Two months post op

For about seven weeks all I could think about was the pain.

My abdomen had swelled to the size of a watermelon. I had to pee every five minutes. I couldn’t stand for more than three hours every day. I could FEEL my uterus inside my body, burning and twisting, trying to claw its way out of my vaginal canal.

My womb was larger than average. It was swollen, my doctor had said, adding that it was sort of like a football-shaped balloon.

Maybe if I associated my abnormal uterus with an everyday, pretty mundane object like a football, an object that many people can visualize or relate to, maybe I’d be able to relax.

I mean at least my uterus didn’t look like some obscure relic from the 18th century that I had never heard of.

My uterus looked like a big football. I’m OK. Footballs are normal. My uterus is normal.

But my uterus is NOT normal.

Because buried inside its tissue are blisters. Painful ones.

Adenomyosis was a secondary diagnosis to my endometriosis, an illness I will carry with me for the rest of the foreseeable future.

Endo is what causes most of my pain. The hottest heating pad burns my back, but barely touch my sore lower back muscles.

I thought that by two months post op, I’d notice a difference in the pain. I mean, I didn’t believe I’d be a completely different person but I thought I’d find some relief. Instead, I’m noticing new pain or returning pain that diminished after a previous surgery.

Intercourse hurts even more now. Bowel movements are hell and my lower back keeps a steady rhythm of burning and ache.

Is it too soon to tell if there is a difference between post op and pre op?

Endo in my endo

I’ve had a rough few days with intense aches, pain and nausea.

My symptoms got so bad this weekend that by Sunday night, I was struggling to walk. I had chills, night sweats and excruciating abdominal pain. I couldn’t breathe it was so bad. My belly button also looked weird – to me. Anxiety kicked into overdrive.

On Monday when my pain didn’t subside even with painkillers (and became worse), I frantically called my doctor. The nurse asked that I go in immediately.

They made me pee in a cup. My two doctors also did a physical examination.

It was then when they decided to share the lab results from the laparoscopic surgery with me. They had done an extensive endometriosis resection and removed endo from my ureters, pelvic walls, rectum, right ovary and underneath my uterus. I had no crazy adhesions from the previous surgery and no endo on my diaphragm or lungs (woot!).

They also told me that they had diagnosed me with adenomyosis on top of the endometriosis, which I’ve learned is not uncommon for women with endo.

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My uterus, according to my doctor, is enlarged (swollen), which is one sign of adenomyosis. It’s kind of like endometriosis inside my uterus (or endo inside my endo…geezus). I have a thick uterus lining, another symptom.

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My belly button was looking great, they said.

They said my new pain that started on Thursday could be a uterine infection or soreness from my operation. Or it could be something as simple as a UTI, which I’ve had before and know the symptoms. I won’t know whether it’s a UTI until tomorrow but as a precaution, they prescribed meds for that and not meds for a uterine infection. It’s been 24 hours and to be honest, I can’t tell whether they are doing anything. We’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.

The doctors disagreed whether inserting an IUD would help alleviate the adeno symptoms. One doctor said that my swollen uterus wouldn’t support the insertion at this time and the other doctor said it could help. I didn’t get it inserted.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was given a 6-month treatment of antibiotics to heal from it. I’m not a doctor (obviously) but the symptoms I present sound like uterine tuberculosis as well.

Let’s just hope it’s not uterine cancer or something insane, right?

Feeling better

Nausea subsided for a bit yesterday, so that I could eat one of my fiance’s awesome homemade sliders during the Superbowl.

After the endometriosis excision surgery, I wasn’t able to truly eat and successfully keep anything down. So since Friday, I had been nibbling here and there. Crackers, chocolate pudding, beans, chicken broth…

But Sunday, I downed a slider, a handful of French fries and half a pickle mozzarella stick. Yum.

My belly also looks slightly less bloated. It still feels tender and if I let up on the vicodin, excruciating pain follows. Yet, overall it looks like some of the inflammation has subsided. I’ve been drinking a lot of water and taking the ibuprofen round-the-clock at scheduled/ prescribed doses.

