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August 6, 2012

Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries – one part of my June surgery. Since many people seem not to know the ramifications of this procedure, however, allow me to share.

Removal of the ovaries means menopause. Menopause means, among other things, osteoporosis and hot flashes. So much fun to be had! My scan last Monday, only eight weeks out of surgery, showed “minimal degenerative disease of the spine.” Yikes. Time to get serious about my supplements. And my GI oncologist had warned me about hot flashes when she and the GYN oncologist agreed that I needed surgery. At that time, minor side effects were the least of my concerns – especially ones that I didn’t believe existed. I had never given much thought to hot flashes, but I think I just assumed that it was something older women referenced when they were feeling a little warm.

The hot flashes began fairly soon after surgery, and it turns out “a little warm” is quite the understatement. Let’s be clear – I grew up without air conditioning, in a house that got so hot in the summer that my crayons melted if I left them upstairs (true story). I can do hot. This, however, is different. It’s similar to the feeling I get when I’m very ill and about to faint. It comes without warning, and suddenly I feel like my blood is boiling. I’ve always been very cold natured, so this is a new experience for me – and it means that now, at work, in addition to the space heater I have under my desk to combat the over-airconditioning of the office, there’s a fan at the entrance to my cubicle to occasionally cool me off.

Not all of the consequences are bad, though. When, a few weeks ago, a restaurant takeout container leaked into my purse, I found myself without any tissues or napkins to mop up the mess. What I did have, however, was a small side pocket full of highly absorbent feminine products that I no longer needed to carry in case of emergency. I may have gotten some strange looks at the bus stop as I unwrapped tampons and pads and used them to sop up the pool of salad dressing that had formed in the bottom of my bag, but I was carrying a dry purse by the time the Circulator arrived.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. milli permalink
    August 6, 2012 10:53 pm

    Rachel, you are both brave and hilarious. This blog will bring you the fame you deserve! Keep up the posts! With love. Milli

  2. August 6, 2012 10:56 pm

    I also started to go through menopause. And I totally feel you on the hot flash front! I blogged about it… if you haven’t read it yet, check it out.
    I think you’ll be able to relate! I started hormone therapy and I love it. My sex drive came back, the hot flashes and extreme crabbiness went away… in short, I feel like my normal self again. It may not be an option for you depending if your cancer is hormone dependent or not. But definitely worth looking into! Keep smiling! At least you don’t have to have periods anymore! It’s so nice!

  3. August 7, 2012 1:27 pm

    Oh my goodness – what a way to use the left over tampons! That was a really great story.

    Thanks for sharing with us about the oophorectomy – this is a new word for me, though the side effects are certainly familiar. After chemotherapy, like you, I had hot-flash fits as the menopause hit. Having a small fan ready is a great idea. Along with that, carrying a hand fan is the purse is excellent for those emergency situations.


  4. Rain permalink
    August 9, 2012 3:18 pm

    Dude, it’s one thing to walk up to the register with only a box of tampons, essentially saying, “What up betch? I’m on my period and I’d like to take these jumbo babies without a bag.” and walk out of the store with just a box of jumbo tampons in your hand, but it is a new beautiful moment in your femininity to carry tampons now for the sake of bloody noses, running salad dressings and general leakages. I commend you on your ingenuity and “can do” attitude.

  5. August 27, 2012 8:03 pm

    You are a strong and brave soul. I am not at menopause yet but will now know what to expect. Thank you.

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