Six Weeks

I realized today that it’s been six weeks (and one day) since my surgery! Back on my last post, which was one week (and one day) post surgery, I was feeling so frustrated in not being able to do much of anything. Now, I’m getting around much better!

In fact, I had my six-week checkup yesterday and my doctor said I’m healing up nicely and that I’m able to resume normal activity again. YESSSSSS!

I know, right?
I know, right?

I’m not immediately going back to CrossFit; I’m going to wait until after the first of the year before I start up that again. My doctor said that it would take probably six months before I’m 100% back to normal again. The idea of doing a burpee makes me cringe. I can’t even sleep on my stomach yet!

Instead, I’m going to start a couch to 5k training plan to get my endurance and strength back which will hopefully put me in a better spot for when I go back go CrossFit. But, I’ll still have to go slow because if I overdo things now, my incision lets me know. Jerk.

That's pretty much how I feel if I overdo it.
That’s pretty much how I feel if I overdo it.

Today is also Thanksgiving Day here in the US. My family is having their big dinner (at my house!) on Saturday, so we drove down to my brother’s house and had dinner with my Mom and one of my sisters instead. The rest of my siblings were at their in-laws, per tradition. That’s primarily why my family never celebrates the holiday on the holiday: the in-laws are insistent it be the day of, and my parents never gave a shit – they just wanted all of us to be together.

This year I’m thankful for family and that I got my own health problem taken care of so now I can focus on getting back in shape. This year taught me a valuable lesson about not taking things for granted and to live more in the moment, not wasting so much time and energy on things that you can’t control. It’s why I got this tattoo earlier this year:

Just a reminder to always breathe. Happy Thanksgiving!

One Week.

Well, technically it’s been one week and one day since my surgery, but that doesn’t make as succinct of a post title. So sue me. 😛

A few things that have surprised me about this whole journey:

  • How many women have had this procedure done.
  • How many women don’t talk about having this procedure done.

I say “fuck it” – I’m going to talk about it.

I should note that if you at all get squicked out by talk of surgery, you should just stop reading now. There’s not going to be any pictures or anything related with my surgery in the post – but sometimes people even get squicked out by descriptions so just call this your fair warning.

I’m serious. I’m going to talk about all sorts of stuff – so just close this window and don’t come crying to me if you get squicked out. 😎

Now then!

Surgery went well. I had what is known as a “total abdominal hysterectomy”: meaning my fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus were all removed. My ovaries were the wild-card; my doctors didn’t know if I’d be able to keep them until they were doing surgery. Thankfully, I was able to keep them!

I should say I got to keep ~1.75 of my ovaries – one of the fibroids I had was growing into one of my ovaries and they had to cut a bit of it out to get the fibroid off of it. However, it shouldn’t affect its functionality, so I should be good hormone-wise.

What was removed ended up weighing almost two pounds!! Good lord. A normal uterus weighs approximately 50g and two pounds roughly converts to 900g. No wonder I was having so many problems!

My doctor said that one of the multiple (I think they stopped counting after six) fibroids was the “size of a baby’s head”. Fuck. No wonder I had to have an abdominal incision to get it out! I have a photo of what was removed – don’t worry, it’s not getting posted online – and it doesn’t look anything like a female reproductive system. 😨

(If you’re a good friend and you’re local, I’m happy to show you the photo. But be forewarned: it’s gross. My husband has not and will not even look at it.)

My doctor also said that I most likely had been suffering from this (and the symptoms of it) for at minimum two years. One indicator of that was another fibroid had grown into and got stuck in my pelvic bones and they had a heck of a time getting it out!

Looping back to the day of surgery, I’m pretty thankful that my anesthesiologist’s team had me out before we got to the operating room. I think if had seen the equipment and all the machines there I would have had a bit of a freak out. Thus, the last thing I remember was kissing my husband and getting wheeled out of my pre-op room, then the next thing I remember was waking up and groggily asking the nurse there when my surgery was going to start. She laughed and said it was all done and I was in recovery.

I will say being on the receiving end of surgery is much less nerve-wracking then being the person waiting in the waiting room having been through a few surgeries with my parents this year.

My incision ended up being the horizontal or “bikini cut” type. Thank goodness! My swimsuit modeling career can continue!

I’ll just pause so you can fully get that laugh out. 😂

Me? A bikini model? That IS hilarious, Bill!
Me? A bikini model? That IS hilarious, Bill!

