If all you care to know are the highlights, then just read this…
The surgery went well. I'm fine.
For the rest of you, and probably so I'll remember some aspect of this experience in the future, here are the details…most of them…minus the lovely pictures of my uterus that somehow Craig ended up with. ???
Craig and I got up at 5:00 Wednesday morning, left the kids last minute notes of instructions and love messages, threw my little bag in the Jeep, and drove to the hospital. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30, but we had been advised to get to the hospital 90 minutes early to get through all the prep. There's A LOT of that! There were papers to sign, insurance questions to answer, copays to be made, a lovely hospital gown to change into, more blood to be drawn, an IV to be put in (blech…), medical history questions to answer, an endless parade of nurses, anesthesiologists, and technicians, more medical history questions to answer (no, I have never smoked…no, I don't drink…no, I've never had anesthesia before…no, I've never had any surgery of any kind, not even a C-section. It was a little exhausting, but everyone was so nice and so patient, because as it got closer and closer to 7:30, I got more and more nervous.
When everyone was finished interviewing me, the doctor came in and gave me a short briefing of what to expect, the anesthesiologist added "something to take the edge off" into my IV, I said goodbye to Craig, and they wheeled my little mobile bed into the OR.
I was freezing in the waiting room. I was even colder in the pre-surgery room in that flimsy little gown. And as they wheeled me down the long, sterile hall to the OR, I could feel the temperature dropping even more. How do doctors and nurses even work in sub zero temperatures like that?? The giant doors to the OR swung open. They wheeled me into a little corner and I remember saying, "This doesn't look anything like Grey's Anatomy??" There was some giggling in the room. I looked up and commented on the enormous light fixtures and the little ice cube-shaped light bulbs in them, and a nurse who I couldn't see patted me on the shoulder and said, "Yes they sure do, honey." And that's the last thing I remember after that.
I thought there was supposed to be counting backwards from 100. Or something?? But there wasn't. Just ice cube lights and then… ??? I have no idea what happened after that.
I remember waking up in what I thought was the same room, with something that felt like a show horn in my mouth. I was trying so hard to focus on the clock so that I could tell if they had even done the surgery yet, but I couldn't tell what those hands were pointing to. A few minutes later, a nurse was talking, things were being taken off of me, and I was once again being wheeled to some other location.
They wheeled me into my little hospital home for the next 48 hours and I was so happy to be able to read the clock finally. 12:30pm. And the nice nurse pointed out that Craig was there…sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. I hadn't even noticed him.
There were instructions, but I don't remember them. There was a cup full of water. Another cup full of ice chips. And a remote control with a bright green light in my hand that they said was for pain. Anytime I felt any pain, I could press that little button. So I did…a lot. The first 24 hours after surgery, morphine is definitely your friend.
Sometime after the anesthesia grogginess wore off, the doctor visited and told me the details. That fibroid they thought was the size of a grapefruit was actually closer to a cantaloupe (blah…) so the surgery which typically takes about an hour and a half took them close to 4 hours. I lost about a liter of blood and she kept tossing around the word transfusion. I heard something about not having to do that if I bounced back quickly and they could see some good progress in the next 48 hours. So I willed myself to progress. I got up the next morning. I let them take my morphine friend. I went to the potty all by myself. And by 8:00 the next night, I was walking down the hall with Craig and the kids to peek at the babies in the nursery. (That was the best part of being housed in the maternity wing of the hospital…the nursery!) By Friday morning, when the doctor visited, no one was talking about transfusions anymore. Just release papers. Hooray!I stayed in that little hospital room until late Friday afternoon. 48 hours is a long time to live in a hospital. I know, I'm a baby. Some people have to stay in hospitals for a lot longer than that. Sleeping was hard. Being woken up every four hours for vitals and meds was hard. Being there by myself was hard.
The staff was so nice and so accommodating that they made the whole experience a lot more tolerable. I loved the cute nurses who kept marveling that I was so young to have had a hysterectomy. None of them believed me when I said I was 43. It was right there on my ID badge! I'm plenty old enough to have a hysterectomy.
Craig and Savannah brought me home Friday afternoon, and I can honestly say, HOME IS THE BEST PLACE TO BE. I crawled right into my perfect bed and fell asleep for about two hours…Savannah slipped in there next to me because she was relieved that I was home, and relieved to have her finals over with. It was a long week for all of us.
There are things they don't tell you before you have surgery. Like that anesthesia is a crazy powerful thing and that it has lingering side effects. Food tastes gross for about a week. There is this yucky taste in your mouth that no amount of teeth brushing will get rid of. Protein is your friend. Sugar is not. If you happen to get the raging headaches that I had, the only thing that even remotely helps is caffeine. There were mega amounts of Diet DP consumed after I found out that little helpful tip.
Overall, though, I feel really good. I'm so happy to have this part of my life over with (both the surgery and the girl responsibilities that have left along with my uterus.) Craig and the kids have been such a huge help. I really had no idea that my family was capable of everything they've done in the last few days. I'll have to figure out some way to incorporate a lot more of their help into my regular schedule from now on.
I'm grateful for helpful family and thoughtful friends who have brought dinners and flowers and treats. I'm grateful for modern technology that allows this to even be an option. What on earth did people do before anesthesia, pain meds, and modern medicine??? And I'm so grateful to be out of the hospital and back at home for the rest of this (hopefully) speedy recovery.