FAQ: Hyster-Style

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 I have been visiting hysterectomy forums for almost a year now. Since day one, I have read the same questions over and over. And this is understandable because there are so many unknowns when heading into this. I had many of the same questions (and a crap load more – sorry, doc). So I decided to make a post highlighting some of the most popular questions and my semi-educated, sassy answers.

I am not a doctor or a nurse nor do I have any real qualifications to be giving advice at all. But I have researched extensively and have lived through it. So…take it for what you will…but make sure to ask your doctor all of the questions you want. It is part of their job to answer you and help you feel at ease with this procedure. ASK ASK ASK. Be your own biggest advocate!! I cannot stress this enough. Just DO IT and quit making me yell at you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry. Got carried away.

 

How long will it take to recover from my hysterectomy?

That is like asking “what does the color blue look like?” Nearly impossible to answer. People can tell you how they perceived their own recovery or the recoveries of those they know. Doctors can tell you what the surgical machine salesperson promises while handing them a box of free pens or the average outcome of their patients’ experiences. And the internet will tell you that you will probably not recover at all, your vagina will fall off and you will die a horribly fat and sweaty eunuch.

It is so easy and natural for us to compare ourselves to others in similar circumstances. Moms compare themselves to other moms. Writers compare themselves to other writers. And I am pretty sure grumpy cats compare themselves to other grumpy cats. When reading the experiences of others we may be tempted to compare our experiences. And depending on our mindsets – that could be unhealthy, or at least mildly annoying.

You will read about women who have had the same exact surgery for the same exact reason and are running a marathon 2 months later. You will read about others who are still in pain a year post op. There are simply way too many factors to consider and they are all so individual – trying to guess what is going to happen can be difficult at best. You can pretty much count on one thing – you will be somewhere on the spectrum between worse case scenario and best case scenario. Yes, I am brilliant. Thank you.

Type of surgery, health and strength prior to surgery, pain tolerance, reason/s for surgery, how much and what is being removed, skill of the surgeon, medications taken after surgery, emotional support, time allowed to rest…I mean the list of things to factor in can go on and on.

Best advice – prepare for the worst and hope for the best (see, there’s that brilliance once again – I really deserve my own radio show).

 

Which surgery is better?

There are several types of hysterectomy surgeries. Open abdominal, laparoscopic, vaginal with laparoscopic assist, vaginal with robotic assist (this is what I had) and keyhole to name a few. With anything else in life – there are pluses and minuses to each one. And there are reasons a surgeon has for choosing one type of surgery over another based on each case.

Will you be keeping your cervix and/or ovaries? Is there endometriosis and/or adhesions to contend with? Is cancer suspected? Will lymph nodes be removed? How large is your uterus? Do you have any bleeding disorders? There are a million questions when weighing one type of surgery against another.

Some examples:

If you will be keeping your cervix, you will not be having anything removed vaginally.

If you have suspected cancer, chances are the surgeon will not use morcellation (basically, chopping up parts while they are still inside so they can be removed laproscopically) based on recent recommendations by the FDA.

If you have an abundance of adhesions or endometriosis, the surgeon may prefer to do an open abdominal surgery.

People often praise laparoscopic and/or robotic as being the “best”. This is simply not the case. It may be best for some, but not all. And vice versa. People also think that these types are easy peasy. Um, nope. Just because the incisions on the outside are smaller, doesn’t mean the inside is less disturbed. You will still have your shit yanked out, many stitches and cuts and cauterizations will still be in there and you will still need to rest and be careful.

Laparoscopic/Robotic surgeries take longer – perhaps even a couple hours longer, but there is often less bleeding and for those whom are already anemic due to heavy periods this can really be a blessing. So while you are under anesthetic longer (which is sometimes not a great idea), your risk of bleeding/infusions is lessened. Usually.

Laparoscopic/Robotic surgeries usually come with at least some gas pains. Not just the digestive farty gas pains, but also leftover Co2 which is pumped into the abdomen allowing for a clear view during surgery. This gas is often one of the top complaints about hysterectomy recovery pain. Some women experience the pains all the way up in their shoulders and down to their thighs. Those bubbles can move faster than crabs in a whore house. I was very lucky in that department. I talked to my surgeon beforehand and he said that he was almost OCD about getting as much out of the abdomen before closing. And he really did great. The Co2 pain, for me, was minimal. (see tips on treating this pain below)

Abdominal surgery comes with a big ole incision in the belly. With this there is always risk of incision infection or hematoma. You may have itching while it heals. And there will be a scar. There can also be scars with Lap/Rob but they are typically smaller.

So is one type of procedure better than the others? Yes. For you, there probably is. Do I or anyone else online know what that procedure is? Nope. That is between you, your surgeon and your anesthesiologist. And maybe your psychic – if you’re into that shit.

 

Will my surgery hurt?

You’re having innards that you were born with removed via knives, heat and machines. Yes. You will likely experience some pain. If you don’t feel any pain, you really need to start considering the fact that you are an android and probably never REALLY had a uterus at all and are part of a mass conspiracy formulated by the government designed to fill the world with walking talking Barbie dolls. Congratulations.

