It’s been a rough few months. I wanted to write this blog post while it was all still very fresh, but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit at a computer and write. Now that I am feeling more ‘normal’ (whatever that even means lol), it’s time to get this down. If only for myself, but maybe any ladies who have been through or are about to go through the same thing.
It all started in October. If I’m really honest, it’s been an ongoing thing for a least a decade, but it peaked in October. I started getting sick on a Thursday. Nothing new for me. Food often has a point of making my life miserable from time to time. Eat an olive at the wrong time and it will sit and stew in my tummy for hours causing pain, only to be thrown up completely undigested. Gross, I know. But I just learned to live with it and within a day or 2, I would be back to my old self. This could happen weekly… or weeks in-between. There was no rhyme or reason to it. I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis a long time ago, and figured that was the only answer I’d get. Anyhooo.. back to October. Friday and Saturday I still wasn’t doing any better, but I’m stubborn and didn’t want to go to the Doctor, much to my hubby’s protests. Sunday morning, I was able to keep water and a banana down so we took a trip to visit friends in Oakville. Probably not the best choice to have made, but it all worked out for the best. Everything happens for a reason.
You know you’re good friends with someone when you can be hanging out, and have to run to the bathroom to throw up and not be completely embarrassed by the whole situation. Thank goodness for good friends <3. Now I’m used to pain, and usually have a pretty good tolerance for it. That day however, I cannot even describe how bad it was. I was curled over and crying because it was so bad. Needless to say, a trip to the hospital was happening whether I liked it or not.
Mr. Sweepea had to bring me into ER via a wheelchair because I couldn’t even walk. Naive me still honestly thought they were going to give me something to stop me from puking, something for the pain and send me on my way. Poor naive little me. This was not the case. As soon as all the normal paperwork/questions were asked, I was in a hospital gown, and put on an IV. I was being admitted. Oh man. On a side note, ask for gravol before receiving morphine, you’ll thank me later. Bloodwork, tests, Doctors and nurses. It was all a blur. Like a circus of scrubs and clipboards. Results came back and I had severe Pancreatitis, and a liver infection caused by gallstones. Great. Now I can’t really be mad at my little gallbladder. I’m a crafty person, and he was just using what supplies he had to be crafty too. But it sucked. Thankfully I was able to pass the stones on my own. However, if you go through this as well… it is very painful, and be prepared to have no water, or food. Ice chips my friend are where it’s at. Pancreatitis lands you in the hospital for about a week FYI. Nice time to catch up on reading and letters. Or splurge on the TV for your hospital room.
Now of course my adventure in the ER couldn’t be that simple. It seems I had something else hanging around inside my body. More tests and scans and we find out I have a very large ovarian cyst. At first I was told it was the size of a grapefruit. Ok. That doesn’t sound so bad. Then it was the size of a pomelo. Again, not too scary. By the time I was discharged and actually got to see how bad it actually was… it was the size of a rugby ball my friends. A freakin’ rugby ball. The crappiest part of all of it was, it had to come out before I could have my gallbladder removed since it was in the way of everything. Seriously cyst?! This meant 2 options. I could have 2 separate surgeries at different times, or we could orchestrate a 2 for 1 with 2 doctors and have it all done at once.
For those waiting for gallbladder surgery, it’s a pretty boring meal plan. Sticking to less than 3 grams of fat per meal doesn’t leave you many tasty options. Lots of veggies and fruit which was nice. I would have killed for an avocado lol! To make this even funner, it was all around my birthday and the holidays. No champagne for me </3
Remember how I said everything happens for a reason? I’m super thankful it happened in Oakville, because the 2 doctors I was put into contact with, are amazing. Dr. Khan, the general surgeon was taking care of the gallbladder portion, and Dr. Cockwell was taking care of the cyst. First I met with Dr. Khan, basically going over the options, the risks with the procedure and what can happen after. But since he couldn’t do anything without the cyst (whom I lovingly started to call Ivan… call me sick, but I thought it was better than cyst), I had to meet with the gyno. And all the usual things that happen there, happened. It was also decided that we would do both procedures at once which I was happy about. She would go in, take out Ivan and sew me up. And then Dr. Khan would come and remove my gallbladder via laproscopy. She also sent me for some bloodwork. Now don’t freak out when you get results back! Lots of things can affect whats going on. Since I had Pancreatitis, I had to wait at least 6 weeks for surgery. Surgery was scheduled for January. What seemed like a very long time to wait. A bland, long time.
Plus size… you do lose a lot of weight. When you can’t eat anything thats really bad for you, the extra stuff you’re carrying around goes away pretty quickly. The one nice thing about this whole experience 😛
A couple weeks before surgery, you have to go see your family doctor or a walk-in clinic. Pre surgery physical type thing. Don’t stress about it, they weigh you, get your height and go over some medical history stuff. Basically that you are healthy enough to survive surgery I guess.
The week before your surgery, you’ll be scheduled for a pre op appointment at the hospital where you’re having it done. Lots of paperwork! And get used to being asked the same questions by everyone. Even though the answers are on the massive amount of paperwork you just filled out. Be patient. The nurses are just doing their job. I was blown away by the amount of rude people at this point. Basically you meet with a nurse who goes over the procedure with you again. You get some more blood work done. Because I was in the hospital within 6 month I got the added fun of a swabbing lol. She also tells you what you can and cannot do the night before. No make-up, no piercings, no jewellery, no nail polish, etc. Here’s your file, and we will see you in a week.
I also got to meet with the anesthesiologist. Because my cyst was so large, I had to have a vertical incision so we talked about pain management options. I ended up choosing the epidural route. So you talk about what will happen with that, and the risks associated with it. It gets overwhelming, and I sometimes think it would be better to go into it not knowing what could happen. I know, I know, they have to do it for liability… but ignorance could be bliss. After that, again, see you in a week. And you’re on your way home.
