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10 Things Nobody Told Me! BellaNaijarian Imabong Shares Her Experience with Myomectomy

BellaNaija.com

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In the last days of the year 2011, the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria decided to stage a mass protest against a planned fuel price hike by the government. The result was a week-long strike that kicked off as we began 2012, which effectively shut down the nation for over a week.

That week, the only worries I had was that my sister and I would run out of food before the strike was called off. There was no way I could know that as the country was experiencing a serious shake, I would also be experiencing some personal shakes of my own.

It all began when I had my period a day into the strike. As per usual, I was bedridden with cramps. Throw in a little runny tummy and it was the perfect recipe for my monthly misery. This was nothing new as I had always struggled with really painful periods that became worse as I got older. I always tell people that from the moment I started my period when I was a teenager, I have never not had a pain free menstrual period.

By day two of the flow, it had become clear that this was another one of the really, really, really bad ones. Shout out to all the sisters who have really bad pains during their menstrual periods. You are not alone and you are not weak as some might make you believe.

It took four days of a cycle where I woke up in pain, rolled around in bed till my exhausted body went to sleep only to wake up in pain again before my sister to decide she is not doing again and dragged me to a hospital. After being prescribed heavy doses of some serious pain meds, two gynaecologist appointments and one ultrasound scan later, I was told I had uterine fibroids.

After the diagnosis, I went on to ignore the problem in the typical “grown-up” way that some of us ignore things we don’t want to deal with.

See ehn! When I got this diagnosis, I was not ready to deal with it for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons was that I had been informed by the gynaecologist I had seen that the fibroids too small at that time for anything to be done about it. The main reason though was that ya girl was just plain scared of going under the knife! That being said, I decided to play the part of the blissfully ignorant and manage myself and my cramps.

Fast forward to four years later, and I was fast learning that ignorance is not always bliss. I was now sporting a stomach the size of an American football, which for a skinny person like me, meant I had to be fielding the not so subtle people who were attempting to find out if I was pregnant. Nosy colleagues are just a blessing, right? I can’t blame them though, I was still newly married and belle would have been expected.

Apart from the bump, I couldn’t pee, lie down on certain sides of my tummy or have sex in certain positions without discomfort and or pain in my lower tummy. And the best part, if I was in a car and it got into a bump, I would feel a sharp jolt of pain! Please tell me which road in Lagos does not have bumps. Just imagine what it felt like when I entered all those yellow buses that don’t have shock absorber! Good times!
Another couple of OB/GYN visits and more scans later, I was told that the fibroids had grown a lot and were the cause of my troubles. A myomectomy was recommended.

For those who might not know, according to WebMD, a Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids from the uterus. It allows the uterus to be left in place and, for some women, makes pregnancy more likely than before. Myomectomy is the preferred fibroid treatment for women who want to become pregnant.
I have been told there are other treatment options but this is what was recommended for me, so after a lot of crying and general panicking, stalling, more pain and then more crying, I decided to go ahead with the Myomectomy.
That is the story of how I had a myomectomy. I thank God that it all went well and I’m able to reflect on it now because, it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

What was the experience like? Let’s just say that from the moment I got into the hospital gown pre-surgery to the moment I opened my eyes after the anaesthesia wore off and throughout my healing process I kept learning and discovering things I wish someone would have warned me about beforehand. Here are some things that I found out and that the doctor and others who had had a myomectomy kind of forgot, either purposely or otherwise, to mention.

Before I go on, I have to emphasize that this list is from my personal point of view, and it is my experience.

You will be afraid
I did a lot of crying and afraiding panicking.
There are seriously too many things to be worried and scared of, especially for a worry wart like me. My fears ranged from things like, “what if they find something worse than the fibroids when they open me up?” to things like “What if NEPA / PHCN takes light during the operation? I did mine in Naija, so please I am allowed to have such thoughts!
Despite assurances that it would be fine and it was for the best, this was my first time going under the knife and I was understandably scared silly. Ultimately, I had to find a place of peace and acceptance. Prayers also help and having family around was a bonus.

