Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hysterectomy/Salpingo-Oopherectomy is done and I am recovering!

Well, it has been 6 days since I have a total hysterectomy/salpingo-oopherectomy to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer and I have to say, that everything has gone better than I expected it to! Praise the Lord!

As I have written before, I was very anxious for the few days leading up to the surgery and the only thing that helped me was staying busy! It was only when I had nothing to do, that I began to think about it and get anxious. 

To those of you who are interested in a recap of my surgery and recovery, here it is.  I was so glad that I was Dr. Hall's first surgery of the day on March 11th even though Nathan and I had to be at CMC at 5:30 AM! My parents spent the night with us and took care of the girls after we left.  My parents prayed with me before I went to bed on Thursday night and when I went to kiss the girls goodbye on Friday morning, Sophie had slept with a picture of me and had written me a note to tell me she loved me.  So sweet! We made it to CMC in like 20 minutes because there was absolutely NO traffic at that time of the morning.  We checked in with 4 other patients there for various surgeries.  There was this huge waiting room we were put in with about 20 people and I thought, "this is going to take forever", but they took me back, without Nathan, within about 10 minutes.  The pre-op process went well and I had a wonderful nurse that took care of me.  After she prepped me, Nathan was allowed to come sit with me.  We were introduced to my anesthesiologist, who my friend, Richard, who is also an anesthesiologist, picked out for me and we also met my nurse anesthetist.  They were wonderful as well and took extra special care of me.  Everyone kept saying that Dr. Hall may or may not come by to see you before the surgery.  They referred to him as "the captain of the ship" because he has been a gynecological oncologist for like over 30 years and he has teams of residents and interns that work under him.  The fact that he was so experienced really made me feel at ease about having him perform my surgery.  He did come by to say hello to me before the surgery with one of his residents and after a few minutes, it was time to go.  Nathan prayed for me and I got a little teary, but after saying goodbye to Nathan, we were rolling down the hall to surgery.  I remember going into the operating room and how big it was with lots of large pieces of equipment with many different colored lights, but that is all I remember until I woke up.  The surgery took a little less than 2 hours (just like Dr. Hall had said) and he went out to tell Nathan and my mom, who had gotten there by then, that everything was fine.  Our good friend, John G., also came up to the hospital to bring Nathan a biscuit and sit with him, which was so nice.  I also had a wonderful post op nurse who took care of me and it was a good thing because I had to sit in post op for almost 4 hours due to the fact there was no rooms available for me until about 2 pm that afternoon! I slept off and on for about an hour or so in post op, but when I woke up, the nurse let Nathan and my mom come back to stand with me.  It was great to see them.  I also called the girls' school and talked to both Gracie and Sophie to reassure them that the surgery was over and that I was okay.  I really did not have any pain after the surgery, but my stomach was sore from the 5 "bullet holes" I have from the laproscopic surgery.  It is truly amazing that they can perform this surgery laproscopically instead of through a large incision in your abdomen.  It cuts the recovery time down from months to days. Nathan and my mom kept me entertained in post op, along with all of the nurses there.  One of the nurses even gave them something to eat and Nathan kept telling stories (as he is so good at) to various staff and talked to one nurse about golden retrievers and dog breeding.  Nathan and my mom both stood beside my bed for the 3 plus hours, which really did not feel much longer than about 20 minutes to me, until they moved me to a regular room.  The post op nurse was nice to go ahead and take out my catheter as well.  Once in my new room, the nurse came in and said she was very surprised to see how well I was doing.  I was alert, talking on the cell phone to a friend and was ready to get out of bed and use the bathroom.  It did take me a few hours until my bladder woke up and I could pee, but after that happened, I was ready to go home.  Dr. Hall came back to check up on me with his residents (I think he usually just sends his residents, but gave me some extra care by checking on my personally).  He confirmed with me that the surgery went perfectly and that he had already checked out my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries and that they all looked normal to him.  PTL!!! The hospital had already done an official pathology report on my uterus and cervix by that time, which showed everything was normal, and Dr. Hall had prepared and sent off my ovaries and Fallopian tubes for an official pathology report, which he will have back by the time of my post surgery appointment with him in a few weeks.  Even though I could have stayed one night in the hospital, Dr. Hall said that I looked so good, that if I wanted to go home, I could.  So, he sent me home.  Yeah!!!! It took a few hours for them to discharge me, but we got home about 7:30 that night and after taking a quick shower, I went straight to bed.  I did take one pain pill that night and I think it helped me sleep all night.  The next two days, I was sore, but had no pain really.  I did not take any more pain medication, but did take Advil regularly.  It was so nice to see my girls again that next day.  They each had spent the night with a friend and their families had made it a special night for them.  I have been taking it easy over the last 6 days. Nathan took care of me on Saturday and part of Sunday, but then he had to go out of town for work in Texas.  My mom and dad essentially moved in after he left and have been taking care of me all week.  Really, they did not have to take care of me too much, just mainly helping me take care of my girls.  After the first two days, I don't have any more soreness and no pain at all.  I have started to walk and I can even work some now-from my couch. Since I had a full hysterectomy, my doctors have been able to put me on a low dose estrogen patch to alleviate or minimize any menopause symptoms.  They all say that you have similar symptoms of menopause that your mother did.  My mom has been through menopause, but had very few symptoms.  She does keep her house cooler than she used to so she does not get hot at night, but really did not have any other symptoms.  Surgical menopause is different than gradual menopause and because of my age, all of the doctors told me that I could have menopause symptoms within hours or days of the surgery and at the most a few weeks. To date, I have had no symptoms of menopause, but I am still waiting for menopause to strike me.  We'll see how that goes.....

There have been so many blessings during this entire process.  The two main things I was worried about-not waking up from the surgery and the doctors already finding abnormalities in one of my female organs are no longer worries for me.  I did survive the surgery, it went perfectly without any pain or problems and none of my female organs were already affected with any abnormal cells! I also have the huge weight of possible ovarian cancer lifted off of me because I have reduced my risk down to as close to zero percent as humanly possible. An unexpected relief for me has been that I am not as anxious about my future surgery to reduce my breast cancer risk because this one has gone so well.  Some of the greatest blessings from this experience has been all of the prayer support from my closest family and friends to acquaintances within our community to people whom I have never met, but know of me through someone else.  Their prayers were heard and answered! I have also received overwehlming support from family and friends through cards, phone calls, emails, visits, flowers and food for my family that has all helped ease my recovery.  I cant say enough about what a huge blessing it was that two of my closest friends (with daughters the same age as mine) kept one of my girls for the day and night that I had the surgery.  It was such a relief to know that they were being well taken care of and having a blast at an extra special sleepover! Another huge relief has been another friend who has taken care of our dogs for the few days that Nathan has been out of town because I would not be capable of doing it right now. 

If I had to share the hardest aspects of this experience, it would be (I know this is gross, but it really was the most difficult thing for me) the bowel prep I had to endure for the 24 hours leading up to my surgery and then the restrictions of no lifting anything over 3 pounds for 6 weeks! You dont realize how much stuff weighs until you are not supposed to lift anything over 3 pounds.  I did not think about how I am going to go to the grocery store or take a bucket of water to our dogs or even lifting a gallon of milk out of the fridge.  I cant do any of that on my own. But, I have tremendous support and know that I will get through the rest of my recovery well.

I want to end today with one of my favorite scriptures about prayer because I really am the most grateful for all of the prayers that were said on my behalf and the fact that my heavenly father heard those prayers, protected and guided my through this experience and gave me a peace that he will always be there with me. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7)

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