As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the annoying things about Endometriosis is that you can’t get a diagnosis without having an operation. The operation of choice is a laparoscopy. If you’d like the official information of what this entails, then a good place to start is here: NHS Laparoscopy
Before being sent for this, I was seen by a gynaecologist where I had the chance to discuss my symptoms. As these included a lot of bowel pain, it was suspected that it could be either on or inside this. They explained that subsequently, the op may not be as straight forward and there were several things to consider. The first outcome could be that they perform the procedure and discover that I have no endometriosis. Another outcome could be that they discover endo, but only within the expected places and they remove it. And lastly, if they discovered I had it on my bowel, no removal would take place and I’d have to be referred to a bowel surgeon.
I left the hospital with a lot of questions whizzing through my head… “What if there is no endo? Then what? Is it something else? Is it nothing? Am I being a wimp, and my experiencing what every women goes through each month? Are they going to think I’m a fraud? Shortly followed by – what if I have severe endo? What if I have to have one or both of my ovaries removed? What if they have to remove more than that? What if I then can’t have kids? And lastly – what if I have it on my bowel? What if I have to see a bowel specialist?
One of the worst things about this situation is that there could be a whole range of outcomes and until the laparoscopy (lap) takes place, you have no definitive answers. This is amplified by the ridiculously long waiting times. At this time I worked in a prison which was a very physically and psychologically demanding role. To say I was struggling with this is an understatement, yet at the same time when I look back, I have no idea how I managed to do everything I did with such high levels of pain. Getting up at 5am, most nights only having 5-6 hours of sleep, having a 2 hour commute each way to work (20 hours a week!), let alone the long days, masses of staircases, and bulky key chain belt. There were many occasions when I felt so dizzy and light headed due to the pain that I thought I was going to pass out on the tube on the way in to work. I also experienced such painful rectal spasms, that I found myself glued to the spot like a statue, sometimes even missing my stop as I couldn’t face the heightened pain that moving would cause.
Once I had the date for my lap (Oct 2011), I started to become more anxious. I’d never had surgery or a general anaesthetic before and I was terrified. The leaflet from the hospital lists all of the risks associated with the procedure, and so before you’ve arrived at the hospital, you’ve already convinced yourself that you are going to have:
- a perforated womb or uterus,
- damaged fallopian tubes,
- your ovaries removed,
- other organs perforated (such as your bowel),
- a laparotomy instead,
Worst of all, there is a 1 in however million squillion chance you may die…. yet you manage to convince yourself that it is going to happen to you.
Needless to say I arrived at the hospital in a wreck. You’re not allowed to take anyone in with you, so this certainly didn’t help. As my other half dropped me off I clung on to him, remembering his smell and telling him I loved him for what I had convinced myself was the last time. Very dramatic I know, but I just couldn’t control myself. Waiting for the lap actually wasn’t that bad. There’s normally a gaggle of you waiting together, so I got to have a read of a good book, watched some TV, and chatted to some other patients about what they were having done. I was seen by the nurse who did my vitals, took some blood, and fitted a cannula in my arm. I was then seen by the anaesthetist, who explained his part and the risks that can happen with this procedure. I decided to glaze over these. By this stage, I was focusing more on what the outcome would be.
Finally, I got to see my consultant, who repeated the plan and reminded me of the risks. I had to sign some disclaimers – to give permission for the op and to state that I was happy for them to do whatever needed to be done (no matter what that entailed). I remember taking a big gulp as I tried to swallow ; suddenly it all felt very real and very daunting. I was then dressed in my sexy hospital gown, stockings and slippers, and led to the anathesia room.
At this point I was super nervous. As they strapped me up to things and explained what they were doing, I remember thinking this is it! There’s no turning back now! However, the next bit has since become my favourite part of operations! Anaesthesia! Never before have you felt so happy, content and sleepy! I swear if it became a fad new spa treatment I’d be addicted. Thank goodness I have never taken drugs!!
I awoke from the lap feeling a bit groggy. It took a while for me to take in my surroundings and to get a sense of where I was. The first thing I remember is the nurse telling me I was fine and it had all gone well. Once I felt more with it, the nurse brought over a plastic cup and straw so that I could have a few small sips of water to relieve my ridiculously dry mouth. By this point, as I didn’t hurl my guts up, they were content that I could go to the recovery wing. They gave me more water and something to eat. It was the driest sandwich I have EVER tasted. It was egg, but there was no mayo, and I honestly think there wasn’t even butter in the thing. I sat trying to chew it, looking like a cow chomping on grass that’s been covered with peanut butter (at least, that’s what I imagine that would look like, having never actually seen a cow eat this before…)! It stuck to everything and I just couldn’t swallow it. I had to use big mouthfuls of tea to try and wash the thing down. The nurse looked so pleased that I had managed to eat the thing (she must have known the true challenge she had placed upon me) and said that once I was able to go for a wee I could go home.
I slowly got out of bed. It was a little painful, but I think it was more that I felt weak, and didn’t want to hurt myself. I still had no idea what had/hadn’t been done, and I was desperate for a wee so that I could also have a little peak at what was going on. Once in the toilet I discovered there was a massive wedge of the biggest sanitary products I had ever seen between my legs. I wasn’t expecting this or the blood. I cleaned myself up a little, and then lifted my gown to have a good nose at my abdomen in the mirror. Jeez! My stomach was so bloated from the gas! I could make out 3 incisions – one above my pubic zone, one on the left of my lower abdomen, and weirdly, one to the left of my belly button. How odd.
I managed to pee and was told I could leave the hospital. I was delighted to see my other half! I’d survived! I was still intrigued to know how the procedure had gone, and thought it was barmy that no one actually tells you?! I would have to wait for a follow up appointment with my gynae. My other half came to the wing to collect me and helped me to the car. It had been snowing and was very icy, so like a snail I trailed my way to the car, taking care not to fall and seriously injure myself. Then off we went, home for recovery. I remember feeling quite elated. I didn’t have any answers yet, but I felt relieved to know that I soon would. (I also think it could of had something to do with the anaesthesia and other meds that were still coursing through my body!).