A lot has gone on over the past few weeks/months and now that I am on the recovery road and not the “who knows what I am heading in to” part of the path, I can share my story. Below is the email I sent out to A LOT of people. I have tailored it some for the blog world:
In a fit of updating everyone at once, even if you haven’t known from my initial diagnoses here is my story, and why I now have 5 holes across my lower belly. If you get at all squeamish in hearing about these kinds of things, you have been warned.
This all started in May when my parents and I were flying to Sweden to visit my dad’s parent’s grave plot. As we were descending in to Copenhagen I experienced the most terrible pain — a cyst rupturing. I lost all color, threw up and could barely walk. It took me FOREVER to get from the plane to the next waiting area for our next flight (we had 2 more). I am not sure how I kept going or why we didn’t run me to a hospital right then and there, but we probably should have. ANYWAYS, I felt back to normal in about 2 days.
Upon my return to Helena, I went to see a gynecologist. I had an ultrasound done and there was all sorts of lovely fluid flowing around in my abdominal cavity, and a cyst on my right ovary. The doctor decided to monitor it for a few months, because cysts CAN go away on their own. So I had ultrasounds in July and August as well, the cyst was growing, but not anything to worry about. No doctor appointments for 3 months, because ultrasounds are expensive and there’s no sense in watching something not change very much. So from late October to December the cyst grew from 2 1/2 cm to 4x3x3 cm. My gynecologist in Helena said he wanted to do surgery but that he would be removing my entire right ovary. Upon asking why he couldn’t just remove the cyst he said that if he drained it and it was cancerous I’d have cancer all over my belly and that was bad. Mind you, 3 seconds ago he had just said he didn’t think it was cancerous. So…. I wasn’t very happy. I felt like he just wanted to rip out my ovary without actually contemplating what this would mean for me. It was horrible to feel like I should just go along with it and so I didn’t. . . I did schedule my surgery with them (just in case there were no other options) but had no intention of keeping it. After reading a lot of articles online and talking to my cousin, who has also dealt with endometriosis, she helped me find a minimally invasive surgeon. The downside is that it was in Kalispell, which is a 3 1/2 hour drive (almost 200 miles) away.
I made my appointment at North West Women’s Health Care (NWWHC) for early December and a friend of my mine drove me up there. It was just for a doctor’s appointment, and it made sense to let Grant keep working rather than deal with a long day of driving. NWWHC has really comfy couches in the waiting room and was a very nice place compared to the gynecologist office in Helena. The nurse practitioner who came in to see me answered just about every question I had and told me that it IS common practice to remove the ovary if there is a cyst on it. I was not happy about that, and wanted to see what my other options were. SO this meant another ultrasound. The cyst was now at 4.2 x 4 cm and sitting on the upper side of my ovary (not blocking the fallopian tube). She took a few pictures of my, as she called them, very photogenic lady organs (at least some part of me is) and took the images back to Dr. Taylor. He said from the pictures there was a good chance they could save my ovary, but surgery needed to happen BEFORE the new year.
So we scheduled my surgery for December 18th. This meant that Grant and I have had to miss traveling to St. Louis for Christmas and that is a HUGE bummer.
Anyways, nerves all frazzled and such, we prepared for our trip to Kalispell. Hotel reservation made, car has new battery, etc. SO away we went Monday morning. My Pre-Op appointment was at 12:50 pm, but we got there a lot earlier. The weather driving up was HORRIBLE. Snow, ice, sleet… thankfully the deer stayed in the trees, and we both saw some turkeys. Yes, Montana has wild turkeys. Our drive home on Wednesday had a whole bunch of turkey hens just hanging out in the middle of the road. Unlike crows, which fly away, the turkeys made us come to a complete stop while they thought about leaving the road…
Anyways, my pre-op appointment went well and Dr. Taylor was very reassuring about the procedure and what to expect. After those few minutes, I had to go to the Surgery Center and get blood work done and talk to the nurses over there. They were very nice, but we had to wait for 45+ minutes. Mind you, I had a bagel at 8:30 am, it was now past 1 pm and I wasn’t supposed to eat ANYTHING after 5 pm. I was getting pretty nervous about what I’d be allowed to eat. . . and when.
So the bloodwork… that poor nurse wasn’t very good at taking blood. I have awesome veins for that kind of stuff and this lady had to DIG around in my arm to find one. It was awful. . . and it hurt. . . and I look like I do heroine or something on my left arm. Well, I finally got out of there, we got food, and then went to see The Hobbit, because I sure wasn’t going to be up for any movies AFTER my surgery. It was an okay film, but that’s a conversation for another email. I will say that Gollum is probably my favorite character across the films, just by the sheer genius of how they make him come to life.
