Association of Women for the Advancement of Research and Education Today is
 
ProjectAWARE logo

           
You are here:  Home > Experience > Personal Stories > Surgery and HRT   Bookmark and Share

 

 

Surgery for scoliosis and now HRT for postmenopause.

I had severe Degenerative Disc Disease and couldn't work as a pediatric RN because of it. I'll always remember the first day of my last period because it was January 19, 2006, the morning of my scoliosis surgery. I take a lot of meds every day for pain and high blood pressure. Now I hope that the hormone replacement therapy will help me to at least stop the uncontrollable crying, sweating, hot and cold changes and let me try to find some enjoyment in a physical relationship with my husband.

On January 19, 2006, I went into the hospital to have my scoliosis surgery done. I started having severe Degenerative Disc Disease and couldn't work as a pediatric RN because of it. My ortho surgeon decided to just go ahead and straighten my spine with the rods and the whole deal. I’d had scoliosis since age 13 years and never had problems throughout my nursing career until I went into pediatrics. I guess the repetitive motions of picking up and chasing the little ones finally got to me at age 45 years and after eight spinal epidurals for pain and cervical spine surgery done to replace 2 discs in a little over a year, it was time to fix the big problem.

Well I'll always remember the first day of my last period because it was January 19, 2006, the morning of my surgery. I thought, "Oh great. Now I'll have to deal with my period as well as recovering from surgery." I had just gotten married for the first time the previous October 2005 and my husband has been wonderful through all of this. My periods have always been regular, even after I went off birth control pills at age 35 years. Because I smoked, I stopped using any forms of birth control because part of me wanted to have a baby, even though I wasn't married then. However, I never did get pregnant. I was engaged 3 times and broke my engagements 3 times before I met the man I was supposed to marry in 2003. Having children then was out of the question as he had raised twin girls by himself, for the most part.

Anyway, that day my surgery lasted 14-1/2 hrs, and I had 2 rods, 15 brackets and 30 screws put in starting at T2 on down, and a disc replaced at L7. Recovery to this day has not been easy and I have been dealing with excruciating pain in my left hip, groin and thigh.

On March 9, 2007, I had to have a spinal cord stimulator implanted to try to ease my pain. Throughout all of this since my surgery, I have had uncontrollable sweating at all times of the day and night. I got so I just had to stop wearing any make up because it would just run off of my face. I had times of being so cold and hot that I always dress in layers because I change feelings of warmth without warning. My emotions have run the gamut where I want to divorce my husband one minute and then cry uncontrollably when talking to anybody, including strangers, about anything. My pain doctor asked me why I was crying so much, and I told her it was because I was in pain, and because I just can't stop crying when I talk to people face to face and even on the phone.

Of course, depression plays a part since the recovery of my surgery has been so difficult, but my crying and mood swings happen for no apparent reason. It truly is embarrassing. Being a nurse, and just common sense, told me that since I hadn't had a period since January 2006, I was in menopause but I really didn't know what I wanted to do about it. I take a lot of meds every day for pain and high blood pressure. I am currently on 3 very strong opiates and have been on them since my surgery and have added some throughout the year to try to control the pain in my left hip and thigh. Hopefully, my spinal cord stimulator will ease my pain enough to begin weaning myself off the opiates. I did question whether some of my symptoms were related to the use of the opiates, and I have no doubt that some of them are.

I finally went to see my OB/GYN because I have been unable to have sexual intercourse with my husband because it is too painful. Not painful from my surgery but painful inside to where it feels like sandpaper when we have tried to have relations. I feel so bad for my poor husband since we were newlyweds when I had this blasted surgery, and we haven't been able to have a normal sex life since.

My OB/GYN told me, the first time I went to see her to hear her tell me that I was in menopause, to try a lubricant during sex and she recommended one. She ordered labs too, all fasting - chem 12, CBC, Thyroid, FSH - which I did promptly the next day. I also went and bought the intimate lubricant she recommended and with high hopes, my husband and I attempted to have sex and once again, it was agonizing for me because inside I was all dried up. Another crying jag for the whole day! I went back to see my OB/GYN this past Tuesday and I told her I was fed up. I wanted to do something because I couldn't go on this way.

Well she told me that my thyroid was fine, my chem 12 was fine, my CBC showed that I was anemic but I don't eat too well lately, and finally, she told me my FSH was 30 and that I was postmenopausal.

I didn't really understand the difference between menopause and post menopause and she gave me an explanation which I just decided to accept. She also started me on PremPro 6.25mg once a day. I go back to see her in 8 weeks for my annual PAP test.

I have a history of having had 2 benign lumps removed from my breasts. I am adopted but my biological sister was adopted with me and she is 51 years old and an adult internal medicine physician in Bloomington, Ill. She is going through menopause herself right now and she uses the PremPro patch since it bypasses the liver. I am thinking that maybe I should use the patch since I take so many medicines right now. I have heard so many horror stories about taking hormones but I need some relief from my symptoms. I am trying to read as much as I can about it.

I try to get my OB/GYN to slow down long enough to talk to me, and I know she has a very busy practice, but I don't want to sound like an idiot. For crying out loud, I already take so many meds, what is one more except that I am not wild about the side effects.

My adoptive mother had an early menopause because she had a hysterectomy due to endometriosis in 1965 at age 43. She was put on Premarin and I remember her taking it every night. She had a long history of benign breast lumps but at age 62, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away in 1987 of breast cancer. She also had a very strong family history of cancer and to this day, cancer has taken all but 1 of her 5 siblings, as well as her father. So, as I am adopted, I’m hoping for better luck on that front.

I hope that I am doing the right thing. My orthopedic surgeon told me that it normally takes 2-3 years to recover fully from my surgery since it was so extensive. I would just be thrilled if the spinal stimulator works well enough to help my pain to some degree - they tell me that it usually helps decrease pain by 50-70%.

Now I hope that the hormone replacement therapy will help me to at least stop the uncontrollable crying, sweating, hot and cold changes and let me try to find some enjoyment in a physical relationship with my husband. If anybody has any ideas that could help me, that would be great. Right now, I feel like a great big science experiment.

Thank You--
Bonnie
bon4220032@yahoo.com

 

For more information about managing your menopause:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More stories 
Share your story? 

 

top of page

Updated  09/29/2010