Romanticizing is one of the more devious pitfalls in addiction. It’s an upside-down fantasy land, a combination of selective focus and outright fiction. It is as nonsensical as pining for the bars after one has escaped the cage, but this is where logic gives way to lies.

There are times when I hold competing stories in my head about what it was like to be using. There is the truth: that I was sick, obsessed, unhappy, and eventually so lost and hopeless I wished I were dead. Then there is another version.

In the first story, I am better now. In the second, I am worse.

When irrational thoughts start creeping in, I take a breath and square my shoulders. Identify, refute, substitute; repeat as necessary. I have to listen instead of turning away, even when it hurts. Even when everything starts closing in and I have to fight my way back out into the clear, over and over and over again.

This is the work that holds the first story close, where it’s supposed to be. This is how I defeat the shimmering memory of what never was.

Earlier this year I started noticing that my period, normally a polite and ghostly monthly presence I’m barely aware of, thanks to my birth control, was … ah, making itself known. I had to hit up the sanitary supply aisle for the first time in several years. (When did tampons start branding themselves like teeth whitening strips? “Radiant Multi”? “Pearl Lite”?) Most unwelcome, and a little worrisome, so I called the lady parts doctor to report a potential malfunction.

After a festive exam during which the gynecologist rooted fruitlessly for the Mirena strings and announced it was possible things had “migrated,” I was sent for an ultrasound, which was highly unpleasant because 1) it was the Drink a Shit-Ton of Water Then Try Not To Burst Like a Rubber-Banded Watermelon While We Make You Sit in a Waiting Room for a Good Twenty-Five Minutes Past Your Appointment Time type of ultrasound, and 2) once the familiar gooey-abdomen scan was completed, she switched to the interior method, if you know what I mean and I hope you don’t. Basically that entails having something that looks like a vacuum cleaner attachment crammed right up in your business and all I can say about that is 0/10, would not recommend.

Anyway, the good news was that my IUD was determined to be in its correct location and presumably not rampaging around wreaking internal havoc, the less-awesome news is I have uterine fibroids. Specifically, the pedunculated variety of fibroids, which totally sounds like some sort of Harry Potter spell but apparently means “benign tumors that grow on a fucking stalk, can you believe that shit? A STALK.”

My doctor explained my various options: do nothing/wait and see, have them snipped away laparoscopically, or: hysterectomy. His recommendation was for the hysterectomy, since in his opinion opting for a permanent solution was preferable to potentially having to repeat the less-invasive options.

I was a little shocked about this turn of events — like, dude, I came in because I thought my IUD was running low on anti-baby juice or some such thing, and you’re telling me I might need to have a body organ blown out the airlock? — but after talking with some folks who had similar procedures, I eventually felt ready to give his suggestion some serious consideration. Just get ‘er done, you know? Present my uterus with a commemorative plaque (“For Exemplary Service During 2005 and 2008”) and send it packing.

Then I broke my leg and that sort of snagged my full attention for a while. By the time I was back to walking without a brace and could re-focus on the uterine situation (STAAAALKS), I realized that nothing felt serious enough to warrant surgery. There is bleeding each month, but we’re talking “mildly inconvenient,” not “elevator scene from The Shining.” I do tend to experience some of the symptoms associated with fibroids — bloating, indigestion, pressure — but let’s be honest, it’s impossible to tell if that’s because of a legit medical condition or because I’m almost 43 and frequently reward myself for a kale-heavy lunch by upending an entire jumbo-sized bag of peanut M&Ms into my food-hole.

I seem to have settled on the wait and see strategy without having made an actual informed decision one way or the other, but I figure as long as my life is impacted in a mostly minimal way, I can leave the fibroids to whatever it is they’re up to in there (bobbing around like kelp, playing tetherball?).

Pedunculated anything feels like a peevish sort of health issue to have, though. Like, part of my body just went all freaky and started growing a bunch of Dr. Seuss-looking crap for no reason? Nice, Ron.

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