(It also helps that I was able to finally have a bowel movement. 💩💩✨💫👌🏽)

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I stood for a couple of hours today, much longer than the past two days. I mean I’m already walking but I’ve been taking breaks by lying back down. Today I stood, then sat upright for a few hours while my best friend dyed my hair pink.

It’s weird because I feel like I should be up and about running circles and cleaning/cooking, working but then when I get exhausted or start clutching my side do I remember that a doctor recently cut a hole in my belly button to scrape off endometrium from the backside of my uterus. OH YEAH! IT HURTS!

The morning following the surgery, the doctor also came in and was like:

By the way, we tore your cervix while we were in there. Just in case you reach into your vagina and find the stitches and you’re bleeding. It’s not a big deal.

I haven’t decided how I should feel about that yet.

Belly button

My body has changed so much after the endometriosis surgery. I know it’s still too early and that in a week it will look entirely different. I’ve never seen it this big before. Even after my recent appendectomy, my abdomen didn’t swell or bruise this bad.

Here’s a before and after:

In the before shot, you can see the appendectomy scar in my belly button. I was hoping that would go away and my belly button would be Hollywood ready. 😂

I don’t think that’s the going to happen. The scarring looks atrocious.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Please let me know in the comments if you have questions about the surgery.

The aftermath so far: painful

So my day surgery turned into an overnight stay at the hospital due to severe pain, the inability to use some of my bodily functions and the nausea.

Dr. Guan and a female fellow surgeon (I can’t remember her name) handled me with precision. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 a.m., but I didn’t actually make it into the OR until after 8. And I don’t even remember that part because as soon I signed the anesthesia consent form, it was lights out for me❗️

The doctors worked for at least three hours during the Da Vinci single incision endometriosis surgery, cutting away endometriosis implants around my uterus, ovaries and bowels.  My uterus itself was twice the size it should have been, according to Guan.

Apparently, I had quite a bit of endometrial-like tissue inside my uterus that caused the swelling, and they were unable to get it out. They assured us (fiance & sister) it would only cause problems during my period and that I’d no longer experience the horrific pain I experienced every day as a result of my endo.

I remember waking up in the recovery area with my cheerful, sweet (and handsome) nurse Tom, who I eventually nicknamed Tom Cruise.

After several doses of morphine, which did absolutely nothing for me, Tom got approval to use a fentanyl pain injection, another narcotic that did nada. I had experience with both, as I had used them for my first excision surgery and for my appendectomy last year. The pain did not subside. At this point my pain was bouncing around between a 7 and an 8 or between ☹️and a 😫.

Then Tom – God bless him – got me dilaudid (hydromorphone) and sure enough my pain eased up. I started cracking jokes about how I was feeling so little pain, I’d make it to my Olympic weightlifting class in the morning and snatch and deadlift a few hundred pounds here and there.img_2842
But by 5 p.m. shortly after they brought me back to the day surgery area, the pain came back with a vengeance and Tom was no longer my nurse. I couldn’t pee and my anxiety skyrocketed. My nurse gave me an anti-anxiety but no painkillers.

I started to cry. Did she not believe me?

That couldn’t have been it, because they asked me to stay the night to get the pain under control, which I wasn’t originally meant to do. Then came the Toradol, an anti-inflammatory med intended to treat pain. My pain went from 😫 to 😖. Not much relief there and I told her that, but she said that because I had taken an anti-anxiety pill, I couldn’t take a narcotic. 🤷🏽‍♀️

After they admitted me into the hospital, my new nurse JR tried to get approval for something stronger. We tried morphine. Again nothing.

By 7:30 p.m., I was in tears practically screaming in agony. Eventually, JR got approval for several painkillers, including dilaudid, from the fellow surgeon who also said she’d stop by in the morning to check in on me. That was definitely good to hear; I liked her.

I’ve been drinking so much apple juice, ginger ale and water. I don’t understand how I haven’t yet exploded because going to the bathroom is nearly impossible. It’s a task, it hurts and barely any liquid comes out of my body.

“That’s normal,” Nurse JR said. “Your body is still coming off the anesthesia and you had surgery on those delicate areas. Try not to push yourself.”

That’s easy, I thought to myself. Trying to pee is uncomfortable, so I’d rather not do it even if the urge is there.

