Out With It: A Book Review

Out With It: A Book Review

By Christine Swanberg, Author and Poet

Out With It! The Diary of My Hysterectomy by Carolyn Bailey

(Creative Works Publishing, $13.95)

It takes a great deal of courage to write about the times that try us the most, especially those times when we find ourselves vulnerable and our worlds shaken. It takes even more courage to publish those writings with honesty. Carolyn Bailey’s Out With It! is a courageous book. It is a diary of loss and diary of healing.

Bailey says that her intent is to inform other women who might undergo hysterectomies. She describes with precision not only the physical challenges such an operation imposes, but also the mental ones. Out With It! takes us on an intimate journey through a troubling time in a woman’s life, one which she deals with honestly but without bravado.

Out With It! The Diary of My Hysterectomy is an informative, humorous journal of a woman’s experience dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath of a hysterectomy. In addition to the author’s personal insight into this life-altering procedure, there is useful information on the effects of hormone replacement therapy, and treatment that has recently come under scrutiny. Also included are scientific information, statistics and references.

The book begins: “He scooped out the uterus and both ovaries. I never thought I could hurt this much and live through it. Scooped, perhaps, isn’t the right word. It’s obvious the surgeon was caught by surprise and had to improvise with his pocket knife and nail clippers…. I feel cold, too, intensely cold. I’m lying on a gurney rolling from the recovery room to my hospital room. When we arrive I hear the attendants count, ‘One, two, three,’ then I am flipped from cart to bed. A flood of pain surges through me. Jim is there. He says, ‘How are you doing, Pal?’”

The memoir spans nearly three years. Within the sensitive, insightful and witty passages are also poems written by the author. These poems make the book, though about a serious and potentially depressing subject, sparkle with life and vitality. There are poems to her mother, her husband, to the cats, and to the seasons and to the animals that abound in them. Here is a short one, called “Cold Night.”

It was so cold last night

the cats made a sandwich.

Each pressed against one of my hips.

Toasty warm.

No need to check the thermometer.

I know it’s cold when I wake to find

I am the ham to the whole wheat of Zinnia

and Wonder Bread, Tulip.

Bailey was born and raised in Southern California, earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California, taught elementary school for a year, then moved to Rockford when she married Jim Bailey. She taught one year at Rock River School before her daughter, Jamie, was born. She became a stay-at-home mom with Jamie and her sister, Lynn, born three years later. At age 53, she had the hysterectomy, plunging into it without knowledge of the possible side effects. Since hysterectomy is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States, Bailey thinks women and their lovers should know what to expect and the possible consequences sometimes not explained to them.

Out With It! is available at Canterbury Books and Barnes & Noble and can also be ordered from Amazon.com.

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