…if not, then you probably shouldn’t read the next several paragraphs; that’s all I’m gonna talk about now. Woo!
At the moment I’m lying in bed enjoying my very first day of trying not to take massive amounts of narcotics. Those make me loopy! And tired. And a little giggly, but giggling makes my incisions hurt, so that’s a bad thing. Let me start from the beginning.
We’ve been trying to get pregnant (big surprise? I thought that’d be huge!). After years of nothing working and countless procedures, we’ve decided that it’d be in our best interest (not to mention my body’s ever-lovin’ gratefulness) to stop the nonsense and move on.
Well, we’re doing that. It’s been rough, but it’s fine now. However, my body seemed to have a slightly different idea of moving on. Apparently “moving on” in body-speak translates to “give her excruciating pain for months on end. It’ll be fun!” So that’s what it did. We’re talking bad pain here–so bad that it made my old cramps look like a stubbed toe. Starting around may I was spending several days wrapped around the toilet and powering my way through hard tasks such as eating cereal and walking to the car.
By August things had gotten worse–now it was lower abdominal pain pretty much all the time. There we were, out in Virginia, and I couldn’t even get out of bed. It was waking me up at night, I was over-dosing on Tylenol PM just so I could sleep, and for most of the day I couldn’t even stand up straight. You try attending a family party in that state. That was sucky.
Anyhow, it seems that the endometriosis I banished 2 years ago (via another surgery) has come back with a vengeance. I guess I just pissed it off last time. Who knew I could hurt its feelings?
I don’t like my old doctor. I was there a lot (A LOT!!) during the past few years, and it never worked, and he put me through a lot of pain, and we’ve spent the last 12 months desperately trying to pay off my medical bills (“What do you MEAN we owe you another $756?!? We called last month and you said that payment of over a thousand was the last one ever! You promised!” Imagine that for a full year) and I really, really, really didn’t want to go back. So much so, that I didn’t tell anyone how much pain I was in for a very long time. Dean didn’t even know. I remember sneaking out of bed at night very, very quietly and taking handfuls of pain killers so I could sleep. I also found that vicodin took the edge off enough that I could teach without racing out of the class to puke every few moments. Of course, trying to answer stupid questions while doped up was an adventure, and involved a lot of giggling on my part (good thing that’s nothing new, or my students would have noticed!)
Long story short, I didn’t want to go back to my doctor. I actually blame him for a lot of things, the least of which are the permanent track marks on my arms from blood tests. So I didn’t tell anyone because I knew the instant reaction of “go to the doctor” would follow.
Dean eventually figured it out (it’s really hard to puke-and-sob silently, damnit!) and insisted I go to the doctor. The predictable breakdown on my part followed, and then Dean was in charge of finding a new doctor and navigating the murky depths of our health insurance. We looked a two doctors (by “we” I mean “Dean got the names from the endometriosis support group, called the doctors, talked a bit, checked with the insurance company to see if they were covered, then dropped me an email with the name”) and one was covered by insurance. And also happens to be the head of the endometriosis society, the editor of the endometriosis journal, and the foremost expert in minimally invasive surgery in the United States. I choose him!
We go for an initial consultation (hey dildo-shaped ultra sound wand! How I’ve missed you!) and it goes something like this: “Take off your pants–we need to do a pelvic exam. Huh. You have endometriosis. I can feel an adhesion through your abdominal wall…sex must be painful, yes? Well, let’s do an ultra sound…ok, you have poly cystic ovaries. Yes, I know it hurts, just a moment…ah, your left ovary is adhered to the side of your uterus, and your uterus is abnormally tipped. Let’s go see the doctor!”
Ah, fun for me. So the doctor (well, the other doctor. The one that did the exam was a surgeon as well, just not the head surgeon for the center. Woo for having a pelvic exam by a real doctor! That’s new) was very soft spoken and nice–here’s his intro “I will never say I’m the best at what I do. But I challenge anyone who says he is he best and I will win. So I hear you wanted this surgery yesterday?” That won me over. And yes, I wanted the surgery as soon as possible.
So we schedule the surgery for four weeks hence: October 24th in the morning. Fun! That gives me four weeks to learn all about the possible side effects and have various people tell me all manner of interesting things about surgery (Quick aside–I teach human biology, people! If and when anyone with less education than me feels the need to explain the intricacies of the reproductive system to me, I’m just going to ignore it. You’re invariably wrong, and I’m invariably annoyed. Yes, I know you’re just trying to help, but you have to remember I do know what I’m talking about, and when you say things like “well, you do have two ovaries you know!” I have to fight the urge to scream ‘Do you think I’m stupid?!? Do you want to explain what all those other fancy words mean too? I just don’t know!’ But then that would cause a scene and I’d have to end up apologizing and whatnot, and I just don’t care for that course of action. There. I’m better now).
