A Second Surgery

10:28 PM

Giant hands again
This week, I had the unique pleasure of having surgery the day after Election Day. (I will reserve my comments on that for a later blog post.)

If you've followed my journey for a while, you'll know my first surgery (the one that diagnosed me) was done by a different doctor. I'm no longer with him because, in short, he wanted to prove I didn't have endometriosis, didn't give me any medication after my follow-up appointment and just told me to get pregnant. NEAT.

My current ob-gyn, despite being chronically unavailable, is pretty great. She's always willing to work with me to find a treatment I'm comfortable being on, and most of all, she gets endometriosis. So when her nurse called me the day before to tell me I was in good hands, I sincerely believed it and still do.

My husband, Andrew and I showed up at the hospital after driving around looking for Door 5 forever. I promise my hospital isn't as sketch as this picture looks, but Andrew and I were both wondering if it meant I'd wake up years later from a coma during the zombie apocalypse... And I was kind of cool with it, given the election results.


The two of us sat in the waiting room and tried to tune out CNN until I was taken back to my room. I didn't have to wait very long before that happened, but I did wait quite a long time between Andrew joining me in my room and my trip to the operating room.

As I grappled with the fact this hospital didn't have HGTV and tried not to fall asleep from lack of coffee, I wondered what my surgery would hold for me. The goals this time were to 1) find any visible endometriosis sites and burn/cut it out, 2) check to see if I have interstitial cystitis because I GUESS not having any symptoms wasn't good enough proof, 3) do pelvic floor injections to get my muscles to relax for once in their lives and 4) insert a Mirena IUD to attempt to slow the endometriosis growth.

With any endometriosis surgery, it's a gamble. What will they find? Where will they find it? Will everything work the way it's supposed to? Will I actually have less pain? How long will I have to wait until my next surgery? 

I tried not to dwell, but it was hard to ignore when my best TV option was Pawn Stars...

When you have endometriosis, you never know what's going to come through that door.
I was due for surgery at 10:45 a.m., but as it approached noon, I still hadn't been moved. The longer I waited, the more tired and sore I became. I hadn't been allowed to take any painkillers for the two weeks prior to my surgery, and I desperately wanted a heating pad... or anesthesia. I'd take that, too.

I twisted in my bed, trying to get comfortable, and fell asleep at least twice before my ob-gyn and anesthesiologist showed up to talk about usual pre-surgery things. "We're going to cut you open..." Yep. "...and get rid of what we find..." Yeah. "...and it'll be great times." Totally.

An attendant finally showed up to roll me away, and I kissed Andrew goodbye. As opposed to my first surgery, I was pretty chill about this one, but my heart always sinks before major medical procedures. It's almost like another part of me is being chipped away and given to a disease I can't cure and didn't ask for. So as I tried to crack jokes and smile at my husband, I choked up a little bit, just simply overwhelmed by the heaviness that is endometriosis.

My operating room was absolutely freezing, as they tend to be, and my team of doctors buzzed around the room. They got me situated on the table and made sure I had plenty of warm blankets, which is seriously the best part of being at a hospital, besides the socks.

Then came the mask. "This is just pure oxygen," my anesthesiologist said. I immediately became dizzy as the anxiety hit me.

"Oh, you must be nervous!" a surgeon said. "Your heart rate just jumped."
"Uhh yep!"

My anesthesiologist soothingly told me to think of a nice dream to have, even though I never dream under anesthesia. (Do people do that?) I took deep breaths of oxygen, trying to calm myself down as three women stared down at me.

Then one of them took my hand, and it was honestly the most important thing that happened to me that day. After remaining nearly speechless for 24 hours, numbed by a presidential election and my impending surgery, I wanted to cry as this complete stranger held my hand and anesthesia flooded my veins.

I fell asleep holding her hand and woke up in an instant, hours later.

Post-surgery with apple juice
Just like my last surgery, I woke up on my left side. My teeth were chattering from the anesthesia and my pain was pretty... uhh... painful.

"On a scale of 1 to 10..."
Oh, here we go.
"...how bad is your pain?"

Unable to talk from the tube that had been down my throat, I held up seven fingers. Seven is usually a safe bet.

But as my nurses talked among themselves, my pain escalated, and I hoarsely asked to be shifted to my back. That didn't help. I held up eight fingers.

"Okay, well, your doctor didn't order you pain meds, so..."

...excuse me, what?

You cut into my uterus, burned off stuff and... didn't order me pain meds?!?!

The nurses quickly called my doctor as I stared at the ceiling, wondering why the hell I didn't have morphine. I thanked them as they spoon-fed me ice chips and did  That situation was remedied in a few minutes, luckily, and I focused on taking deep breaths to fully come out of anesthesia. I was having a lot of trouble keeping my eyes open this time, but instead of sleeping, I desperately wanted to know what happened in my surgery.

I was soon wheeled into recovery to talk to Andrew about what my ob-gyn said and to watch Arthur:

My fave
As I slowly sipped some apple juice, Andrew retold what my doctor said and showed me pictures of my uterus (which I'll spare you).

"It was everywhere."
What does that mean?
"I don't know. She said they moved something, and it was everywhere. You see those black dots?"
Yeah.
"That's what they burned off."
Oh, yeah. That is everywhere.
"They found some on your bladder..."
Oh, great.
"...but you don't have interstitial cystitis. "
I TOLD them I didn't have it! I TOLD THEM.
"But they said everything looked great. They did the injections, and you have an IUD."
So that's it?
"That's pretty much it."

So that's all I really know right now about my surgery. Apparently, my doctor did come talk to me, but I was completely out of it and don't remember... I guess they have to do that, even if you're not aware of the world around you.

I don't really know what this means for my endometriosis, as far as staging does, but I'm not sure a label matters. My endo has officially migrated to another organ, which sucks, but I'm hoping my Mirena IUD does what it allegedly can do and slows it own.

Stages, for those who don't know, don't really mean much as far as symptoms go. You can have stage I endometriosis and experience crippling pain. And you can have stage IV and experience no symptoms at all.

I was diagnosed with "minimal endometriosis," but in just two years, things have progressed pretty significantly from what I can tell right now. I'll know more during my post-op in late December, but I do know that it took longer to recover from this surgery than my first, making me think they did a lot more work. (I also had an IUD, injections and am fighting an infection I had beforehand, so there's that...)

I haven't had much time to absorb my surgery. My emotions have been focused on the election results, and they haven't strayed. But I think I'll have more feelings about it, when I take the time to let them come.

For now, I'm focused on my recovery, which is almost over. I should be okay to drive tomorrow, and I left my house yesterday for the first time.

I'm ready to face the next chapter of my endometriosis journey.

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