Thursday, January 17, 2008

Here it is.. the very long story of my surgery

Well I am home from Omaha and continuing my recovery at home in Richmond. I am still doing exceptionally well and I can't complain about anything. I am really surprised at how good I feel. The only way you could even tell that I'm one week post-op is that I get tired really easily and I can't wear normal pants yet (due to the incision). My mother-in-law is staying with us right now and my apartment looks better than it ever has! She's cleaning, shopping and cooking for us and I feel really guilty. But everyone reminds me that it has only been a week since my surgery and I still need to take it easy.

So we met with Dr. Hilgers on Monday and I don't have much to report from that appointment except for some encouraging news and some disappointing news. The disappointing news is that he doesn't know if the fact that my eggs have been growing but not releasing has anything to do with the huge amount of endometriomas on both of my ovaries. He left it as a possibility, but the way I remember it is that he basically said he didn't think that was why. That was a shock. In my simple mind I pictured the little egg trying to get out and being squooshed by the huge cysts. It sounds so good! I also thought all along that because my ovaries were so out of place, that the egg probably couldn't reach my tubes if it even could get out. I didn't ask him about this, but I'm probably wrong about that too. Either way, it can't hurt that my ovaries are back to their normal sizes, healthy, and no longer attached to my abdominal wall.

The good news is that my aunt made him give us a percentage (I would have probably chickened out to ask and I don't think he was going to mention it himself) and he said 50-75%. I'll take that. Also, the way I remember it is that he didn't specify whether that was after possible hormone treatment or not. So I guess that means that there's a 50-75% chance now! And speaking of hormone treatment, he said I had high testosterone and prolactin levels when I was tested in the fall and they may return to normal after the surgery. He'll test my blood again in a month or so and then determine if I need to start any kind of treatment. I'm hoping everything returns to normal and I'll be pregnant by then!!

So here's a little about the actual experience in case it's helpful to anyone...

We arrived in Omaha on Monday, January 7 and went to my pre-op appointment where they just took blood and my vitals and talked a bit about insurance. We found out we had to pay only about $800 because we already had about $2,000 in credit with the PPVI Institute from my last surgery. And $600 of that will come from our flex account, so we'll be getting that back. I mention this because it's truly an example of God taking care of us. We'll only be out about $300 for all of this! If that's not an answer to prayer, I don't know what is.

So then we picked my aunt up from the airport and went out to dinner. My stomach was upset from nerves. We then went to the store to pick up supplies (the dreaded enema!) and back to the hotel. Let me just say that the condo that was our hotel room was awesome. It had two rooms each with a full bathroom, a living room and a full kitchen with plates, utensils, pots and pans. Since my aunt was with us we wanted to give her privacy, and it worked out great. Not to mention we had breakfast and dinner included in the price every night! Not that I was there the whole time, but we were definitely happy with our choice. (By the way, if anyone is headed to PPVI, I have tons of hotel advice!)

On Tuesday morning we headed to Creighton Medical Center around 5:30 a.m. At this point I was seriously shaking. We checked in and then they told us, just like last time, that I had to leave my husband and aunt to get all set for surgery. Honestly, I think I am better off alone because then I don't have anyone to complain to and feed off my anxiety. So it took an extra long time to get all ready and when they finally had the IV in, had my stylish stockings on, and had answered questions about my health history about three times, it was almost time to go in to surgery. Suddenly, around 7:00, there began to be a ton of commotion in my room, from the anesthesiologist, nurses, assistants, my husband, aunt and a chaplain, and it got really loud. I went to the bathroom one last time, the chaplain then said a prayer, and they rolled me off. I was definitely already groggy by the time they rolled me into surgery, from whatever they give you ahead of time. I do remember the operating room though, and remember thinking that it was much whiter, more cluttered and smaller than on Grey's Anatomy. Then that was it.

Next, I woke up in recovery and experienced the sore throat feeling from the tube that had been there moments earlier. I also remember a young man next to me who was freaking out. I think he was complaining of not being able to breathe, and it made me start to get anxious. I was very happy when they wheeled me out of there. They took me by the waiting room, where we picked up my husband and aunt. My husband immediately came up to me and told me that Dr. Hilgers said the surgery went perfect. I then looked to my aunt and asked if he was lying. They said no, and they just looked so happy, so I believed them (my husband later told me that when Dr. Hilgers had initially told them the good news, all he could think about was how excited he was to tell me. I had been convinced before my surgery that he'd have to tell me bad news). I was then taken to my room on the med/surg floor since OB/Gyn was full. I had my own room and it was at the end of the hall, which was nice and quite.

That first day I was groggy all day and somewhat uncomfortable. I was on pain medicine and could push a button to get an extra dose if I needed it. I didn't need it, but I did push it one time just to see if it helped. It didn't, and I actually ended up nauseous from it. All I remember is that we spent the day watching the the New Hampshire primary on Fox Newschannel (my husband was really looking forward to it) and when he left to take a nap at our hotel for a couple hours I turned the channel. Everything I watched made me feel sick though! Overall though, I was really surprised at how good I felt. I talked to my family and even let my aunt take a picture of me (she actually made me give a thumbs up!) on her phone and sent it to my mom (I will NOT be posting any of those pictures here!). Let me also just say that the staff at Creighton was awesome. I had great nurses and everyone was so friendly. My aunt is a nurse and she couldn't stop commenting on how nice everyone was and how clean the hospital was. It just helped to make the whole experience even better.

