A week ago today I had my uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. All in all, the surgery wasn’t awful and recovery is going as well as I could hope for. I had a fabulous surgical team and I have a strong support system at home. I consider myself lucky on both accounts and recognize the fact that some ladies are not quite as fortuitous as I am.
Jim and I walked into Passavant Cranberry Hospital on time the morning of surgery. We were directed to the second floor and found the nurses station with ease. Jim was taken into a waiting area while I was brought to my room to get changed, questioned, poked and prodded. It took the two lovely nurses about 30 minutes to get me situated to their liking and escorted Jim into my room for him to keep me entertained with his poor humor until they were ready for me in the pre-surgery area. However, this time, I was the one to fill the silence will ill timed humor. You know how in the timeless classic “The Night Before Christmas”, the children fall asleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads? Well, I thought if I was put under with visions of penises dancing through my head (thanks to the lovely mask I planned to wear), then I would somehow escape the low libido that often accompanies the removal of a lady’s lust center. Unfortunately, I will never know if it would have worked, as I had to go into surgery wearing a hospital issued masked, BUT I did have fun sporting it for a few pictures before they captured me from my room.
- Sometimes, wrong is right!
- Thankfully, he tolerates me….even when it’s challenging! You can’t see it in this picture, but I am wearing my pink and teal ribbon mask. Although, a lot has been learned about BRCA1 mutations, I have no doubt researchers are just touching the surface. If this mutation touches your life personally, please use your resources to educate others and your voice to advocate for continued positive advancements.
After months of research and worry the time to be whisked away had arrived. I was surprisingly calm and zero tears escaped as I headed toward the surgery holding area.
My nurse in pre-surgery was nice and she settled me quietly behind the curtain at the end of the line. Things started to happen quickly from there. Team doctors, the anesthesiologist and finally, Dr. Mansuria himself all appeared. They shared information, answered questions and helped me feel as comfortable as I possibly could under the circumstances.
Since I love to show my appreciation to others through “gifts”, I brought a signed copy of Tallulah’s Diner into the pre-surgical area with me. I was told that Dr. Mansuria did not have children, but often talks about his nieces and nephews. I figured that even if he didn’t like or want the book, he could regift it to a little one in his life. The response I got from him, was adorable and helped to take my mind off of heading to the OR within minutes. He took the book out of its bag, smiled, said “sea turtles are his favorite animal”, then proclaimed as he walked away “I’m going to go read this now.” What news to an author’s ears!!!
Several minutes later, it was GAME ON. I actually got to walk to the Operating Room. As I passed the nurses station, there was Dr. Mansuria with his assistant at his shoulder looking at and reading MY BOOK!!!! Talk about a pick me up before a knockout! 😊 I walked happily into the operating room and was greeted by the nicest surgical team I could ever hope to encounter. As they helped me onto the table and strapped me into place, we chatted about the book and that’s the last thing I remember.
The next several hours are a complete blur and now that I am sitting down to write about them, I have zero recollection and can barely recall anything other than being anxious about and having some slight difficulty peeing. Once I conquered that obstacle, it was adios, have a nice ride home.
Believe it or not, walking is encouraged after this procedure, so I was given the option to walk to our car, which I did. It’s crazy that hours after having internal organs removed, you can be up and walking to your car, but here I was doing just that. There were beautiful roses from my niece sitting on the window as approached. Just one more reminder of what beautiful people I have in my life. Jim helped me secure my seatbelt pillow, clicked me in and we headed home.
Thanks to pain meds and the lingering effects of anesthesia, the ride home was not horrible.
Since returning home, I have tried very hard to be a decent patient and do what I am supposed to do. Recovery has been going smoothly and for that I am grateful. I want to be super cautious here though. At this point, I can say, I have had a fairly easy recovery. Pain has been tolerable and manageable. By using the right combination of medications and supplements, I have not had any issues with constipation, and I have gotten some sleep each night. Since day two, I have managed to walk a little further each day and have only taken ibuprofen and Tylenol. Yay, me!!!
- This was Recovery Day 3. I was happy to be out in the fresh air and walked further than the day before.
