Tag Archives: surgery

Pieces of Me

Today marks the one year anniversary of my hysterectomy.  I am not sure how I feel about it really.  It was just a day that I lost pieces of me.  They may have been organs that were becoming dead tissue but they were still part of me.  I am lucky that my “girlie bit” organs were the only organs I lost that day.  The endometriosis had started to more to my kidneys and was all the way down covering my entire pelvic floor.

Besides the organs and other tissues they have removed from me in the last 1-1/2 years, I have realized that I have lost other pieces of me along the way.

I have lost the ability to really concentrate on knitting and have only completed a handful or projects.

I have lost my desire to get lost in a book, mainly because I am so tired by the time I pick one up that I fall asleep.

I have lost the ability to visit my parents, only 3 hours away, because I can not sit in a car that long.

I have lost the time going and doing and seeing with my husband because the pain was too intense.

I have most certainly lost friends because I can not go and “hang out” like I used to and they stopped calling to see how I was.

And sadly, I have lost real pieces of me – my personality – myself.

I am finally beginning to realize that I may not ever be without pain.  It is hard to understand, accept and move on with life but that is what I am doing.

I have been through two (not so fun & expensive) caudal epidurals.  They seem to help knock the pain down.  I will take what I can get.

I just finished a knitting project – the first in months!  I have also signed up for a knitting class that starts this weekend.  I am really excited and looking forward to it.

I got a bike that I have gone on short bike rides with my husband. It is nice to be outside pedalling around like kids in the graveyard near our house.

I have not yet been to see my parents – but I am hoping to for the holidays *fingers crossed*

I have found the friends that are truly caring.  They have been the ones that have checked and visited and called – and that is worth so much to me.

I am beginning to learn more about the person I am becoming from all of this.  I have certainly been changed by all of this.

I may have lost so many pieces of me but I thinking I am starting to take some of the pieces back – and put together  and beginning to see my puzzle of me.

Is it Hot in Here?

So, from my earliest recollection of hearing the word menopause it seemed to always be associated with “hot flash”.  Well, I now know that menopause is one HELL of a lot more then that, but we will cover that at another time.  Back the hot flashes.

So I knew that having a complete hysterectomy would be result in surgical menopause – so I immediately started preparing for the resulting hot flash catastrophe that would ensue immediately after my girlie bits were removed.  I can not be positive since I was fairly mediated at the beginning, but I believe that I did not have my first hot flash until about 5 weeks into my recovery – and it was SO not what I was expecting.

It was shortly after my Four Little Words (when are you due) incident and I was out shopping at the Mall.  It had been a great morning.  I was out and feeling pretty good though still obviously healing.  I had a coffee and a long over due visit to one my favorite stores (Yankee Candle – one of my little addictions).  I shouldn’t push it – it was time to get out of the mall and back to being horizontal.

I had planned my parking to be the closet to the stores I wanted to visit and my escape route was directly through a large department store.  I had just entered the store and realized they were getting their Christmas merchandise out (keep in mind this is early October).  Let me warn you now, I really LOVE Christmas – it just instills visions of baked goods, joy and happiness into my little Grinch heart.  So, I obviously need to find the strength to wander through what they have out for 5 minutes.

I quickly found this sweet little goat stuffed animal that sings “The Lonely Goatherd”… and it was 25% off.  I had to have him.  This stuffed animal was making me smile and laugh – two things I had not done in a very long time.  I made my selection of the absolute best little goat and made my was through the holiday glitter to the check out stand.  As the kind, older lady was ringing up my new little fella, I had the weirdest, most uncomfortable sensation start to swept through me.  All of the sudden, I was freezing cold and had goose bumps all over – but – at the same time there was a smoldering inferno inside my chest and brain that burned so completely it make me cold.

I didn’t know what to do!

My internal monologue = Am I having heart attack or a stroke?  Did I get some kind of Merca like infection I picked up at the hospital that is raging through my body?  Did all my organs just suddenly flip out and change places?

As you can imagine, this entire internal monologue was running across my face.  I realized that the kind, older lady was asking if I was ok – and I hadn’t answered.  Finally I found some words and got out that I had just had a hysterectomy the month before and I thought something was wrong because I was freezing cold (I showed her my goose bumps) but I had this fire in my chest.  By this point, she has walked around the stand and was slowly steering me to a little bench to sit down.   Once she had me settled, she knelt in front of mewithher hand on my knee and said “You are just going through the change – and that is a hot flash”.  Of course I knew she was wrong – I was supposed to be just really, really hot and sweating, right?  Right?  I voiced as much and she just calmly said:

“Your hormones don’t know what to do and now you just can’t regulate our temperature.  Sometimes you are hot – sometimes you are cold.  You had the cold one just now.”