Really though, pain meds are awesome and most doctors are very good about keeping your pain under control. Make sure you stick to your drug schedule and waking up to take your dose may be a good idea for a couple of days. You always want to stay ahead of the pain. If your don’t, it can take longer to get it under control. Just make sure you don’t take more than prescribed and you should TRY to stop them sooner than later. Addiction is a real concern and I did feel some withdrawal symptoms, so weaning off is also a good idea. But don’t be a hero. Take your meds if you need them.

It should also be mentioned that everyone has a different pain tolerance level. Me? Total pussy. If the wind hits me a little hard, I will ache. There are others who are Vaginal Warriors and feel very little discomfort. Again, do not compare. If you need your meds a little longer, this is not a failure on your part. Blame your stupid nerve endings and brain receptors – it’s their fault.

 

How do I deal with people who say I should be better by now?

Tell them to fuck off and then key their car.

 

I went back to work a week after my C-Section. I am planning the same with my hysterectomy.

Why these two procedures are constantly compared is beyond me. One involves having a child removed – a child that is meant to come out. The other involves having parts of your body cut and burned out of your body. Not the same. And for those of you who know someone going through a hysterectomy: unless you want to make someone cry or get punched in the vagina, don’t equate your c-section to her hysterectomy. And if you had a c-section, please do not expect the same outcome. Not only could you feel very differently, but carrying around an old, icky uterus in a Bjorn will not go over very well.

I won’t even get into hormonal and emotional differences right now. I am saving that blubbering for a blog topic of its own.

 

What helps for gas pain and bowel movements?

Gas pains and pooping are a major topics on the Hyster forums. You may suffer from two different types of gas pains: digestive and Co2. Digestive issues happen because during any surgery, your bowels are affected by the anesthesia. During abdominal surgeries, they can be moved around or disturbed. Also, pain medication can be extremely constipating. The Co2, as mentioned above, is from laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. Fortunately, some of the remedies help for both and work quite well. Here is a list of what you will want to have handy to end gas pains and get those bowels movin, movin, movin…

peppermint tea

gas-x (simethicone)

colace (stool softener)

HEATING PAD!!

warm baths (if doc allows)

mirilax

warm pear juice (I think it worked better than prune juice and it tasted better)

and most of all WALK WALK WALK

 

What do I need/want/fuck it, what can I buy because I need to shop so I can stop thinking about this scary ass operation?

Well, certainly it will be different for everyone. But here is a list of what I bought before surgery to make recovery easier/more tolerable. Make sure you buy whatever you want ahead of time because your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/mother will likely get the wrong thing. This is YOUR time so make sure you pamper yourself with your favorite things.

New, comfy robe

Easy, comfy, roomie nightgown (not pjs because you wont want anything around your waist when you are resting)

Non skid socks

Big water mug with a straw

Grabber

Books

Soft, high thread count sheets

A warm blankie

A little basket or bag thingy to carry your necessities from the couch to bedroom with ease

Bathtub chair (I didn’t think of this beforehand and had to MacGyver something with a rubbermaid and, quite frankly, I am lucky to be here right now)

Pantyliners

Face wipes

Favorite foods

Lip balm

Hand lotion

Moist heating pads

(and above mentioned pooper products)

 

I hope some of these thoughts help someone out there. Next time, I will be writing more about my recovery…fun shit, man…fun shit.

Hobby Lobby, Birth Control and Hell Yea I’m Pissed (via Purple Rayne)

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I was going to leave this one alone. I mean, how many times can one slut yammer on about reproductive rights, the war on women or men trying to slip their crucifix into her vagina. Apparently, the topics surrounding women’s healthcare and their bodies just do not ever go away. Apparently, our collective labia hasn’t been loud enough. Apparently, we need to start shoving our ovaries down some misogynistic throats. Because they aren’t fuckin’ gettin’ it. I mean, really…to hate womenthis much, my guess is…they Aren’t. Fuckin’. Gettin’ it.

Let me just make a few points so I can’t get back to whoring around and worshiping Satan.

I have heard them say, “Government needs to stay out of everyone’s business and let companies do what they want.”

You’re kidding me, right? I mean, that HAS to be some kind of joke. They want government in my vajayjay with an internal ultrasound if considering abortion. They want to tell gay people that they cannot marry or adopt children. They want to drug test welfare recipients. They want to throw you in jail for smoking a joint while they sip their 4th tumbler of Wild Turkey.

But when it comes to regulation or healthcare or gun control or food safety or environmental measures (you know, the stuff that actually helps people and the earth), then they want to say ‘no government’.

Screw them. They cannot have it both ways. Eventually enough people will wake up and say NO MORE.
 

I have heard them say “Companies shouldn’t have to pay for abortions and things that are against their Christian beliefs.”

Birth control does not cause abortions. If they truly do believe that ‘every sperm is sacred’ – then they better tie their teenage son’s hands behind his back for…say…the next 50 years. And they better start inspecting sheets for evidence of wet dreams. Oh and no sex before marriage and, when married, sex will only be during the wife’s ovulation days. Do NOT waste that sperm! Even one of those bad boys hit the ground and straight to hell you go!!

