Tag Archives: surgery

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Two

Hello friends! I am back again with part two of my surgery and recovery story. And first can I just mention the beautiful flowers pictured above?! My sweet grandma sent those to me on Friday to brighten my day and it was such a nice surprise!

So I shared about my surgery and the first few days in the hospital, now I thought I would share a little more about my recovery at home. It is funny because as I sit here now over a week later and try to think about what I have done it feels like a lot of nothing! I suppose that was to be expected though.

For those that don’t want the TMI details you can stop reading now…but I said I would be honest about my experience, so here goes. I have given birth vaginally 4 times. I remember what it was like those first few days recovering. I remember sitting on ice packs because everything down there was so swollen. Going into this procedure and knowing that everything was being done vaginally, I honestly expected the same kind of response. But this was not the case.

One of the things the Dr. warned me about that I didn’t fully understand was that with this type of procedure people often feel too good too soon and then over do it. I woke up and besides the terrible cramping in my abdomen, I had no other physical symptoms of having had surgery. No swelling, no pain – nothing. Because there are no outside stitches, one may not even know that I have just had a major surgery.

The cramping was deep inside my stomach/abdomen and felt a lot like labor pains. When my Dr. stopped to check on me we asked about it. Why would I have cramping pain in what felt like my uterus when it was gone? She said that there is a lot of connective tissue that had to be separated from around the uterus to remove it. The pain I was feeling was likely the brain sending signals down to those nerve receptors, just like it does in labor. So it was like the phantom pain that someone who has lost a limb often experiences. Crazy right?!

So for the first few days I did need to use the pain meds almost every 4 hours or so. I don’t like the side effects of using narcotics (constipation) but tylenol wouldn’t cut it for the pain. I spent the first few days mostly on the couch watching Netflix and sleeping. It is tough for me to stay so still. I can get bored pretty easily. But even just taking a shower was exhausting.

I think that is the part of recovery that has surprised me the most. How incredibly tired I am. I didn’t lose a ton of blood so I guess I don’t understand why I feel so drained. Someone explain it to me please?! My doctor said that my recovery would be a lot of walking and then resting, walking and then resting. And she was right. I can handle small tasks for a short time. I can walk for a little bit but then I have to rest for what seems like even longer.

I begged Dominic to take me to Walmart to get groceries one day (I just wanted out of the house) and he said he didn’t think I was ready and took the kids instead. He was right – that day it would have been too much. Three days later I did get a short trip to the store because I needed an extra pair of comfy pants and that 30 minutes was enough to land me on the couch for over an hour. It felt good to walk a little and then it felt really good to rest. If you are having this procedure done don’t push it. It is hard for me to do too, but I can see why so many people tell me to take it easy!!

I have about three different areas that I spend most of my time. Our bedroom and then two different couches in two rooms. One of the best things I did was purchase this Heating pad/neckwrap set from Amazon. I have the heating pad on our bed and the neck wrap on one of the couches. Having a heating pad over my stomach has really helped with the pain and it keeps me warm too! On the other couch I have a heated blanket that I use. Not having to move these from space to space has been really nice. The set from Amazon is unavailable right now, but I believe I paid $40 for the set, best money I have ever spent.

For the first several days I didn’t have much of an appetite. And the only thing that tasted good to me was fruit. Thankfully Dominic went to the store and picked up several different kids of {highly overpriced} fruit for me. Everyone responds differently to surgery and medicines etc. So my diet has consisted of a lot of toast and fruit and small meals. I don’t have my full appetite back yet.

Thankfully I had several weeks to prepare prior to my surgery and I made a bunch of freezer meals in advance. I think I had 11 pre-made and today we are using our second one. The first one was jumbo stuffed shells and it provided at least two meals. It will be nice as I have to start working again to be able to come home and have a meal to throw in the oven when I get the kids from school and it will be ready by dinnertime. If you can prep ahead I recommend it! I think as I try and get back to a semi-normal routine I am going to be exhausted by the end of the day and cooking dinner will be the last thing I would want to do. Having pre-made meals ready will be perfect!

I think that is all I have to share this round – as I get into the full second week of recovery I will come back and share more details again. I don’t see my Dr. for a follow up visit until January 23rd so at almost the 4 week post surgery mark. I will be interested to hear how everything is healing because I really can’t feel anything at all!! Again feel free to comment/message me with any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them!!

