#Uterexit- The Story of my Hysterectomy

[This is an archived post from my old blog or Medium that I was particularly proud of originally published in 2017. All info was correct at time of publishing]

On April 18th it finally happened- after 5 years of fighting I got my hysterectomy!

The build up to it has been absolutely immense; the four months since I found out I was on the waiting list have felt like an absolute lifetime and I’ve gone through every possible emotion in that time. For the last couple of weeks I’d lived in a constant state of terrified and excited, there was even something I didn’t expect in there- grief. But finally the big day came.

I’d made the decision to live tweet the whole experience, some people might think this is odd but I share a big part of my life with Twitter and use it as a platform to talk openly about my reproductive health in order to (I hope) raise awareness, so really it was a no brainer. I used #uterexit and will be using it during my recovery too.

So we packed up all of my belongings (I was told to expect to be in for 3-5 days) and headed to hospital for 7.30 in the bloody am.

And then I waited.
And waited
And waited

Seriously I thought that by having to be there so early it would mean I’d get an early surgery, I have never been more wrong in my whole life. In reality I only had to wait until 3pm but when you’re sitting around doing nothing but waiting (and reading 100 pages about Katherine of Aragon, listening to Radio 2, chatting to strangers, colouring in, writing) for 6 hours that’s a long time. Add to that the fact I hadn’t eaten since 10pm the night before or had any water since 6am that morning and I was getting pretty fed up.

Thankfully Twitter provided a welcome distraction, the outpouring of support and love made me tear up every time I checked my mentions. There was also my ridiculous friends who messaged me constantly with terrible jokes abut my uterus- this might sound harsh but they knew that if they were nice to me I would’ve been in a worse state. There was also a minor distraction in the shape of the PM calling a snap general election- really Theresa will do anything to overshadow me.

I spoke during the day with various doctors who explained the procedure to me. I was going to have a laparoscopic hysterectomy where they went in through 4 points (my belly button, just above my pubic hair and either side of my stomach) and removed the uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix. Though I’d requested the ovaries be removed too I was shut down because of my age. This one I accepted as the ovaries can help prevent dementia and bone problems. I was glad they were taking away the tubes and cervix as I’m currently being tested for the BRCA2 gene which is known to cause “female” cancers.

The whole day I wasn’t very nervous, I was anxious sure but I never doubted my decision or thought of cancelling it. Even waiting on the bed in the anaesthetic room when a panic attack was threatening to take over my body I kept thinking how much better my life would be without this horrible thing inside me.

I was woken up at some time around 5, my first words were to my boyfriend who I had apparently been having a dream conversation with about him not giving me cheese. Very me. I was kept in recovery for an hour and a half, during which I was confused and upset a couple of times. The pain was very severe but I was also given morphine which made me all warm and fuzzy. The one thing I remember clearly from recovery is when the nurse showed me a photograph of my uterus. I proclaimed “oh my god look at the tiny thing!” and burst into tears the way a new mother would.

At 6.30 I was finally taken back onto the ward, to the relief of my parents and partner. I was in a bit of pain and needed more painkillers but I wasn’t sad. I felt relieved. This was finally over.

The first night in hospital was tough because I had to keep getting up to go to the toilet, yet the motion sickness from standing up meant I vomited every time I did. It probably didn’t help that I was obsessively ramming ginger nut biscuits in my face either though.

It’s been 6 days since the operation and honestly I expected recovery to be tougher than this. Sure I’ve had a bit of pain but it’s nothing compared to the excruciating attacks I used to have. Mood wise I finally feel fully at peace, oddly zen. I’ve had a couple of wobbles when the pain  has been bad but I’m so happy in my decision.

 

If you want to see a photo of my uterus click here– warning though it is my literal uterus and you might find it a bit gross.

