This post is a bit of a tricky one for me to write about. Only because, I’m not too sure what to cover off but hopefully there’s something in it for everyone.
Last Friday, I had my Hysterectomy, something I’d been waiting for a little over 7 months on the public system. The months leading up to it weren’t easy and as the time drew closer, it became less so…but I made it. The night before, I felt anxious and struggled to fall asleep until eventually, I succumbed after crying (I’m not entirely sure why) for a while. My alarm was set for 3:30 am as we had to drop my brother-in-law off at the airport before my check-in time, which was set for 7 am. I woke up in a daze and totally confused as my brain tried to mesh together what was happening and why my alarm had just gone off in the dead of night. Before I came to my full senses, I heard these words (not my own thoughts or inner voice), “Be still and know that I am God“. It shook me into the present moment and I felt a state of calm come over and through me. I lay staring into the dark for about 2 minutes until I got out of bed and prepared for the next couple of hours. I looked forward to being knocked out later and catching up on some much-needed sleep, having put in extra hours at the office the whole week on top of an early rise.
The reason why that moment is so profound to me is because, I wasn’t actually thinking, I wasn’t fully awake and I wasn’t feeling scared/nervous/anxious at all during those few seconds since my alarm woke me. So in a sense, it’s not like I was trying to console myself…Those words really comforted me.
We went to the airport and sat waiting with my brother-in-law before his flight back home to Australia. Once we got to the hospital, my husband and I sat in the waiting area watching as other people came in one by one, ready for their expected surgery. I sat there and just felt myself well up with tears, unsure of where the emotion was coming from (yet again) but certain that it was going to break my tear bank no matter how hard I tried for it not to. I tried to get my husband to leave before that happened and hid my face but it was no use. It didn’t make it any easier when he told me how brave I was for doing this and how he would be sh****ng himself if it were him.
I’ve had more than my fair share of surgeries since we’ve been together and some days I wonder when the last day of me lying on an operating table, will be. I can just imagine that my face had betrayed what I was obviously going through because it made him hold me closer and grasp my hand tightly with a look that needed no words…I knew he was here for me and wouldn’t go anywhere.
Within a few minutes, I was called by a male nurse and taken to a room where he checked my height, weight, etc. and, gave me a rundown of what was to be expected, while asking a few pages full of questions. He told me that I had been bumped up the list and would be going in first for my surgery as he handed me a change of clothes. I stripped down completely, changed into some hospital garments and walked along the corridor in my hospital booties, feeling the cold floor beneath my feet. My husband kissed me goodbye and left as I entered the surgical area, which was off limits to him. I had a few people come in and talk to me, the Anaesthetist, Surgeon (She was pretty, friendly, calm and had a very pleasant nature – she put me at ease) and one or two nurses. Cross-checking the details on my wristband at every turn to ensure that I was the right person having the right procedure. Tears still threatened and I felt powerless to stop it…so I just let it roll down my cheeks.
In the end, a nurse (much older) came and collected me and I followed her to surgery room 11. There were so many people inside the room, I felt a little unsure and just stood dead still looking around the room until I focussed on the one spot I knew was reserved solely for me. Getting onto the bed in front of me, I had the Anaesthetist on my left-hand side who started looking for veins (mine are super deep) and the older nurse on my right holding my hand in hers. I remember the cold sterile feeling of the room and the contrasting warmth of her hand and smiling face, offering a welcome sense of comfort as she distracted me with small talk. The warmth of her hand over mine was comforting and almost soothing. I told her that her hand was nice and warm and she smiled down at me saying “They say, warm hand means a cold heart…but you don’t have to worry about that“. I smiled back saying, “I wouldn’t believe that about you even if you told me yourself“.
The surgeon peered over the Anaesthetists head and asked if I was OK to which I replied, “I just feel anxious” stopping myself as my voice quivered. She said that was to be expected and smiled. I told her “There are so many people here” (It’s no exaggeration…there must’ve been at least 10). Smiling, she answered, “Yes there are, we all have our own little job to do“. Looking at the clock on the wall, to my right, it was 8:20 am…that’s the last thing I remember…
I woke up with someone gently calling my name and the immediate next sensation was the pain from my pelvic region which hit me. It was a burning, sharp pain…one I wished I didn’t feel as the picture my mind conjured up was physically feeling that a part of me was no longer there. (My uterus and tubes had been removed). I could only manage the word “Pain…”. And, when asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how bad is it?” I replied “10…” and continued to make a whimpering sound.
