2 weeks out

 

I SO thought I would be up and about in 10 days. Man, was I WRONG about that. I was comparing my recovery to a c-section recovery. NOT the same thing at all. While the “cut” looks like a c-section, the nature of the surgery is so different. I had my 2 week post op appointment with my doctor yesterday and he said to expect 6 weeks to feel 100%.

It’s a great test in just allowing myself to rest- which usually isn’t a problem. But it has given me a huge appreciation for my normally healthy, strong body. I’m getting VERY specific when it comes time to sit down and choose what I’m grateful for today. SPECIFICITY. Thank you for my healing, thank you for my recovery, thank you for every strand of abdominal tissue that is putting itself back in place, thank you for my life, thank you for my friends who have come through and been here to lift my legs when getting in and out of bed. I mean seriously…my heart is full.

Here are pictures of my incision over the last week. Slow but sure healing happening over here. The dried up gel on my belly is Arnica gel.

Day 8

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DAY 9 below:

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Day 10 below:

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Day 12 below:

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Day 14 below:

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Love, Amy

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2 weeks out

Day 7 after surgery

 

Wow I really love the frame that’s frozen on the screen for this video!

I finally realize that the type of incision that I have takes the longest to heal. I didn’t really investigate that until now. Friends who’ve had c-sections have been very informative and helpful but I realize now that there is a HUGE difference between a c-section and what I had. There is just way more going on internally for me, my hysterectomy, to have all of those cuts deep inside to detach the uterus from where it has been all of my life.  Whew. I am feeling so relieved.

Spring is here. In 5 minute spurts, I have gotten up to clear my closet a little; taking out all of the wire/paper hangers I’ve unintentionally collected from the dry cleaners. I’m giving away all the clothes I never wear but think I might some day. Done. It feels so good to open my closet and see only things that I love and know I will wear. I am so ready to get back to where I was 7 years ago, my former energy and enthusiasm, my anything-is-possible self. I feel the lightness coming back.

I have been holding this vision since January, when my doc and I decided that this was the best option. I have been excited by the idea of being rid of the heaviness, the pain and the drained energy. I have been imagining emerging in Springtime as my renewed self, eating fresh berries and going on a hike. I am so delighted that its all coming. I’m basking in it already and having gratitude and reverence, however slowly it’s coming to fruition.

Love, Amy

Day 7 healing slowly but surely.

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Day 7 after surgery

Going home…but first…

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THERE ARE SOME GRAPHIC IMAGES IN THIS POST. NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH! 

AND I’M LOOKING PRETTY ROUGH. BUT WHATEVS.

 

I made that video a few days ago on my phone. I was feeling rough and dazed from the pain meds but SO happy to be getting outta there. I think they make the food and the beds  just bad enough to make sure you WANT OUT as quickly as possible. Although my last morning there, I had some delightful blueberry pancakes and coffee that really made me happy.

I wanted to kind of scan through the timeline/highlights of my stay there so if you’re headed down the same road you can get an idea of what to expect.

The first few hours after surgery: through the night nurses were coming in very hour or two; I can’t remember but it was often. It was all about pain management. On a scale of zero to ten (ten being excruciating) I reported my pain level. They told me that I didn’t want to get any higher than a 5 because it is hard to get the pain down from a 9 or 10. So communication is key. Anyway, I think they were giving me Norcol? something like that. And it worked well and knocked me the fuck out.

6am: One of the resident doctors came in to check on me and look at my incision site. She said everything looked fine. My belly was very swollen (and still is a little here on day 5) . Having to cut through all of those ab muscles is NO JOKE. She set some goals for the day like “starting on a liquid diet”, “walking” and “peeing on my own”. Oh yeah, I had been catheterized. All of that of course happened while I was completely out. Weird right? Just spreading my legs and putting a thin tube up my pee hole.

8am or 9am?: The nurse came in to empty the pee bucket and to take the catheter out. HOLY SHIT that was the worst thing I can remember about my experience in the hospital. It was probably good that she gave no indication about the utter awfulness of it (and I’m sorry to tell you now) but WOW. I wish she had told me to take a deep breath in… and on the breath out taken it out smoothly. But there is nothing smooth about this experience. Just accept that it’s going to suck. My first pee on my own had small blood fragments in there.

They told me that the TIMING of the pain meds was the most important thing of all- every 4 hours and not a minute sooner. Otherwise it builds up in your body and you need more to accomplish the same effect. I suspect that is the source of the rising number of over doses and deaths due to opioids.

12noon: Time to pee! This was the first time I stood up after surgery. It took about 5 minutes for me to get up out of bed. Its the abdominal muscles! Nothing works and shifting from being horizontal to vertical is so incredibly painful. Gravity pulled everything in a new direction and that was the most painful part about it. Also, I was unable to sleep on my side for about 4 days following surgery. I’m not a “back sleeper” so that was a bummer. I went on a short walk. I was surprised by how easy it was to move ONCE I WAS UP. Its the getting up that sucks.

