Renovating my innards & podcast announcement – Leah

Leah provides an update on her health journey after two surgeries within four weeks of each other (earlier updates are here and here.)

Plus: BIG news about changes coming to the podcast!

Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Renovating my innards & podcast announcement - Leah
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In this episode we talk about

  • Endometriosis
  • Hysterectomy, oopherectomy, appendectomy
  • Period shame
  • Seeking women’s reproductive health care
  • Ethical non-monogamy
  • Pelvic floor therapy
  • Labiaplasty
  • Upcoming changes to the podcast
  • Pop culture with Kristen Meinzer
  • Sex and intimacy coaching

Resources

Classes – www.leahcarey.com/courses

Patreonwww.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex

BuyMeACoffeewww.buymeacoffee.com/goodgirlstalk

With the additional surgery, Leah has had to postpone the upcoming classes in the Fall In Love With Your Sex Life series. To get updates when the classes are rescheduled, join the mailing list.

 

Maya Strom, No Fucks Given – https://www.goodgirlstalk.com/posts/podcast/maya-strom/

Full episode text

Hey, friends I’m back. It has been a long minute and I wanted to give you an update about how things are going for me, health wise. And I also wanted to give you some major news about this show. So I’m going to talk about health stuff in the first half and about podcast stuff at the end of the episode. So be sure to stick around for the whole thing.

In terms of how I’m doing, I am finally starting to get back to myself. As I’ve been joking with my friends, I’m finally starting to feel human again. It has been almost exactly eight weeks since the second surgery. And my surgeon said that it doesn’t usually take people quite this long to get back to themselves after anesthesia.

But there are apparently some people who have, I don’t know, some kind of receptor in their brain or something that makes recovering from anesthesia, particularly difficult. And apparently I am one of those lucky people. She was not concerned about how long it has taken me, but what the sort of real world implications of that is that I haven’t been able to do a lot of work. I haven’t been able to coach. I haven’t even been able to drive. Not because I was incapable of it, but because I didn’t trust myself that my brain was processing quickly enough that if I had to slam on the brakes quickly, I would be able to do it.

So I’m very pleased to say that I am now out and driving again. Um, my stamina is still pretty low, but it starting to creep back up. So I am in a good place.

For those of you who may be joining me relatively new, I want to just give you a quick primer on what has happened thus far. At the beginning of 2023, I started having some weird cramping and spotting. Now, I’m 49 years old, well into the time where peri-menopausal symptoms are to be expected. But I’m kind of hypervigilant about these things because both my mother and her mother passed away from cancers of the reproductive organs. So when it comes to things like unusual bleeding, I am like all alarm bells.

You know, we all have our own things that we are hyper aware about. So anyway, I contacted my PCP. I am incredibly lucky that she is someone who takes women’s reproductive health care concerns seriously. Unfortunately, that’s not true of every doctor.

Um, and if you’d like to hear her talking about women’s health, you can go back in the feed. Look for Maya Strom. I think the episode is called No Fucks Given. We talk about women’s reproductive health. Anyway knowing my family history and my sort of heightened level of concern she did not dismiss me and say, oh, I’m sure it’s just peri-menopausal stuff. Let me know in six months if it hasn’t changed. Instead, she said, Nope, let’s get you in for an ultrasound right away. Um, that was quickly followed by an MRI and then a biopsy. I’ve had genetic testing. I have been poked and prodded up the wazoo. If by wazoo, you mean “vag”. [LAUGHTER]

I had a lot of intrusions. Um, I’ve been very lucky to have amazing caregivers from beginning to end. There’s one person whose personality I wasn’t a fan of, but I also knew that he was really good at his job. Every other person I’ve encountered has been really top notch. I feel extremely fortunate.

What they discovered is that there were a whole host of issues going on inside, um, my baby making complex, which I have known for like 20 plus years was never going to be host to a baby. I just have never wanted one.

So it was not a big deal to me. In fact, it was kind of a relief when the gynecological surgeon said probably a hysterectomy would be a good path forward.