After the surgery, you will hurt, a lot
Look, I know it is a surgical procedure, so of course, it would and should hurt, but no one really tells you how much till you wake up groggy with the effects of the anaesthetic wearing off and you feel like your tummy will split open if you so much as breath the wrong way. Maybe this is a personal thing though because I have a pain tolerance level of ZERO but really guys, that ish hurt.

You will bleed after the surgery
No, I don’t mean from the wound, cos obviously! I mean, you will bleed from your vagina, kind of like a mini menstrual period. This was so shocking to me and imagine my surprise when the doc and nurses went “oh that’s normal, once your womb or uterus is touched, it reacts by bleeding”. Maybe someone should have maybe told me that earlier so I could prepare my mind for wearing pads and having a period while dealing with a huge gash on my lower abdomen!

Laughing and coughing after the surgery and for the first few weeks while you recover will become a pain. Literally. That’s all I am going to say about that.

Your first poop post-surgery will become a big deal
At least it was for me! Like I was so scared to “go potty” because I was afraid pushing the poop out would burst open my stitches. This was a genuine fear for me.
Somehow, I guess the fear in my mind had passed some signals which in turn had told my body to shut it. Trust me when I say we were plenty waiting for me to “do the number 2”. I had my mother, my mother-in-law, my aunts, siblings and others (this is an exaggeration) asking me on a daily if I had “made a touchdown!”
I was glad when my body finally decided it was time to “clear the hallway” and there was rejoicing in the land when it was told by the town crier!

You will need someone who will take care of you during the first few weeks
This is another obvious one but still, here I was with the idea that I was Superwoman and I could bend to sweep, lift a bucket, pound yam, do sit-ups & squats etc. I realized very quickly and easily that my body was going through a lot and I should just allow it to be great. Having my mom and hubby around helped so find someone who can help you when and if you need it. And be ye not deceived, you will need it.

That scar will itch like you won’t believe
As stated earlier, this was my personal experience. I don’t know if this happens to everyone but the itching of that scar was something interesting.
At first, people told me “that’s how you know the wound is healing”. After a while, I was quite tired of being aware of how much the wound was healing. I tried ori a.k.a shea butter at the suggestion of a friend but that seemed to make it worse. I know I have learnt serious restraint from this but apart from that, it was a very real struggle! Even as I write this (over a year later) I still get the occasional itch.

Shaving your lower belly (if you do this) will never be the same again
My cut healed with a keloid, again this is very personal to me and how my body heals so this might not apply to all. That being said, you guys, I have lost count of how many times I nicked myself on that scar trying to shave my lower belly. Some hairs have now decided to grow right underneath and around the edge of this thing like some kind of stubborn weed/mushroom. As if shaving lady parts are not a delicate enough adventure, now I have to delicately shave my lover belly too! Crying in misery and despair.
It does get better as you get more used to the new terrain on your tummy but till you get there, enjoy the adventure and have plenty of mentholated spirit on hand.

You might feel weird about the scar for a while after
For me, that scar made me feel less beautiful for a while after the surgery. I guess things like that come with every type of wound that leaves scars. Ultimately, this is something you have to deal with on your own.
Like I said before, I had to get to a place of peace and acceptance and tell myself that a scar does not determine whether I’m beautiful or not. There are survivors of acid attacks and fires, people who have scars from a heart transplant and brain surgeries and people living with conditions that they can’t hide and who are thriving and doing well with their images of themselves and love themselves.
I still struggle with this, but a little reminder about the important things in life goes a long way.

The Myomectomy might not solve whatever was the reason for it
If you were having pains, you might still have pains after the surgery. They might not be as bad, but they might still be there. If you had a heavy flow, after the surgery, your flow might still be heavy. Maybe not as heavy as before but it might still be there.
You might go for a post-op check-up and find that they discover new fibroids, that they missed some, or that there are now cysts where the fibroids where.
I am not saying hope for the worst or that this scenario is a certainty, I am saying that at the end of the day, when it comes to illness and things like that, our bodies do whatever the heck they want half the time and all we can do is readjust, re-strategize and push on.