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part One

Hello friends! I wanted to start by thanking everyone for their prayers. My surgery is over and I am now home. Today it has been over a week since my surgery and I thought that I would sit down and try and write out some of the details of my surgery and recovery. Like some of my prior procedures, I have found that sharing honestly about my experience might be helpful for someone else who is planning on or considering a similar procedure. So if you do have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I will answer any questions you have!

My surgery was scheduled to start around 11:45 am on Thursday the 28th. We had to be at the hospital 2 hours early, and our drive to the hospital takes 2 hours so we left the house right away in the morning. We got checked in and they brought us back to a surgery prep room. I changed into a gown and then they put this awesome heated air blanket over me. It was glorious. Apparently there are studies that have found that  patients that are warmed before, during and after surgery have less chance of infection. I am always freezing so this blanket was wonderful! We waited and waited and then found out that my surgeon had been delayed at another hospital that morning and had another surgery before mine…so my surgery didn’t start until almost 1:30pm. The worst part about waiting was that I was SO HUNGRY because I was unable to eat after midnight.

I was having a vaginal hysterectomy. Thankfully everything was able to be done vaginally and my Dr. didn’t have to use a scope to assist, which saved my belly from being blown up with gas. In the past, that has caused me the most discomfort, so I was grateful that she wasn’t needing to use that method. Prior to the surgery I googled and watched a vag. hyst. surgery on You Tube. I know that probably seems weird, but I wanted to have an idea of what was happening to me. I always felt at peace about having the surgery done. I wasn’t worried about it and knew that medically speaking it was the right choice for me. I will share how my Dr. confirmed that for me later.

I have a history of getting really nauseous from the  anesthesia, so we had a plan in place to use the same meds that had worked during my October procedure for this one. Unfortunately the several hours after my surgery are completely lost to me. I am not sure what happened this time but I remember getting on the table in the operating room around 1:30 pm and then next time I was aware of time was after 8 pm that evening. I have no memory of getting to recovery, or my hospital room or the multiple hours into the evening after that.

I do remember waking up in incredible pain and being SO TIRED. I could not stay awake. I remember hearing the nurses ask Dominic if my reaction was typical after a surgery. They had me hooked up to a pain pump of Dilaudid. It gave me a pump of meds on a scheduled time, but I also had a pump that I could use to give myself an extra shot of meds if I needed it. I would use the meds and I was still in such terrible pain. I would wake up writhing in pain and fall back asleep and repeat. Finally I was awake enough that they were able to ask me if I could stay awake to try a pain pill of a different medicine and they would shut off the dilaudid. Apparently some people can have very negative reactions to that medicine and I guess I am that person! It did not bring me to a fun happy place! Once I was given a new medicine and it kicked in, everything changed. The pain was much more manageable. It wasn’t great, but it was manageable.

Interesting fun fact, I came home with rug-burn like sore spots on both of my elbows. I don’t know how I got them, except that in those first hours I must have been using my elbows to move myself and put so much pressure on them that I hurt them enough to rub them so raw that they eventually scabbed over! Ouch!!

I can’t speak highly enough of the nursing staff that helped me during my stay. I always try to be so grateful for everything that they do. I am sure that first several hours were difficult for them as they tried to figure out how to deal with my pain.

My Dr stopped in at some point, I couldn’t even tell you what day that was! She said that the surgery went just as expected. She was able to leave my one ovary so I will not have to be on hormones at this point. She said the ovary looked perfect so that was wonderful news! She removed the cervix and the uterus. She said that my uterus was “profoundly tipped.” I knew it was tipped, thus the reason I was unable to to do the in office biopsies, but she said it was almost twisted on itself. She hadn’t seen anything like that before. She said the way that it was positioned, it was no wonder I was having pain issues.

Hearing that report just reaffirmed that having this surgery was exactly what I needed to do. Not only did I remove any possible cancer risk, but hopefully any pain issues I was having should be gone once I am fully healed!

Typically with this type of surgery you only get an overnight stay. Crazy right?! I guess years ago it was 4-5 days, but with insurance these days it is now a single night. The test to be able to go home is the ability to pass gas. Again doesn’t this seem crazy to you?! It isn’t how your pain is managed, or if you can move around well etc…no if you can pass gas you go home. I don’t know if it was all the pain med mishap or if my digestive system is just slower than normal, but I wasn’t producing “results” like they needed so we ended up staying a second night at the hospital.

Honestly I was so grateful for this because the difference that I felt the evening I should have gone home and the next morning was so much different. The next morning I woke up and felt ready to take a shower and walk around a bit. So we were able to get checked out after the Dr. stopped by later that morning and were back in Marshall before dinner time.