I didn’t have any staples/stitches on the outside but surgical “super glue” – pretty cool stuff. I have dissolvable stitches internally, and those should dissolve over the next month or so as I heal.

I spent two days in the hospital eating applesauce, jello, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs because that’s all I could stomach. I also spent two days watching HGTV and yelling at the TV because of the idiots on Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and this abomination of a show called My Lottery Dream Home. Now I love me some David Bromstad, but my god do we need to encourage people who were previously poor spend a shit ton of money on a “dream house” that they won’t be able to upkeep with monthly maintenance costs and property taxes? Have we learned nothing from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? GAWD!

Well that got off track a bit. 😆

The first week of recovery featured:

  • Numbness around my incision. This is due to the nerves in my abdomen being, well, severed due to the the incision. Duh.
  • My gastrointestinal system being – let’s just put this delicately – inconsistent. Some days there was no action, other days there was LOTS of action, and most of the time I felt like a gassy antelope. Gas pain + abdominal incision = DO NOT RECOMMEND.
  • Diet consisting primarily of oatmeal, pudding, applesauce, jello, apple juice, cranberry juice, chicken noodle soup, and peppermint tea. I got gutsy and had some coffee and some eggs on toast for breakfast one day and holy shit (LOLZ) did I pay for that one. See the point above for reference.
  • A notepad with references to the two pain medications and a medication to “move things along” as referenced by point two above. One of my pain meds is a controlled narcotic, which makes your gastrointestinal system be all like “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” like it’s Gandalf or some shit.
  • Existing in our spare bedroom watching TV. The bed in our bedroom was way too high for me to be able to get in and out of but thankfully we kept our old platform bed and Tim set it up in our spare bedroom so it’s much easier to get in and out of bed.
  • Coughing or laughing. OW FUCKING OW OMFG. I had to stay away from watching comedies or anything that could possibly make me laugh because holy shit you don’t realize how much your abdomen is involved in either of those things until it happens after abdominal surgery. I’m terrified of a sneeze coming on because you can’t stop that. 😱

This week has found a lot of the numbness starting to wear off right around the time when I need to wean myself off the narcotic painkillers. My appetite is back, but my gastrointestinal system is not back to normal. I wasn’t able to have any carbonated drinks that first week (see point two above again) but I’ve been able to keep ginger ale down with no adverse affects. I had two slices of cheese pizza for dinner last night (go shorty…it’s yer birthday) but I followed it up with some Activia yogurt to help my system digest the dairy/refined carbs. I didn’t feel the greatest, but nothing awful happened either. Thus my pizza days go back on hold for a while as I should avoid dairy (except for the yogurt) and greasy foods for a month or two.

I hate that I can’t do much of anything for at least six weeks. I hate feeling so helpless and I hate that I have to ask my husband for so much stuff. I know he says he’s happy to do it, but it has to be a shock for him as well to have to deal with every little stupid thing I need after being with a pretty damn self-sufficient partner for over ten years.

And yes, I’m an indecisive turd when I’m not feeling well. He’s had to run to the store for my latest demands every day since I’ve been home. Sorry sweetie.

However, even with post-surgery pain/discomfort – I already feel better. I don’t feel John Hurt with the Alien fetus is trying to burst out of my abdomen anymore.

From the series
From the series “Coupling” – one of my all-time favorites.

I’m also down about five pounds from my pre-surgery weight. I suppose not being able to eat pizza or drink wine on a whim helps that I’m sure. I do think that crazy pile of reproductive organs was also giving me some crazy amounts of hormones as well. I’ve been having issues this year with “the girls” getting bigger. Like to the point where I had to buy bigger bras every few months. Now they’re back to a normal size. Could it be related? Who knows – but I do know that I don’t feel like an overstuffed sausage anymore.

I also took time off and would be going back to work next week – but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to by then. Sitting in a chair or standing for long periods of time really bothers me even with an abdominal binder. I have a sit/stand desk but I don’t really have a comfortable office chair. I have one of those ergonomic chairs that is supposed to “engage your core” and since I’m not supposed to be doing jack shit with my core for 6-8 weeks, I don’t know what I’ll do. I certainly can’t stand for eight hours and trying to type while in bed bothers my back/neck. Fuck.😩

(Yes, I wrote all this in bed. But I started the draft yesterday and had to quit after my back/neck started bothering me. 🙁)

Pixel tries to help, but she's an awful caretaker. Sleeping on the job again.
Pixel tries to help, but she’s an awful caretaker. Sleeping on the job again.