There was nothing that was in the immediate term catastrophic or crisis level. I had a bunch of ovarian cysts. I had a bunch of what they call endometriomas, which are the blood spots that come with endometriosis. And I had fibroids and a couple of other things. None of those things on their own were going to create a crisis. But taken all together, the surgeon was like, yeah, it kind of makes sense to just get this all taken care of. Let’s just do it now, then you won’t have to worry about it anymore. And I was thrilled. Again hysterectomy was a big thumbs up for me.

He had told me to expect that I would probably be out of commission for about four weeks. And this was at the end of April.

I woke up after the surgery, my partner was sitting right next to me. I turned to him and I said, how did it go? Did they get everything? And he looked at me with, so… it was like, you know, cartoon characters or maybe like an Instagram filter where like the tiers are sort of clinging to the bottom lid of the little chipmunk. He looked at me with those eyes and he said, oh babe, I’m so sorry. They didn’t do the hysterectomy.

It turns out that I had an extremely severe case of endometriosis. The surgeon said not only was it the most severe case he had ever seen, he was surprised that I had been upright and walking around for the last four decades. Which came as quite a surprise to me because I had this idea in my head of what I thought endometriosis was.

And that image included ongoing, never ending debilitating pain. And I didn’t have that. Like he said, I was upright and walking around. Now I have had excruciating periods my whole life. But I didn’t have that kind of, all of the time pain that I thought was the hallmark of endometriosis. So it had never occurred to me to question the severity of my symptoms.

In fact, I had taught myself to downplay those symptoms to the degree that my partner, who I’ve been with for five years had absolutely no idea that I had bad periods. He knew that sometimes I used a heating pad , but he had no idea the level of distress that my period brought each month because I had learned to hide it.

I thought, everybody with a uterus has a period — which itself is not true, but. But moving on. Everybody with a uterus has a period. And periods are supposed to be painful. And so everybody has this experience that I’m having of their period and they just handle it better. So this is yet another example of how weak and pitiful and morally lacking. I am because I can’t handle it the way that everybody else handles it. And so I learned to mask all of my symptoms.

And the symptoms were really bad. Not just incapacitating cramps, which I only gave into when they were extremely severe. But, um, just flooding — massive flooding, staining everything. In later years, it had gotten a little bit less, but I remember as a teenager, I was so ashamed every time I had my period because I would just flood and stain everything. My clothes, my sheets. I would get up from a chair and turn around and be like, oh my God, did I stain the chair? It was, it was so painful and, and felt so shameful.

Plus when I had my period every time I stood up , I would feel like I was going to pass out. And I would have massive temperature dysregulation, so that I felt internally, like I was freezing cold but my clothing was soaking wet. Like you could ring the sweat out of it because I was sweating so profusely.

And again, I just thought that this was me being weak and pitiful and that if I had more moral fiber, then I would handle this better. Turns out the truth is that my body was attacking itself from the inside.

I also just want to say that shame around the flooding and the staining things has stayed with me to the degree that I have now been without a uterus for two months and I still wake up every morning and check the sheets to make sure that I haven’t bled overnight. I wore a swimsuit yesterday and the first thing I did was checked the crotch to make sure I hadn’t stained. I no longer have a uterus. I not going to bleed and have a period anymore. But my brain has not caught up with that because the shame is so deeply ingrained.

Anyway. So they rescheduled me for the end of May, which meant that I spent four very frustrating weeks on the couch recuperating from one surgery, knowing that at the end, it was only so that I could go in and have a second surgery. I’m sure that there are people listening who have endured so much worse but this was definitely a first for me and it was really frustrating. Those four weeks were also filled with tons of consultations because there were going to be four surgeons and I had to have consultations with multiple of them. There were scheduling nightmares. It was just, it was a lot. It was a very stressful four weeks.

But we get to the end of May and I went in for surgery number two. I was very nervous. Um, I was mostly nervous that I was going to wake up and they were going to say to me, something else has gone catastrophically wrong.

But thankfully it went perfectly. They took out my uterus, my ovaries, my fallopian tubes, my cervix, that was, they had, they had expected to take out during the first surgery, my uterus, my fallopian tubes, my cervix, and probably my ovaries.

There was some talk of trying to save at least one ovary because not only would it continue to produce hormones, so I didn’t go into what they call surgical menopause, but it also helps with heart health and bone density and a bunch of other things. Um, but once they got inside, they discovered that the ovaries really couldn’t be saved because the endometriosis was so severe, which means that I am now in surgical menopause. And I now have a hormones patch that I change twice a week.