I have lots more I want to share about my first few days at home, and some of the things that have been so helpful to me but this post has gotten SO LONG already!! So I will come back in a day or two and share some more then! Again, if you are considering this type of surgery please feel free to reach out. Everyone will have a different experience, but it was helpful for me in the beginning to be able to read a couple of first hand reports.

Randomness From My Life

Days seems to run together lately. It is almost Thanksgiving, can you believe it?! I am so ready to decorate for Christmas but Dominic is encouraging me to wait until after Thanksgiving to do so. There are so many things that I want to remember, and laugh about from this time so the easiest way for me to do that is to share them here.

On Tuesday we had our first band concert of the year. Gabe is in 8th grade and this will be our last year of middle school concerts for a while. I love the format they have, they match two grades together, 6th and 8th, and each grade play two songs. It is a nice, short concert. Perfect for my younger kids to sit through.

The only problem with these concerts is that we need “Sunday Best” dress. Now our church is a little more casual. So Sunday best for us is nice jeans and a sweater. But we needed dress pants for the concert. My now 14 yr old boy has grown again and is tall and thin. His waist is skinny-appropriate for the boys pants, but his legs are so long he really needs men’s lengths. No store in our community carries pants in a 26/32.

I unfortunately forgot about said concert until the day before and frantically ran around town buying every pant remotely close to his size. None of them worked. I found an old pair from last year that we decided were good enough for this concert if he wore dark, long socks so his legs wouldn’t show.

Then in true, I have it together fashion, just 10 minutes before we had to leave we found his only pair of dress shoes and discovered they were a size 8. He is a strong 10 these days. There was no cramming his feet into these small shoes. So our only option was to tightly tie on a pair of dad’s old dress shoes, size 13. He flopped those babies onto the stage with ease and thankfully didn’t trip. I need to be a bit proactive about concert number two so we don’t have the same issue again!

I have somehow pinched my sciatic nerve and have been suffering with weird, shooting pains in my rear end for the last week. It is super fun and after a few days of what I thought was healing time and no pain, I did a dance workout on Monday morning and apparently irritated it again and man it is bad now. It hurts to sit and walk and lay flat. So basically everything I do is marked with some form of pain. If you see me rubbing my own backside, you know why! haha

Yesterday we found a large hunk of blonde hair on the floor by the bathroom. It appeared to be cut. So I called Karlena into the bathroom and showed it to her and asked if she cut her own hair. She emphatically explained that in no way would she cut her own hair, she would never do that! Then she went to get her blonde haired horse out to speculate if somehow its hair had been magically cut. I assure you, sir, it had not.

So I started brushing her hair and noticed in the back that there is a small part that is shorter. It isn’t hugely noticeable. I asked if she got something stuck in her hair and attempted to cut it out herself and her eyes dropped to the floor. Ahh yes, mama knows.  She is a terrible liar, she does have some incredible story-telling abilities, but I know better.

I received the nicest letter from grandma in the mail yesterday. She wanted to encourage me about my surgery. She has arthritis in her hands and I know writing a handwritten note isn’t easy for her. I will treasure those notes forever. And I could take a lesson from her. A call or text is nice, but a handwritten note can’t be beat!

My surgery is still set for December 28th. I have complete peace about it so I am grateful for that. I made my first freezer meal last night and had my mom pick up some special aluminum pans and lids from Sams so that I can make a few more. We don’t have a ton of freezer space right now, but I should be able to freeze and store at least 5 meals. That should help.

We have applied with and enrolled in new health “sharing” with Liberty Health Share. It will start in January and will replace our traditional health insurance so I can’t really speak to how it all works right now, but I will give you some of the information I do know.

For our family, this seemed the best fit. We chose the Liberty Complete Plan and the monthly share amount will be $449 per month. We will have an out of pocket “annual unshared amount” of $1500 for our family. So we are responsible for everything up to the first $1500 and then after that we can share all our expenses. This will require that we be proactive at each appointment, asking for detailed records/billing notices so that we can upload them into the Liberty Share system. But we know a few people that use this program and have had success over the past year so we are hopeful it will be ok.

A dear friend of mine works for a health care system in the South and she has told me recently about how many changes we are going to continue to see with healthcare. It is probably going to get worse before it get better unfortunately. We all need to advocate for ourselves.

She advised me to call the surgical center where I had my recent surgery after I got my bill and ask if there was a discount if I paid the bill in full. Honestly, I didn’t expect there would be a discount. I had submitted it to insurance and what was remaining was mine to pay. But they did in fact tell me that if I paid in full I would save 10%. On this bill it was over $400! That’s $400 I can use to pay my remaining radiology bill, or my surgeon’s bill. So take notes friends, don’t be afraid to call and ask!