I’m so thankful for Automattic and their “take what time you need” stance with regards to time off – especially after this year. I don’t know what I would have done if I worked for another, less-understanding company. Plus I’ve been getting some “get well soon” presents from some pretty amazing co-workers that’s really brightened my day. ♥

Once I’m back on my feet, I’ll be back to animated gifs and nonsense in no time.

Carolyn’s First Surgery

I was going to write a blog post about how 2016 can just fucking suck it, but I can’t get the words down on the blog about my Dad’s illness and passing, then my Mom’s serious illness immediately after my Dad’s funeral. Mom is doing just fine now, but I’m not sure I’m emotionally over either one of those things yet, much less being able to write about them.

Instead, I’m going to talk about how, at 43 years of age, I’m having my very first surgery.

I fucking hate this game.
I hate this game.

No sense having a simple procedure for this lady – we’re going full on major surgery: scheduled for a total abdominal hysterectomy on Wednesday.

It should be obvious by now that this goes into female reproductive stuff – so don’t come crying to me if you’re offended by periods, etc.

How did this all come to pass? Well, I had been experiencing some issues with urination. Yes, I know that has nothing to do with my lady parts, but things eventually got bad enough I went to see an urologist at the beginning of September. Had an exam, everything looked great, but the urologist wanted me to have a CT scan “just in case” to make sure everything looked ok.

Had the scan and went back a few days later to go over the results. He said he had good news and other news; the good news was my bladder looked great! The other news was my uterus was double the size it should be and there was a noticeable lump on one side of it. Now he did say that he wasn’t an ob/gyn, so he couldn’t say for sure, but that it was most likely fibroids.

I called a referring ob/gyn – because I didn’t have one – and had an appointment set for October 10th to check this out. Fast forward to going to my company’s Grand Meetup in Whistler, BC mid-September and had my urination issue rear its ugly head again on the day we flew back home – and had to go straight to the ER from the airport. The next day I called begging to be seen by an ob/gyn as soon as possible because there was no way I could go two more weeks (at the time) before someone saw me.

Thankfully they got me in two days later. I had an exam and an ultrasound a few days later. Definitely fibroids. Lots of ’em. In fact, there was a pretty substantial one pushed right up against my bladder! No wonder I had trouble. 😐

I tried to find a funny uterus/fibroid image - THEY DON'T EXIST - instead I found more squick-worthy photos of surgeries. Please don't search for those things. Here are some kittens instead.
I tried to find a funny uterus/fibroid image – THEY DON’T EXIST – instead I found more squick-worthy photos of surgeries. Please don’t search for those things. Here are some kittens instead.

Since I never wanted to have kids and with the difficulty of simply removing the fibroids (never mind the fact that they’d grow back), my ob/gyn recommended a hysterectomy. Now there are different types of hysterectomy surgeries and you can go search for them yourself, but I have to have an abdominal one due to the size and number of fibroids. Basically, the same procedure as a c-section. They’re taking the uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix and keeping my ovaries – but even then they won’t know for sure until they’re in there whether or not I can keep my ovaries. I hope I do, otherwise I’ll hit early menopause and have to go on hormone replacement therapy – DO NOT WANT.

The weirdest thing is that I didn’t have the most common symptom of fibroids: heavy periods. Mine were always light and lasted 2-3 days. Every other symptom: oh hell yes. By my estimate, I’ve been fighting this for at least two years now, but I chalked most of those to getting older and all the damn stress I’ve had this year already (seriously, fuck 2016). Now that I know, I’m pretty hopeful that I’ll feel like my old self again and not this old lady who feels like crap all the time.

I’ll be in the hospital for at least two days and I had to take at least two weeks off work for recovery. I also can’t drive for two weeks and not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or do any activity other than walking for 6-8 weeks. No CrossFit! No running! No housework…ok, that one is not so bad! Guess I’ll get caught up on movies, TV shows, books, and video games that I don’t allow myself to enjoy because I could be doing “something more productive.” Like housework.

Am I scared? Absolutely. Will I be happy to not feel like shit anymore? Hell yeah. No more periods or worrying about an unplanned pregnancy: BONUS!