Monday, September 05, 2011

Bye Bye Cysty

And just like that, it's gone. Just a few days after the outboard motor ultrasound and claustrophobic MRI, I was in the hospital bright & early, ready for the extraction.

One thing I've learned from all this, it's probably easier to go through surgery if you've lived a life of hard drinking and drug use. The tolerance has to help when it comes to shaking off the anesthesia. 

Surgery began at 9am and finished at 1:30pm when I was wheeled into post-op to sober up. I was the last one to leave post-op at 7pm that evening. The nausea - oh sweet baby jesus wrapped in a barf bag - thankfully they have *another* drug for that. I really didn't want to dry heave with a 4" abdominal incision that had just been glued together.

But I made it home, not just upstairs. There really is no sleeping in a hospital. Had to get home to my own bed. Just being home was a huge help in speeding recovery. That, and many many grams of vitamin C and a heating pad.

But, all went well - pathology came back totally normal - just your run-of-the-mill extra large softball sized tentacled mass of yuck. My friend Steph thinks it had probably been growing in there for a year or so. Hard to know, as they don't have rings we could count, but she might be right.

It really did turn out to have some tentacles - it had "adhesed" itself to several areas around my pelvis, as had my left ovary and tube. Not sure why that happened, but that was all taken care of as well. A lady parts spring cleaning, of sorts.

Definitely happy to have it gone - feels much better in there. Had them yank the stupid ovary too - that bitch's antics are done forever. But the stabbing pain in my right side every now & then is obviously her ghost, still kicking me.

If any ladies out there might be experiencing lady parts problems, I found these forums useful in learning what to expect before & after surgery. Enjoy.
FWIW, my surgery started out as laparoscopic but they couldn't suck a 10cm cyst out of a .5cm incision, so they unzipped me at the bikini line.

They gave me the option of removing the cyst and ovary and sending that to pathology for a full workup, which takes a few days, or doing "quick pathology" during the surgery, which isn't as thorough, and if something seems awry, they'll yank ALL your lady parts at that time. To that I said FUCK NO - you take only what I've asked you to take and you leave the rest. If something seems fishy (get it? I'm hilarious), we'll deal with that one thing at a time.

Why are doctors so happy to eviscerate all our lady parts? Why is that even an option without really knowing what the fuck is going on? Thankfully I have a good doctor who totally understands, but was simply doing her job of informing me of all my options. If you need a good lady parts doctor in SF at UCSF, let me know. I love, love, love her.

So, here are the Top 10 Things I Learned from Open Surgery.  
  1. Since it started with laparoscopic, I had all the CO2 pumped into me that had to be processed, post-op. Lots of belching. Lots. That lasted about a week. Super sexy. You'll be super bloated but it dissipates in time - at three weeks, it seems mostly gone, but there's still a lot of healing to go.
  2. Hydrate yourself like a mo-fo. I didn't eat the day before surgery - no appetite - and you can't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before, so you're going to be incredibly dehydrated. That, paired with the narcotics = horrendous constipation (and more bloating! Bonus!)
  3. Suppositories are your friends. With abdominal surgery, the last thing you want to be doing is, uh, straining. If it's just not happening, take the plunge, so-to-speak. My dear husband went to Walgreen's and bought me Dulcolax ass plugs and prunes and didn't balk. That's a good man. I opted for the suppository over a laxative, fearing painful cramping and panicky peristalsis, when really I just needed to gently start the process. It worked - fast and fairly comfortable - and I only needed the one dose to get on the road back to regularity.
  4. Keep hydrating - you have to flush the anesthesia out of your system. For me, Low Tolerance Lucy, it felt like it took a few days. Jasmine green tea was very soothing and hydrating - am now addicted.
  5. Peeing and pooping will hurt, before, during and after you go, but that's what the narcotics are for. Just breathe through it and then take a nap.
  6. Speaking of narcotics, see if you can get something better than vicodin. Vicodin must be the scrapple of pain killers. I felt awful when I took it. Within a few days I started using codeine fizzies - effervescent codiene/acetaminophen tablets from the U.K. A milder pain killer, but isn't nauseating and doesn't make me feel icky.
  7. If you have a recliner chair, you'll probably sleep better in that the first few days or so - getting into and out of bed will be difficult, and you'll be up a couple of times a night to pee. With all the swelling, your bladder feels full fairly often, and that hurts, which wakes you up. Your spouse won't get any sleep either. The chair is easier.
  8. If you're like me, you may not have much of an appetite and may also have lingering nausea. I no longer drink soda, but Coke Zero was a huge help. Oatmeal & cream of wheat with a little honey (honey is a natural laxative, btw), mild chicken soup w/ busted up cappellini noodles or orzo (the protein in the pasta is helpful), whole wheat toast (yay fiber!)... you get the idea.
  9. Move as much as you can, but listen to your body and nap, nap, nap, nap, nap. Moving around often helps your body process the drugs and helps minimize scar tissue. The sooner you're up & about, the sooner you're fully recovered. But don't overdo it... obviously. Baby steps. I was in pretty good shape before all this happened, and I felt like I was starting over from scratch. I got winded just shuffling through the house. But I felt 100% better in a week, then another 100% better the following week, and now three weeks later, I'm walking around the neighborhood, grocery shopping, doing light household chores - and also still napping. Still not back to normal, but pretty close. 
  10. Vitamin C. As soon as you're eating anything, pop the vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C is the foundational building block of all connective tissue - skin, tendons, collagen - all that stuff. And it speeds healing. I took two 1000mg tablets with each meal - 6-8 grams a day. It can also help with the constipation - magnesium, too. I didn't take any of my other usual supplements - thought there was enough going on - just the C and magnesium. The supplements + the heating pad = fairly fast recovery. The heating pad increases circulation to the important parts - good stuff. And wonderfully soothing/relaxing.
  11. Quick update - one more thing... as I'm finding out now, just over three weeks after having this done, the scar is now sensitive and a bit painful. The nerves down there must be upset - feels like that painful skin sensation you can sometimes get when coming down with a flu bug. Not sure arnica gel is any help with that, but trying that and Mederma. The fun never ends!
BTW, if you ask your post-op nurse about supplements, don't be surprised if she knows nothing about them or thinks 5-6 vitamin/mineral supplements a day is "a lot!" In my drunken post-op haze, I was chatting up the nurse and told her what I take every day (multi, C, magnesium, co-q10, b-complex, and D) and she said "That's a lot!" Um, no, no it isn't. It's hardly any, and I don't remember the last time I had a bad cold or flu or any cold or flu for that matter, but, you know, I'm not a doctor.

You're on your own as far as alternative healing/health information goes, but Dr. Mercola & Dr. Weil's websites have lots of good info. Also helpful, the book Ascorbate (easily found on Amazon) and Linus Pauling's book Live Longer & Feel Better (all about the benefits of vitamin C).

It gets better every day, that's for sure. Stay positive & laugh a lot - that's good physical therapy. Good luck, ladies.

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