Disclaimer: If you are a man who hates the mere mention of anything having to do with the female reproductive system or it’s functions…proceed with caution. If you become dizzy when the subject of blood or anything medical comes up…this may not be for you. I have been as careful as I could to word things for those that are sensitive.
About a month ago we were in Burkina Faso preparing for our trip back to the U.S. We were setting dates with family and friends, scheduling speaking engagements and making appointments for dental and medical check-ups. We were both excited to share our journey with those in the states and a little sad to be leaving behind our Burkina family.
We have learned to be flexible and remain positive when changes come our way because living in a different culture and working with children can be unpredictable. With all of our scheduling we expected a few changes. What we didn’t expect was that I would need a surgery that would require anesthesia that would knock me out, a few days in the hospital and six weeks of recovery.
This began with a routine women’s well care visit (gynecologist). I was happy because I was able to see the same ob/gyn that delivered both of our girls. In fairness, I knew there was a little something going on because about 4 months ago I felt a little lump in my abdomen just below my belly button and off to one side. Of course I did what anyone else would…I “googled” it. After much research I guessed that it was very possible that I had a fibroid tumor. It didn’t feel very big and I looked up the different treatments and figured that maybe they would try and shrink it or just leave it alone. WRONG!
At first after my doctor examined me and asked lots of questions he said that it “could” be a fibroid, but he wanted to give me a urine test first. Yep, he was checking to see if I was pregnant. PREGNANT! I chuckled at this because, really, there was no way I could be pregnant. I would know, right?
My suspicions were correct. I was not pregnant. To be sure what we were looking at I was scheduled for some blood tests and an ultrasound. What the doctor did say was a little shocking. My uterus was the size of someone who was 5 months pregnant and what he felt inside of me was really large. Now I understood the pregnancy test!
The next day I had all of the testing done. Diagnosis: at least 3 fibroid tumors the size of large grapefruits that needed to come out and I would need a hysterectomy. I was then sent to a surgeon who agreed that these would need to be removed immediately. At this point all of my other organs and their functions were in good shape and the cancer screening blood test came back normal. Whew! So now what?
The surgeon explained to me that because I had no previous history or record of these fibroids it would be very risky to remove them the new and improved modern, less painful way…robotically. This is where I tell all of my women friends out there that you really should go see your doctor every year for routine check-ups! It was not the size of the tumors that made the less-invasive surgery difficult, but if any of these tumors were cancerous, my body would be exposed and the cancer would likely spread. This was really a no-brainer…I would have a traditional hysterectomy.
The day of my surgery, everything went very smoothly and the hospital was very nice and the staff was very attentive and helpful. After surgery I had a private room (in fact all the rooms at this hospital are private). I had no complications, the tumors were benign and I was able to leave after a two night stay.
It has been about a week and a half since my surgery. I am up and moving around, enjoying a lunch out or a coffee at Starbucks. I am taking it easy, but I have to say that I am surprised at how quickly I am healing. What I am left with is a thankful heart that I was able to have this procedure here in the United States, and a great sadness at the state of medical care in Burkina Faso. We have endured much frustration over this subject as we have seen people die first-hand because of lack of knowledge and training, little to no equipment and resources, or facilities that are too far to reach. The contrast between countries is overwhelming.
After my recovery period we will board a plane and head back to our home in Burkina. Despite the hurdles and obstacles we face, we know that we are home there. There is no greater joy when God uses us to love, assist, clothe, feed and bring healing to his children. And though there are hardships, there are also huge victories!