It will be fun learning to live without all the complaints that drove you to have the Myomectomy
So on the flip side of the last point, the surgery could solve all issues you were having before including why you can’t grow your hair past your shoulders or why you wake up with a huge zit on your forehead on the day you have a date… and this is a good thing, so enjoy your new lease on life because you went through a lot to get to where you are.
Before I had the surgery, I would be on painkillers about a week before my period started because, cramps. Now, I can testify that since the surgery, having stress and pain-free menstrual periods is an awesome experience.

It was and is still fun discovering what else the surgery has fixed or helped with (think fun positions to try out with le hubs *wink wink*) and every day I am thankful for each small victory.
To all sisters pre or post-surgery, be it emotional, spiritual, mental, financial or physical surgery, in the words of Amy Bloom – “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
Have you had a myomectomy or know someone who has? Was there an experience that’s not on this list? Do share!

Photo Credit: © Mariusz Szczawinski | Dreamstime.com

30 Comments

  1. Temi Tope

    April 16, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    WOWW!!!!!!! interesting topic every woman should read. And A very NIGERIAN woamn..

    But ewoooo! Many are interested ON topics DEALING WITH FASHION, SEX, FOOD, TRAVEL, WEDDING.., BUT HOW CAN YOU ENJOY ALL THAT IF YOU DONT HAVE YOUR HEALTH. THINK ABOUT IT!!!

    SISTER THANKS FOR SHZRING THIS STORY.. SHEN I WAS YOUNG I HAD TOO MENSTRUAL PAINS… BUT MY YOUNGER SISTER’S WERE WORST… SHE SUFFERED A LOT., WHEN SHE GOT MARRIED SHE TOO WAS DIAGNOSED WITH THE SAME THING.. THE DOCTOR IN U.K REMOVED THE FIBROSIS AND AFTER 9 YEARS OF MaRRIAGE, SHE JUST DELIVERED TWO BOUNCY BABIES A BOY AND A GIRL..

    • Wendy

      April 16, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      But why are you so senseless? Even market women and agberos have more decorum than you do. Jeeez! Always ruining every post with your incoherent babble.

  2. Becky

    April 16, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Interesting

  3. Wow

    April 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    I had my myomectomy a few years ago and I can tell you it was the best decision ever. After 2 miscarriages, I was more than happy to take that fibroid out! Unlike the poster, I wasn’t in the least bit afraid but then again I don’t live in Naija. So I can understand the fear. I didn’t experience a lot of pain after the surgery; I just stayed on top of my pain meds. My periods became less heavy and with no pain. As in…no pain at all. This is a girl whose periods used to be painful to the tenth degree ?. So if anyone is considering a myomectomy, I’d say go for it. The procedure really isn’t as traumatic as you might think. And the benefits far outweigh the risks!!!

    PS. Few months after the procedure, I had a successful (almost textbook) pregnancy and delivery with ease and another on the way!

    • BrownT

      April 16, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Hello wow !

      Your story is inspiring. Can I talk to you in private if that’s okay ?

      Thanks

    • Wow

      April 16, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      @BrownT absolutely! Please send me an email to ala_tika {at} yahoo {dot} com.

  4. kpakpangolo

    April 16, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    In 2018, how can you undergo an open myomectomy?
    There are laparoscopic surgeons for this. Its more expensive but it is easier to heal from.
    Anyways, thank God for your recovery.

    • slice

      April 16, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Not every fibroid qualifies for lap. Also lap has been linked to the spread of cancer seclls throughout the body because the procedure is done by breaking down the dirboid and then extracting it. Too much to explain but please Google for more information.

    • Anonymous

      April 16, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      Please get your fact right. It may be 2018 but every fibroid cannot be operated on through laparoscopic, I had mine done in 2015 and I begged my gynaecologist to perform a keyhole surgery but it couldn’t be done because of position of the fibroid. I had never been under the knife before and I cried when I came out of the gynaecologist’s office, I sat in the sitting area and had a good cry, I did not care who was looking. I totally relate with the poster, and she forgot to mention that the heavy monthly flow means you are highly anaemic and need iron tablets or how many blood test you have to do (and God help you if they label it wrongly, which means you have to do it all over again, and that was my own case) and other test you have to do and taking injection to shrink the fibroid prior to the surgery or been told you might need blood transfusion or possibility of having infection which may land you back to the hospital. It also left me with a bump above my scar. Ohhh!! what women go through.

