‘Pain is our gain’

Lena Dunham issues message of positivity after surgery to remove her left ovary

Lena Dunham. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)

Lena Dunham, the sometimes controversial but always forthright feminist and creator of HBO’s Girls, has undergone surgery to remove her left ovary after she suffered severe pain and discomfort resulting from the ovary becoming “encased in scar tissue & fibrosis, attached to my bowel and pressing on nerves.” In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Dunham revealed the news of the surgery alongside a picture of herself, taken by her mother, photographer Lauri Simmons.

“My mother took this picture after I spent 9 hours in the post op recovery area with v low blood pressure, the nurses were diligently monitoring. I was so out of it that I thought I looked sensually moody a la Charlotte Rampling (turns out it was more of a constipation vibe.),” wrote Dunham in her signature deadpan. “A big lesson I’ve learned in all this is that health, like most things, isn’t linear- things improve and things falter and you start living off only cranberry juice from a sippy cup/sleeping on a glorified heating pad but you’re also happier than you’ve been in years.”

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Yesterday I had a two hour surgery to remove my left ovary, which was encased in scar tissue & fibrosis, attached to my bowel and pressing on nerves that made it kinda hard to walk/pee/vamp. Over the last month it got worse and worse until I was simply a burrito posing as a human. *** My mother took this picture after I spent 9 hours in the post op recovery area with v low blood pressure that the nurses were diligently monitoring. I was so out of it that I thought I looked sensually moody a la Charlotte Rampling (turns out it was more of a constipation vibe.) *** A lot of people commented on my last post about being too sick to finish promoting my show by saying my hysterectomy should have fixed it (I mean *should* is a weird one). That I should get acupuncture and take supplements (I do). That I should see a therapist because it’s clearly psychological (year 25 of therapy, y’all. These are the fruits!) But a big lesson I’ve learned in all of this is that health, like most stuff, isn’t linear- things improve and things falter and you start living off only cranberry juice from a sippy cup/sleeping on a glorified heating pad but you’re also happier than you’ve been in years. I feel blessed creatively and tickled by my new and improved bellybutton and so so so lucky to have health insurance as well as money for care that is off of my plan. But I’m simultaneously shocked by what my body is and isn’t doing for me and red with rage that access to medical care is a privilege and not a right in this country and that women have to work extra hard just to prove what we already know about our own bodies and beg for what we need to be well. It’s humiliating. *** My health not being a given has paid spiritual dividends I could never have predicted and it’s opened me up in wild ways and it’s given me a mission: to advocate for those of us who live at the cross section of physical and physic pain, to remind women that our stories don’t have to look one way, our pain is our gain and oh shit scars and mesh “panties” are the fucking jam. Join me, won’t you? *** 📷 @lauriesimmons

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Dunham, who earlier this year underwent a total hysterectomy to combat painful symptoms of endometriosis, had previously gone through six surgeries in 2016 and 2017 as a result of the condition, which doctors still commonly confuse in many women as period pain. In her Instagram post, Dunham said that her experience had served as a blunt reminder of the pain that many have no choice but to endure every day — and reinforced her belief that people should have a legal right to affordable medical care.

“I feel … so so so lucky to have health insurance as well as money for care that is off my plan. I’m simultaneously shocked by what my body is and isn’t doing for me and red with rage that access to medical care is a privilege and not a right in this country and that women have to work extra hard just to prove what we already know about our own bodies and beg for what we need to be well. It’s humiliating,” she explained. “My health not being a given has paid spiritual dividends I could never have predicted and it’s opened me up in wild ways and it’s given me a mission: to advocate for those of us who live at the cross section of physical and physic [sic] pain, to remind women that our stories don’t have to look one way, our pain is our gain.”

“Oh shit scars and mesh ‘panties,’” she added, “are the fucking jam. Join me, won’t you?”

Read the full story at Page Six.

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