Catch Up

I feel like I have left some parts of my life un-updated of late. So, just in case you were wondering:

I had my last post-surgery check-up seven weeks after my hysterectomy. The doctor had predicted four to six weeks for the internal healing to complete. So she was a little surprised (but not alarmed) that my internal stitches had not dissolved yet. No big deal, everything looked fine, I just needed to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for two more weeks. To be honest I felt perfectly well and wasn’t sure I had still been avoiding heavy lifting! But, everything is good.

I have opted to hold off on hormone replacement therapy for now. While I am 100% positive the hysterectomy was the right choice, now I am not sure I need HRT. No hot flashes, sleeping well and the hormonal roller coaster has been reduced to the kiddie version. Not sure if that is the St. John’s Wort or just my body changing on it’s own. So for now I just wait and see what happens.

I am making progress with weight loss, yeah! I am down to 140 pounds. The intermittent fasting works. I don’t have a hard and fast routine but take it day by day. Most days I only eat one or two meals. I wait until I am really hungry and don’t worry about what time it is. I have found that ignoring the first hunger pangs and drinking some water or tea is pretty easy and effective.

I think the other key to success is I try and eat what I really want. The cravings have ended. And surprisingly I don’t want junk food so much. I often eat salads or omelettes or a simple meal (say grilled pork chop, baked yam and veg). I don’t worry about carbs or sugar but I do try and eat whole, real food. And when I do want something sweet I keep homemade brownies and cookies in the freezer. I am hoping to lose about two more pounds but I am not stressing over it, I trust it will happen in time.

I mentioned I was working for the Census Bureau here. And I mentioned how hot it was. And then it got humid. And I found myself walking 15k steps one morning in triple digit heat. And the next day? Not so much. So I had to quit. I felt bad but I was not the first to quit that week because of the weather. They were sorry to lose me and said I was one of their better workers.

What I did learn was that I rather enjoyed working part-time and I am currently pursuing some other options.

I think that covers all the big stuff! Have a great week!

Recovery: 3 Weeks Later

It has been three weeks since my surgery and I am doing well.

Frankenstein abs When I first saw my abdomen after surgery I knew exactly what Frankenstein’s abs looked like! I had four small incisions surrounded by bruising. I have been watching the colors turn and endured a tiny bit of itching. They were glued on the outside and I am to let the glue come off by itself.

Swelly Belly I knew to expect a swollen belly after surgery and I was expecting to look like I was four months pregnant. In reality I just looked a little bloated. What I did not have a clue about was the compression garment I woke up in after surgery. No one said a word about it and for some reason I didn’t ask any questions. (Now I am scratching my head over that.) When I got dressed to go home I took it off and left it there. It had some blood on it from the incisions and I just left it with my gown.

After about 10 days I wondered how long the swelling lasted and in the course of my internet reading realized I was probably supposed to keep wearing the compression wrap. I was having backaches and feeling a little uncomfortable and wondered if a compression wrap would help. I bought one on Amazon for ~$16 and started wearing it and it really helped.

Sleeping I was shocked at how much I slept the first few days, an afternoon nap and then through the night as well. And then my sleeping went a little haywire. Some nights I would sleep ten hours, others I would be awake at 4:00a and think I was done, only to fall back asleep at 6:00a and not wake up until 9:00a!

Not doing too much I have to admit I never felt any pain. When I got home on Friday I felt fine and found myself reaching for something on the top shelf before I realized that might not be the best idea. Being tired helped keep my from overdoing things and I made a concentrated effort for the first three days to “Be still and heal”. But on Monday I couldn’t handle the mess in the kitchen anymore and started cleaning. I tried to take it easy and not do any heavy lifting but on Tuesday I found myself hauling laundry around and hanging clothes up and that night felt like maybe it was a mistake. I had a little bleeding in the hospital but it had ended by the time I left. Now I had my first very light pinkish-brown discharge. I had a little of this every day for the next two weeks.

I had been focusing on my external incisions (which were healing fine) but hadn’t given any thought to my internal healing. With that in mind I dialed it back a notch.

A color by number picture which I quite enjoyed doing while listening to the Cubs win.

Guilt over watching tv I had DVR’d some shows specifically to watch during my recovery but since I didn’t feel bad it was weird just sitting and watching tv at first. But I got over it. I learned to do a little cleaning and then take a break and then do some more. I tried very hard to listen to my body in regards to the fatigue. I had to keep reminding myself that I needed time to heal and that I didn’t want to be one of those people. You know, the one’s who resume normal life right away and then end up in bed for a month. Not me.

