When I'm lucky, he's like this:
He's drowsy and curled up in the lower left area of my abdomen, nesting comfortably on my left ovary. I know he's there when he stretches a little, or by the trail of smoke curling up from his nostrils that singes my insides a bit. He tends to stay sleepy for about 6-7 days at a time. And during this time, I'm pretty much myself. I can work, sleep, laugh, talk to my husband, clean house, etc.
But then, he wakes up, and he's like this:
He's a roaring, snarling, clawing, fire-breathing beast who completely devastates me. And, by the way, it's my insides that he's charbroiling when he's on the war path.
It's a burning, constant, breath-taking pain that seems to start deep inside my abdomen and radiate through my stomach and back. Oh, and it will last for the next 4-5 days. When Smaug is awake, it is almost impossible to breathe, much less talk. It's a pain that drives me in to a fetal position, where I will writhe and rock back and forth, trying not to scream. Oh, and then the vomiting begins. It's pain that takes you just to the brink of insanity. For 4-5 days and nights. I am on the best medications possible, but for the most part, Smaug laughs at their efforts, and flaunts his armor-plated chest that's impervious to their puny attempts to stop him. What I need to find is the medication that can find and penetrate the flaw in Smaug's armor: the medical equivalent of Bard's Black Arrow.
I imagine it's pain much like labor, only without the break in between contractions. Or the epidural. Or the hope of having a baby at the end of it. But having never experienced childbirth, it remains my imaginings. And to top it off, I will go through it all over again in another 7 days.
It's hard to exactly pinpoint the start of Smaug's residence inside me. 3 months after Nate and I married, we flew to the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, Ga., for my second laparoscopy for endometriosis. At that point, the pain was far less severe and far less frequent. But it was making its' presence known during, shall we say "intimate" times Nate and I shared as a newly married couple. In addition to the removal of endo and 2 cysts, they acknowledged the presence of the Fibroid in Residence (FIR)** , and discovered a veritable "rat's nest" of scar tissue and intestines. My intestines were so badly entwined and completely obstructed by scar tissue, the doctors were afraid I was going to lose a good portion of my intestine. It took about 4 hours of surgery, but when the surgeons were finally able to clear away the scar tissue, they were surprised to discover that the area of intestine in question was still viable. Nate and I have no doubt they saved my life.
My recovery from that lap was a bit longer than my first one, but still pretty smooth and reletively uncomplicated. As I recovered, I started working out and was generally feeling pretty good - better than I had felt in a long time. I was feeling very hopeful about being healthy for myself and the family we hoped to start in the near future. Then out of the blue, Smaug started to rear his head.
At first I thought I was going crazy - what could it possibly be? They had just been in there and gotten as close a look as possible. And I tried denial for a while too. But I finally called the doctor when I desperately wanted to get out of bed to go to a special occasion with Nate, but could not bear to leave my beloved heating pad because of the pain.
It didn't take long for Smaug to regularly settle into his favorite pattern - 5 days out of every 12 were a living hell of him clawing and tearing and scorching my insides. This was the beginning of my trip from doctor to doctor in a quest to find answers - and even more - treatment. . .
**FIR - every surgery and ultrasound as acknowledged FIR's presence, but it was not removed in any of the 3 laps. Turns out it's in a very dicey location, on the cusp of the fallopian tube, and they're afraid if they remove him, scar tissue, which my body loves to grow in spades, will block the tube. The latest ultrasound shows that FIR has reproduced and now has 4 fibroid cousins.