Fast forward 6 days. The day before surgery. You’re not allowed to eat or drink after a certain point. Drink up because you’ll won’t get anything until after you’re in a hospital recovering post surgery. They also make you wash with this stuff called Chlorhexidine Cleanser the night before and the morning of your surgery. I’m sure a lot of people skip this step, but I figured if it would reduce my chances of getting any sort of infection of the surgical site, I was going to do it. They also tell you to wear clean jammers and sleep in clean sheets after showering. I know it’s going to be hard, but try and get as much rest as possible. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.
Day of the surgery. My surgery was scheduled for the morning which I was glad about. Less time waiting around being nervous. Get it over and done with right? You get to the hospital, check in at the desk and wait to get called. My Hubby and my Mom both came that day with me. Having the support was huge. When you get called, you go and get into your stylish new hospital gowns, and they bring you into another room. It was kind of like a spa that you didn’t want to be at. I got to sit in a super comfy heated chair, wrapped in warm blankets. If I had a hot tea to sip on and maybe some fruit, I would have paid money for it 😛 However that’s when things got real. The nurse comes in and hooks you up to your IV. I have tiny veins and this is never fun for me. I foresee bruises in my future. They also give you some pills if the Doctor has prescribed them. They are very stingy with the water despite my best efforts to drink more than it took to swallow them. At this point, Mr. SweetPea was allowed to come back and spend some time with me. Maybe it was everything sinking in, the pills or the fact that the elderly couple sitting across from me were the cutest things ever (The man told the Doctor, that he’d been living with this woman, pointing to his wife, for 50 years and he’d like another 50 at least so he better take good care of her! Insert the waterworks), I was very emotional, and was starting to get worked up. I gave him a kiss and told him to leave and I’d see him on the flip side. I’m not sure he was happy with that, but he obliged.
The anesthesiologist comes to visit you and talks about what’s going to happen in the operating room. He actually came in while Mr. SweetPea was still there. I think that also added to my freaking out because he kept repeating the fact that it was going to be a long surgery. We already knew this. Hearing multiple times was not helping. Some Doctors really need some human skills. The hubby and I talked about this after, and he figured it was more for his benefit than mine. People in the waiting room probably freak out and worry if it’s taking a longer time than they think it should so he was preparing Mr. SweetPea for a long wait.
After that, your Doctor will come in and see you just all double checking everything and that you’re okay. Again lots of repetition, but I’d rather that than end up in the wrong room and get the wrong surgery.
Then it’s go time, and a nurse comes and gets you and you walk over to your operation room. Now I’m not gonna lie, I was scared. Like I had a mental breakdown as I was sat on the hospital bed. Uncontrollable crying. This one nurse came over and just started talking to me and calming me down like that was her full time job. I never got her name, but I’m super thankful for her. They were also playing classical music. That was a nice touch. The bed is very small… much smaller than you’d think. They had me sit on the edge and lean over holding a pillow while the epidural was put in. It was painless and happened very quickly. The next thing they had me lay down and Doctor Cockwell came over and went over what was going to happen, and held my hand as I fell asleep. Best Doctor Ever.
Next thing you know, another nurse is tapping your hand and telling you to open your eyes and wake up that the surgery was over and you’re now in the recovery room. I woke up fairly quickly, thankfully. But this room was just all open with beds from all the other patients just beside each other like in a ward. You really should only be in here for 40 minutes or so. I ended up being in it for 2 hours. Blah, but I think it’s because on a good day my blood pressure is low, so they were waiting for it to come back up. Thankfully they let my Hubby and my Mom in after an hour to come and keep me company. Doctor Cockwell also came to check on me and show me pictures of ‘Ivan’. It was all a blur and I remember being blown away by how big it was. Finally I was wheeled up into my hospital room. Even though it’s considered a ward, the Oakville hospital is set up so it’s semi-private. A wall down the middle divides the room in 2 and there are 2 beds on either side. Both sides get a washroom so it’s not that bad. Not that you need to worry about a bathroom for a couple days. #CatheterLife
You’re finally allowed to drink and have ice chips. Hallelujah! Best tasting water you’ll ever taste. With all the drugs I was pretty tired, and probably kept passing out on my Hubby and my parents (my Dad came by after work). I cannot tell all my family enough how much all their support meant to me.
And honestly, the worst of it is really over. They put these inflating devices on my legs to help prevent blood clots. It was like a massage and I actually didn’t mind them at all. The next day, they had me sitting up in a chair and out of bed and walking. Walk as much as you can. The more you walk, the better for multiple reasons. One circulation, two it will be easier for you later on and number three (and I’m sorry I’m about to get very real here), constipation. Post op constipation is no joke. Ask for a stool softener as soon as you can have food. Eat as much bran and high fibre foods as you can. Drink lots of water. And walk, walk, walk. Did I mention how bad it is? They are very concerned about you being able to pass gas, but not so much about pooping. I think they should be LoL. Take the softener, or if that doesn’t work, when you get home, take Milk of Magnesium.
Take it easy when you are at home recovering. It’s a 6-8 week recovery time. And taking it easy early on, will make it better later. Pure Vitamin E on the incision helped a lot with healing. No need for fancy scar creams, it’s basically what they are for a fraction of the price. Get lots of rest so your body has the energy to heal itself.
If you have any questions about the whole thing that I didn’t cover here, please feel free to comment below. Or if you’ve gone through this and want to share, I’d love to hear. I’m actually still nervous my remaining ovary is going to make another cyst and I’ll have to go through this all again, so any tips anyone has on what to do to stop cysts from forming, share the love.