Pain meds I had Vicodin and ultra-mega strength prescription Ibuprofen. I took one Vicodin the first day I was home to help me sleep. Actually to help me stay asleep. And I took a second one towards the end of the first week at bedtime when my back was bothering me. I never took any of the ibuprofen.

Two weeks after surgery I resumed driving and tackled all those back to school errands. My incisions are starting to look like they are healing, no pain and my minimal discharge has stopped. On the downside I am still exhausted. The weather isn’t helping, triple digit heat and humidity are still hanging around. Some places get rain, but not at my house.

Post operative doctor visit (18 days after surgery) Everything looks good according to my doctor. I asked about the fatigue and was told it is quite normal. It takes the body time to recover from the anesthesia (hardest blog word to spell ever 😕!) and the trauma of surgery. Even though my brain missed the whole thing my body went through a lot. So I’ll be watching a little more tv for awhile longer.

I got to take home actual pictures of my uterus which is both weird and cool. You could definitely see the lumps of polyp and fibroids which looked huge to me! And she showed me where she cauterized the endometriosis. Everything was benign and she peeked at my gallbladder, appendix and liver which all looked good. Ovaries are good too.

I go back to the doctor right after Labor Day for a final check-up. For now I continue to sleep more and not lift anything too heavy. She did say I could get in the pool or take a bath after one more week so I have that post-surgical milestone to look forward to next.

Now that it is all done I am happy to report that a hysterectomy was the right choice for me. No regrets.

Not that I am trying to jump the gun but school starts next week which always makes my thoughts turn to Fall!

Post Surgery Post

I’m back and in pretty good shape. Mostly I have been tired but not in any pain following my hysterectomy. Where to start? At the beginning is always best.

My spouse dropped me off at 5:30a. I had studied the map and knew where to go, down the hallway to the right. I walked into the lobby of the Women’s Center and whoa, it was HUGE. I panicked a bit and asked the security guard the way to the women’s surgical center: down the hallway on the right, just as I thought, I just couldn’t see it.

And then I turned into the hallway and Holy Stephen King it was my nightmare come true. A mile long, crazy wide and completely deserted. I started taking slow, deliberate steps on rubbery legs and there was the sign for the surgical center and I turned in, to find a nice normal sized waiting room with people in it! Whew.

Looks like virga to me. (When rain doesn’t hit the ground.)

I had to wait a bit to check in (two people ahead of me) and then I went to the prep room and got changed and pee’d in a cup and had blood drawn and got my IV set up. My Doctor popped in and then the anesthesiologist. Everything moved pretty quickly.

The anesthesiologist told me his three goals: 1) keep me asleep, 2) keep me unaware and 3) keep me pain free. I added 4) keep me alive (seems that should have been first but apparently it is a given in a hospital). He said something about 10 or 15 seconds and then I would be out. He wasn’t kidding. I was wheeled into the OR, got a glimpse of one wall, didn’t see a single person and the next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery.

I have to confess I still feel a bit creeped out about all kinds of things happening to me and having no awareness what so ever. I know that was the goal, but still. I won’t make another Stephen King reference, but yeah, that is what I was thinking.

In recovery I was asked if I felt nauseous, a little, and poof it was gone. I felt cold and was covered with another warm blanket. And I had to pee. I was told this was normal and I remembered I had a catheter in. Took a few minutes but I was finally able to relax and “let go”. I didn’t feel groggy or any pain, rather relaxed really. I had to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a room to be ready and then “transport” (a person to push my bed) to arrive.

Terrible exposure with most of my pictures, too much sun despite the virga.

And off I went to the women’s unit. I felt really lucky to be kept in the smaller women’s unit, maybe 10 or 12 rooms? And very quiet, separate from the main hospital.

Three and half hours later I was up and walking around. I had an IV with low dose pain meds (Percocet I think) and a button I could push if I needed more. I never did. No pain at all, just a bit of cramping (I’ve had way worse menstrual cramps) and once I started walking around that went away.

The funniest moment was after my first walk the nurse explained how to order dinner. At this point I am back in bed and I am looking at the remote that calls the nurse and operates the tv and light as she explains the number to dial. Um, no numbers on this thing. As she is leaving the room I say “how do I order dinner again?” She looks at me, obviously a bit concerned as I have been pretty lucid up to this point. “You dial…” and then realizes I can’t see the phone which is behind the bed on the far side of the door, an area I hadn’t seen yet. We both laughed with relief, happy nothing had gone awry with my brain.

