'hysterectomy' and the reactions I have received from people have been wide and varied. Some hilarious, yet thought provoking. Thought of sharing some.
Reaction type 1: Some ‘male’ acquaintances & friends who had no idea of my surgery, catch up with me on the ubiquitious messenger apps. Here’s how it goes:
Friends: Hi, How are you?
Me: Could be better. Recovering from a surgery.
Friends: Really? What happened?
Friends: ……. Silence……golden silence…..blissful silence
Me: (thinking to myself) Wow, a way to shut men up !?!?! J
To be fair, even some women, young and old, have preferred the golden silence and kept mum. Had it been any other illness, they would have been first on the phone to enquire about my health.
Reaction type 2: Now I come to the even more interesting reactions from some women, young and old. During a ‘face to face’ conversation:
Friend (young lady, mother of two toddlers): Hi, how are you?
Me: Just recovering from a surgery
Friend: What surgery?
Friend’s MIL: What’s that?
Me: Removal of the uterus
Friend’s MIL: Oh! I had mine removed five years ago.
Me: (thinking…) Wow…really…and you never heard this term before…benefit of doubt given… 60+ year old lady after all…J
Friend’s FIL (in an aside to my husband) : Oh, my wife went through something like this some years ago. I don’t know the details.
Friend (in soft undertone): Btw, Will you still get your monthly cycles now?
Me: (Aghast at question & thinking...) ?!?*** What were you doing in Bio class in the X standard??!! How can you be so ignorant as to even ask this question? You are a mother of two, don’t you even know how the female body works??!! Did you have an immaculate conception and childbirth??
To some who may think that this ‘happens only in India’, imagine my shock when a 60+ lady residing in a ‘developed’ nation and a former teacher of zoology, asked me the precise same question. Beats me as to how some women can get to be mothers, grandmothers and be as clueless about something as basic as this.
Reaction type 3: Conversations with ‘know-all’ non medico women who may have had the basic experience of a C- section childbirth/ know others who have had such surgeries.
Friend: Hi, what happened? (On seeing me do my daily exercise comprising of a ‘s...l….o….w’ walk around the block, or on getting to know through some other means)
Me: Just had a hysterectomy
Friend: You should be flat on your back for 3 months. No lifting, no walking, no climbing ……..the list is endless.
Me: (thinking…) here come the instructions again. What makes women such experts on another’s surgery?
Friend: My mother had this surgery…
Me: (thinking).. So did mine…4 decades ago….I should hope that technology in medicine did advance at least a teeny weeny bit the last decade or so, so as to enable women get back to normal activities faster. Some doctors do implement newer techniques which enable faster recovery.
Friend: Your decision if you walk about, you’ll face the consequences many years down the line
Me: Sure I will J
Reaction type 4: Hats off to all those men and women who redefine my faith in humanity. Who meet the answer head-on, do not shrink at asking how I am, ask about the procedure, listening to the details and wish me a speedy recovery.
My reflections: Are young men, middle aged men, old men so tongue tied when faced with such ‘female oriented’ information that they sweep it under the carpet? Hey, I do not expect a detailed discussion on the intricacies of the surgical procedure. I leave that to the doctors. A simple empathetic “Get well soon” would have sufficed. Are we women partly to blame, for hushing up such information, almost as if they are taboo?? How may we enable the next generation of young men to not freak out when confronted with such information?
What can I say about women. I feel ashamed at the lack of knowledge we seem to have in matters relating to our own bodies. Blissful ignorance! Get out, talk. Get information, Get empowered.