That was a song that floated through my morphine-saturated head for a while in the hospital.
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.
FIRSTLY: Thank you everyone for the well wishes, the check ins, the love. In the days before my surgery, my phone became inundated with messages from people I never expected to hear from. My appreciation for that is huge. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now the post-op report…
I was told to not eat after midnight on Tuesday the 12th. My surgery was scheduled for noon Wednesday. That meant no coffee. No second cup of coffee. Needless to say, no third by noon. But I was too nervous to be caffeine-cranky. I showed up at 10:30, as instructed, with my entourage (that is Dad’s term that he was tickled with). The men in my life decided to represent. Preset were Husband, Son, Daddy and one of my longest-known friends, Jim (everyone calls him Uncle Jim, even Bobby, because he is like my brother and he is the godfather, and because it fits). So as we entered the surgical area all of the women turned to gawk at Four Men and a Broken Uterus. In the days leading up to surgery, it had become sort of a giggle between my doctor and myself. My Daughter had to work so the guys were stepping up, each of them protective in their own ways. They put me in a large pre-op room that is built for two patients because of all the men.
The time had come to roll me into surgery. Before this, I had one surgery, a tubal ligation on November 1, 1990. It was one day after the birth of Daughter. As the doctor stated then, my insides were already mushed around so it would be easy to do. He went through my belly button and there were no scars. Voila! I had no concept of surgery, post-op things or surgical anesthesia. The recuperation from pregnancy masked any struggles with surgical recovery. Flash forward to now: Our surgical plan was a vaginal hysterectomy, using the belly button to scope for guidance. I was going to come out the other side with no scars. My recovery time would be less because of the less invasive procedure. The world would be sunflowers and daffodils for the taking. Well, we know what kind of things happen when overconfidence comes into play.
They wheeled me into surgery. “We are going to give you something to relax you and then we will knock you out. You will be intubated for the surgery so your throat may be scratchy when you wake.” As I scooted to the crucifixion table (oh, come on, I am not being sacrilegious, you are made to lay there with your arms out on a cross-shaped table…it does look like..), there was conversation going on around me including my funny little anesthesiologist. He had untied my gown without my realizing it. I made a very slurry comment about how he was just like Arthur Fonzarelli, but I hadn’t meant Fonzi, I had meant Joey Tribianni and was desperately trying to remember his name as the curtain of drugs closed over my brain…
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare
This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do
Because I live my life watching movies, I believe my “waking up” was influenced by some of the great directors. There are flashes, all lit very darkly. The first memory I had was Husband sitting in an uncomfortable chair beneath a hospital TV, reading. The clock above him at 7:30. How could that be possible? This looks like a regular room, not a recovery room.
Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
In the next flash, Husband was at my side and he had tears in his eyes. He told me he didn’t like to see me this way. My heart broke into tiny pieces at the sight of his worry. I asked about the Entourage. They were gone, I had been out for a while. Then he told me they had to cut me, that I had lost an ovary, that things were more difficult… A wave of emotion rolled over me that I can only liken to satisfaction – justified satisfaction. I am not sure if I said it out loud or if it was an in-my-head conversation but I felt tears and my words were: I told them, I told them for over a year something was wrong. And then all went black again.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you “Here am I floating ’round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do”
So let me piece it all together and give you the condensed version of events once I was knocked out. This is from third-hand conversations, drug laced questions to nurses and doctors and the follow up exam one week out on this past Wednesday…
The day before my surgery I had my pre-op appointment to discuss the tests run and what our course of action would be. As the conversation was coming to an end, I looked her in the eyes and with every ounce of sincerity, I told her: “It’s fine, I trust you completely.” and she replied “Thank you.” Because of that conversation, I truly believe Dr Mofo (that is my name for her) tried her best to stay the course we had set out. But things happen. Belly button scope in, she began by cutting into the cervical area (cervix was removed – this was part of the plan). But then everything was too large. The uterus was very large, the lining filled as well as the inside. It was filled with a fibrous material (she told me while I was stoned a word that sounded like endometriosis, but it was not that word, something else – and I neglected to ask at the follow up appointment because I left my list of questions on my desk at home…drat). The uterus had also grown another blood supply source. The scope was removed from the belly button and relocated to the right side, then to the left. There was a lot of push and pull trying to remove the uterus. Hard struggle. Then there was that new blood supply. The uterus was filled with blood and the source refused to cooperate and bled heavily. That was when Dr Mofo made the decision to cut me open and remove the uterus because it wasn’t coming out vaginally or laparoscopic. So, at the age of 47 with two children in their mid to late 20’s and one tubal ligation under my belt – an emergency c-section was performed on me. While open, they realized that my ovary was covered by a large cyst. The decision was made to remove the ovary as well. Because of the struggle to remove the uterus and the extent of the cutting, I was given a hefty dose of versed to keep me out and to help me through recovery.
