As rewarding (and noisy) that life has become for us, unfortunately had not eradicated my gynae issues. I continued to have regular ovarian cysts on my left side, several of which ruptured causing incredible pain, my cycles - while fairly regular, continued to be extremely heavy and painful, and the chronic pain that I have in my left lower abdominal area just never got any better. I was ranging from varying levels of discomfort to severe pain, swelling and debilitation every month.
Another thing that really hasn't changed is my extreme dislike of taking medication. I will take pain meds when I feel it is absolutely necessary, but I would still much rather not to have to take any medication.
In search of some kind of solution, I went to see my G.P. about 4 weeks ago. We discussed several options, including the possibility of having a hysterectomy sometime in the future. This was something that would need a lot of consideration, not a decision to make lightly. My amazing G.P. wanted to be sure that I was well informed. He told me that even if I decided in the future that it was something that I wanted to go ahead with, we would need to carefully consider the details. Considering having my womb removed would be one thing, but if I was to consider having my ovaries removed also - I needed to be acutely aware that this would catapult me into surgical menopause, and while he is very aware of my dislike of taking medication - even though I would probably tell him that I would just put up with the menopause symptoms instead of taking any kind of hormone replacement therapy - he would not be happy for me to do this as I am about 17 years off going through natural menopause and the risk of developing osteoporosis would be far too high.
He was sending a referral letter to my Gynaecologist and suggested that having a mirena coil inserted might be a good way to help manage some of my ongoing symptoms, even though this would not help with ovarian cysts.
I left his surgery that day with a whole lot to think about. I felt assured that there were several options to consider, and looked forward to discussing these and any other options with my Gynaecologist.
I went to see my Gynaecologist 2 weeks ago and we had a long chat. He did an internal scan which showed something unusual in my womb. This would require investigation. He suspected that it was adenomyosis, a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus. We spoke about how frequently I was suffering with ovarian cysts on the left side and as there was only just less than half of my left ovary remaining, it made sense to remove it. I also agreed to have a mirena coil inserted. A plan was put in place for me to go into hospital on the morning of the 5th of March, be put under general anaesthetic, have my womb investigated, the remainder of my left ovary removed laparoscopically, have a mirena coil inserted, and be able to go home that evening.
I was feeling good about this. I have great trust in my Gynaecologist and really felt that this was a positive step towards a less painful future.
As has come to be expected in terms of my luck with medical procedures - things did not quite go to plan. In fact, things really, really did not go as planned.
We arrived at the hospital early on Monday morning. I got checked in and was shown to my bed in the day ward. I had to give the usual urine sample - you know - just to be sure. (We always have a bit of a giggle about that.) My Gynaecologist came around to see me and talk through exactly what was going to take place and everything that he was going to do. As I have had so many previous laparoscopic surgeries and have found it difficult for the wound in my belly button to heal the last number of times, I asked him if it was possible to do the surgery using a different point. He said it is possible to use a point up near the left rib cage, however it tends to be a bit more difficult. We agreed that he would attempt to do it using the point up near my left rib cage, but if it was proving too difficult then I was happy for him to use the site at my belly button and we would worry about the healing afterwards.
I was feeling good, I really felt that this was going to be a positive step.
My anxiety didn't set in until I was being wheeled to the operating theatre. I met with the Anaesthetist and we were joking about how terrible my veins are. He suggested that he could put me out with gas and then insert the needle if I would be happier with that. I told him that I'd rather he put the needle in and put me out that way as I've had issues with vomiting after using gas in previous surgeries. He got the cannula in the back of my left hand on the first attempt. It hurt pretty bad so he used some local anaesthetic to sort that out.
I was feeling good, I was feeling in control and that I was really being listened to. I was happy with how things were going - so far.
The Anaesthetist gave me some medicine through the cannula to help me relax a bit and then told me that he was going to start putting me to sleep.
I expected the shock, the fear, the urge to fight the anaesthetic that I have experienced so many times in the past. It never happened. I did not feel myself going off to sleep at all.
So far all is going great and I'm sure I was probably still feeling pretty good at that point.
