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.