The doctor had explained to Husband during pre-op that the surgical times for the procedure are normally 2-4 hours but that she expected somewhere closer to the two hour marker to be finished. It was told to me that my hemoglobin levels were quite excellent in my pre-op workup (thank you vitamin regimen!). That is a good thing because it means if there is an issue involving blood loss, hemoglobin levels are important. At three hours forty-five minutes Husband went to the nurse to ask what was going on. They explained that the surgery was wrapping up and that the doctor would be out soon to explain. I was moved to ICU to recover and then moved to my regular hospital room where I woke-slept-woke-slept for the next day and a half. It was fascinating to hear the nurses speak of my surgery. I guess it was something that is not common, all the commotion and trouble. They each said they were awed by the amount of drugs pumped into me during surgery, they all said my incision was “beautiful”. I was kept an extra day because of the extent of surgery and the drugs pumped into me. Day One Post Op – morphine and liquid Tylenol. And I cannot speak highly enough about liquid Tylenol. Just regular Tylenol in IV form. Good stuff.
They sent me home with a script for Percocet. When filled, the generic for this drug is Oxycontin. Go figure…never felt more WV’ian in my life – Hillbilly Heroin to get me through my rough nights. I went home Friday-that day had three (primarily to sleep), Saturday I had three (again to sleep), Sunday and Monday night only one and I haven’t taken another since. I think I would heal better suffering through a little pain and being able to move about more. I do not do well on narcotics and I hate the feeling of being a zombie. If I experience pain I will take Aleve.
At my one-week checkup I was told that I am progressing nicely and that my next appointment will be in five weeks. Because of the blood loss and extensive cutting, my healing time will take a little longer than planned for. So now I struggle through my day-to-day by allowing people to help me (difficult for a control freak). I thought I would spend more time watching shows on TV but I find that I like sitting in my sun-room staring out at the sunshine or maybe having coffee on the patio.
On the day of my one-week appointment Daddy was admitted to the hospital. Pneumonia had reared its ugly head. He lives two hours away, makes life difficult for a worrier like myself. Day Nine, Daughter had a minor procedure and Husband and I went with her to the hospital. By the end of the day I was exhausted. Day Ten, they found a blood clot in Daddy’s lung and a possible tumor. Husband suggested he drive me the two hours to see him because not seeing him would be worse on me. So he drove me to Daddy (two hours), we sat with Daddy for two hours and then he drove me home (two more hours). I took an IBU800 (from the Plantar Fasciitis days) and slept very well. Day Eleven and I find myself in an empty house (kids are tending to Daddy in my stead, Husband tending to his business in Huntington).
Five lessons I have learned in the past eleven days:
- Make plans and be strategic but know those plans often will change, sometimes drastically.
- Sometimes you think you know how much your spouse loves you until you see him concerned with tears in his eyes and you physically feel your love for him escalate (even through a morphine drip).
- You cannot control everything. Sometimes you have to let others help you. Just know the insanity you feel from that will be temporary.
- Just like with running a half marathon, never trust a fart.
- Modesty is fleeting when you cannot bend over to pull up your panties.
Let me introduce you my cough, sneeze, fart bear:
When coughing, sneezing or farting, I am supposed to squeeze him to my incision. But as I looked at him, he reminds me of my lost uterus (lol):
Seeing as he is part of the de-ovulation process, I will call him Devo (Utibear would be kinda mean).
If up to it, I have a handful of blogs I hope to post this week about my recovery and the process of healing.
Thanks again to all of you – for your love and support. It sure does help prop me up.
I am so glad you recovered safely. I’m sorry that your surgery had to take a divergent route! I hope your incision is healing nicely and that your follow-ups ate going well! 🙂
I reblogged your post because it is poignant, touching and real. I wish you all the best in the days as you recover. Our hysterectomy methods were different and you had children BUT we are the same age.
ALL the best to you.