Me internally = HOLY SHIT THIS SUCKS! Me out loud to the kind older lady = “Thank you, that wasn’t in any of my research”

She smiled and shook her head witha half laugh.  She was on her way back to the cash register.  I silently followed her and we finished up my silly goat purchase.  Instead of the “Thank you and come back” – she said “It gets better honey”.

This was the beginning of realizing that there are a lot of things They don’t tell you.

(un)Amusement Park

Over the course of the last 11 months since my hysterectomy I have noticed changes almost daily – in my body and in my psyche.  Every morning I wake up and take a deep breathe wondering what the day will bring.  It is almost like waiting to see what the new features are going to be at the amusement park’s side show.  Most noticeable to those around me are my extra 30 lbs (they all swear looks good on me) and my new found ability to cry at the drop of a hat.

It is hard to admit but I have always worn my heart on my sleeve.  But since my hysterectomy it feels like I am wearing a “Susan’s on the edge” dress for all to see.  This was never more evident to me then when I took an aptitude test before an interview for a new position at my office.  I went through all the “pick a word” – this is that – map this graph –  to figure out “what I was”.  I really wasn’t thinking much about it as I went through it all as I had taken this test a few years ago and I was a something like “perfectionist with a side of analytical thinker”.  As I continued to decipher the hidden meaning from the words I had chosen, it started to become clear things had changed.  At one point I had to reveal a word that described me next to a number that correlated with some of the findings.  This word was “emotional” – so –  I immediately got upset and said out loud “No I Am NOT”.  Of course this is the just one of several words, but obviously, things had changed.

This is just one of the many changes that have made me different.  The shear experience makes me look at life differently.  The things that upset people around me just seem so trivial.  They just don’t seem to get it – there is so much for them to be thankful for and they seem to ignore it.  I had always taken my health for granted.  I had kidney stones and broken bones – I figured that would be the worst of it.  I currently long for those days.  I have had things done to my body in a doctor’s office that I would have thought would have to be done in an operating room.  My body has become someone else’s at this point.

Menopause – I have said enough.

Every day seems to bring something new for me to notice; my hair is breaking, my skin has dry patches, I forget words when I am speaking, I have WAY more grey then I did a year ago and I have a HUGE wrinkle between my eyebrows.  The one think that never changes – the pain, the pain is always there.  I am thankful that the endometriosis is no longer strangling my large intestines and was pulled for me kidneys.  I was just hoping for relief, just some.  Maybe my personal side show would be easier to take then.

It doesn’t matter the day – I wake up and just lay and bed and wait – what new thing would come to light at my (un)amusement park today?

Three for Thursday! 8.18.2011

OK, here is a Three for Thursday I can get behind! And I guess also increase my behind at the same time. This week it is about my favorite sweet treats. Everyone needs a treat now and then.

  1. Tootsie Rolls – I really, really LOVE tootsie rolls. They are so wonderful and a fat free food to boot! Let’s just say that I have had a long love affair with these little babies. They have also had an enabler – my father – he has cultured my love throughout the years. As some college grads have experienced, I found myself stuck and having to live with my parents for a bit. My dad’s way to make it all better = 10 lb bag of Tootsie Rolls. It helped easy the pain, a lot (add some whiskey it took away everything).
  2. Turtles – Chocolate, caramel and pecans? SIGN ME UP! My mom started me on these when we moved to Atlanta as I was about to start high school. I was a Goo Goo Cluster girl until that time – but they did not have them in the South – what the HELL! My husband now knows my secret lust for these treats – I must have had a turtle a day when I was recovering from my hysterectomy. Chocolate does have healing powers
  3. ALL the rest of the Chocolate – Yep, I have never met a chocolate I didn’t like – I just like some more than others…. Snow-caps, snickers, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with chili, chocolate covered coffee beans, CHOCOLATE & BACON (yum!), 5th avenue bars, baby ruths – seriously I could keep going! I really do love my chocolate.
This Three for Thursday has a dark side – you all know where I am going… For really the first time in my life I have to watch my weight. I have never backed on pounds like I have in the last year – but I have done it. So while I peruse the yummy candys, I have a date daily – with – “The Terminator of Yummy Food”. (picture below)

Faux (.)

