By Anita Fanara
I am having my ovaries removed exactly a week from today. Woo Hoo!! Yippee!! Most people don’t look forward to surgery, but I can’t wait!! I want to be normal. I am not even sure I know what that is, to feel normal…
I am 49 years old and I’ve been suffering from PMDD since I was a teenager, though I never knew it then. I basically diagnosed myself a few years ago through research, using online guides/questionnaires and tracking my cycles, moods, and various symptoms. Then, I convinced my OBGYN and the various ‘shrinks’ that I have had appointments with that I do have PMDD.
My PMDD episodes have become more frequent and stronger in the past 4-5 years. I believe this to be linked to the start of menopause (perimenopause). Last year I had the mother of all episodes and went to the emergency room because I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was released after a few hours and sent home. I went back again the next day. This time I spent 22 hours in the emergency room, then was “locked-up” in a psych unit for 6 days because the doctors honestly did not listen to what I was saying and didn’t know what else to do with me!! I then had the pleasure of meeting several different psychiatrists that did not agree with me that I was suffering from PMDD, that in fact, I must be bipolar! I knew they were wrong and I refused to take the Lithium prescribed to me which I wound up being scolded for and told I would have to stay longer if “I wasn’t a good little girl and took my meds.” It was the worst experience of my life! Needless to say, I finally convinced the 4th or 5th doctor that was assigned to the unit on that particular day that I was not bipolar and that I did in fact have PMDD. I was finally released after 6 insane days. I had PTSD for weeks after. I just couldn’t believe that my years of PMS/PMDD finally ended me up in the hospital!
The fun part of PMDD is nobody knows how to help, at least that has been my experience. I’ve had horrible periods as far back as I can remember. Cramps so bad that it ached down into my toes. I remember being at the mall one time as a teenager and my cramps hit so bad that I couldn’t even drive home. I remember missing at least 2 days a month of school because I could not get out of bed. My brother would defend me to schoolmates about how sick I would get from just having my period. I was put on every birth control pill under the sun which always resulted in me not being able to stomach it (literally). After about 10 days on any given pill, I would start barfing my guts out. So then came the numerous prescriptions of antidepressants. Name one, I think I’ve taken it. Then came my twenties and early thirties, still going to any doctor that was recommended and still not getting any help. I finally married and had my first child at 35. I barfed every day I was pregnant. My body just couldn’t handle the increase of estrogen and progesterone that your body produces when pregnant and that is exactly what birth control pills do too. No wonder I puked from every birth control pill I have ever tried! I had my second child at 37 and also puked my entire pregnancy, it was awful. But well worth it to have my two wonderful children.
Five years ago, my current OBGYN finally listened to me. He suggested an ultrasound which no other doctor ever thought of. I was diagnosed with Adenomyosis. The opposite of Endometriosis. I basically had a build-up of menstrual tissue that should have been coming out during my period. It turned into a mass that was the size of a large lemon. No wonder I had painful periods! All of the years of suffering and nobody ever thought to do an ultrasound on me! The decision was made that I needed to have a partial hysterectomy-removing my uterus and cervix but keeping my ovaries in place. I was so happy!! Yeah! Surgery!! Yes, I was glad I was having surgery!! Again, most people do not look forward to having surgery but I sure did!!
And here I am – 5 years later, 50 pounds heavier (one of the lovely side effects after having the hysterectomy) still suffering from debilitating monthly PMDD episodes. Even though I no longer bleed, I still have a cycle because I still have ovaries. No more cramps but I still get breast tenderness, body aches, nausea, food cravings, horrible headaches, and emotional symptoms off the charts. Suicidal ideations, rage, severe anger, depression, uncontrollable bouts of crying, hating my appearance and wanting total isolation. And don’t forget the hot flashes! Yet, nobody understood why I was “acting this way”. Until one day I googled PMDD and came across this website/blog, The Warrior! OMG, there are other women out there that understand me, that feel the same way that I do!! What a relief to know I am not alone. I have never met another woman who has suffered like I do from such severe premenstrual symptoms. And then try to explain it to someone who has normal periods and they think you are just plain Bat-Shit Crazy!! Well, I am still here at 49 ½ years old. How I haven’t actually taken my own life by now is truly astonishing. I have been close so many times. I cry and beg God to just let me die when I am suffering. I always say it would be so much easier to have a “real’ disease that you get treated for and it goes away. PMDD never goes away, it just hides for a few days here and there and then look out—back with a vengeance!! I never had the benefit of regular cycles so I cannot even guage when it’s going to hit. It truly is a living hell.
All of 2018 I have been having horrible episodes and have been going to my OBGYN more frequently. I started doing more digging on what else I could possibly try to cure this. I really feel like I am at the end of my rope and cannot bear to go through yet another episode. I just CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE. Well, I found my answer. Remove my ovaries! Oophorectomy! Stop the cycle, stop the MADNESS! Makes sense to me! If my ovaries are no longer cycling every 20-30 days I will no longer have the craziness that comes with it all. So my Doctor and I made a plan for my surgery and he wanted me to try an estrogen shot to see if my body could handle the estrogen in case I need to start hormone replacement once my ovaries are gone. And right on cue, I had yet another just awful PMDD episode. Even worse than last year. In tears, I drove out to the local lakefront with a bottle of pills and every intention of taking them to stop this misery. I was even texting my boyfriend instructions on what to do with my house, finances, etc. I was done. Do I take the pills or just drive my truck into the lake and drown myself? I didn’t want to actually kill myself, I just wanted the pain to be gone. But I couldn’t do this to my children. Especially my 14-year-old daughter who I fear may be already experiencing PMDD. I have to find a way to fix this. A way to cope. A way to make it better. I just hope and pray she never has to suffer from this. And certainly not to have a hysterectomy at a young age. But I have to be here for her. I have to fix myself and be here for both of my kids. I need to stop being ashamed and embarrassed. This isn’t my fault. This is a real disease that has been controlling me much of my life.
I am hopeful that this surgery next week is my cure. I know it is an extreme measure to push my doctor into doing this. He is not sure that this is the answer but I have exhausted every other avenue of treatment. I believe my PMDD to be on the severe spectrum. I need to save my own life and this is my choice of action. After reading many other stories of women who had to also go this route, I truly believe this will “fix” me. I am looking forward to my Fabulous 50th Birthday and feeling good! I want to be me! I want to lose the weight and feel good about looking in a mirror. I really believe this is the necessary path I must take to get me there!
I wasn’t planning to tell my story until after my surgery. But today I read a new post on The Warrior and decided it was my turn to share. If I can help anyone out there feel better and know that they aren’t alone I will. I plan to write again with my post-surgery progress.
About the Warrior
I work full time (not sure how I have kept jobs with my frequent absences) in Information Technology. I have two children and a wonderful, understanding, loving boyfriend that puts up with me. I am from the North (Wisconsin-Go Pack GO!) and migrated South (Louisiana) for the climate many, many years ago. I’m also a beach lover and plan to make a permanent move to Florida in about six years to enjoy ‘my happy place.’