And don’t give me this shit about being so holy and Christian and all Bible loving. Because companies, including Hobby Lobby, invest in corporations who develop and manufacture the very products they claim to be morally against. Hobby Lobby (just one example since they are so goddamn proud of themselves this week) has stores filled with cheap Chinese crap. China, a country to whom they give billions, treats abortion like a patriotic duty. So don’t try to sell me their fake moral bullshit. Why is it that the ones who boast Christianity the loudest are the ones who seem to have no idea what Christianity even means?

Read the rest on Purple Rayne….

Maleficent: It’s All About the Story (possible spoilers)

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Today, I took the girls to see Maleficent. I was not particularly looking forward to it. I am not much into kid movies unless there is a lot of adult-friendly humor and I especially don’t love the whole Princess/Castle/Fairy Tale themed thang. I also never really appreciated the acting talents of Angelina Jolie very much. So, I was going for the popcorn and to make them happy for 90-some minutes.

Well slap my ass and call me Judy…I actually liked the damn thing. It certainly could have used more humor. The acting was kind of forced and over the top (though I suppose the genre calls for it). And there was nothing that really made it wonderful or spectacular. But I absolutely adored the story and messaging.

There are few things more annoying than the whole ‘damsel in distress, a man must save her’ story line. Boring and gross. And while the original fairy tale is written this way, the movie is not. It still had enough of the old version to spark memories of reading those books as a child – the 3 silly pixies were always my favorite even though I had forgotten all about them until today. But it was really a completely fresh narrative.

Without giving too much away – I have to say, I truly appreciated the spin on the kiss element. From the time we are little girls, we are read stories about a man coming to the rescue. In movies, the love of a man is the greatest goal a gal can hold. In the original Sleeping Beauty, Aurora needed to be kissed by a man in order to awaken from her spell coma.

Well, this movie said ‘fuck that’. This movie told us that true love comes in many forms and that the love from a mother, friend, godmother, etc can be just as valid and meaningful as the love from a man. Princesses don’t need a Prince to save them, goddamnit, and I am so glad Hollywood is finally catching on.

Another concept I applaud in this film is the fact that there is good and bad in us all. Some have more villain than hero and vice versa. But we are all flawed and complex and multi-dimensional – again, some more than others. A fairy tale in which the bad guy is the also the good guy – how authentic is that.

Love, forgiveness, anger, fear, jealousy…what a wonderful character, Maleficent. How I envy any actor playing that role. And Jolie wasn’t so bad after all. But it really all came down to the story. Fantastic re-write.

Hysterectomy Adventures: Blood, Guts and Aliens

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I last left off floating away to Medicinal Maui as I was about to go under for my lady parts surgery…

I am warning you…this post WILL be descriptive and gross and grody and icky. If you are squeamish or wish to only think of me as an intact, gorgeous sex symbol (because that is SO happening, right??…teehee) – then you may want to skip this read.

Here are some photos/illustrations/video of  Davinci Robotic Hysterectomies…

 

 

 

There are a couple of reasons I am showing you these sexy images.

1. Since embarking on this glorious journey, I have read so many comments, stories and questions online by the hundreds of women who have this and similar surgeries every day. I am astonished by the lack of knowledge and information women have about their own female anatomy and what happens during these procedures.

There are women who have undergone hysterectomies who have no idea whether or not they still have a cervix or fallopian tubes. They have no clue what is in there and what has been taken out. And because of this, they end up with complications they could have possibly avoided. If a woman knows that the ‘no sex rule’ may just keep her intestines from falling out of her vagina – she may be more willing to follow said rule. And her husband may not be as pushy to break the rule as well.

I understand that knowledge can be scary, people. I know this more than anyone. But you must KNOW. YOUR. SHIT!! Be an informed patient because no one will care more than you. You will always be your own best advocate. Got it?

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to watch videos before your procedure. I didn’t. I couldn’t. But I learned A LOT and I knew what questions to ask and what possibilities I could anticipate – for the most part. There are always elements of surprise and moments of What the Fuck…but be as prepared as you can be.

 

2. When a person has a procedure deemed “minimally invasive” (a term that now cracks me up) and when scars are small and barely visible – people tend to forget that they had major friggin surgery! What, may I ask, is minimally invasive about having organs cut from the inside of my body, blood vessels cauterized, internal incisions closed with hundreds of stitches and body parts being yanked from my vagina? If a man had to go through this – you can bet it wouldn’t be considered so easy and la-dee-da.

This surgery can take an entire year from which to heal. Some, longer. Even if the patient feels back to normal within a few weeks – the insides are still healing and readjusting. Hormones can be fluctuating. Complications are possible for quite some time post-op. And surgical effects can be felt for a very long time. So even if the woman looks like her old self – that doesn’t mean she did not go through a major event. Know this.

 

As I said above, there are definitely elements of surprise. While the majority of these procedures go as planned and as smooth as can be – there are often unforeseen situations that arise.

I knew I had fibroids for quite sometime. They were visible via ultrasound. It was also expected that I had adenomyosis. And I had ovarian cysts off and on for many years. Typically, none of these are life threatening. But there is also no way to know for sure what is what unless and until they get in there to look around and/or biopsy.

There are many women who had no idea they were covered with adhesions or endometriosis. And, sadly, there are also a number of women who thought they just had fibroids but ended up having cancer. Imaging and symptoms can never really give a definitive diagnosis.