So pre-op arrives, and I cancel office hours to go, which confuses my students to no end at all. Who knew someone wanted to see me in office hours? Weird! Dean and I go, and we get to sign all manner of fun paperwork. Do I have advanced directives? Yes. I want to live, damnit! Do I have a will? No. Who is my next of kin? Dean. Am I scared? Yes. That last one wasn’t actually on the paperwork, but my quivering innards seemed to give me away.
Well, then we get a stack of prescription papers, the paper with all the stuff they’ll be doing to me the next day (they have to do everything! And it all ends in “oscopy!”) and a list of fun things for me to do the next day.
And let me tell you about the next day. So I’m not allowed to eat after 12 noon, which means no workout. After noon, I can have clear liquids (and Jell-o) and then three o’clock rolls around. At three o’clock I have to begin my colon cleanse, because they need to check all of my innards, you see. All of them.
Anyone had to do a colon cleanse? Well, “suck” is a mild word. So they give you these two, 1.5 oz bottles of saline with other stuff to drink. You have to drink the whole thing–yum. Who in their right mind decided to make a super salty drink lemon-ginger flavor?!? Oh…my…god was it awful. It actually took me 45 minutes to drink the full ounce and a half. Gahhhhh! It was super gross. Now, when the nurse talked to me about the colon prep, she said that it would take about an hour to kick in, then I better be near a toilet. Ooooooohhhhh, was she right! Have you heard of that stuff called “colon blow?” Yep–that’s exactly what happened. For hours. It was horrible. Then I had to take another dose! Oh dear lord! When will this stop?!? By the end of the night I was ready to knock myself out just to get off the damn toilet. FYI–don’t try and go to a movie during a colon prep…worst two hours of all time. And I couldn’t have popcorn!
So we show up at Stanford (yay Stanford) at 5 am the next morning for the surgery. After a long talk with the insurance guy (well, one surgeon is covered but not the other. Don’t worry…we won’t charge you more than $2000.) I get to go into the cold back room, take off my clothes and talk to the nice nurses about what’s going to happen to me. “So, did you have a good response to the colon prep?” HA! Hahahahahah! Ah, the jokes of doctor-types. The last thing I remember is being wheeled into the OR with crazy-making stuff in my blood stream making me laugh.
I wake up apparently 3 1/2 hours later in recovery (I was there for over 2 hours…I remember maybe 40 seconds of it) with a sand bag on my belly. Sand bag! All I could croak out was “what’s on my stomach?” and then “get it off!” For hours. Stupid sand bag. Well, hours of in and out of consciousness later, I get to stay in the hospital over night. That’s where they keep the good drugs. Who knew morphine burned when they put it in the iv? Mmm…burning drugs…. Of course, they had to wake me up every 90 minutes to pee and walk around. Stupid nurses who give me good drugs!
Well, it ends up they did a laperoscopy and removed the extensive endometriosis. They also looked inside and out of my large and small intestines, my stomach, my diaphragm, and my appendix. I got to keep my appendix. Yay! (Did you know they discovered the purpose of the appendix? How awesome is that! And I still have one! Woo!) Then they looked inside of my bladder and discovered I have interstitial cystitis or over active bladder. Ok, I knew I had to pee a lot, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Nope, it wasn’t. They also did a bunch of other cuts and whatnot, but I forget what all they did. I do know it hurt.
So I had to pee after having a camera shoved up my urethra. That burns!! Burns I say! And it also hurts and stuff. Stupid having to pee! Here’s my advice–unless it hurts all the time, don’t tell any doctor ever that you have to pee a lot. They’ll just do horrible things to you that make you pee dye and bleed out of weird places. Don’t do it!
Dean came and got me early the next morning, after my 2 mandatory bowls of vegetable broth, and I got a complimentary ride in a wheelchair to the car. It was bumpy and ouchy! Then I came home and slept. And peed. Then cried a little. Then got all doped up on pills, then did it all again. Now it’s almost a week later, and I’m just about ready to sit up all on my own. I’m (mostly) off narcotics now–I can almost handle the pain all on my own. Yay me!
That’s it for now…this blog took me like 6 hours to write while I tried to sleep or take my meds or something. There you go! I’m fine, although a bit ouchy now, and I’d love to see people if you wanna come and visit. Thank you for all your notes and stuff! Love you all!