It’s hard to believe that 1 week ago I was in the hospital, just waking up from my sedation haze after the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes. It feels both like much longer ago than that but also like it just happened.
Overall, I’m feeling really good. I went back to work yesterday, my pain is practically non-existent (my incision sites are getting itchy as they heal but barely hurt), and aside from a couple annoying hot flashes each night while I’m sleeping I haven’t noticed much in the way of menopause symptoms yet. I’ve also been feeling a bit more easily fatigued than usual but it’s hard to say if that’s related to the hormonal stuff or still just my body recovering from surgery.
I haven’t started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) yet because I’m scheduled for my mastectomy in April and my breast surgeon thinks it would be ideal to wait until after I’m healed from that to begin (to reduce the risk of blood clots). The alternative would be to start hormones then go off them for 8 weeks in April-May (2 weeks before and 6 weeks after breast surgery). I’m inclined to wait it out for the next 4 months if I can to avoid the roller-coaster of starting and then stopping again. Fingers cross that the symptoms stay relatively mild.
In the meantime I’ve been researching some natural ways to treat mild menopause symptoms through dietary changes and non-hormonal supplements. There seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that a low carb, alkaline diet supplemented with things such as flaxseed and turmeric can offset some the impact of plummeting estrogen and progesterone. So I’m doing a little experimenting with my eating to see if that might help me out. I’ve also read a lot about the impact of magnesium during menopause. I started supplementing with magnesium at night a few months ago and noticed a significant improvement in my deep sleep, so I’m going to keep on going with that.
Stress management (a constant struggle for me) seems to also be one of the keys to a healthy menopause experience. I’ve slacked a bit in my meditation practice since surgery and am restricted from exercise (one of my primary stress relievers) for another 2 weeks…but there is still a lot I can do. I’ve been walking as much as my schedule and the weather will allow, and this morning I pulled out my yoga mat for a few minutes of very light, easy stretching and a quick meditation. I’m going refocus my efforts on prioritizing stress-reduction…because even if it doesn’t do much to help with the menopause symptoms, it’s bound to benefit me in other ways.
I guess the only other piece of this puzzle is the mental and emotional comprehension of what it means to no longer have my ovaries. To be a menopausal 34 year old. The complete certainty that I will never have another biological child. I am definitely carrying sadness about this. There’s a twinge of envy in me when I see a pregnancy or birth announcement on social media (and it seems like this happens at least once a week!). But when I stop to think about it in context, the sadness definitely feels that is outweighed by the knowledge that I will never have ovarian cancer. Period. And as my spouse and I are taking the first steps toward growing our family through adoption I feel more and more confident that this is the right path for us to be on.
So I guess I am just in an adjustment period now. Trying to accept where I am, and looking forward to what’s next…breast surgery, adoption, and who knows what else. But I happy to be finished with this step of the journey.