Having major surgery is scary.  I tried to put on a “happy face” but I was scared, worried and maybe a smidge panicky by the time I was ready to go to my pre-op appointment at my surgeon’s office.  I had a long list of questions for him and I was just ready to pounce the second he finished his due diligence discussion (or more aptly – just sign this in case I kill you).  SO, I had my chance and I took it.  I rattled off 3 weeks of research off in a flowing stream of questions that lasted about 5 full minutes.  I am also pretty sure I did not take a breath.

After all my questions concerning what exactly would be taken out of me (and if I could keep it), bone loss, hormone therapy, endo resurgence, length of surgery, length of incision, length of hospital stays, pre-op meds, post op meds, tummy support, lifting restrictions and basic living restrictions were all taken care of I was told something I hadn’t ever crossed my mind:

“You may have some vaginal bleeding for up to 6 months but after that – you will no longer have a period”

Two words ran through my mind but did not pass my lips because I was sitting in the middle of a doctor’s office – HOT DAMN!  This is the best news ever!  I will not have to suffer every month like clock work.

I was so excited!  Why hadn’t I ripped this stuff out of me sooner????  This is going to be the life – no cramps, cravings, headaches, bloating, backaches or the icky part we shall not discuss in mixed company.  I could wear light colored pants/skirts without fear!  Now I had something really great to look forward to after all this crap.  No more monthly visits from Mother Nature!!!  HOT DAMN!

Cut to almost a year later…. Next month I will be having my one year anniversary of my hysterectomy (currently, I do not have a party planned – yet).  I may not have my period as I remember it – but what I have now is only cramps, cravings, headaches, bloating, backaches PLUS hot flashes.  That is right – I GOT SCREWED!  You’re right – I don’t have a period anymore – I have a faux period.

The doctor promises this will get better over time, and because of my younger age, and hormone balances and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH… I should eventually get throughwithall of this.

Screw you Mother Nature – you may have the last laugh now – but I am not spending any money on your expensive feminine products!  TAKE THAT!

Three for Thursday! 08.11.2011

This week I will share with your three of my contastant companions that got me through my hysterectomy recovery.  Let me just say that of course my wonderful husband was my knight in yada yada – but he had some helpers that made me smile.  In order of age we have:

#1 – Echo, Physician’s Assistant.  He not only had luminescent, x-ray eyes,  but he was with me constantly  Pictured here during a late night bed check.

#2 – Peanut Puppy, Nurse Maid and alerter to danger, both real and imagined.   Nurse maiding is hard work per the pix.

#3 – Lucky No. 13, heating pad heater.  They can’t take care of themselves.

I know that people may make fun of me and others that have such love for their animals – but they are part of my family.  Not only has their companionship gotten me through my surgical recoveries – but also the knowledge that I will not birth my own children.  These are my furry kids, I love them for everything they are and everything they can not be.  They make me smile, laugh and love things that are beyond themselves.

They are my Three for Thursday this week and everyday!

Freddy vs Jason –OR– Why I like the NFL Channel

I learned shortly after my first laparoscopy that I would need to have a hysterectomy.  To be honest – I kind had the feeling that may be the case while in the recovery room after hearing the surgeon speaking with my husband

“…we are going to have to go back in and remove part of her large intestine too…  With it this advanced it would have been painful for years – hasn’t she complained?”  (I Told you it Hurt )

The bad news, I wouldn’t be able to move forward with that major surgery until my body had some time to heal from this surgery.   The good news, I had lots and lots of time to think and worry about – every – minute –  little – detail.  It was great!

First TONS of research:

  • Getting things I will not be able to live without for the hospital stay (which I don’t really remember – thank you dilaudid)
  • Make sure that you “plan your space” to suit you best (I don’t really remember the first two week in “my space” – thank you dilaudid)
  • Belts and packs to deal with pain and swelling (THIS I remember clear as a bell ringing across the frozen morning on the edge of Lake Michigan– dilaudid, you failed me here)
  • Small basket on the bed with everything I could ever need (I just remember  wanting the remote, iPhone and eating animal crackers – thanks again dilaudid)

Ok,  I had done my research and recovery was going to be 6 weeks of catching up on knitting and novels.  Needless to say – this was not at all the case.   It turned out to be lots of pain and sleeping in 3 hour increments.  There were many times I would just lay on my back and play solitaire on my phone until the images of the cards went blurry and the phone would drop out of my hands – thank you again dilaudid – you were my truest friend during the first 2 weeks of recovery.