They also ended up taking out my appendix, which was an extra little bonus because apparently it had enough endometriosis damage for them to think let’s just deal with that now and not have to go back in, should she ever get appendicitis. So that was a nice little bonus.

She said it went perfectly, it went as well as it possibly could have, especially given that it was even worse than they were expecting.

In the aftermath. I am dealing with a lot of emotional blow back. Specifically around how much I have suffered physically, mentally and emotionally. Because I believed that the problem was me being weak.

You know, because I was led to believe specifically by my father that I was making shit up. That things weren’t actually as bad as I said they were. Um, And I’m having to really do a lot of processing around how angry I am, and trauma and shame. And it was completely unnecessary.

I know that I am not remotely unique in that story. Those of us who get periods, most of us learned to be ashamed of them in some way, whether it was your physical symptoms, whether it was PMS and, you know, all of the laughter and jokes that happen around Ooh, women be crazy.

Um, Just so much awfulness around our periods. So I want to say to you that if this is something that you have experienced, that you are experiencing, you’re not alone. You are allowed to ask questions. This is not something you have to suffer through. I am sad to say that there are still a lot of providers who will downplay and dismiss the health concerns that come around uterus and periods and perimenopause and menopause and all of that stuff. There is remarkably little research around how a lot of this stuff works.

If you’re not able to get the attention that you think you need from a provider, I hope that you will seek a second opinion. I understand that that is a statement that comes from a very privileged place. I live in a city and I have access to healthcare. Not everybody does. Um, not everybody has insurance. Not everybody lives in an area where there’s a single women’s health provider, let alone multiple.

But if you have the ability to seek multiple opinions and find someone who takes you seriously, I hope that you will do that. I know that I’m repeating myself, um, from some things I said in the first update, but this is really important and I think it bears repeating.

I’ve got some exciting news to share. First of all, I am absolutely thrilled anytime I hear from you that this podcast has impacted your life positively in terms of your sexuality and your intimate relationships. Your messages mean the world to me. And I’m incredibly grateful for your ongoing support and dedication.

So today’s episode is number 149. Which means the next episode is a big milestone: number 150! I can’t actually believe we reached 150 episodes together. I love producing this show and it warms my heart to know that you are bingeing it. And enjoying these conversations.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge something that I think it’s kind of incredible. I was just doing some back of the napkin type math and realized that if you were to listen to all of the material in this feed continuously back to back, without a break, you would be listening for. Eight. Days.

Yeah, you heard that right. It’s 200 hours of transformative insights and empowering knowledge that you have access to at no cost. That’s way more than you’d get even if we did like a week long, intensive retreat.

As you know, creating this podcast requires a lot of time and dedication and resources, and because I’ve been without coaching income for the last few months due to medical issues, I have to admit that money is kind of tight right now. So any support from you, amazing listeners, would make a tremendous difference.

I kindly invite you to consider making a donation to support the podcast, whether it’s at Patreon or BuyMeACoffee.com, or even checking out some of the fantastic courses at www.leahcarey.com/courses. Your contribution, big or small is going to help me continue delivering the value you’ve received from these episodes, and that is positively impacting lives. I appreciate every bit of love and encouragement you share with me.

Thank you for being part of this incredible journey. I couldn’t do it without you. And there would be no reason to do it. If you weren’t listening. So keep spreading the word, keep sharing your experiences and keep embracing the positive change in your lives.

I had the first symptoms about five months ago and the first surgery was three months ago. I have really not felt sexual for about five months.

And then since the first surgery I have been under surgeon’s orders to not have penetration, um, I will be able to have penetration again soon. So that’s fun. Um, hopefully I will feel sexual enough to want it. But anyway, um, something that I have been incredibly grateful for is the fact that my partner and I have an ethically non-monogamous relationship because it means that he’s still been able to get his needs met.

