When I was in my late twenties, I decided that I was going to donate my eggs. I had learned about egg donation through a friend whose aunt was going through the IVF process, and I thought it was a wonderful way to help a couple who was in need.
At the time I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I wasn’t going to have children, but I was already leaning toward no. So I researched the egg donation process and decided to go through with it in order to aid a couple who had that yearning that I didn’t have. But while preparing to undergo the process, the doctor retrieving the eggs made a discovery: I had fibroids growing inside of my uterus.
The doctor told me not to worry about them for the time being, but that eventually I might have to get them removed, and so at the time I didn’t think they were a big deal. After all, at that point I had never experienced any symptoms from having them. (In fact, most women with fibroids never experience any symptoms and require no treatment.)
Though my mom dealt with uterine fibroids herself (she had surgery to remove hers when I was younger, but we never really talked about it), my knowledge about the condition was very limited. I didn’t know that you are more at risk of developing fibroids if you have a family member who also has them. I also didn’t know that fibroids are more common and severe in African American women than those of other ethnicities.
A few years later, I started experiencing exhaustion and heavy periods.
Though I’m now a Pilates instructor, at the time I was a restaurant manager working 12-hour shifts. I was experiencing exhaustion, heavy periods, and just an overall feeling of heaviness. I looked bloated, and if I touched my belly it literally felt hard. I wondered if maybe the symptoms I was experiencing were because of my long shifts, but deep down I knew I had to go visit a doctor.
When I went to the doctor, I discovered I had about eight or nine fibroids and that my uterus was the size of someone who was about three months pregnant. The fibroids had also caused me to become anemic, which is what I suspect was causing my exhaustion at the time.
In 2013, I scheduled the surgery to have them removed, and when I went in, what was supposed to be about a 90-minute surgery turned into a three-hour surgery and two days in the hospital.
When the doctors went in to remove the fibroids, they discovered that there were more fibroids than my initial scans had picked up. They tried to remove as many as they could, but I lost a lot of blood and had to get a blood transfusion.
In the end, the doctors told me they couldn’t get to all of them, especially the ones that were embedded very deep in my uterus,