Slowly, days started seeming more like days and not fuzzy blocks of time sandwiched between pain and sleep.  I started watching and really paying attention to TV.  By this time we were in to October.  Martha Stewart starting making “Autumn Sprays withTwigs and Berries”, it was easy viewing, and easy viewing to fall asleep to.

There was a lot of sleeping during this recovery.  The TV turned into the noise in which I used to make sure that I was not lonely during the day.  It was at this stage I was startled from a sound afternoon’s nap by the most disturbing sounds and images a fuzzy mind could take…. Freddy VS Jason.  It scared the crap out of me!  I honestly jumped awake by something my stirring conscience freaked out about.  Needless to say, the last thing a knifed abdomen wants to do is jump.  Obviously, I had picked to have recovery at the wrong time of the year not to be scared to death from every nappy time.

I soon started surfing for a channel I could just leave the tv tuned to.  I will not go through all the channels that failed – but instead share with you the one that worked – NFL Channel.  The NFL Channel is golden for the person who does not want to be startled awake by Halloween programming, shock daytime talk shows, shopping networks, early morning paid programming, news with loud clips/and sad stories, soap operas and clapping Oprah audiences.  Granted, you have to actually like pro football (which I do) and be able to ignore whistles.  Other then that it is PERFECT!

I always know what I am going to get on the NFL Channel – and I will take it.  There are no sad news stories, no paid programming, no one screaming at me – just sweet and easy football.  It is truly the best reality tv – and I have never once seen Freddy or Jason!

Those Four Little Words

I remember it well, the day last fall.  It was getting cooler outside.  It was like one day I had surgery in the Indian summer heat – and then I blinked – it was fall day and there were Halloween decorations everywhere.  I had been “house bound” for just a little over a month and I was ready to get out.  My big plans that beautiful fall day?  I was going to surprise my husband with a treat and coffee from the Starbucks in the local Barnes & Nobles store.  It was a HUGE thing for me!  This was the first time I had left my house ALONE since the day before my surgery weeks and weeks ago.

It is not a long drive to the Barnes & Nobles from our house – maybe only 7 minutes if I got stuck at the lights.  I was secretly hoping to get stuck at those lights so I could listen to my music, enjoy the breeze through the open windows and hear the birds chirping.  Once I made it to the store I did some browsing since I felt that I had the strength.  After about 10 minutes I decided not to push it… it was time to get the treats and then off to see my husband to surprise him.

I continue to look at books and doo-dads on my way to the dessert case.  It was just after 11 am but there was quite a few people starting to order luncheon items and gather in the general area– I had made it just before the rush – I was so proud of myself!  I was soon captivated by the dessert case – so shiny and bright and filled with delicious nummy good “bad for me” things!  It was just so pretty!   And then there was someone talking near me.

“When are you due?”

Oh – there must be a pregnant lady next to me.  I have been so engrossed in the goody case I hadn’t noticed her come up.  Good thing they don’t put these cases in my office while I am working!  I would never get anything done for sure!

Then again, “When are you due?”   This was then followed by a soft touch to my shoulder to get my attention.

Next came my internal monologue:

HOLY CRAPPERS!  That question was for me!!!  What the hell is going on?  I am not pregnant!  I just had a hysterectomy!  I can’t have children!  I will never have children!  Who is this woman staring at me?  Do I know her and I am too drugged to recognize her?  No – I didn’t take anything this morning so I can make this trip.  Why is she looking at me that way – so hopeful and smiling?  Why is she now all bleary – OH CRAPPERS – I am tearing!!  Quick – think quickly!  Quick, quick, quick!  And BE NICE!

Next came my external monologue (with a bright smile plastered on my face):

“Oh, sorry, I am not pregnant.  I had a hysterectomy a month ago – what you see is the extensive swelling from my surgery.  I can’t have children”.  And I finished with that same smile on my face.

And then, something as unexpected as being asked when I was expecting happened.  This woman started to cry – and apologize – profusely and continuously.  It was at this exact moment 2 things happened at once:

  1. It was my turn to order
  2. The intake of air from the crowd around us sucked all the oxygen out of Barnes & Nobles

I felt bad I made her feel so badly.  I feel even worse that she asked a question to a complete stranger, that she shouldn’t have (and that it was me).  Maybe, jut maybe that whole ordeal would save another woman who had a bulbous belly region who would not have dealt as well.  I just totally took one for the Hyster-Sister’s team!  Go me!

I paid, waited for my order with a smile and made small talk about the beautiful weather, collected my items when they were prepared, walked out of the store with my head held high and with a smile on my face.  I got to my car, placed the items on the floorboard of the back seat so they would not spill, sat down, put the keys in the ignition and then sat there, in the middle of the local Barnes & Nobles parking lot, crying.