In Defence of Trigger Warnings

[This is an archived post from my old blog or Medium that I was particularly proud of originally published in 2017. All info was correct at time of publishing]

This week I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in a debate about trigger warnings and whether they protect people or create a bubble, you can listen to the episode here. On the panel were psychologist Terri Apter who thinks they stifle debate and Sorana Vieru from the National Union of Students who spoke about their usage in education. I was there defending the use of trigger warnings in the online world because they allow me to actually use the internet without fear.

A Trigger warning is a brief sentence at the beginning of a piece or post that simply informs the reader that there will be sensitive topics discussed that may affect them. For example:

“Trigger Warning: Suicide, brief description of suicide methods.”

A trigger warning is not for every single subject and thing that may upset a reader, but for things that could bring back a painful memory of something that had a deep affect on someones life such as abuse or self harm that could trigger a flash back, PTSD symptoms or even cause the reader to hurt themselves or others.

I primarily write from personal experience, so tend to write about the worst parts of my life that have affected me the most. I do this to tell others they’re not alone, to give hope to others in similar situations and as a form of therapy- it’s very cathartic after all. But just because I write about things such as infertility, abuse, suicide and rape threats doesn’t mean that I have to force others to read it. The last thing I want to do is trigger someone who is going through a tough time, so yes it might mean that person doesn’t read what I write but I want to give them the choice.

I probably use trigger warnings mostly in my daily life within groups on Facebook. As a part of the chronic illness community I’m part of many groups which discuss sensitive subjects on a regular basis. These are groups that include women who cant have children, abuse survivors, trans people and those with mental health problems. Trigger warnings help us all to navigate these spaces and interact safely. There’s an argument that trigger warnings within spaces like that stop people from being active members of communities, but for the most part we’re happy to help members navigate trigger warnings and ask if possible. More than anything it just makes it easier for the person to scroll past something that could harm them mentally. For example if I see that something has a rape trigger WARNING I wont read or view it and it keeps me safe.

Those against trigger warnings argue that it stifles debate, but more than anything they’re there to help prepare and aid the user going into a situation so that if this subject does arose they can either choose to remove themselves or debate safely. It’s knowing that something particularly harmful could be discussed and having the tools at hand to put us on an equal footing with people who may not have had these bad experiences.

Think back to the last show you watched with a particularly traumatic story line, what did the announcer say before?

“The following show features scenes of a difficult nature that some viewers may find upsetting”

Trigger warnings have been around on TV and in films for decades but for some reason its attributed to generation snowflake as another excuse for how we’re “too sensitive”.

Whilst triggers warnings before TV shows are deemed okay, discussing them online is often fought back against, as some class them as “spoilers”. This was something I experienced when I tweeted about “TW Rape in this weeks Game of Thrones”. I did so from a place of wanting to prepare others who could have been affected by it, but what I received in response was about 70 book reading bros telling me who died at the end of the season “spoilering bitch”. I understand that Game of Thrones is an exciting show and you don’t want to have a second ruined, but if I “spoiled” rape for you then we really have deeper issues to discuss.

The introduction of trigger and content warnings in education is in my opinion only a good thing. Whilst it is par of the course whilst studying History that you’ll cover war or that English Literature students may have to read books featuring abuse, it doesn’t mean that every student shouldn’t be prepared for this. By quickly noting at the top of assigned reading or an assignment that the module covers triggering subjects you put survivors on an equal footing to debate or achieve the marks they’re capable. Students should’t be forced to jeopardise their learning for fear of PTSD coming back.

In arguing that we’re creating a bubble by using trigger warnings people forget that we already do that in real life anyway. We cultivate friendships with people who we trust that wont make potentially harmful jokes. We distance ourselves from people who aim to attack us and push this subject on us and we walk away from situations if an argument becomes too much.

By refusing to acknowledge or use trigger warnings we alienate people with PTSD and mental health problems; and could potenially cause them more harm.