We have conferences tonight and I am excited to hear how our kids are doing in school. I was most worried about Karlena but she really enjoys school and at least from what I can tell is doing very well.

We are hosting Thanksgiving next week and will have a nice sized group, 18 of us! Our kitchen is all put back together and I am excited to host. Now if I can just find time to dust those pesky built-in shevles…

I have purchased almost all of my Christmas gifts and will start wrapping very soon. I am taking a very special trip with Karlena to Houston on December 15th for a long weekend and basically I need to have all my gifts wrapped, my treats baked and freezer meals done before then because when we get back on the 19th we will have a couple of days before Christmas and then just a few days before my surgery. So basically I have 29 days to do a whole lot of stuff! Better get to it!!

Have a great rest of the week!

 

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

The day before, the rock, the flowers, community and more…

So as I write this it is the day before the big day. It has been a long week of waiting. I have been ready but the time has passed slowly. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t felt great for several days. For multiple days I have said I feel like I am pregnant. Tired, nauseous and a little out of sorts. Of course there is no physical way I could be pregnant…so these week-long symptoms have been irritating. I am hopeful that after my recovery period I will be back to myself again.

I had good intentions of getting so much done this weekend before I am bed-ridden for a few days but the majority of it just didn’t happen. It’s ok though, overall we had a good weekend. On Sunday after church I had a chance to visit with several of my friends and a few of them prayed over me. It was such a beautiful gift. A few of my other friends were conspiring with Dominic about something behind me too while the praying was happening…I am pretty lucky to have such an amazing church family!

Then later that afternoon another friend from church texted me and asked if she could put me on the “meal train” list. I have to admit it is reaaaalllly hard for me to say yes to help. I am good at trying to manage it all on my own (even if I am not doing a great job as evidenced by something I will share later) but one of the girls that prayed over me specifically prayed that I would have a heart willing to rest and receive. So I thanked her for arranging the meal train and know that my family will be blessed by it.

Today I had BIG plans. Like get all the work done I possibly can in the office kind of plans. Except it didn’t quite turn out like I had expected. At about 12:30pm I got a call from our elementary school. It was the nurses office. They had Karlena there and somehow she had a rock stuck way down deep in her ear. She was crying and the nurse said that we needed to take her to the Dr. to get it out. {Of course}

So off to the school we go to pick her up. When she gets in the car she initially tries to tell us that a “mean boy” from her class put the rock in her ear. Why would you let someone do that we wonder out loud? And then through sobs she admits that she did it. So awesome, it was her fault and she was lying to us. Parenting win #1 for the day. Wait for it #2 is coming!!

The Dr. couldn’t see her for a few hours so we had lunch and went back to the office where I got the most beautiful flowers delivered. Ahhh, sweet blessings in a day that was going down the drain. My best friend wanted me to have something pretty to look at all week and had them sent to our office today. They are so perfect. I rarely get flowers and I have gotten them twice this week! What?!

While we were waiting for the Dr’s appointment my calendar alarm pops up. It is a reminder for Gabe’s ortho appointment in 10 minutes. The one I had COMPLETELY forgotten about. The one that was supposed to be extra long today so they could do a bunch of replacing of wires and things. The kind you don’t want to have to cancel, but I had no choice. I called the office and apologized profusely, telling the receptionist that I have a surgery tomorrow and I had completely forgotten the appointment and there was no way for me to get a hold of Gabe to get him there. Parenting win #2.

Thankfully they were so grace-filled with me and we were able to reschedule for a better time next week. This time I will NOT forget!

Besides all of this, I was impatiently waiting for a call from the pre-op nurse to give me the lowdown on what not to do and what to do before the surgery. {Finally they called!!} Like I get to shower tonight AND tomorrow morning. I will be clean! Ha! And I thought I might get to have food up to 8 hours before the surgery…so I was planning on having a protein shake at around 3:30am. But apparently I can’t eat after midnight. Boo. I am going to be one hungry mama come noon tomorrow.  Somehow I am sure I will survive.

Through all of this though I have been reflecting on this amazing community of people that I have surrounding me. In person, in prayer, with meals and flowers, encouragement and laughter. All of it is such a gift. I don’t take it for granted, I really don’t.

So thank you. I will do my best to provide an update when I am able. But know that your prayers and encouragement have been felt and are so very appreciated!

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