All from four little words.

Words Hurt

“One uppers”.  We have all run into the practitioners of this annoying behavior.  The people who ask about details of a problem or issue you may be having or have had – and they proceed to tell (usually by interrupting you) how they or someone close to them has dealt with something much worse and/or how it was dealt with better than you have.  I have run into this so many times since my diagnosis of endometriosis and neuropathy it is shocking.  I have been very surprised by who these people are.

As I have stated elsewhere before, my battle with endo has left me in almost constant pain of varying degrees.  At some times, I am able to operate very well and can keep the pain at bay.  At other times I hurt so badly that the best I can do is lay on a heating pad and rock to distract myself.  It is just the way it goes.  I have been one upped on this when asked how I was… I was plainly told how a mutual friend has it “much worse”.

Why this hurts:

  • You ask me about me – not our friend
  • It is a different issue
  • People have different pain thresholds
  • It totally dismissed my issues

Another more detrimental “one up’ing” came before my hysterectomy.  A co-worker told me how their mother had a hysterectomy and was back at work in two weeks.  Of course, as we discussed this more, it became clear that they were unsure what type/extent of hysterectomy their mother had and it was clearer that it was due to another issue – not stage 4 endometriosis.

While I was out during my recovery from surgery this person told one person – that I know of – how their mother was back to work in two weeks and made it sound that I was somehow “milking the system” being out the minimum time that my surgeon mandated.  As to be expected with“office talk”, I heard about this almost immediately through a phone call.  At this point I was only 3 weeks post-op.  I was still in a lot of pain,  my incision was still open and having issues healing due to the “Super Glue Incident”, my hormones were off the charts from surgical menopause and (unknown to me at that time) I was building up painful granulated scar tissue.  I can not tell you how much this hurt.  That someone I considered a “friend” was saying this.

Because of this situation, I went back to work at the first opportunity I had.  The second day back at the office I took a tumble down the stairs.

Even though I have had these situations that emotionally hurt me and damage friendships, I will answer honestly when you ask me how I am or what I am going through.  My hope is that someone may tell a woman they know about my experience and I it will help them.  If you have realized that you may be a “one upper” try to remember that you are basically dismissing the person you are talking to.  Just think about it…. Words can hurt.

Yes, I am Going There

A year ago next month I had my complete abdominal hysterectomy. Not only have I enjoyed all the fun aspects of having surgical menopause, healing from major surgery and the wonders of healing a herniated scar BUT I have also had one added joy…

The joy of not having one single pair of underwear that fit – at all!

We are not talking, well you are healing – or – your body is changing and you will have to buy another size – not fitting. I am talking about not finding NEW OR OLD panties that fit comfortably. It has gotten so serious I was considering going commando – and in the words of my mother; “A lady does not do that…”. PLUS it would drive me insane because I would always worry my dress or skirt would blow up and I will be there – with all my goods in plain sight for the entire viewing public to mock.

The major issues facing me:

  1. Massive horizontal scar on tummy from surgery that is totally hideous and painful and right in the “elastic zone”
  2. Panties that gradually slip down my hips throughout the day that I fear will end up at my ankles (see fear realised below in photo).
  3. Panties that go directly up my bum and make me think about them all day long and how it is not “lady like” to go “on a dig” in the middle of the office.
  4. GRANNY PANTIES! I just can not do it. I know they would solve all the problems but I already feel ugly, fat and undesirable.

So, once I was healed and able to head out on my own I was shopping for panties – A LOT. I swear, I have purchased no less than 15 different styles of underwear trying to find something that would work. It had gotten so bad I was actually considering getting thongs. Just the thought scars me – it is the whole wind blowing my skirt/dress nightmare all over again! I would just be throwing some lace over some parts….

My obstacles to overcome:

  1. I had to think outside the box – the Victoria’s Secret box that is. They do not have anything that coves the ample back region I now own
  2. I am 40 – I need to shop were more grown ups shop. The VS models are 14 and have bigger boobs than me because of all the hormones in meat and milk these days.
  3. Try something new – go for a pair that may have a higher price tag… they just may work…. Right?

Wrong! I FINALLY found panties that work! I could shout it from the roof tops: My Undies Are Not Going Up My Bum OR Falling To My Ankles!

What are these fabulous, magical undergarments from the gods you ask??? Well, I will share this secret with you:

GapBody Low Rise Stretch Cotton Hipster – 5 for $25

These days, its the same victories.

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