My pain continued to be managed by the nurse next to me but I never saw her face as my eyes opened and closed the whole time. I heard a man’s voice guiding her as I slipped in and out of sleep, feeling myself being called back to the lull of the anaesthesia. It went like this for a while (just over an hour I think) as I heard him saying that if they didn’t successfully get my pain under control and me awake enough to go to the ward, they would have to call the surgeon back. I fought against it and after the next shot of pain medication, I felt comfortable enough to manage it on my own. I slept most of the day away and regained a semi-state of being awake after 5 pm, fully aware that I had been checked on a few times by the nursing staff who administered medication into the drip in my arm and monitored my blood pressure and fever.
I heard a swooshing sound which came from the pumps on both my legs, each pumping and squeezing, one after the other. (It was familiar to me, having had them on when I was comatose with my last 3 brain surgeries to treat my Hydrocephalus, 7 years ago). This is to ensure that my blood flow is regulated and no blood clots form which can cause serious complications or even death. Lifting up the blanket, I was curious to see what my tummy looked like and noticed 5 patches spread across my abdomen. It looked swollen and jiggled like a mould of jelly when I touched it. (I plan on working that off once I’ve healed). Apparently, the bed is placed at an angle where your head is down and your feet are pointing upward, causing your organs to fall back down and giving the surgeon space to work. Also, they pump your tummy full of gas so that it’s bloated and increases the space by lifting your belly.
P.S. It’s not a pleasant experience afterwards trying to get that gas out nor is having people asking a question that seems vital “Have you farted yet?” but I digress… 🙂
I was thankful for the sight of the patches because that meant I had a successful Laparoscopic procedure instead of a C-Section cut. Having had all 3 my children via C-Section, I will be the first to say that it was 1000 times worse than this in comparison.
Over the next day, I recovered to the point where I could get out of bed on my own once the catheter had been removed, have a shower and actually felt like a normal person again. I was happy, I was at peace and truly thankful to the surgeon for her skill in getting us both through a successful operation. I thanked her later when I saw her again and learned that there was nothing of concern found as suspected. The only thing that could have been the cause of my pain was that my tubes were actually tied (I wasn’t aware this had been done) and one was swollen, probably from blood trying to get through, etc. It took me a bit by surprise but I realised quickly enough, there’s no point in questioning any of it then anyway as it wouldn’t make any difference.
Relieved is a word I would strongly use at the end of this saga. It’s been a few days since I’ve been released from the hospital and aside from literally feeling (for a few seconds) like a part of me had been ripped out, I am no longer in pain and am managing that aspect comfortably. If I don’t remind myself time and again that I’ve just had a major operation, I would surely forget.
The day of the operation, my family came to visit and just before they left, I remember saying to my eldest son “How does it feel for you?” He looked at me a bit confused and asked, “What do you mean?” “Well, this was your first home…and now it’s been torn apart and destroyed“. He just looked at me, processed what I had said and smiled saying “As long as you’re OK mum, it’s all good“.
The biggest challenge at the moment for me, almost being at the end of week 1 of 6 for recovery, is lying flat on my backside and allowing my body to heal. It’s work in progress…
I figure I gave motherhood my best shot in that regard. My uterus has served me well and delivered 3 healthy children…what more could I ask for?
Coming back to the words I heard that morning, I believe fully that when we are faced with situations like this, beyond our control and we are at our most vulnerable, we truly don’t need to fear. Simply believing and accepting is good enough…whatever the outcome may be. Looking back, I had Angels with me every step of the way…people who just stood out from the rest and this is what gives me renewed hope for the next time I find myself lying on the operating table.
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I blog about Hydrocephalus and Selective Mutism to give a voice to the millions of people around the world with this condition and disorder. As much as these experiences are unique to me and my family, I’m sure others have experienced it too. My aim…to shine a light on it and raise awareness – simple and challenging at the same time but worth it!