Thank God, Buddha, Mother Nature, Ronald McDonald and everyone in between I did not have cancer. But there was a nice little surprise waiting for my cute, young surgeon. Like I said, I knew I had uterine fibroids. One on the inside lining and one on the outer surface. Neither were very large. Additionally, and not expected, there was also a large mass that was the same size as my uterus and cervix combined. This was behind my uterus (and may have been the cause for some of the lower back pain I had been feeling) and attached to the round ligament which is a fairly rare occurrence – Round Ligament Leiomyoma.

This mass was completely covered in blood vessels and really gave my surgeon and staff a run for their money as there was significant bleeding (typically there isn’t much bleeding with robotic hysterectomies) and they had to do a lot of work getting that out while minimizing blood loss. They were also careful to remove it whole and intact because no morcellation was to be used during my procedure.

Morcellation is a process where during laproscopic, robotic and vaginal hysterectomies, the contents being removed are cut into pieces so they are more easily removable. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this practice and the FDA has issued a warning because it has been proven that women who have had cancers spread due to the cells being relocated to surrounding areas. As I said, until it is sent to pathology, it cannot be certain that a fibroid does not contain cancerous cells. If a cancerous mass is morcellated inside of the body, this can spread the cancer and risk the life of the patient considerably.

Anyway, my surgery took quite a bit longer than expected because of this alien thingy we never knew existed as it never showed up on any ultrasound. After surgery I saw pictures of this thing and let me tell ya, I am glad it is gone. Gross, gross, gross.

So, during the four hour surgery…doc took out my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and the alien. Ovaries were left intact and the cysts were deemed benign. I have tons of cauterizations and stitches inside. I had five outer incisions – one inside my belly button, two to the right and two to the left (which were all about one inch long and closed with dissoluble stitches).

Before I knew it, I was being wheeled to my room. I had been in recovery for a while, but I don’t remember a thing. God I hope I didn’t say a bunch of stupid shit. But I am pretty sure I probably did. Hell, I do when I am lucid!

One more interesting tidbit some people do not know…during laproscopic/robotic abdominal surgeries, the surgeon fills your belly with carbon dioxide to make room for all of the instruments and for better visuals. One of the biggest complaints following this procedure are the gas pains that can travel throughout the body post-op. I have heard this can be far more painful than the surgicalpain itself. Thankfully, my doc is super great at getting rid of as much of the gas as possible before closing and I did not experience this very much at all. If you do have this problem, peppermint tea, moist heating pads and walking as much as possible will help greatly.

Okay. That is enough nastiness for today. Stay tuned for more gynecological and medical adventures coming soon when Heather talks about her way-too-fucking-long recovery, exciting complications and narcotic pleasantries.

Racine County Halts Progress Yet Again (via Purple Rayne)

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Last Friday, a federal court struck down a ban on same sex marriage which has kept marriage equality from existing since 2006. The ban was deemed unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. 
While we have been watching our neighbor states progressing and crawling out from the bigoted rocks from which they slept – the red members of our own state have been fighting to keep us in the past. And even as Wisconsin tries to pull itself out of that hole of ignorance and hate – Racine County steps on its fingers and continues to pout. 

Over 40 counties in Wisconsin have been issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples since the ruling on Friday. Couples have lined up at courthouses throughout the state with loved ones, flowers and a piece of joy for which they have always hoped. 

But not in Racine. Nope. In the land of Vos, Ryan, Ladwig and Christensen (sounds like a law firm from hell) – people are not treated equally and everything will be done to halt progress. Our county clerk, Wendy Christensen, is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She is stating that she is confused about how to fill out the forms. Why…who is the groom? Who will be the wife? It is like something you hear from old uncle Cletus through his missing teeth while he plays the banjo. How to fill out the forms? Are you fucking kidding me??? How about ask your other clerk buddies all over the state who figured it out pretty damn quickly. 

See the rest HERE

It’s Time to Play Douchebag Whack-a-Mole (via Purple Rayne)

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I almost didn’t want to waste space on this wackadoodle…but we all deserve a laugh, right??

So this dude from West Allis is suing Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele, and others in an attempt to stop Milwaukee from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. When I first heard the news, I could feel my blood pressure rise and my forehead get all wrinkly. I thought for sure this was the work of a slightly stronger group of brain cells to deter all counties from doing the right thing. I figured this must be a tactic to scare county clerks out of issuing licenses – because who wants the trouble of a lawsuit. Well, what a comic relief to see who is truly behind this nonsense.

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While Bob may not be a significant threat to marriage equality, our current Attorney General definitely is – not to mention a complete pain in the ass. He is just not giving up on his train (wait…we don’t like trains here, I forgot) of hate and oppression. This fucker will stop at nothing to impede in the progress of our state and the happiness of those who live outside of his personal beliefs. 

This morning, Van Hollen has stated that county clerks who have been issuing licenses could be prosecuted. PROSECUTED. Well, I guess my worry of deterrence tactics wasn’t so off after all. This guy is hell bent on winning a game he shouldn’t even be playing. Why such hateful people are put into such powerful positions is beyond me. I cannot fathom what makes people like this tick. To be so bothered by the love and happiness of others – there HAS to be some psychiatric disorder going on here. 