Because I am a TOTAL wimp with anesthesia (I get nauseated and sleep A LOT longer than they ever think I will) they bumped me down to first surgery of the day. This meant I had to be at the hospital at 6:15 AM!! And they wanted me to shower beforehand. . .and use this horrible pink stuff for body wash that makes you feel, as one nurse put it, like a lizard. You really want to crawl out of your own dried up skin. It is supposed to clean off A LOT of the bacteria on your skin. Well, the Red Lion now has a slightly pink wash cloth from it. . . oh well. . .
Anyways, 6:15 am. . . I hadn’t slept well the night before and now I was going in for surgery. . . Into the bathroom, on with the hospital gown and NOTHING on underneath it, compression tights, slippers and onto the bed and warm blankets thrown over me. IV line was put in and I was given lots of fulids through it. Met a lot of nurses who would be assisting with the surgery (all very nice), the anesthesiologist (Dr. Fraticelli) and Dr. Taylor. Grant stayed with me until they wheeled me off with a dead sexy blue surgical shower cap type thing on my head. The actual surgery room was like a huge party of people, but it was a VERY cold room. I got to meet the robot who would be probing me (you can see a picture and my doctor in dark blue scrubs here. Don’t worry it isn’t doing surgery in the picture!!). The machine has probes that attach to the arms where those red plates are in the picture. They make FOUR small incisions in you and the robot does the work while the doctor sits at a console (doctor in light blue is at the station in the picture). They also put in a 5th hole for the drain.
So I met my robot, met the nurses, was told by the nice anesthesiologist that I was just given his prized cocktail of drugs and BAM, I was out…. woke up kind of groggy and not too with it around 10:30. . . was given 2 percoset, crackers and ginger ale and told I had to move about 15 minutes later. They put me in a chair, wheeled me backwards (what better way to guarantee I’ll be sick then wheeling me backwards. . .) and put me in a recovery room. Grant joined me a few minutes later and I slowly recovered until 1:20-ish. During this time I was leaking smurf colors into my drain grenade (they ran a dye through my falopian tubes that is a pretty dark blue — the container it leaked into is plastic and round and the nurse called it a grenade). So, I eventually did throw up, in the bathroom . . .which caused the nurses to give me an anti-nasuea drip that only made me feel worse. I told them I was going to throw up from being wheeled backwards, as I’m pretty motion-sick prone. . . anesthesia or not, I still would have felt terrible. Some of my nausea was probably from the anesthesia, but the combination of sleep deprivation, lack of food, surgery AND being wheeled around backwards just meant I was going to get sick no matter what they did.
After my sick-moment I ate about 7 saltine-esque crackers (they were Zestas) and finished off my ginger ale. They let me get my underwear and pants on, removed my grenade drain (HOLY COW DOES THAT HURT!!!!) and I got to see all my holes with tape over them. My poor bruised body. . .
The doctor came in to see me, and he gave me pictures from the surgery. The cyst was an endometrioma, also known as a chocolate cyst. It is full of coagulated blood. Sounds great right? I also had moderate endometriosis in my pelvic area and a small bit on my bladder. He removed it all, said my ovaries are fine now and that I had better get started on the pregnancy thing or else the endometriosis will just come back. The cool part about the pictures is that you can see all kinds of organs like my appendix, bowel, uterus and some other stuff too.
I was discharged from the hospital at ~1:30 and we picked up my meds (4 things) and I went to take a nap while Grant found lunch. I zonked for about 3 hours and woke up feeling a lot better if not abdominally very sore. I can walk, and sit and stand but talk about sore muscles.
Oh.. the air bubble you feel in your collar bone from the surgery (they pump your torso up with gas so they can see everything clearer but when they let the gas out they don’t get all of it. SO it puts some pressure on your collar bone. Anyways, I only had the ache while I was in the hospital. Once I was moving around things were fine.
Dinner for me was A LOT of chicken soups. I called a lot of people to tell them I was awake and alive. . or chatted online with them.
Went to be around 9 and those meds really do help. Woke up pretty wide awake at 5 something but managed to force myself to not TRY to get up until I was really ready to a little past 8. We were on the road by 10 and made it home around 2 pm.
My voice is pretty raspy after having had a breathing tube down my throat (I don’t remember it) and just feeling kinda ick.
It’s Thursday, and I still have an attractive rasp to my voice, but I took my first post-surgery shower and feel WORLDS better. There is nothing quite like getting clean and putting on warm clothes that aren’t what you wore at the hospital.
Here’s hoping that tomorrow I am well enough to venture into the outdoors. DUN DUN DUUUUNNNNN!!!!!