About an hour ago (it’s about 5:30 a.m.), JR gave me more dilaudid after my pain shot up from a 😏 to a 😩.

He’s coming back in awhile to give me more Toradol and liquid Tylenol. Then the Oxy, which surprisingly and unfortunately does little for me.

Needless to say, working on pain management has been an unfortunate chore, one I haven’t been able to get right.

I asked JR if I’d be able to sleep in my own bed tonight. He said it all depended on how well I managed pain on pills like Oxy. It’s disheartening because I don’t know what to do. Why isn’t my body receptive to these crazy drugs? I wish the morphine would take care of everything.

Hopefully when this is all over, I’ll truly be pain free.

Countdown to painfree

I can’t stop shaking. Even as I type this my hands tremble gently.

Tomorrow is the big day. I’ll be out of surgery by this time tomorrow (hopefully).

I’m sitting here on my lunch break, trying to calm myself. Telling myself over and over that it’s an outpatient procedure, so I shouldn’t be this nervous. It’s a common procedure, a blip on a doctor’s schedule. Next!

This isn’t a brain transplant. I’ll be fine.

Starting at 6 p.m., I need to avoid certain foods, drinks. Nothing too heavy. Stick to toast, apple juice, cranberry juice. NO Orange juice, they tell me. I’m not sure why.

I talked to Danny last night and said that he needed to make sure that under no circumstance is he allowed to give in to my certain incessant future pleas for fast food following the surgery. No cheeseburgers. No pizza. No chocolate cake. No comfort food to ease the pain.

I’m hopeful the anesthesia will make me nauseated enough to ignore any possible cravings I’ll experience. For now, the anxiety I feel is enough to curb my appetite.

I took half an Ativan. Where’s the other half?

It’ll be OK. Tomorrow will come and go and by next week, I’ll be so thankful I chose to undergo this endometriosis excision surgery. All I can do now is be patient, calm and hopeful.

Minimally invasive

In less than 48 hours, I’ll be under the knife with an endometriosis specialist looking inside my abdomen using a tiny camera attached to a robotic arm.

But unlike my 2016 surgery where the doctor made three incisions around my belly button, the team this time around will need to make only a single 1.5 to 2.5-centimeter incision inside my belly button.

“We take belly buttons extremely seriously here,” a woman doctor told me during my pre-op visit Monday.

I already have scarring in my belly button and around my abdomen from a previous excision and appendectomy, so naturally I assumed the doctors on Thursday (the day of my surgery) would re-use the holes. But that wouldn’t be necessary, the doctor told me. More than 90 percent of all the surgeries Dr. Guam performs only necessitates one opening – and it’s through the belly button, meaning any surgery scar can stay inconspicuous.

The thought is mildly comforting.

I still have to undergo the procedure, which according to some estimates can last up to four hours (or more); I have to tolerate the anesthesia, wake up, heal and go about normally using all my bodily functions. Not to mention to pain and the excessive amounts of vaginal bleeding that is sure to occur following the operation. Then there’s that tiny part in there where they don’t want you to lift more than 10 pounds for six weeks.

Goodbye Crossfit. Goodbye Olympic lifting. (At least for six weeks.)

Last year, my endo problems felt like they were getting worse. My poor lifestyle choices, including horrible nutrition and lack of exercise exacerbated the pain. When I began to do crossfit last April, I instantly felt happier and when I coupled that with better food choices, my body thanked me. In more ways than one.

Not only were some of my endo symptoms beginning to feel like they were under control, I started to lose weight, build muscle and get strong.

But right in the middle of that, I had to have an appendectomy and it significantly slowed me down healthwise. I was eventually able to get back on track and lose a total of 20 pounds between April and November, but it wasn’t easy.

I’m afraid this endo surgery, even though it’s meant to do more good than harm, is going to derail me from my overall health goals. Losing weight, getting strong – that felt good. I felt the difference, physically and emotionally, between non-training days and crossfit days.

My endo symptoms – the bloat, the digestive issues, the back pain, headaches – it all felt minor next to the feel-good muscle soreness I got from a tough workout.

Here’s to hoping that recovery from this surgery is swift.