 

See  the rest HERE

Poop and Maui: It’s Time for Surgery

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What you don’t want to hear the morning of the day you need to do a bowel cleanse?

“Don’t flush the toilets! The sewer is backed up!!”

You have GOT to be fucking kidding me.

Every couple of years we have this issue because there are tree roots that block our pipes. Bad timing, Plumbing Gods! Bad flippin’ timing. Thank goodness my husband was able to rooter, router, roater or whatever the hell out of that drain and it was fixed that night. Whew.

The night before surgery I had to drink 20 oz of Magnesium Citrate for some spring cleanin’. They need to make sure your bowels are clean so that there is less chance of complication. I mixed this stuff with ginger ale to help get it down, but it was pretty nasty. I felt nauseated much of the day. However, it was also helping keep me calm. Magnesium has a very calming and sleep inducing effect – so I did sleep pretty well that night – very surprisingly and thankfully.

My mother came early that morning as she was going to wait with Charlie at the hospital during my surgery. Cassidy was sent to school and as soon as she left, the water works started. I couldn’t help but to think, “What if I never see her again??” That truly may have been the most difficult part.

My surgery was not until 1:30 so I didn’t need to be there until 11:30. It sucked that I had so much time to wait and worry but it was good to not be rushed.

I curled my hair – knowing there wouldn’t be much stylin’ going on for quite some time after. I couldn’t wear make-up and was pretty certain I would horrify those who had to look at my unmasked face. I packed my bag (nightgown, gas x, daily vitamins, phone charger, brush, etc..), shaved my legs and kissed my kitties about 800 times. And then we were off.

We were in the waiting room for at least 30 minutes. My emotions were whacked. I would go from calm to funny to bawling (which, according to my mother, made my face look really ugly. Thanks, ma. Really.). She gave me a hard time about crying. She isn’t one to show emotion and I am the opposite. Charlie told her to leave me alone and let me cry. But they both snickered at me. Turds.

At one point there was a new lil baby a couple of feet away and I broke down. I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that I was losing my reproductive organs. And I am not quite certain I have yet to really process that. I do know that it makes me sad when I see babies. But it did before this as well. Charlie had a vasectomy about a year ago and we certainly weren’t planning on having any more children. But I always wished we had. I simply started too late.

Finally we were invited back to a private room. I changed into a lovely gown that had tubes attached for blowing warm air. How awesome is that?! I really need one for home. They put on my compression stockings and these boots that inflate and deflate over and over – these protect against clots by keeping the blood flowing throughout the legs. All of it was actually quite comfortable.

We watched TV in between talking to various nurses, lab techs, CNAs, doctors and administrative workers. They asked many questions over and over. They took blood, gave me IVs and best of all – distracted me. They were all so friendly and compassionate. My fear was evident but my humor was still well intact. Conversations and joking around with the staff really helped a lot.

One of the people who came to ask questions was an Nurse Anesthetist. He was a young man and quite cute. I would have sworn he was about 12. Great. Not only is my surgeon young and good looking but now there was going to be yet another young cutie who had to see my flabby belly, gross uterus and saggy tits. He was so sweet and kind though.

At one point my room filled with many different people. My surgeon/gyno came in and told me not to escape through the emergency exit right outside of my curtain. The anesthesiologist and his RN came in to ask questions and give me meds for nausea and relaxation. I love Versed. A lot. I want that for home too.

It was suddenly clear that this shit was going down and going down soon. How was it 1:30 already??? Wait!!! I want to think about this a little longer!!! Nope, sorry sister.

Versed typically knocks people out or keeps them so high in the clouds they don’t remember much after or have much of a care of what’s happening. As much as I love that drug, it doesn’t do that for me. I was completely aware and remember every second. Yea, I was a little goofy. But I was still nervous and scared.

I kissed my husband and mom and said my goodbyes as they wheeled me to the operating room. My gurney was surrounded by at least 6-8 people.

“Did everyone have lunch?” I asked loudly, “Did you all get a good night’s sleep?”

Laughing, “Yes, we all feel great.”

“You know, a lot of people start to feel slumped by this time of day. You can take a break first if you want.”

Answering, “We’re fine. Promise.”

We got to the room and it was huge and bright and cold. And then I saw the robot!! It looked nothing like CP30. It looked like some huge mechanical spider. Everyone was doing their individual job. One of the nurses introduced everyone in the room. She then leaned over to my ear and said she had this surgery and was very happy with the results. She said I would not regret it. Even if it were a lie, I didn’t care. It was thoughtful and helped me.

They then began trying to put an oxygen mask on me. “This is just oxygen.” But I would interrupt because I didn’t believe them. I knew once that mask was on, I was a going to be far, far away.

“Wait!! I have something profound to say!!” Okay, clearly the versed was indeed kicking in.

They waited for my profound words.

“Wait!! I know I have something to say!!”

This went on for a moment.

Then I saw those 12-year-old brown eyes belonging to that cute Nurse Anesthetist upside and above my face and in a sweet voice I hear him say, “Think about Maui….”

And I was out.

