me and put me at ease. I realized that I did not have to feel defeated for what seemed to be a “failed” attempt to cure myself. Quite the contrary. I have fought a good battle and have finally arrived at the right place at the right time. No effort was wasted as my wholesome and personalized diet proved to have given me a solid foundation that led to a speedy recovery.
Emotionally, what I felt immediately after the surgery was gratefulness. I was grateful simply to be alive!
Yes, there was pain in my pelvic cavity, but I was grateful I got to keep my uterus and ovaries at all! Several doctors had suggested hysterectomy. Having done some thorough research, I figured that it would be an unnecessary and harmful surgery, which led me to look for a surgeon who would give me 100% confidence in preserving my vital organs. My choice of surgeon could not have been better.
Yes, there is a long outer scar and lots of internal scars, but I no longer carry with me the big bulk in my belly and no long feel like I’m six months pregnant all the time.
And yes, I even had a period two weeks after the surgery, which was unexpected on my part. But instead of complaining about the pain, I felt blessed to have my period back again!
Once the tumors were gone, my anterior pelvic tilt corrected itself and the energy through my spine just started to realign itself. I can’t tell you exactly how that makes me feel, but surely it feels different. I just feel a lot more positive. The “antenna” that is my spine is able to function as it should and reach out to the universe for clearer “messages.”
I am also a lot less worried. I used to be such a worry wort—I got it from my mom. One of the things I worried about was how I was going to get my nutritious and blood type-specific diet during and after the surgery. Well, I managed to prepare lots of bone broth and other dishes and put them in mason jars just before the hospital stay. My husband proved himself trustworthy in heating up and bringing everything I needed, and then some. I was very relieved and realized that I should learn to trust him—and people in general—a lot more than I used to. Now I worry a lot less about everything, as I have realized that things have a way of resolving themselves and people will manage without me putting a finger in every pie, LOL!
I have become a lot more positive indeed! I used to frequently complain about small and big things in life. Now that I have gotten a new lease in life, I am looking at everything in a positive light. I have made a conscious decision to be happy and to love myself. It is an ongoing course, but how exciting to embark on this journey.