So it seems like we’re back to updating this thing once a year or so. I don’t seem to have the need to write things out that I once did, or maybe it is just that I don’t have the time and focus to actually sit and type it out. I’m not sure how it felt like I had more time when the kids were babies than I do now, but somehow that’s where we are. Nevertheless, I still do feel the need to document now and then.
A week ago today, something monumental (monumental for me anyway) happened. I finally went in for surgery and had a total hysterectomy. This surgery has been a long time coming…and when I say long time, I mean it has been the inevitable conclusion to about 25 years of pain and suffering. That may sound a bit dramatic, but my first abdominal surgery to remove two large ovarian cysts (one larger than the surgeon’s outstretched hand) happened my freshman year of college. Since then I have had several more surgeries to remove ovarian cysts, an ovary, and to clean out endometriosis. Following the birth of my youngest, I also had my (remaining) tube tied to prevent any further surprises.
It has been 10 years since my last surgery, and while there have still been some uncomfortable issues over that time, the last year or so I have had a lot of health issues that seem to point all in one direction….my uterus and the surrounding area.
My general doc finally decided that we weren’t getting anywhere and referred me to an OB/GYN. My doctor that I went to through all of my pregnancies (and absolutely loved) had retired, so I ended up seeing another doc in her practice. After going over my previous records and some lengthy discussion about my options, we decided together that a hysterectomy was probably the best choice.
I was hoping to have surgery before the end of last year, but the earliest they could schedule it was the middle of January. Covid has affected everything these days, including how surgeries are scheduled. Non-essential surgeries have to be scheduled months in advance to get an operating room reserved. And then of course, prior to surgery, a Covid test is required.
As luck would have it, I ended up getting sick at the beginning of January. It came on with an excruciating sore throat so after a day or two I took myself to Urgent Care and got some antibiotics for Strep Throat. I got them in time to have that all cleared up before surgery. I was feeling much better a few days in and assumed the meds were working. I went to take my pre-surgery Covid test the Monday before surgery and then waited to get my results.
Over the weekend, Caleb had started getting sick, with the same symptoms I had. I took him in to the doctor to get checked and they did both a Strep and a Covid test. Within an hour I had his results back and he was positive for Covid. By that time Brian was also showing symptoms and by later that night Evie wasn’t feeling well. The oldest had been down and pretty much sleeping for 2 days at that point, so we assumed was probably sick as well.
Thursday morning I still had not received my Covid test results, so I was assuming surgery was still on. They said they would only call if it was positive. I took my antibacterial soap shower and had my bag all packed and ready when my phone rang. It was the hospital saying they had just received my Covid results and it was positive. Surgery was cancelled. I cannot even describe the disappointment I felt that day. Later that day we got Covid test results for Brian and Evie that were also positive.
Surgery was rescheduled, but the earliest they could re-schedule was April 21st. The thought of waiting another 3 months was depressing. I was ready to get the surgery done and start feeling better. A few days later, the nurse called me back and asked if I could be available on January 27th because they had another Covid cancellation. I was so happy and excited to be able to get in earlier than April that I would have done anything to re-arrange my schedule at that point.
The week before my re-scheduled surgery date, I got another call. With the surge of Covid cases, all surgeries had been cancelled for the next week. The hospital was short on staffing and beds because of so many Covid cases. My heart sank as we re-scheduled for the third time – back to April but a week later on the 28th.
The time between January and the end of April seemed to drag out forever. Fortunately, the kids managed to keep me plenty busy. The week before my surgery was scheduled, we had another Covid outbreak at church (which is also my workplace) and I had a slight panic. Determined not to get sick, I masked up at work and kept my office door closed as much as possible when I had to be at the office. I even sat in my office during church services and streamed it online to keep myself away from people.
The Monday before surgery, I found out that the Covid testing requirements had changed and I was no longer required to test before surgery. It was a bit of a relief, not only because it saved me time, but also because I was not in danger of getting cancelled again. When Thursday morning came and I still hadn’t received a cancellation call, it felt too good to be true. This was actually going to happen!
With every step closer to surgery I got, I was still waiting for the ball to drop. I don’t think I truly relaxed until they wheeled me into the operating room and were about to put me to sleep for surgery.