He has not had to go for the last five months without sex. Because he’s been seeing other people and he’s been getting his physical sexual needs met by them. Which is such a relief. Because it means that my body doesn’t have to be used in service of his needs. I can say, Babe, I love you and I want you to get your needs met. Go see her! [LAUGHTER]

it does not mean that there has not been some jealousy and some envy there absolutely has because he’s seeing a couple of people he has a fairly full social calendar. And I haven’t been seeing anybody, the one person who I had been seeing ended things, um, earlier in the year. So I took that as a sign that I, it was probably best for me to just focus on my health stuff now, and not try to find anything else. And truthfully, since the first surgery, I have not had it an ounce of energy or interest in dating. So, yes, there are moments when I have been envious of the fact that he has multiple other partners and I don’t have any. That he has, you know, places to go and things to do, and I have kind of been mostly stuck on the couch.

But when it comes down to it , the pros vastly outweigh the cons. I am happy to deal with my own little bits of envy and jealousy because the reward is so great. That is not to say that this is a situation for everybody. It is absolutely not. Some people this works well for, and some people, it doesn’t.

I am extremely grateful that we made the choice a year ago, so that when all of this started, we were already well down that path and sort of settled into something that worked for both of us. So we didn’t have to create that. Opening a relationship in the midst of a medical trauma that I think is something that would definitely not have worked. That would have been a disaster. So I’m, I’m very grateful. And I want to give a shout out to him. I, you know, I don’t use his name because I think he deserves his privacy, but he has been amazing during this whole experience. So , yeah, I’m super grateful.

I have a bunch more stuff coming up and I am planning to share it with you.

I’m going to be starting physical therapy in a couple of weeks for an unrelated issue, but something that I’m probably going to want to share with you. Um, because it is an issue that actually has a correlation with endometriosis that I had never heard of before. So once I’m a little further into that, I’ll, I’ll talk more about it.

I’m also going to be starting pelvic floor therapy in about a month. I had to wait until I got the all clear from my surgeon. I have tons of questions about what pelvic floor therapy is, what they do, what it feels like, how it helps. Um, I’m very excited to find all of that out. And so I will definitely share all of that with you.

I’m going to be starting neurofeedback also in a few weeks. That’s because there has been so much anger and upset that has been unearthed over these last few months around my body and my connection to my body that my PCP has suggested that neurofeedback might be a good option for me in terms of processing that and reconnecting with my body as it is now, because it’s very different now than it was six months ago.

Also as part of the first surgery, which, um, they didn’t actually do the hysterectomy, but there was another procedure they were planning to do that they were able to do, which was a labiaplasty. I want to talk about that with you also, because I know that a lot of people have a lot of questions about labiaplasty is, and what’s involved and how and why and all of that. So I’m definitely going to talk about that.

But I need a little bit more time to get comfortable with the new topography of my own body. So I’m just going to kind of put a marker in that and let you know that we’re going to come back to it.

 

We’ve talked about where we’ve been. Let’s talk about where we’re going. I told you I have some big news about the podcast. So first of all, let me say this is not me saying I’m about to sign off.

But what’s happened is that I’ve had to take several months off and just sort of step away, which, you know, because there’s been multiple months of replays and crossover episodes to other podcasts. And as I get to the point where I feel ready to return to podcasting, I’m feeling some resistance that I didn’t expect.

It’s not resistance to podcasting in general, but resistance to going back to doing the show the same way that I’ve been doing it. Um, this is also impacted by the fact that around the same time that I realized I was going to have to take time off, my podcast editor let me know that she had taken a full-time job that was going to affect her ability to keep going with freelance work. Now, if you listen to the end credits, you have heard her name on every single episode, because she has been with me since before day one. Gretchen Kilby. I love you. And I miss you so much.

Right now. I don’t have the energy to find a new editor, find somebody who’s a good fit. Bring them up to speed. Just kind of get all of that rolling again. That just takes a huge amount of time and energy. So for a while, I’m going to be doing all the production myself. Which means I need to really simplify.

Between the need to simplify and my desire to sort of change things up a little, I’m going to experiment with some new things. It doesn’t mean the long form interviews are going away. But they’re going to be periodic as opposed to most episodes.

Next episode is number 150 huge milestone. So excited.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram at least. Back when I was really active, which I have not been for quite a long time now, but I do need to get back to it. Those of you who followed me over there, know that I have a really special place in my heart for pop culture. And that I use pop culture to demonstrate the principles and the lessons that I talk about here. The intersection of pop culture and sexuality. Is absolutely fascinating to me to see how sexuality is portrayed in pop culture, especially on reality television, where people don’t have a script. Yes, they’re produced, but we’re seeing more or less real people doing real things.