 

(coming soon…waking up, recovery, pre-op worries and more…)

A Pissed Off Liver and Other Sexy Topics

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It only makes sense to start from the beginning when telling the gross, boring story of my gynecologic surgery, right? Pre-op nerves, preparation, arriving at the hospital…all that stuff. But, why start making sense now? While I will describe the aforementioned steps in due time, I feel I must start with where I am now and why. I want to do this because I feel there are others out there who may benefit from this experience. So much could have been avoided had I known what to look for many weeks ago.

Before surgery I was pretty paranoid about blood clots/DVTs/pulmonary embolisms. They are not all that uncommon with abdominal surgeries and I know of a number of people who have had them after a hysterectomy. This has always been one of my biggest fears (if not thee biggest) when it comes to my health anxiety and suddenly I had a real reason to worry about them. I knew there were other possible complications but I was not so hyper-focused on those. I certainly never once considered the one I would end up having.

I was supposed to be in the hospital for 23 hours. That is the typical length of stay for my type of surgery – DaVinici Robotic Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy (taking uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes). I won’t get too much into my actual surgery right now, I will save that for later. However, surgery did take longer than the expected 2 hours and was more complicated than we all were anticipating.

I had a less common type of fibroid the  size of my uterus which was completely covered in blood vessels and was never picked up on any ultrasound. We never knew it was there. I had other smaller fibroids within the uterus, which were  the reason for the surgery. Because of this new alien grossness, I did bleed significantly (not to the point of needing a transfusion) and was even more anemic than when I went in. My surgeon said they “had to do A LOT of work in there” but was never overly specific. I did see the nasty pics tho…ooooo…maybe I should post them!!! I dunno. We’ll see. Anyway, I think it was expected that the recovery would be a little more difficult than first thought.

I ended up going home about 36 hours later. Not only was I anemic, but I couldn’t pee (this is some seriously sexy stuff, ain’t it??). Boy did I try. I was quite the urinary trooper. I would wheel my IV and my hunched over self to the bathroom every 20 minutes trying desperately to fill that piss catcher in the toilet. But my bladder just would not cooperate and I had to be catheterized several times. By the end of my stay, it was decided that I had to leave the joint with a foley and huge ass pee bag. Joy. I also left with a prescription for Macrobid (aka nitrofurantoin) just in case the cath were to give me a urinary tract infection.

I had to wear the foley for 3 days. I was also taking the antibiotic during that time and for the next 2 weeks. When I went in to have it removed, I could barely stand. I was white as a sheet, nauseated and so very dizzy. I had been feeling awful. I mean, I just had surgery. I knew I was supposed to feel like shit. And I did. I felt like I was run over by a truck and then infected with the bird flu. To put it in thug speak:  my shit was fucked up. The nurses and surgeon figured it must be the pain meds making me feel so awful and told me to make sure I eat before taking them. I was sent home, bag free.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I still felt nasty. Not just surgery pain, but other weird stuff. My legs were purple with white spots whenever I would stand for more than a minute and were really awful when I tried to shower (I ended up sitting in the shower for a couple of weeks). I would get very feverish, have a metallic taste in my mouth, joint achiness all over my entire body, had random leg pains I can’t even describe, had terrible headaches and my throat/back of tongue was very white. The most concerning was shortness of breath. I just couldn’t seem to get enough air at times. But it would go away and I could breathe fine. Sometimes I would wake up with a gasp as though I had stopped breathing.

I spoke with my doctors. Gyno/Surgeon said that some people just have a harder time healing and repeated that they had to do a lot of manipulating and work in there – that I needed to be patient. My GP sent me for some blood work which showed an elevated Sed Rate of 44 (normal range is 2 – 15). This test is a marker for inflammation and is non-specific. She figured it was due to healing processes.

I also spoke with friends and family. Everyone assumed this was normal after having major surgery. Some mentioned that I was being my typical panicky self and getting worked up and simply needed to calm down. So that is what I tried to do. But I knew something wasn’t right. Honestly, I did. But after having health anxiety and a history of panic attacks – you tend to not trust your judgement very well.

I frequented a website aimed at supporting women who are going through hysterectomies. Hystersisters.com is really a great resource. But I found myself being very discouraged because many of the women (not all as there were others with complications and difficult situations) who were in the same recovery time frame were doing so much better. Many were back to life. I even have a friend who was pretty much herself after a week or so. What was wrong with ME?? Why did I feel so horribly shitty???

About 3 weeks post op, I was having a hard time swallowing and my throat was REALLY white. I was certain it was thrush. I also had a low grade fever and still felt awful. I called the on call nurse and she said to go to the ER. ER said I was very dehydrated, gave me fluids, took a crap load of blood and sent me home. A few days later my Gyno called and said that some blood work came back suspicious from the ER. He said my liver function enzymes were high (AST 166 and ALT 151 – – these should both be under 40) and he wanted me to call my GP. So I did.

She ran further tests. All Hepatitis screenings came back negative. Liver functions were even higher (AST 180 and ALT 285) and GGT was 131 (normal range is 3 – 30). I also had an ultrasound which picked up no abnormalities (other than a hemangioma which has been there for years and is benign and wouldn’t cause this). So no fatty liver or tumors were detected. My iron and ferritin were low, so it was not hemocromatosis. I hardly ever drink so it is not alcoholic liver disease. This doesn’t leave many other possibilities.