  5. nimi

    April 16, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    after waiting for a year to get pregnant… yaaayyy finally did, only for me to fall into preterm labour and there was diagnosis for the preterm labour. i was about 23 weeks gone. always knew i had fibrod but my gyno told me i had nothing to worry about as it was too small. Few months later am iscovering its grown to about 6.4cm and my b that was why i fell into labour quickly. i am so sad and i feel i should sue the hospital i was admitted too. imagine even in the abroad, and there was no full verification. My Tommy now looks like a football. wether I eat or not. just 3months after preterm labour, my gyno tells me to prepare for surgery.. this is scaring the s— out of me. I have no pain though just my tommys shape and my period is all messed up

    • Good

      April 16, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      Don”t work Nimi. God is on your side. All will be well!

    • Wow

      April 16, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Dear Nimi,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I, too, like you had a 1st miscarriage at 9 weeks. Then got pregnant right after with twins. Then went into pre-term labor at 20 weeks. I started prenatal care at 6 weeks and was being closely monitored 1 because I was carrying multiples 2 my age and 3 fibroids. The pregnancy was going fine until 20 weeks and boom, it was over. I immediately elected for myomectomy. And I’m so glad I did. You should maybe talk to other women who have gone through it. It’s nothing to fear at all. The way I looked at it, if fibroids was preventing me from having my babies, then please take it out. While some women are able to have healthy pregnancies with fibroids, some of us cannot. May you receive strength! Hugs!

    • slice

      April 16, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      Lots of pregnancies go on just fine with fibroids. It’s not bad care to say you can leave the fibroids in if the circumstances justify …

  6. Mama

    April 16, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Please is it possible to give the details of your doctor, where the surgery was performed etc? I know a lot of people suffering through this. One especially is suffering because she lacks the resources to go abroad. I thank God for your healing. It will be permanent in Jesus name.

    • Mama

      April 17, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Money to go abroad for fibroid surgery that is done daily in Nigeria?

  7. Esquiress

    April 16, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Dear Poster,
    I can totally relate. I had same procedure in 2015 after over 5yrs of painful and heavy menses. I could use 5 or 6 always sanitary pads. The week before my period starts,i’d be so messed up psychologically. Everyone kinda knew so they’d avoid crossing me as much as possible. God bless my ever understanding Boss then. I’d take 1 or 2days off anytime it starts. He just got used to it I think. The Doctor,oh my! Some Doctors are called Mehn. Really answered a lot of questions and boy,i had them plenty. Keep assuring me that i’d be fine. I had to be cut from my navel down because of the location of one “the baddest fibroid” my sister, a nurse was by my side,her co-workers,all helped with recovery and I was walking the next day.
    My scariest experience so far but am glad I went for it. Sometimes I don know when I have my periods till I see my panties stained. Yes! The 2nd time I called my sister and asked her ermmm,are you sure my period is normal? Am still on 1 Sanitary pad. She’s like yeah,that’s it nau. 2yrs later I have a 5month old son now,and I am grateful that I did it. And yes I had mine in Nigeria, Asaba,Delta State.

  8. Good

    April 16, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Yes, I had mine and got pregnant 8 months later after waiting for almost 3 years. And yes, another one is coming too.
    I was afraid of doing it but the best decision of my life. My period cramp didnt vanish immediately after the surgery, resumed work 3 weeks later. Got pregnant 8 months later without any stress at all. All thanks to Jesus.

  9. omomo

    April 16, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    a lot of women died of post-surgery haemorrhage after myomectomy …so for us who survived thanks be to God..

    • slice

      April 16, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      If properly the risk of death is very minimal. Just don’t want someone reading this and thinking “lots” of women die because of this surgery

  10. Ada

    April 16, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I had my surgery in November 2016 and was the best decision I took. The pain and bleeding caused by the fibroids is not worth keeping them in your body. Some women are afraid of surgery and suffer in silence. Do your research about your doctor and hospital of choice, where possible speak to women who were operated upon in the hospital you intend to use.

  11. Olubukunola Taiwo

    April 16, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    C.f.