I want to make it a point to stop and drop this here. As I researched and prepped for this surgery, I read and heard many say things like “this is no big deal”, “that surgery is easy”, and “lucky you…no more periods.” While, I am excited about no more periods, I would like to take this opportunity to remind folks who have a loved one that has or will go through this and to let those who may be struggling with this decision that this IS A BIG DEAL!!!! People, the ladies have or will be having internal organs REMOVED from their abdominal cavities. Not only that, but their Hormone Center may be getting ripped out of its happy little lifelong home. Therefore, let me say it again for the people in the back…….THIS IS A BIG DEAL!!!!! While recovery may be relatively easy and surgeons have come a long way from the days of large abdominal cuts and a 5 day hospital stay, our bodies need to recover! We also need time to see how much of a rollercoaster ride the lack of hormones is going to take us on. This is not going to be determined by how well our physical recovery is. I am only a week out and have already experienced crying jags for no real reason and hot flashes that come out of nowhere. Thankfully, I have an appointment scheduled after Christmas with a Hormone Specialist. I hope that she is able to help me navigate through the emotional seas and set my sails straight. Until I have a combination that works for me, I hope to keep you all up to speed and entertained by the inevitable erratic hormone adventures that lie in wait for me in the future. I have no doubt there will be plenty of fodder to write about. The threat of Cancer may be causing me to lose a lot, but I am determined to not let it take my sense of humor or my zest for the things I love in this world.
Before I go for the day, I want to share a list of items that I have either purchased, had at home or have been gifted for recovery. I will share as many links as possible. I have spent a lot of time researching and gathering items to help make this time at home as comfortable as possible. I believe that this list could come in handy for a variety of recoveries or simply to add a little comforting love to the cold winter days that lie ahead. As always, if you know of anyone who may benefit from this post or list of Recovery Comforts, please feel free to share.
Gina Marie’s After Surgery Comfort Collection
- Seat Belt Pillow – This was wonderful for the ride home and I imagine I will use it for future car rides. This would be good for anyone who has had a hysterectomy or other abdominal surgery.
- Travel Size My Pillow – I have used this at night and throughout the day on the couch. It helps to put this on my belly when I go from lying or sitting down to standing and also fills in those empty spaces between your pillow and mattress.
- Heating Pad – My lovely friends gifted me with a Pink Heating Pad prior to surgery and I love it. I have used it daily. First to help calm the after-surgery gas pains, and then to help with the lower back pain I have been getting from sitting around.
- Colace – An over-the-counter stool softener. Between the anesthesia and the pain pills (if needed), your bowels may be a bit sluggish. I have been taking this once a day since surgery and believe that combining this with some other things have kept things working smoothly.
- MCT Oil – This is another every day staple I have been using to keep things moving easily. Jim adds it to either my morning protein shake or Keto Coffee.
- Smooth Move Tea – I only drank this a couple of times, and combined it with other things, so I am not sure how effective it is by itself, but some ladies swear by it.
- Antioxidant Tablets – When the Colace and MCT Oil don’t seem to be working their magic, this is the final trick I have up my sleeve to try before resorting to a more extreme laxative. Thankfully drinking one of these has worked both times.
- Pillow Organizer – BooYa….This has been one of my favorite things and follows me from bed to couch and back to bed again. Not having to reach the nightstand or the coffee table has been fabulous. I can foresee using this on a regular basis even after recovery. I love that there is room for my water bottle, coffee mug, glasses and remotes! This would make a great gift for someone in your life that may be recovering or simply has a hard time getting around or reaching for things.
- Nintendo Switch – Never in my wildest imagination would I ever think that playing a video game could help so much with recovery, but I can not stress enough how much I LOVE THIS and the game Animal Crossing. This item was a HUGE SURPRISE gift from my brother and his family, and I will never be able to express in words how much it means to me. Not only has it helped keep my mind off recovering, but it has also given me a way to connect with my nieces in a positive way during recovery and covid lockdowns. WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!!!
- Lip Balm – A good thing to put on right before they take you to the surgery waiting area and to have on hand at all times after, especially if you are healing in the winter. This one is my favorite.