How Trump Can Say All Those Things

[This is an archived post from my old blog or Medium that I was particularly proud of originally published in 2016. All info was correct at time of publishing]

So here we are, Trump meltdown number #235632, and he’s still in the running to be the next President of the United States. A man who can openly tell people to abuse others, who incites hatred and would potentially destroy everything we hold dear could become one of the most powerful leaders in the world. I swore to myself I wouldn’t write about him, I wouldn’t give him space on my page, but he’s unavoidable now. We watched this ridiculous joke candidate turn into the actual Republican nominee, with an army of supporters. And that terrifies me, so I felt compelled to write.

Here are some things we know about Trump:

Anyone with a brain in their head can see that this is a man who must be stopped, he can not be allowed to become the leader of the free world. Yet he’s still gaining numbers, he’s still an actual viable opponent.

Because he’s not alone in his thoughts, not by a long stretch. You only have to look at his rallies to see that. He is surrounded by thousands, millions of people with the same disgusting views as his.

He isn’t popular because he’s a visionary, he’s popular because he shouts the loudest.

He’s been given a platform, a media circus, to air these disgusting views. And he’s supported because these people finally feel brave enough to say it too. And although he hasn’t directly said it himself they can say that they think black people are less human than them. That women deserve less rights than men. To abuse others in the street for being different. To claim that black people, latinos, women deserve to die if they dare to stand up to white men. To say that women should be seen an not heard, chained to the kitchen and men’s to do with as they please. To think that black people should still be owned by white people.

They can sit for hours- days- abusing women online, because that’s what their candidate represents. They can sit behind their screens sending thousands of messages to people like the unsinkable Leslie Jones who’s only “crime” was being black and powerful and female at the same time. People like the amazing Ella Dawson, who when she supported Hillary had her whole life dragged up and destroyed. I myself have had to sift through countless trash can fires in my mentions, every time I dare to speak against him.

FREEDOM! To those who will hopefully never know the fear that marginalised groups do of walking the street late at night alone. The terror when you’re pulled over by a policeman and have to beg for your life to those who are sworn to protect you. Who will hopefully never have to suffer the agony of having their life destroyed by a man like them and instead of being believed find ridicule and anger directed at them.

Trump supporters genuinely think that white straight able bodied people are oppressed; when in fact they have simply become one of many narratives instead of the only one.

They believe that sexual equality relates to the destruction of marriage. And that to be a feminist means that you hate all men and want them dead. They believe that a woman’s body is not hers and that if she should become pregnant then the unborn child has more rights than her. They believe that immigrants are the biggest threat to America, despite there being gun related deaths every day at the hands of citizens. They believe that black people are all drug dealers or gang members and live in fear of what they refuse to know.

They’ve somehow painted this man who was given a “small one million dollar loan” from his father as the every man, a “blue collar billionaire” who will rise up against the establishment. Failing to see how much money he has pumped into the establishment and how much he uses power to manipulate ignorant people like them every day.

Instead of adding to the discussion and debating the issues at hand in the election, Trump and his supporters insist on shouting over those who need their voices heard. They abuse and threaten those who dare to stand up to him then cry that their country is being destroyed and they need to make it great again.

But what version of “good old days” do you want? A one before same sex marriage? A one where black people couldn’t drink out of the same fountain as whites? A one where women were given pitiful amounts for working the same as men or not even allowed to attend higher education? Or was even that not GREAT enough for you? Women and black people still had ridiculous ideals of grandeur then, or so the men in power thought.

I agree that America does need improvements, as does my own country of Britain. 31 million citizens can’t afford healthcareplanned parenthood is under attack from all angles, gun crime is out of control. But Donald Trump is not the person to do this. The only thing he can bring is hatred, the reassurance to the disgusting people of the world that what they’re doing and saying and spreading is ok. And by that point he wont need to build a wall or kick out all Muslims, because his supporters will be dragging anyone different out of their houses or attacking them in the streets.

Donald Trump won’t need to destroy the world, he’ll just watch it burn.

The only way Trump can be stopped is by voting, please don’t think that by not voting you’re protesting. Please do your civic duty and stop this.

