Today, Kayleigh Sundquist, a 28 year old graduate student and full time mama, shares her hysterectomy story with Nyssa. From California and currently residing in Seattle, Kayleigh lives with her husband and two-year-old son.
She is a strong advocate of women’s health and mental health and has a background in applied behavior analysis and social psychology. She hopes to have a positive impact by sharing her journey through chronic pain, self-advocacy, and eventual treatment.
I never imagined having a total hysterectomy in my 20s(I’ll be 29 in a couple weeks) but in truth, this surgery was a long time coming.
I’ve had “rough periods” and pelvic pain since I was a teenager and was met with the usual prescription of birth control pills and 800mg ibuprofen tablets and told that it would likely get better as I got older.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Being on birth control kept my symptoms at a more manageable level but I still have memories of calling in sick to work or passing out in the bathroom from the pain my monthly visitor brought. I thought it was normal and didn’t think much of the occasional stabbing pain that started to develop in my pelvis once I reached my early 20s.
It wasn’t until my husband and I started trying to get pregnant and I went off of birth control for the first time in nearly 10 years that I started to suspect that things were not normal.
I always knew when I was ovulating because it felt like someone was twisting a knife in my lower pelvis. And then, miraculously, pregnancy brought an end to my pain and things seemed fine until my cycles returned about 10 months postpartum.
It was then that I began to fight to be heard. I found a new doctor, one who believed my pain and immediately began testing and imaging to diagnose me. I underwent pelvic ultrasounds, blood tests, physical therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, multiple birth control attempts, a diagnostic laparoscopy, and an IUD insertion.
I was given a clinical endometriosis diagnosis despite it not being visible in my laparoscopy because my doctor firmly believed that based on my symptoms and history, it had gone into remission during my pregnancy/postpartum and my laparoscopy took place too soon after for the endo to have grown back enough to be easily visible.
I was also diagnosed with pelvic congestion syndrome which essentially results in extreme varicose veins and blood pooling in your pelvis. Regardless of the diagnosis, I was battling constant pain and inflammation while trying to care for a toddler. After every less invasive treatment option failed, I requested a hysterectomy.
The decision wasn’t easy, but I knew that I could barely function as a mom to the one child I had now and that my health had to be the priority. My doctor approved the surgery without hesitation and kept me as informed as possible about surgical methods and types of hysterectomies.
Three days ago, I underwent a total vaginal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingectomy (uterus, cervix, and tubes).
I have cycled through every possible emotion: fear, grief, excitement, frustration, but ultimately I am hopeful that this will finally give me the relief that I’ve been searching for.
At this point, I am not expecting perfection, I am simply looking for more good days than bad. My body has been through so much and my uterus brought me one amazing, magical little boy, but it was time to break up.