I chose to have my mom come to the hospital with me for surgery. I felt like it would be easier on the kids to have dad at home with them, especially since I was going to be there overnight. As it turned out, that was a good choice because my surgery ended up going super long – like several extra hours long. My mom was the last person in the waiting room and was pacing the floor when the doctor finally came out to talk to her.
Apparently the surgery had gone as expected, but as they were finishing up the final stitches, the tip of the needle broke off and was somewhere inside my body. It was a laparoscopic surgery, so they were working with tiny tools and tiny needles. So, while I was doing just fine, they had to use X-rays to find the tiny needle inside me so they could get it out before they could stitch me up the rest of the way. As it turned out, they had to actually undo some of the stitches and then re-stitch once they found the needle.
When I woke up in recovery, I was confused because people were talking to me and it seemed like they were in a rush to get me up to my hospital room. I was barely alert when they moved me up to my room. My mom got to the room a few minutes after I got up there and explained everything that had happened. They said that the doctor came in and talked to me in recovery, but I don’t remember it at all.
I was finally awake enough to glance at the clock and realized that it was already after 8:00 pm. My surgery was scheduled at 1:00 pm and started right on time. I was worried because I had promised Caleb I would call and talk to him before he went to bed (at 8:30) so I told my mom I needed to call home. Caleb had been a bit stressed about mom having surgery (and not being home) so I didn’t want him to go to bed without knowing that I was ok. I must not have been quite out of my drug-induced drowsiness because my kids thought I was pretty funny on FaceTime.
I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the night, but after I was able to get up and walk and prove that I could keep liquids down ok, I finally got my hands on a plain turkey sandwich. After over 24 hours without food, that turkey sandwich tasted pretty darn good! I slept pretty good through the night, even with nurses coming in to check vitals and all the other things they do every hour or so.
By morning, I was feeling pretty good. Pain was at a manageable level (with meds of course) and I was more than ready to get home. Fortunately, the hospital staff was in agreement and I got released and was home by about 11:00 am.
Since then I’ve spent a lot of time watching TV, crocheting, and doing a lot of nothing. I was feeling a bit restless by Sunday and spent probably a little too much time up on my feet. So I compensated the next day by doing absolutely nothing but sitting on the couch. Honestly the hardest part has been not doing anything and giving my body time to heal.
The entire week I’ve been waiting for the crash of emotions to happen. Although my doctor did give me a hormone supplement, putting your body into instant surgical menopause typically has some repercussions. Heck, any surgery can put your body in enough distress to cause an emotional crash even without messing around with hormones.
I was doing pretty great until Wednesday. I had to make a couple of phone calls to deal with some difficult kid stuff. Making phone calls in itself is a difficult task for me (IYKYK) but when I’m dreading the outcome, it is even more difficult. I managed to make it through that without breaking, but a little later I was watching a TV show with a bit of an emotional moment in it and before I knew it I was bawling like a baby. I also may have dropped a piece of pizza, yelled at my dog, and then sat and felt sorry for myself for a few minutes.
Other than that little incident, I’ve been fine so far. I’m feeling more tired today than I have the last few days, so I went back to bed after getting the kids off to school. I enjoyed a few more hours of sleep and didn’t wake up until almost noon, so apparently I needed it. Sleeping is definitely getting more comfortable. The first few nights I was only able to sleep on my back comfortably, but now I can shift around a bit. I’m mostly off of pain meds, only needing 1 dose of Ibuprofen about mid-day the last couple of days. I actually prefer to feel some pain so that I know when I may be over doing it and need to stop and rest.
It feels strange to be sitting around not working, though I have snuck in a few minutes here and there. I have another week off to go, but will probably try to do a little bit of work from home so I don’t get too far behind. The bonus is that I’m getting a lot of crochet time in because I can’t stand to just sit and do nothing.
I have five more weeks to go to return to my regular activity level. I’m anxious to get everything healed and feeling better. My incisions are itching like crazy, so I know they are healing. I’m just hoping that I do truly feel better once everything is healed and that the issues I was having are a thing of the past.
I guess there is at least one sure thing now that I no longer have a uterus – I can definitely never be pregnant again. 😉