Friendship Outside The Box

[This is an archived post from my old blog or Medium that I was particularly proud of originally published in 2017. All info was correct at time of publishing]

I’ve had a lot of friends over the years; friends from education, jobs, fandoms, activism, support groups and every corner of the internet. There’s been a veritable stream of friendships over the last decade, but most very rarely last for longer than 2 years. You see, I make friends easily, but I also fall out of friendships even easier.

Friendships in your late teens and twenties are strange. If you attend university and then try to make it in the world after, you meet so many people. We’re thrown together as friends a lot in the real world, and in that sort of environment your friends become your family. If you can’t leave the house much due to illness, internet communities are where you find your friends; bonding over a shared hobby, circumstance or fandom initially but you find out more about these little icons and usernames and feel connected.

I fall for friends as easily as I fall for partners, if not easier. I’m obsessed with my friends, their biggest cheerleader and want to know as much about their lives as they want to share. I want them to succeed and be everything I know they can be. I want to be their closest confident and for them to know all my secrets too.

And that right there is my downfall, I’m too trusting. I have always treated others the way I wish to be treated but many don’t operate that way. I’m blunt and brash but I’m also caring, ridiculous and will listen to my friends for hours. My bluntness is often taken for rudeness and negativity, the brashness for oversharing, caring for meddling. So I lose friends easily.

I’ve had break ups that have destroyed my world and left me to rebuild the pieces. But some of the worst heartache I’ve experienced has been when a close friend has blocked me from their life.

It’s taken a while but I’ve realised why this keeps happening. Friendship for some falls into a box. They have their friend they can bitch to, the one they can cry and plot to kill their exes with, the ones who they can call for a laugh, the boozy one with many a sex story and the ultimate agony aunt. I’ve been each of these types of friend to different people and groups, and a lot of my ex friends were just one pigeonhole, but why can’t we be all?

They say that its when times are tough that you discover who your real friends are, and god how I wish that wasn’t true. It was during one of the toughest times of my life at the beginning of the year when it all clicked for me. My world fell out from under me and I couldn’t be the person others expected. Fair weather friends grew distant and eventually disappeared.

And then the stars shone.

The one I hadn’t spoken to properly in years made herself indispensable. The one who had her own life and baby to look after sent me cards. The ridiculous fangirl who was there with memes and pictures of sexy men but also a shoulder to cry on. The one who’d moved an ocean away and back but took me to lunch and made me scream with laughter. The one who keeps me up to date with all the gossip that I can trust. The one who I’d only just met who sent me a mountain of chocolate. The one who sat on skype and told me to find my favourite colour when I couldn’t breathe. The family member I never realised I had so much in common with. The one who knows all my terrible health problems and I know hers. The one who I trusted blindly through circumstance and became so much more. The whole communities of amazing folks who believed in me and saw in me what I couldn’t.

A close friend once told me “its about reciprocation bitch”– yes we all like a good moan, but we should also be there to listen to our friends problems. We don’t need a friend for this and a friend for that when all friends can do everything.

I have less friends now, but a handful of close friends I speak to when I can. It’s took me so long to see that friendship is all encompassing. I pride myself on being the friend pals can ask about weird sexual things, come to when they’re having a bad day and the one who will send them inappropriate memes. And I purposefully only surround myself with people that I know are the same.

I’m done with friends who I can’t be my whole self around. I’m not just the inappropriate sex story teller, the agony aunt, the fangirl, the comedic genius (I was never that one). I’m all those things and more. My friendships are with people I can talk about filth and pain with, then have it interrupted with a gif I had to send them or them showing me their new lipstick. They’re the people who call me a c*nt as a term of endearment, but will also mop up my tears and cheer me up again.

I know that I could message any of my friends with “life is shit” and they’d agree but we’d make the day a little easier for each other. Because life and friendship isn’t all rainbows and happiness. But there’s great things in life too; like musicals, hot men, pizza and orgasms. You need someone who can celebrate, cry, hold you accountable, wrap you in a metaphorical blanket and lift you up.

People don’t fit into boxes and neither should friendship.