Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ode to my Uterus, and other Lady Parts

So I had a hysterectomy last week. How's that for an ice breaker? I suppose I should have discouraged my male readers from reading this post. And yet the title should have given them a clue, am I right? Anyway ...

After several months of pain and excessive, uh, well, let's just say that I was beginning to reeeallly relate to the woman in the Bible with the issue, my doctor ordered an ultrasound and discovered that I had fibroid tumors in my uterus. When I told my husband, he said, "Sooo the woman in the Bible had fibroids?"  YES!! I'll bet she did, bless her heart.

I was then referred to an OB/GYN who asked me, before even giving me my options, what I thought I wanted to do about the situation? I told her that a couple of my friends figured I'd have to have a partial hysterectomy (leaving my ovaries in place.) She asked how I felt about that, and I said I was fine with it, all the while trying not to seem overly excited at the prospect of never having to buy another box of those, as my 10 year old calls them: Bleeding Tubes.

The surgery was scheduled for the week after I returned from my family vacation. It was on this vacation, that I had THE WORST PERIOD to date. It was as if my uterus sensed its impending doom and decided to let me pay with the cramps from HELLO!! I likened it to Satan knowing his time on the earth is short, and so he's pulling out all the stops before Jesus puts him away forever. That's right, I just likened my uterus to SATAN. If I ever felt the need for confirmation as it pertains to having this surgery, I got it. Shoot, I was ready to pull the thing out myself!

It was also on this vacation that my 13 year old daughter came to understand the reason for my excitement over my upcoming operation. When I mentioned that I wouldn't be needing those feminine products after the following week, she said, "Wait. THAT'S what the surgery is for?! NO FAIR!!"  Oh it's fair alright. 30 years of that mess is PLENTY.

6 days before the big day, I received a call from Connie, an RN at the hospital. She wanted to go over pre-op instructions like not eating or drinking past midnight the day before, yada, yada, yada.  My favorite part of the conversation went like this ...

Connie: Okay, and when you arrive that morning, they'll give you a cup for a urine sample to make sure you're not pregnant.

Me: There's NO WAY I'm pregnant, but okay.

Connie: Well, we just have to be sure.

Me:  I understand. Wait. Am I supposed to NOT pee when I wake up that morning? I mean, if I do, I can't drink anything after that, so what if I can't go once I get to the hospital?

Connie: Yes, go ahead and go when you wake up. Don't worry, you'll be SO EXCITED once you arrive at the hospital that you'll WANT to go AGAIN.

We laughed, but guess what? SHE WAS RIGHT. I peed TWICE at the hospital before my surgery. I love you, Connie.

The big day came, and as I was waiting on the gurney in my gown, a very sweet nurse, Rosana, came in and asked me some questions. One of the questions was, "In your own words, tell me what you think you're having done today." I said, "A partial hysterectomy." She said, "And what do you think that means?" I answered, "I'm having my uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes removed, but my ovaries will remain." She said, "Okay, great." Then she went on with some other questions, like if I'd eaten since midnight, etc.

After that, I had to sign some papers acknowledging that I would be sterile after the procedure.

Can I just say, that I've never been so happy to put my name to paper as I was at that moment? NO MORE BIRTH CONTROL NECESSARY. With the exception of the 18 months I was pregnant with my 2 daughters, I've taken birth control pills nearly 20 YEARS!!! GoodNESS, that's a long time to freak out about having a 3rd kid. And you know I freaked out a LOT. Click here for a reminder on just how scared I was to get pregnant a 3rd time.

A few minutes after Rosana left, my doctor came in and talked through what was going to happen during the surgery, all while diagramming it on my abdomen. When my husband saw it later, he said it looked like a play book. Agreed. This "selfie" was taken post surgery, which is why you can see the bruising and laparoscopic incisions.

Alright, so my doctor leaves and a 2nd nurse, the one who will be assisting in the O.R., comes in to ask me the same questions Rosana had asked only minutes before. This nurse, however, had an agenda.

Nurse: Tell me in your own words what you're having done today.

Me: A partial hysterectomy.

Nurse: A what?

Me: A partial hysterectomy.

Nurse: No, you are having a FULL hysterectomy.

Me now worried that she's gonna somehow overtake my doctor in the operating room and yank out my ovaries without my consent: No, I'm having a PARTIAL hysterectomy.

Nurse all condescending like: And just WHAT do you think THAT means exactly?

Me: I'm having my uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes removed. My ovaries will stay in tact.

Nurse chomping at the bit to teach this never-been-to-med-school girl a lesson: A full hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and cervix. YOU are also having your fallopian tubes removed. So you ARE having a FULL hysterectomy. There. Now you've been educated.

Irritated is more like it.

After that, she put something in my I.V., saying it would work pretty quickly.

And 2 minutes later I was in recovery.

Here's what I remember about recovery ... I kept hearing a beeping sound that would then go longer, sounding like I was flat-lining, and a nurse would yell, "Breathe Tamara! Big, deep breath! There you go." This must have happened 10 times if not 100. I also heard a few different medical assistants ask my husband, "Is she always this hard to wake up after surgery?" To which he would reply, "This is her first surgery." So I guess we all now know that I do NOT like waking up after surgery. Oh who am I kidding? We all know that I NEVER like to be awoken, for anything. Hence the need to stop the family reproduction at TWO children.

Another thing I remember was being quite nauseous. Like QUITE nauseous. Bad enough to warrant a shot in my rump to try and control it. GOOD TIMES.

Since I was considered an out-patient, and it was after 5:00 p.m., they were going to send me home whether I decided to fully wake up or not. I remember a nurse, I think it may have been my sweet Rosana, pushing me in a wheelchair out to the car ...

Rosana: Okay Tamara, you're going to have to stand up and open your eyes while you walk to the car.

Me:  Okay.

I stood up and took a few steps.

Rosana:  Are your eyes open Tamara?

Me:  Nope.

Rosana: Open your eyes Tamara.

Me:  Okay.

Did I keep them open? No idea. 

Somehow I got home to my bed, where I proceeded to sleep through the next 3 days, with the exception of dinner time. That's because I have the best friends on the planet who brought my family food!! I get now why this is such a blessing to people on the mend. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!

The first time I woke up at home, I saw this sweet Get Well card from Megan. Of course, I was on pain meds at the time, so all I could focus in on were the boobs in the word soon. I grabbed my chest in a panic, "Good Lord, WHAT surgery did I HAVE?!?!"

Thankfully, my upper half seemed to be the same size post-op. Whew!!

I know this post has gone way too long already, but it's been a couple of months since I've had any time to write. So with this, I'll close ...

The second night I'd been home, our dear friends Rachel and Marshall came over with dinner for us. As only true friends would, they asked Henry if I'd done or said anything embarrassing while coming out of the anesthesia. Henry said, "Well, yeah, actually. She said, 'I'm more tired NOW than I was on our HONEYMOON.'"

Nice, huh?