I went into full on crazy bitch research mode. I am not gonna lie – I am the master researcher when I need to be. Why I didn’t go to med school is beyond me. I read so many medical sites (not just WebMD shit…I am talking NIH, PubMed and many other sites that physicians use). I read studies and journals and literature. I also read countless patient reports. And I found out what was wrong with me. It hasn’t been completely confirmed, but is highly likely and one doctor has concurred with my findings. Drug Induced Liver Injury due to the use of Nitrofurantoin (aka Macrobid). There are studies and warnings all over the internet. The list of symptoms – I had most of them. And the whole time I was blaming them on the surgery.

From the National Institute of Health 

From the Physician’s Desk Reference

Journal of Medical Case Reports

MedScape

Countless Reports from Other Patients on AskaPatient.com 

Let me say that with this med and this particular reaction – one may not have any symptoms for weeks after stopping the med. Some feel them after one dose. With some people, the complication symptoms go away within days of stopping the medication and other people are stuck with permanent pulmonary fibrosis, peripheral neuropathy and/or liver damage (however these are usually patients who took the drug for a long period of time).

Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that I blame NO ONE. All of my doctors and nurses have been great. I am not an easy patient and they have all gone above and beyond to help figure this out and to help ease my mind. This is typically a safe medication and no physician could have known how I would react. I do wish the ER would have at least mentioned the liver results and looked into it a little further before releasing me, though.

My liver numbers were very high for a month straight. And then finally they started to go down. I was THRILLED!!! I could see a light at the end of the tunnel and thought maybe I would be back to normal (normal??) soon. But they went up again. Ugh. More testing was ordered last Friday. They are going down for the second time and I am still waiting on more tests. I also have an appointment with a GI specialist on June 9th. But I am really hoping we continue to see them go down and STAY there! The last thing I want is to have further procedures. And I have a feeling GI docs just want to shove tubes into every orifice.  I also do NOT want to have a liver biopsy.

They say the effects from Drug Induced Liver Injury can last a good 6 months. I am just truly hoping and praying this goes away soon. I am now in the anger stage and want to throw things against the wall. I am sick of hurting and being so extremely exhausted. My abdomen is swollen like crazy. I have sharp pains that jab me if I do too much. I have tenderness where my liver is. And no energy to do anything. My legs still ache – though much better than they were. They also swell when I walk or stand. I have spider veins all over (a liver thing) that I never had before and they are disgusting. And my heart is acting up a little more than usual (PVCs/PACs).

I just want to feel well. I had this surgery so I could feel better, not worse. And honestly, I do still have high hopes that I will indeed get to that point. I am going to try to be as healthy as I can. Rest when I can. And believe it or not, I am trying to stay as positive as I can. People go through much worse than this and I see that every day. I will get through this roadblock one way or another.

And I will tell ya what – through all of this…I have gained such a sense of sticking to what I feel is truly important in life. I am trying so hard to forget the stupid shit that bogs us down and I am trying to rid myself of toxic relationships and attitudes.

I have such an appreciation for family and friends who have helped me through this. There haven’t been many, but the ones who have been here for me (Kim, Maureen, Kendra to name a couple) are fucking fantastic. They have brought me food, have come over to watch TV with me for hours, text/call often to check up on me and just genuinely show how much they care.

My husband deserves a big fat award in the shape of a Jeep. My relationship with my mom has really improved and I am so grateful for that. My nurses and doctors have been fantastic. And Cassidy. My little sassy darling…I’d just die without her. Really, I would.

These are the things that are important in life. And my time spent on this planet will be different because of what has happened in these past months. Definitely a silver lining. And also a reminder that even when unlucky things happen to me, I am still a pretty lucky bitch.

More to come…thanks for reading…

A Journey…In My Words

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Listen. I have had this blog since 2005. I write about many things. And a large portion of what I write is a personal diary. I suppose I have fallen into this narcissistic social phenomena. But this outlet has offered me much release. It has been extremely cathartic. And believe it or not – I get messages from people all of the time thanking me. People in similar situations have been made to feel not as alone in their own struggles. Those reasons alone make it all worth it to me. And if anyone takes issue with that (as I know some may question my motives for posting such things or whether I should share personal stories at all) – they don’t have to read it.

I am not one of those people who cover my Facebook page with only successes and self-congratulatory pats on the back. I am not made of sunshine and rainbows. And I refuse to pretend to be anything other that exactly what I am. You think it is new to me to have people turned off by this? You think that after everything I have been through in life – some of which I have never breathed a word – puts me in a place of making this a top concern? I am me. This is how I express myself. There are those whom respect me for it and there are those who think they are better than me because of it or those who simply do not approve. Fuck it. I really cannot care anymore.

In the next few weeks, I will be writing about my recent hysterectomy surgery, my recovery and complications. I will be writing about it because as I have been through this journey, reading the stories of others have helped me tremendously. I will be writing about it because that is what I do. I am not seeking sympathy to any degree. Every person out there has been through something scary, life-changing, difficult, etc. I compare myself to no one and deserve no tighter hugs than anyone else.

However, I do feel there is a great misunderstanding and underestimation about this procedure. Before going through it myself, I would have never imagined the seriousness of this major surgery. Hysterectomies are one of the most preformed procedures in our country. Because of this, many people feel it is no big deal. Especially when they can sometimes be done without a 12 inch incision dissecting one’s midsection. But just because the scars on the outside seem insignificant – the work on the inside is just as traumatic. Perhaps I can help bring some realization to some misbeliefs.