So I have invited Kristen Meinzer who I can’t tell you — I am such a fan girl of Kristen. The first time I got to talk to her a couple of weeks ago. I just did the whole fan girl thing. Um, Anyway, Kristen is a pop culture critic, and she’s also a Royal watcher.

If you happen to listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR, you’ve probably heard her there as one of their guest panelists. Um, I absolutely love her and she agreed to come on the show and have a conversation with me about, again, the intersection of pop culture and sexuality. So that’s going to be next episode.

And if you want to watch the things we’re going to be talking about before the episode it’s going to be Ted lasso, season three, episode eight, titled We’ll Never Have Paris on Apple TV. And never have I ever on Netflix season four episode, one title, never have I ever lost my virginity. Uh, we also go down a little bit of a rabbit hole around the Duggars. So. I am super excited to start bringing my love of pop culture here to this forum.

As I try these new things I really want to hear from you about what you’re liking and what’s working for you because as much as I need to enjoy doing it, you need to enjoy listening to it. There’s no reason to create a podcast that you’re not loving listening to. So please, please, I would love to get your feedback about what you’re enjoying and what you’re like, meh, I could do without that.

The other thing that I’m going to be playing with is doing some more coaching. Before all the medical stuff started. I had actually taped a couple of coaching episodes. This has been on my mind for a while. I had taped a couple of long form coaching episodes. Um, so I’m gonna share those with you. Uh, in the coming weeks, and then I’m going to start. Recording some laser coaching session. So laser meaning short, very focused, get to the heart of the problem .

They’re going to be about 20 or 25 minute sessions. You will be amazed at how much can get done in 20 minutes. It is phenomenal. It’s gonna give those of you who decide to take advantage of this, an opportunity to do some one-on-one coaching with me. And it’s going to give the entire audience an opportunity to learn from each other in a new way.

If you’re interested in doing one of these laser coaching sessions, here’s how it’s gonna go. This is for people who I’ve never coached before. It’s going to be especially helpful if you come in with a single question or topic that you’re really looking for clarity on. If you come in with multiple questions, that’s probably too much to accomplish in the 20 to 25 minutes.

You will be completely anonymous, just like most of the guests on the show thus far, you do not need to out yourself in order to do this.

What you’ll get in exchange for your willingness to let me record our conversation is a free coaching session with me. So, if that sounds good to you, I would love to hear from you. You can email me leah@goodgirlstalk.com. You can call the phone number 720-GOOD-SEX you can go to the website and go to the Be A Guest Page, fill that out.

Get in touch with, I mean, send smoke signals, whatever it is you want to do, get in touch. Let me know. I would love to hear from you.

And to that end, I am ready to start coaching again. It has been a long road to get back here, but I’m ready to take on regular clients again. So if that’s something you want to do, please set up a discovery call. I would love to talk with you. So now all of these changes are also subject to change. This feels like a time of rebirth. I mean, that’s a funny word to use after I just had my uterus taken out.

But it feels like a time of renewal for me, where I’m questioning everything and putting everything on the table to look at. So, everything I have just said is subject to change, which is why I so deeply want to hear from you about what you’re liking, what you want, what you’re not liking, what you wish I would let go of. So that we can turn this into something that is really, really working for you.

In the meantime please go check out Patreon. Check out the courses at www.leahcarey.com/courses. I think there are six of them. They’re now covering subjects like how to talk to your partner about sex, and sex and body image. And, even a kink 1 0 1 primer on how to approach the idea of kink with a partner for the first time. All of that is at www.leahcarey.com/courses.

And what I really want to say before I sign off for today is thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for your incredible support over the last six months. It has meant the world to me every time one of you shows up in my inbox . I am so grateful for each of you, because I know that if you are listening to this show, you are open to the idea of embracing yourself as a full and complete person. And there’s really nothing in the world that I respect more than that.

So thank you for being here. I love you. And I’ll talk to you again soon.

Here’s to your better sex life!

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Episode credits:

Host / Producer / Editor – Leah Carey (email)
Transcripts – Jan Acielo
Music
 – Nazar Rybak

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