On the second day they started giving me clear liquids, which tasted amazing (at first). But after four trays of broth, jello (of every color of the rainbow), and tea, I actually made them get rid of the tray. I was starving but I just couldn't take it anymore. Also on the second day they removed the catheter. This was interesting because it became hard to urinate after it was removed, but I felt like I really had to go. Not a fan of the catheter. This wasn't confirmed but I personally believe that because I had some endometriosis removed from my bladder, this caused my discomfort. I'm not sure though. On the second day Dr. Hilgers came to see me in the morning and also told me I had to walk six times. I walked exactly six times, and the worse part was standing up at first. It would take my breath away and I'd cough, but it hurt to cough. My husband also left on the second day. He flew back home, and returned the following Monday. My aunt and I basically spent the day watching t.v. and talking about what food I would eat when I was able to eat again.

By the third day I was starving! I also got a bad headache from, I believe, the hunger. Dr. Keefe, who works with Dr. Hilgers, came to see me on Thursday and took my bandages off. Everyone thought the incision looked great, but I couldn't bring myself to look at it for hours. She also said I could start solid foods, but I think she forgot to tell the nurses, so we waited for hours and it didn't come. Finally, I got to order chicken fingers, fries and chocolate ice cream! It wasn't great, but it was food! We think she also might have forgotten to tell the nurses I could go home after I ate solid food, because the nurses said she didn't write the order. Finally after they contacted her again, she said I could go home that evening. We returned to the hotel and I ate the best spaghetti I've ever had!

We then vegged out the rest of the weekend. We watched a ton of t.v., all of the Hannibal movies, napped, ate, and napped some more. I felt guilty about my aunt spending the week with me out there, but I actually began to believe that she was enjoying herself! On Saturday night I was feeling so good that we decided to go out to eat. I never would have guessed I'd feel good enough to do that two weeks after surgery, let alone four days after. We went to the Cheesecake Factory (which is where we went the day after my first surgery and I completely wiped out in front of everyone). I felt pretty groggy and even started to feel sick to my stomach. I was so tired when we got home that I went right to sleep.

We stayed in on Sunday and then on Monday we picked up my husband from the airport, went out to lunch, and then to the appointment with Dr. Hilgers. By the time we were finished I was thoroughly exhausted.

We started home on Tuesday, stayed overnight in Lexington, KY, then finished the 20-hour trip on Wednesday. We made sure to stop every two hours (well, actually it was more like every three to four) and I couldn't have felt better. God really protected us while traveling and I never had much pain. On the second day of travel I didn't take any Vicoden, and haven't taken any since.

So that's my story. Pretty boring, and I probably left out many details, but I'm glad I got it all down in case I ever care in the future. For me, reading Andnotbysight's story of the same surgery was invaluable, so maybe mine will also help someone in the future.

Speaking of Andnotbysight, I am completely saddened to read of her impending miscarriage. I first read of her pregnancy two days after my surgery and since our stories are so similar, I was thrilled for her. It gave me great hope, and as I told her, it was the first pregnancy announcement in three years that I wasn't jealous of. So when I read about her bad news, it was a huge blow and I've been bummed all day. My thoughts and prayers are with her, her husband and her baby.


  1. I'm so glad it all went so smoothly! I've been checking to see when you would post more about the surgery. I'll be praying for a great recovery and that the surgery will have healed everything.

    Thank you so much for the thoughts and prayers, too!

  2. I am so happy to hear your surgery went so well, you are now back at home, and are able to reflect back on all the ways God has taken care of you.

    He loves you so much.

    I relate so much to how nervous you were before surgery. I was the same way. Thinking of all the worst case scenarios ... it is so hard to trust sometimes. But in the end, we really have to let go.

    I am not clear about what Hilgers was saying about the endometriomas and not ovulating ... can you clarify? Since I had such large endometriomas, it might pertain to me too.

  3. One more thing ...

    Your statistical chance of pregnancy is AWESOME!!!!

    I am praying for a quick and healthy pregnancy for you.

  4. responding to your response on my blog --

    Gosh it sounds like our situations are very similar. I don't yet know what my ovaries are actually doing since we haven't yet tracked it by ultrasound ... but my husband P (a laparoscopic surgeon who has spent some time with Hilgers and follows his methods) was very, very hopeful and - strangely enough - even excited when we discovered the endometriomas b/c, according to him, those things create anatomical distortions that make it impossible for eggs to get where they are supposed to go. And common sense tells me that your hunch is right --how can you ovulate when your egg is covered in disease? (I am visualizing saran wrap around it ... there's no place for it to go).

    So, P says there is no doubt that excision of endometriomas greatly improves your chance for pregnancy. Let's really try to believe that together! I am having a hard time staying positive, too though.

    Also - if there is an additional underlying hormonal problem after surgery, I guess we can still hang on to the hope that it can be easily resolved with targeted hormone replacement. (much easier to do than surgery!)

    Are you planning to be on progesterone in your luteal phase?

    I am going to be taking it orally once we hit 3 days past ovulation.

  5. I'm responding to this way late, but I wish I had seen this post before my surgery! I definately hear ya on the catheter (yuck!)- I had to pee so often after it was taken out, but it took forever to get started!
    Did you happen to see the statue of St. Theresa when you entered the Pope Paul VI Institute for the first time? I've never been there myself (I went to Holy Spirit Hospital in PA), but when I read "Women Healed" that image just stuck with me. She is my patron Saint, even though she's not particularly tied to fertility issues.
    Are you completely recuperated now? My incision still feels really numb, I'm wondering if it will be like that forever? I'm so happy to hear that Dr. Hilgers told you you'd be pregnant soon- how wonderful!! I don't think he's one for false hope, so that's huge.
    Anyway, thanks for blogging your experience with the surgery.