- Peppermint Tea – They say Peppermint helps with nausea. I did not have any nausea, but I have enjoyed the comfort of this tea several times through recovery. I just received a new tin as a gift and can’t wait to indulge in a cup later today.
- POOL BOY – He is attentive to my every need, reads my mind and delivers my requests before I even mutter a word.
- Oh shit, that’s just a dream! But damn, it sure would be nice. 😉
- Throw Blankets – I have these readily available everywhere. The are great when I am chilly and easy to toss aside when the internal furnace kicks in.
- Wedge Pillow – I bought a cheapish one from Walmart and used it the first couple days. It helped to have my legs slightly elevated when sleeping on my side was uncomfortable. If you get one of these, be sure to get a wedge pillowcase. I can’t remember if it comes with one.
- Body Pillow – This came in handy to draw a no crossing line in the bed for the first couple of nights…ALSO, it was great for me to cover my belly and legs with when I was ready for my grand dog (who is a moose) to visit.
- Squishy Stuffed Animal Pillow – This doubles as a fill in for when your regular pillow just doesn’t give you enough support and a loveable comfort. When emotions drop, it is nice to have something to snuggle with and it reminds me of my Boston Terrier, Madison. She LOVED this turtle and holding it makes me feel like I’m getting a snuggle from the Rainbow Bridge.
- Warming/Cooling Heart Pillow – This was another wonderfully thoughtful gift and one that I used immediately. I have some weird muscle ache in my chest area, so this got warmed and snuggled within minutes of receiving.
- Personal Fan – Believe it or not….I LOVE THIS. My amazing husband put two hooks on the wall right beside my bed. This hangs on one of those hooks and I have used it numerous times already. Nighttime hot flashes be damned, these little blades start to spin and the blood starts to chill. PS….I was so excited about this, I accidentally ordered it twice!! 😊
- Bluetooth Headphones – These are what hang on my other hook right beside my bed. On those nights when the Flash wakes me from my slumber and snoring is happening on the other side of the bed, I pop these on, turn on my Calm App and either fall back to sleep or enjoy a story or some music in peace.
- Calm App – I had contemplated getting this app for quite some time. I have listened to the album Weightless by Marconi Union for a long while and believe it helps me to drift off to sleep on occasion. I heard that the Calm app had different sounds, music and guided meditations, but I still wasn’t convinced it was worth the cost. UNTIL I stumbled across an article that announced that Cilllian Murphy had joined the team of readers on the app and had his own story to listen to as one drifted peacefully off to sleep listening to his lovely Irish brogue. THAT, my friends sealed the deal, I purchased the app the next day and have found it a lovely addition to my “I need help to sleep” repertoire.
- Jammies – I have been living in these for a solid week. I love them so much, I bought 3 solid colors and a Christmas one. Not only are the comfortable, but they are long enough that you don’t show your goods when/if company comes (F U Covid for making visitors a thing of the past.) I also like that they have pockets, so carrying my phone and glasses is done with ease. Order a size bigger than you normally would to keep them from being tight around your belly while you heal. These truly are one of the most comfortable night shirts I have ever worn, and I LOVE PJ’s!!!
Thanks for tuning in to read another post about my journey with a BRCA1 mutation. Please feel free to drop me a note on how you found my page or message me directly if you have any questions I can answer.
We are a week away from Christmas; therefore, I am unsure if I will post again before the New Year. I had my first virtual meeting with the plastic surgeon today, well sort of. Jim and I had a good virtual conversation with his PA, but technology bit it when the doctor came on, so a regular phone call ensued. The call was good, but I still have lots to think about and plan to meet him in person before finalizing the next steps. I will keep you updated soon.
To end today’s yammering….I have selected this song.
Hot Blooded by Foreigner – I need to do a little research, because I am certain that if there is NOT a menopausal parody to this song, there should be. Who can write it????
Now that the song fun is over….I want to end by saying……Whatever holiday you celebrate within the next couple of weeks, I hope that it is fabulous. Enjoy time with those you love…..even if it’s virtual. Thank goodness we have ways to see each other’s faces, even if it’s over a screen.
May you be blessed with Happiness, Love, Good Health, Comfort, Joy and if needed Heartwarming Healing in the Year ahead!