I had my surgery a little over 6 weeks ago. The struggle has been more difficult and much different from what I expected – both physically and emotionally. That being said, it could have been much worse. While the surgeon did a great job and the staff at the hospital went way above my expectations of care and I have had wonderful support from a few great people – I have not been without road-bumps.

Almost right after surgery, I was having difficulty taking a deep breath. A few times I woke up gasping as I would imagine a person with sleep apnea experiencing. I reached out to a couple of people who all assured me I was fine and that my fears of blood clots were most likely inducing a panic reaction. This has happened before, so that was a reasonable assumption. But I still felt something wasn’t right. This was only the first sign to what ended up being a very bad drug reaction to an antibiotic – something I never considered. I am very lucky it did not cause more trouble than it did. I am still feeling some of the effects, but they are improving and the damage it did to my liver is now repairing. Many people who have had similar reactions have ended up with permanent lung, nerve or liver disease.

This is just one of the things I will share in detail about this surgical experience in the upcoming weeks. From pre-op fears to being wheeled into the OR to my recovery to the wonderful people who have helped me through everything – I will write about this, hopefully, in a way that can help others in one aspect or another. Going through this has truly opened my eyes in some really unexpected ways and in many different capacities. Perhaps others will relate.

For now, I can tell you that I am healing and doing the very best that I can. I still go through moments of pain and fear. But it gets better each week. And I hope to soon be back on my dreadmill, back to writing regularly and back to searching for that life I truly want to live. I look forward to being introduced to the new me – a healthier me.

Thank you for listening.

Freaking the Hell Out

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I am 10 days away from surgery. This sucks balls. Actually, I wish I HAD balls because none of this would be happening at all. Men have it so easy, I swear. I protest the inequality of gender based body parts!!! I’ll start workin’ on a chant…

My uterus is being evicted and hopefully it will not steal valuable piping on its way out. Uterus and cervix are both going. Leaving ovaries but cysts on them may be removed. We know that I have one intramural golf ball sized fibroid, adenomyosis and ovarian cysts. Often times they find more once in there because the ultrasound can only see so much. So, if there are no other issues and everything goes smoothly, the surgery should take about 2 hours using the DaVinci Robotic method.

The Dr. (the gyno I have had for over a decade) who was to perform my surgery sadly broke his leg and will be out of work for a few months. Because of this, I had to reschedule with the one other Dr. at that hospital who does the DaVinci. I was very freaked out and worried about this. I even took it as a sign that I was not supposed to have this procedure. But I met with the new Dr. and was impressed with the time he spent with me, his patience (let’s face it…I can be quite annoying) and his confidence. I think he may be my first Dr. who is younger than me. That does not thrill me – but purely for vanity reasons.

If you know me, you know I sometimes have a tendency to obsess and panic. Well, my brain has definitely decided to focus on a particular fear and, like a rabid pit bull, will not let go for anything. DVTs/Blood Clots/Pulmonary Embolism. Yep. My brain will not stop worrying about this possibly complication. This is a possibility with any surgery, but more so with abdominal surgery. And I am freaking the fuck out. Dying and leaving Cassidy behind is unfathomable to me. Can’t have it. And every single day – at LEAST once – I think about cancelling. To me, being miserable some times is far better than being dead. But I guess that is a silly way to look at it. At least, that is what they are telling me.

I have always had this fear, but now that I am actually facing the possibility of having it happen – my phobia is through the roof. And what sucks, it really isn’t all that uncommon of a complication. In fact, many surgeons around the country and in other countries give prophylactic  blood thinners to prevent them. Some Drs do and some don’t. Mine do not. It seems as though it is controversial and the medical community doesn’t fully agree on the most appropriate procedures. Some surgeons are more worried about bleeding and others, clots. Personally, having read so many stories, it seems that bleeding complications are far less fatal than pulmonary embolisms. I guess I would rather risk a bleed. So yea. I need to let go of this really soon because it is driving me bonkers.

I have been listening to some pre-surgery guided meditations and it does help. Also just trying to relax as much as possible. This is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I have thought and it has been mentioned to me that seeking out spiritual advice may help with my fears – especially about dying. Because I waste far too much time worrying about being dead to actually enjoy living. This needs to change. STAT. I am going to talk to a few people from different spiritual backgrounds and hopefully this may help.

My wonderful MOFO lady friends had a lovely dinner party for me last weekend. It was so nice – soups, salads, bread, wine, deserts and a lot of great support. I am so lucky to have a group of women like them in my life. My husband and mom have also been helpful and will be taking care of me post-op. They are both kind of on the…ummm…less emotional side. So I do hope they can be supportive when I need it most and when I may be difficult to deal with.

It has been a little surprising who has been outwardly supportive (is inwardly supportive even a thing?) and who has not. I am not bothered by it. Some people just aren’t like that. But even the smallest shreds of compassion or warmheartedness have and will mean so much to me for a very long time – likely forever. You just don’t forget shit like that.

Well, that is enough blabbering on and on about shit no one cares about for now. I will talk at ya later.