  12. Tee

    April 16, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Well it was my mum that fibroid but i stayed wit her at the hospital.i knew how painful post surgery was and infact she was too scared to have the surgery that she resulted into herbal medicines which caused the fibroids to increase in number and size.
    Good to hear from other people..its really an eye opener…

  13. Ms B

    April 16, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Wow! So many people in this boat! Had a myomectomy in 2015 and twas such a painful experience especially recovery, itching, bending, laughing, coughing etc. Took a full 4 weeks off work and moved back home with the parents … exactly 2 years later, had my baby boy through cs cos the doctors didn’t wanna take a chance… interestingly, i didn’t feel as much pain with the cs and healed faster.

    Like u keloids developed after the surgery but twas cut off during the cs and i applied a cream based on doctor’s advice.. I’m now keloids free!!

    Lovely and concise article!

  14. Kofo adeloye

    April 17, 2018 at 9:34 am

    God bless you. Had mine in december and really i thought all d heavy flow n pain would vanish. To my suprise i cdnt beleive it in feb wen menstrual pain came. Thank God it gradually got better and everything feels brighter. I am glad i had dem taken out and i look forward to having a smooth ride.

  15. Ajala & Foodie

    April 17, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Ah!!! So I have always been open on here about my struggle with infertility. Well, after a decade of waiting, we got our own miracle baby and this without fertility treatment (story for another day). My struggles with fertility had to do with PCOS though not fibroids. So after having my baby vaginally imagine how surprised I was when I had this excruciating pain in my mid abdomen. I could not stand up straight and although I complained before I was discharged I was told it was only my uterus contracting (yes, this is “in the abroad”). Few days after getting home pain was not subsiding, every where i went people would ask if i had my baby via CS just because of how i walked. All the symptoms listed above i had them, i.e if you get into a bump no matter how little, it was a pain, lying on my right side left me miserable. I called my Ob/gyn and was told I had to come in ASAP. I did, Dr did a quick sonogram. Lo and behold, I have a degenerating fibroid I was told. How could this be with the baby? I had a perinatal ob/gynecologist and my regular OB/gynecologist because of my circumstances and age. Had ultrasounds every appointment with my perinatal Dr, yet somehow not only did it no show, my baby survived and did not make an appearance until 37 weeks. I was told to go for an ultra sound a few days later as I had to be fasting. Went in for ultra sound this AM only for Ultra sound Doctor to come in and say I needed to go back to my gynecologist stat!!! I am currently scheduled for a CT scan to confirm things are not worse as some fluid (which the Dr thinks are from the fibroids) were found during imaging as well as the mass. I am scheduled to go under the knife at 3pm, this all happening a little over a week after I had my baby. Reading this however gives me some comfort. My mum also arrives on Sunday for Omugwo so hopefully it all ends well.

    • Blessedheart

      April 18, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Congrats on your baby! Wish you all the best

  16. Omoté

    April 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    I had mine taken out at the same time I had a C-section. So it was both an unplanned mymectomy and a C-section. Doctor opened up, saw some small sized ones & not so small ones and took them all out. Bled like hell, lost a lot of blood during the surgery plus the fact that it was a twin pregnancy, my PCV was already low. The recovery process wasn’t funny at all, I had heard of women getting up a day or 2 after. Me, I wasn’t ready for any superhero moves abeg, I was already in too much pain?. I needed help getting out of bed, help bathing, I had no appetite for about 6weeks. My mom wud look at me and be crying, “this pikin wan kill me, how can u get well if you don’t eat nah?” I had emaciated so much I didn’t let visitors see me. My appetite returned slowly, I got shots of pain when I walked, that passed with time. I still can’t shift stuff with my leg like I used to do and it’s being 3yrs post surgery. I never want to go under the knife again oh, not even for another child if it comes to that.

  17. Darabong Ekereuwem

    April 19, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Sissy!!!Super proud of you for sharing you’re story.Thank God for keeping you for us.I love you ❤️

  18. BOOSKI

    April 19, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Great article. Very interesting and educating.
    I can totally relate to the poster. God will perfect your healing.xx

  19. Amarachi Uhegwu

    April 19, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Hey Imabong,

    Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. Your healing is permanent I Jesus name.

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