Early/Mid Afternoon: My doctor came to see me. He showed me a picture of my extracted uterus. I am going to post the picture below for you. If you’re grossed out, sorry! But I’m super fascinated with it so I have to share.

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A normal, healthy uterus is 7cm. As you can see, mine measures 14cm! It was twice the size of a normal uterus. And completely PACKED full of large fibroids. But a friend of mine had the same procedure and hers was 4 times the size of a normal uterus!!! She had two fibroids the size of grapefruits among other smaller ones.

My doc told me everything was fine with my ovaries and I still had my cervix. I wanted to keep  my cervix because I COULD. Seemed to me that my pelvic floor kind of depends on the cervix…and people report that without their cervix orgasms are not as intense? Who knows. It just seemed to me that the benefits far outweighed the relative risks.

He also told me that if I had walked already, which I had, that I could go home that day. That I would be more comfortable at home. I really couldn’t imagine that. Plus I didn’t have anyone arranged to stay with me until the following night.  I opted to stay. The rest was just pain management and slow walks until check out the following day. Whew! Now I’m home and will post more tomorrow. Until then…sending you love.

Amy

PS Just so you know: laughing, sneezing and coughing are TORTURE so do your best to avoid them. If you tend to have allergies, take your Allegra or Claritin or whatever, every day!

Going home…but first…

Drugstore Cowgirl

I decided not to take my computer to the hospital. The lighter the load and the fewer the valuables, the better they said. So I made this little video on my phone right before surgery. I was the last scheduled surgery for the day for my doctor (whom I love). But the two surgeries before mine were very complicated and took longer than expected. So my surgery which was scheduled for 3pm didn’t happen until 7:30! I was restless and frustrated, mainly because I was afraid they were going to reschedule me. Because of all of the  rejection and frustration I’ve seen over the last couple of years, I was preparing for the worst.

But it happened! They wheeled me in and my doctor was there along with his very sweet and chipper staff- one after the other confirming the nature of the surgery, confirming that I knew I would never get pregnant (I laughed at this one), and having me sign off on everything. I asked my doctor if he did a full “poking around”. I told him about my friend who’s doctor ended up finding a very early stage ovarian cancer on her so I was terrified by what else he might find. He assured me that a) it’s a one in a thousand chance I would have ovarian cancer and b) he would do a full inventory of all my lady parts and not to worry.

Virginia was standing by my gurney/stretcher thingy the whole time until the last minute. When she grabbed my bag and hers to go to the waiting room, I started to cry and she looked at me…of course she started to cry too, not for any other reason but just separation anxiety I guess. It felt like the first day of Kindergarten when you feel so relaxed and confident and then your mom has to leave and your whole world comes crashing in on you.  She stayed another minute and I wiped my tears.

The operating room was FREEZING. I transferred from my stretcher to the operating table. The light fun attitude of the staff and residents and other assisting doctors  made me feel very at ease. The anesthesiologist looked kind of like this guy:

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TJ Miller from HBO’s Silicon Valley. He assured me that he was going to take me to a happy place. I believed him. Going under always seems scarier than it ends up being. I’ve had surgeries before and there is a little “appetizer” like drug you feel when you’re still awake that makes you SO OK WITH EVERYTHING. And then boom. GONE. No memory, no sense of time. I just woke up high as a kite with no pain at all-just kind of a small sensation in my gut- mainly as the gurney traveled from room to room, any groove in the floor jiggled my body ever so slightly and I could feel the swelling in my abdomen and the cut they had made…it all jiggled. Not painful though. I heard someone say, “…No, I gave her the Dilaudid.”

Holy shit! I’m on Dilaudid?! No wonder I felt so good! I was Drugstore Cowgirl. I was totally at peace, totally ok. I could hear Virginia’s voice and the nurse talking to her. I wasn’t super clear on what they were saying, but I assumed everything was ok. And if it wasn’t, I was cool with that too. I had come out of surgery and now I was just going to sleep. I knew that if they had to dose me up with Dilaudid, I was in for a rough ride ahead. But for now, I would sleep. I heard Virginia say, “OK Amy I’m going to let you sleep and I will come back tomorrow.” “Thank you, Virginia, for staying with me…” I fell back to sleep.

Drugstore Cowgirl

Surgery rescheduled!

 

Just a quick announcement: my surgery is coming sooner than expected. March 9th! Praise the Lord. I am tossing and turning through the night now because of the pain. Its a low grade menstrual cramp-like pain…along with feeling like I have a brick in there.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about the pain and the upcoming surgery and he said, “It seems like the female anatomy is so flawed in its design, with all of the troubles you all have”. But I refuse to believe that as a species we are so inherently flawed. I think it’s the environment we live in. If over half of women over 40 have uterine fibroids, there has to be something wrong. Those statistics drop when you look at other countries. Cancer and mental illness are higher here in USA. Ultimately we are living longer in a more toxic world.

I’m looking forward to having all of this behind me; to having no more pain in my abdomen and lower back. I’m looking forward to having energy again, to hiking again, and to sleeping well again. Until next time…

Love, Amy

Surgery rescheduled!