Until... I woke up in the recovery room, after 4 hours in the operating theatre to overhear my Gynaecologist speaking to my husband on the phone. He said that I'd had to have a hysterectomy. I brushed it off. Surely that couldn't be right. Surely I was just groggy and imagining things. We've all seen those videos on youtube of people hallucinating while coming out of anaesthesia. But, then he said it again - he said 'hysterectomy'.
When he had finished his phone call he came over to speak with me. Before he could say anything to me, I said 'I heard'. He said that he would come and see me shortly, once I'd had a bit of time to wake up and recover a bit from the anaesthetic.
I felt like I was fairly 'with it', but I kept telling myself that I couldn't be. I was imagining things. I kept telling myself that I would find this very funny later when I'd be telling Patrick about the crazy things I was hearing and seeing after the operation. I told myself that I just needed to sleep it off a bit and all would be fine when I woke up properly. I felt like I was in an elevator and then I heard the porter ask somebody 'which room?' and was told '16A'. I thought 'gosh, I must really be out of it - they're taking me to a different room'.
My Gynaecologist came to see me shortly after and he explained to me that I wasn't imagining things. He had said 'hysterectomy', but it was worse than that.
He had gone in and removed the remainder of my left ovary as planned. He then decided to take a look at my womb, right ovary and fallopian tube - to find a mangled, infected mess. He said it was so bad in there, that there was actually stuff growing on my right ovary. He tried to contact Patrick by phone to explain the situation to him before taking anything else out, but as luck would have it, Patrick's phone had gone on the blink (He had called on the landline after the operation).
He had a decision to make - to either do what he knew needed to be done right then and there, or stitch me up, wake me up, explain to me how bad things are, and wait for me to recover enough to be able to return to theatre for another operation.
He decided that it was for the best to do what needed to be done right there and then. Even though it would be an awful shock for me when I woke up and realised what had happened, it would save me having to return in a few weeks for further surgery. Things were so bad that there was no way that any of my reproductive system could be saved, and so my uterus, tubes, and ovaries have all been removed.
I was kinda in limbo all that night. I thought I was doing okay and was keeping it together. I didn't really sleep that night, just kinda dozed on and off. Even the following morning I thought I was doing okay. I knew that my Dr. had acted in my best interests, and in the long run - it was probably for the best.
I really thought I was doing okay - until the nurse said I could have some tea. I took one sip of tea and the floodgates opened. I cried and cried, and I just couldn't stop.
About 10 minutes later, my Gynaecologist came in to talk to me and see how I was doing. I was in a room on my own. He walked in and saw that I was upset. I couldn't speak. I didn't know what to say. All I could get out was 'tea'. Yep, I told my Dr. that I was crying because of tea...!!!
He explained to me that I had just had an awful shock and my body has been through huge trauma. He said that it is perfectly normal for ladies to be upset and emotional even after a planned hysterectomy, never mind waking up after surgery to find out that your whole reproductive system had been removed.
I then remembered the one thing that I had been trying to avoid. I remembered what my G.P. had said about being catapulted into surgical menopause if both ovaries were removed. I had almost laughed that off because there was no way that was ever going to happen. I had never had a problem with my right ovary, so there would have been no reason to remove it, and even if my womb etc had to be removed, I'd be okay because my right ovary would keep producing the hormones that would prevent me from going into early menopause.
Just then, it hit me that not only was I heading into early menopause - I was nose diving straight into surgical menopause - and so the floodgates opened again.
My Gynaecologist said that I would probably start experiencing symptoms fairly rapidly and we would discuss hormone replacement therapy options at my six week follow up appointment. I just kept saying that I couldn't believe that this had actually happened. I know he did what he had to do, and I know he did the right thing, but I just couldn't believe it.
He told me that if I wanted to, I could watch the video of the operation at my 6 week follow up appointment.
Right now I am three days post-op and I feel disjointed. I am very sore and in a lot of pain. I am up and down, and I honestly don't know if I am laughing or crying. My head is not in a great place, I am emotional and numb at the same time. This is going to take a bit of time to get my head around, never mind how long it is going to take to recover physically. I don't feel like myself. Even writing this blog post - it doesn't feel like how I write or how I explain things, it's all just disjointed.
I had never imagined that this would ever happen, but there are two things that I know I am happy about;
The first is that Patrick did not receive that call from my Dr. mid-surgery.
The second is that after everything I've been through for the past few days - I did not have to come home to a quiet house.