Me (at the ER for kidney stones following the typical question regarding last menstrual cycle): “I had a hysterectomy when I was eleven-years-old so I do not have periods.” Nurse: “Oh. I wish I had a hysterectomy at eleven.”
Um…really? Let’s break that down just a bit.
1) You wish you would have had a major surgery as a child.
2) You wish you would have been in the hospital for nearly a month.
3) You wished you would have missed nearly half of a year of school.
4) You wish you would have felt completely different from girls your own age.
5) You wish you grew up knowing you would never have biological children.
6) You wish you would have believed that your lot in life was your fault and that God was punishing you for some reason.
7) You wish you would have attended baby showers with the full pressure of grief on your heart.
8) You wish you would have cried until you could not cry anymore over what life had thrown you.
9) You wish you would have walked around with the weight of the world on your shoulders.
10) You wish you would have fought the physical, emotional and spiritual battles that encompasses infertility.
11) You wish you would have had to make the decision to be courageous enough to explore foster care and adoption.
12) You wish you had to look into your children’s eyes and try your best to explain why they did not grow in your tummy and why they are not able to grow up with their biological parents.
Don’t get me wrong. I so appreciate nurses. Nurses sustained me throughout the many operations and medical issues in my life (both in childhood and adulthood). The compassion I felt from the nursing staff was incredible and even at a young age, I recognized it. They are the front-line warriors of so many tragic endings and for that, I have great respect.
However, there have been a handful of medical professionals who have reacted oddly when learning of my surgery. Some have questioned why the medical team felt it necessary to remove my uterus and other organs. Others have given flighty statements like the one described above. The bottom line is that if you do not know what to say to someone, then just either don’t say anything or say something like, “That must have been really hard for you to go through.”
I have found that people who experienced severe medical issues as children are some of the most resilient adults. I know I may be assuming a lot and that’s okay. Those of us who have been delivered from the brink of death get that compassion and understanding are so important to the human experience.
If you are someone who experienced a tragic medical history, you’re strong. You got this. You know that a select few can truly relate to what you have been through and that’s okay.
If you are someone experiencing infertility, close your heart off to the silly notions and words of others. You know what you are going through. You get that others don’t get it.
If you are a nurse, you have the most incredible opportunity to show love, kindness, and compassion. Keep doing that. Mind your words, of course, but continue to fulfill the calling on your life to tend to the hurts of so many who need you.
“I wish I had a hysterectomy at eleven.” After all these years, I haven’t forgotten these words. Let’s just all commit to minding our tongues.
After all, words do hurt and if given the choice, wouldn’t you want your words to heal?