I had dinner (cucumber slices, fruit cup and chicken salad with a brownie I ate later), played UNO with my spouse and son and then walked around some more. I felt pretty good and they unhooked the IV with the pain meds because my poor kidney’s were working overtime with all the extra fluid. And I didn’t have to put the oxygen back on. I had taken it off to eat and then “forgot” to put it back on. But without the pain meds I didn’t need it.

Visitors left and I watched “The Birdman of Alcatraz” which was just starting on TCM. The biggest side effect I had was a crazy dry mouth. I had been drinking water all afternoon but it wasn’t helping. I had my husband bring me some mints and decaf tea and by the end of the movie my mouth felt much better.

I tried to sleep for two hours but it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t in pain or cramping but felt stiff and uncomfortable. The catheter was bothering me a bit too. I got up and walked around, told the night shift I was conducting a surprise inspection, making sure they hadn’t snuck off to the gym. After 30 minutes I felt a little better and of course I was pretty tired. I talked to the nurse and she said she could remove the catheter. Better. Then at 12:45a a guy showed up to draw blood. What? At 1:30a the med tech came in take my vitals. Seriously? If I had been asleep I would have not been happy.

After that I did fall asleep and woke up at 5:00a. I used the bathroom and then had an ultrasound of my bladder to make sure I was “voiding properly”. I was. My doctor stopped by at 7:30a impressed with how well I was doing. She had been checking my chart from home and couldn’t believe I was sitting up playing cards the evening before. Those nurses documented everything! And by 9:00a I was ready to go, breakfasted, showered, passed “pee protocol” and signed discharge paperwork.

Since I have been home I haven’t had any pain, cramping or bleeding. I did have a terrible stiff neck the first day but a heating pad helped. The only thing is how tired I have been. I have had an afternoon nap and slept through the night everyday since I have been home. I did note that both my pre and post op blood work showed I was anemic so I wonder if that is a contributing factor?

I had my doubts about having a hysterectomy but it was the right choice. In addition to the polyp and fibroids evidence of endometriosis and adhesions were found.

Well this is a crazy long post so I’ll end here. Pictures are from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Hoping to do a Photo Friday post, we’ll see.

Flash Fiction: Many Hands

My surgery is just over a month away. I keep telling myself not to start stressing over it yet, to wait until the week of my hysterectomy. But…I have never had surgery before. The only time I have been in the hospital was to have my son and that was in Montana. A much smaller, friendlier city than where I am now.

Despite my admonishments to myself, once in awhile I start to wonder exactly what it is going to be like. I have to be there at 5:30am and I picture myself shivering with cold and fatigue and wandering around lost in a huge hospital. I have a terrible sense of direction under the best of circumstances and it would be foolish to think I am just going to waltz in the correct door and find my way without any issues. That isn’t how my life goes.

Oddly enough in my imagination I never get past the point of trying to find the admissions desk. I suppose wondering about the rest of the day will come later.

Today I am writing out my fears in this week’s flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch. The theme is about the works of many hands. There will be many people involved in my surgery, the list has already begun with the scheduling and insurance work done. I am thinking I want to try and keep count of people the day of. I am curious as to how many people I will actually interact with that day. It may also be a good distraction from my fears.

All that said, I hope this tale remains fictional! I had to make it a two-parter, my worries couldn’t be contained in a mere 99 words. I needed to see it through to the end, couldn’t leave myself stranded in an empty hallway.

“First Time Surgery”

PART I

First I couldn’t find the right entrance:

Emergency?  No.

Staff Only?  No.

A kindly passerby asks if I need help.

Yes.

The admission’s clerk hands over a stack of paperwork.  

“Take the elevators on your left to the 4thfloor and follow the blue signs.”

I turn around and take the elevators to the right (that are now on my left.)

Fourth floor, I see only orange and yellow signs.

I stand in the middle of the hallway bewildered.

Lost again. No help in sight. I shiver.

How many people does it take to help me find outpatient surgery?

PART II

A young woman touches my arm.  Do you need help?

Yes.

Go down this hall to the end, take a right and go across the walkway and follow the blue signs.

I see blue and green signs.  What color was I supposed to follow?

I am panicking, flustered, aware of the ticking clock.

A man in scrubs stops.  All my fears come bubbling out.

I cry and babble.  He takes my arm and leads me to the check-in desk.

A nurse looks up and nods to the man in scrubs and hands me a tissue, “You’ll be fine ma’am”.