Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is Telling the Truth Religious?

At the beginning of some of my yoga classes, I give a short lesson on some of the non-posture parts of yoga or sometimes a little bit about anatomy. The other day I was at the school where I teach twice a week, where kids go who've been suspended or expelled in the Catholic school board, and I was initiating a discussion on Satya, or truth.

We were talking about how we feel when we lie - not good. About how our behaviour changes when we lie - we have to be careful around certain people and remember who we told what to, for instance. I asked the group how they thought other people would feel around us if we told the truth, and knowing that satya comes after ahimsa, non-violence, they said people would feel safe. I said that the yoga sutras say that taken to its fullest, when a yogi is practising satya, what they say happens. It's pretty powerful.

One of the boys asked me if this was religious. I thought about it. If it's religious to tell the truth, then sure, it's religious. Personally, I don't think telling the truth belongs to any one religion, but it doesn't surprise me that it shows up there.

I like to teach the yamas and niyamas by saying that we don't practice them because "god" told us to or because it's the "right" thing to do. We practice it because it frees us up energetically. We may have peace of mind when we don't have to review all of the messes we've made during the day by being harmful to someone, even in our thoughts; or by lying and trying to keep our stories straight; or by stealing other people's things, hoping to not get caught; or dealing with a hangover that comes by being intoxicated by whatever it is that we over-indulge in; or simply by staying emotionally attached to things and people through our expectations of how they should act or behave.

It's just simpler to avoid those things in the first place than to clean it up later, but realistically, we just need to be cleaning up all the time. Taking out the trash regularly. It's an on-going process and just because we may have done a deep clean through a yoga retreat or some good therapy, practising the yamas and niyamas is something we can keep doing forever.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life after a Hysterectomy

Close your eyes if you don't want to read this post. I know it's not a topic for everyone. However, the more I tune in, the more I find that it is a topic for more and more people. So be warned.

You can read down my past blog posts to find out more about what life was like for me and why I decided to go through a very traditional medical procedure even though I'm in quite an alternative mind-set in general. 

I agonized about having an operation to remove my uterus. I delayed it by trying alternative options through diet and meditation. I could have had the operation much sooner it turns out.

I asked a lot of people I could get my hands on about having the procedure. And even though there were books about how bad it is to have a hysterectomy and radio programs with people calling in complaining about complications, not one person I spoke to personally had a bad time. I even spoke to my grandmother about her surgery that must have been over 50 years ago. All of these women were happy to have it out so their symptoms were gone.

I confided in my GP that I was so anxious about having the operation and it actually comforted me when he told me that it's such a common surgery now that for a doctor it's like taking your tonsils out. They just go in a tube and pull it back out on itself. Gulp.

Before surgery I did take a controversial drug to shrink the tumour. The side effects were unpleasant and I'm glad I didn't take it for too long. The Lupron did its job though, and the fibroids were small enough to be removed without incisions in my abdomen.

Going into surgery was scary for me. I hardly even go to a doctor's office let alone know how to navigate a hospital recovery room. If I were to do it again, I'd have someone stay overnight with me. The care after surgery left a little to be desired. Not being familiar with being in a hospital left me with a distinct disadvantage as to the protocol after hours. 

Because of the type of procedure I had, I have no visual scars. In order for this to happen, I had my cervix removed as well. I would have preferred to keep it, but in discussions with the doctor beforehand about how it was going to work, it was clear that I would not get to keep most of my cervix. My grandmother told me she was sorry they didn't take hers in the first place because she ended up needing a second surgery to remove her cervix after bleeding continued after the first surgery. I don't really miss mine.

I still have my ovaries, so I still ovulate and I still have a cycle (and I still have pain that I suspect is coming from one of them that I'm getting checked out later this week), but I don't get my period. I don't take any hormones or iron pills (whoohoo!) and there are no side effects that matter to me. I don't feel a hole where my uterus used to be. My organs haven't shifted into new places and my body feels good. I do have more energy in general now because for the first time in years I'm no longer anemic. I don't feel less creative or less of a woman or anything like that. I wasn't that clear before the surgery but I'm clear now that I won't have anymore children, which is really fine with me. 

As I wrote in a previous post, I can wear a bathing suit, or shorts, or white clothes, or go for long walks and bike rides, take car trips and plane rides and not have to worry if I'm going to bleed through in a horrific spectacle.

I looked into the alternatives. I considered what there was available. I think we as a society have to do a better job of understanding what causes fibroid tumours and how to reduce them in some way other than cutting them out. Given what we have available right now, I'm grateful for that option. Although I think it is somehow distasteful to have had a hysterectomy socially, there's still a stigma attached to it, I am grateful that I had the surgery.

Women who are younger who are still planning on having children have other things to consider. Women who are closer to menopause could possibly wait just a few more years and the fibroids and bleeding will stop on their own. But if you're reading this in your 40's and you're faced with the recommendation from your doctor that you have one, I would suggest doing it sooner rather than later.