Hysterectomy – the idea of having a hysterectomy was first raised with me when I was in my twenties. Menarche happened for me at the age of 9. I had no idea what was happening to me. My mum told my dad when he got home from work and he said to me “Louise, you are a woman now!”
I had no idea what this meant – and the words made me fearful and anxious as well as ashamed. In my teens I often fainted from pain around my period, had floods and clots of blood that just flowed off the edges of the surfboard, wingless pads that I used and ended up on my school skirt… Laughter and giggles followed me as I walked down the aisle of the school bus. I hated my periods. And as the years passed, they didn’t get easier. I went to herbalists and homeopaths and eventually surgeons. Laparoscopies, hormone treatments, foul tasting herbs, all helped a bit but not that much. When hysterectomy was raised as a subject it was refused as an option as it was suggested I may change my mind about having kids one day and 30 was too young. I accepted this somewhat reluctantly, mainly because the implication was that the doctors knew my body and mind better than I did! I kept trying different natural remedies and found some relief in a combination of homeopathy and acupuncture. But when I entered my late thirties, things worsened again. This time a fibroid was discovered and over the course of 5-6 years I threw all my efforts and energies into improving my symptoms. It was exhausting, expensive and very time-consuming. I saw a professional nearly every week and at this time when it started, I was studying homeopathy so not earning a huge amount.
In 2012 I attended a women’s circle in Sydney that led me to the School of Shamanic Womancraft. I found out about women’s mystery schools and teachings around the sacredness of menstruation. While this helped on some levels, on another I held some shame around my decisions and experiences, firstly not to have children and secondly the hatred I had within me around my own menstruation experiences. I desperately wanted to heal but it felt like an uphill battle. I ended up on a vision quest experience with about 10 other women, 3 days of which were on my own in the Australian bush. The flies were incessant; it was hot and windy. I went through so many emotions as I sat there on my own on this land that felt foreign to me and in a body that I felt had betrayed me on so many levels. On the 3rd night we drummed, and I sat and waited for my visionary experience. I cried. I slept, I tossed and turned, and I cried out for my vision. I wanted to know the key to healing my now grapefruit sized fibroid that was putting pressure on my back and bladder. Nothing happened until I gave up… and a voice whispered in my ear – “surrender to the surgery. There is no shame in this. You have done your best. Trust this”. I have had many visionary experiences and at this moment I saw in my mind a small Indian woman (I have Indian ancestry) and she nodded at me. I felt like I was giving permission to ask for and do what felt right to me.
As I completed my course, I realised that my gift was to share this vision with the many women who had experienced hysterectomy and felt incomplete, shamed, less of a woman or just disconnected from their bodies from the experience. And I knew that I had so much to take with me on the surgical journey – I could use all the tools I had learnt on my course into the doctor’s office and hospital. Over the next few months I went through a massive process of going through the public health system and meeting a gynaecologist who was more understanding and gave me more time than any other, asking for my womb to be buried and after being told it was medical waste; eventually receiving it and giving back to the earth in a beautiful ceremony which not only helped me to feel more connected to my body than ever but also to this adopted country of mine that I now call home. Such a ritual can be replicated and performed for women who haven’t got their physical womb in many ways and I am feeling called to offer this to women now, no matter how long ago your surgery was performed.
The decision to have a hysterectomy was not one I took lightly or made easily. It is a major surgery and not right for every woman with menstrual difficulties or fibroids. Indeed, as a homeopath, I have since helped many women to heal their fibroids naturally. However, for many the decision must be made, and so to release and remove so much shame and emotional pain from that experience, I tell my story. Since this surgery I have opened up to so much more healing, traumas and pain that I feel were held in that grapefruit sized fibroid, which while I was in so much physical suffering, I had no energy to explore and deal with. So, while it wasn’t an easy decision or experience, I have been able to blossom and grow so much more from it.