Monday, September 23, 2013

My Surgery Story

On Wednesday, I worked a normal day at work, tied up all the loose ends, and headed home to get all my surgery ducks in a row. 

The sweet husband prepared dinner, a delicious lasagna soup, then insisted on taking me out for dessert. Ok, so maybe the dessert was my idea, but he was definitely on board. For some reason, I really wanted a banana split, so he did some internet searching and found a frozen custard place nearby that had them. And it was delicious...

After we ate every last bit of that deliciously oversized sundae, we found a Redbox and rented the most happy, lighthearted movie we could find, which happened to be Epic. It was super cute and just what I needed to keep my mind off of surgery. The movie ended, we went to bed, and I thankfully fell asleep very quickly.

The alarm went off at 5:45am and we both felt mostly well rested. We grabbed all of our stuff for the overnight stay, including our two favorite stuffed animals, Mij & Picksey, did a quick get ready routine, and headed out the door.

John drove us the whole (1 hour) way to Jackson while I mostly just relaxed in the passenger seat and randomly asked him questions about surgery. Gosh, sometimes it is such a blessing to be married to a doctor. He put me at ease about everything and assured me it was all going to be ok. I think at this point my biggest fears were going under and having to fast all day. Not really equal fears at all, but I guess that's just how it goes.

We arrived a little early to the hospital, filled out all the necessary paperwork, paid the bill, and then were escorted up to a pre-op holding room. I think we arrived in the room by 8:30am and settled in very quickly. I was given a hospital gown and some slippers to change into, which I did, and then a kind nurse came and took a blood sample. Soon after, another nurse came to hook me up to some IVs - one in each hand since I was having robotic-assisted surgery. The husband decided this was a good point to take a picture.

He suggested the thumbs-up pose.

One funny thing we wondered about for a while - we didn't really know much about the hospital we were in, just the name really. So John kept wondering if we were just in a pre-op holding room or if it was also the room I'd be recovering in later. We were hoping it was just the pre-op room because it had no couch or bed for John to stay the night with me and no bathroom. I mean, we would have made do, but we were confused and laughed about it for a bit. 

Soon another nurse came in and explained it was just a pre-op room. Phew! She came in to take my temp and blood pressure and cover all the last minute surgery details. She ended up talking to John for a while about his job as a pediatrician - apparently her grandson had just spent several nights at the hospital where John works. She also loved that I was a Youth Director and kept telling us she had walked into a "God room" when she walked into our pre-op room. It was sweet, although I was a little annoyed when she started telling me all I needed to do was relax and forget about it and I'd be pregnant. I held it together and just smiled and nodded, I mean she was just trying to be nice, but seriously, two things: 1.) If I could "just relax" and get pregnant, trust me, I would have done that by now. And 2.) I'm in here getting surgery because of our infertility! Don't you think that means it's a little more serious at this point than "just relaxing"? I obviously didn't say any of this to her, but I sure did think it for a second. I let it go so quickly and was just happy with the fact that she said she'd pray for us. Overall, it was a sweet interaction.

Dr. Gray dropped in to see me before surgery. He asked me to tell him what kind of surgery I was having done, to make sure I understood what I was in for, I guess. I passed the test and then he went on to tell us that things were a little delayed but that my surgery would likely start by noon, only about an hour late. He was extremely kind and his presence was very calming.

Johnny and I took some of our extra time to say some prayers to all the saints that came to mind. Just a quick "St. Anne, pray for us, St. Gerard, pray for us," and so on. I also had him tell me a story that I was going to try to remember post-surgery. He said some of the anesthesia drugs can affect your short-term memory and cause you to forget things even before the drugs were administered. I thought that was really odd, so we decided to have some fun with it. (I did, in fact, remember the story right after surgery, though I can't remember it now. Weird, right?)

The anesthesiologist arrived to chat quickly and then things really picked up from there. A fourth nurse dropped in to administer some relaxation drugs (versed), then a certified nurse anesthetist stopped by, and then next thing I know, I'm being whisked away on my hospital bed! I said a teary goodbye to my sweet husband and cried down the hallway to the operating room.

When we arrived in the room, it was so cold! They helped me from my bed to the operating table, put a breathing mask on my face, told me to breathe deep, and then told me they were going to administer some drugs to put me under. And then the drugs worked perfectly because the next thing I remember is waking up in the post-op holding room. 

I was groggy and mostly half awake, but I remember a kind nurse asking me how bad my pain was on a scale of 1 to 10. I think I told her 2 or 3. They must have already pumped some nice drugs in me, because I wasn't feeling half bad! I also remember asking her what time it was. I wanted to know how long my surgery was because I knew the length of the surgery probably equaled the severity of whatever Dr. Gray found when he went in. She said it was around 2:30pm, so I knew surgery had only lasted about 2 hours. Praise God! This probably meant something good!

I was held in the post-op room for 30 minutes to make sure everything was stable and then they wheeled me off to my recovery room. I remember feeling so happy that I was going to see my husband soon. As soon as I reached my room, there he was to greet me! I don't really remember much of what we said, but I know I was happy to be back with him because I knew that being reunited was calming his nerves. 

After a short while, I decided I wanted to get up and try to use the restroom, but as soon as I sat up (assisted by the nurse), I quickly felt nauseous and like I had made a bad decision. The nurse laid me back down and put an alcohol pad on my nose to help with the nausea. Thank goodness she did because I was so afraid I was about to throw up everywhere. I decided now was not the time to be going to the restroom, so I took a nap instead.

Several hours later, I woke up and remember being pretty shocked that it was dark outside. I was also shocked at how not hungry I was, considering I hadn't eaten anything since 8pm the night before and being hungry was one of my biggest (silly) fears going into surgery. Turns out anesthesia and/or pain meds can do some weird things to your stomach and its sensation of emptiness. Johnny went and grabbed some dinner and I did my best eating some jello, chicken noodle soup, part of a turkey sandwich, and some saltines, although the saltines didn't work so well with my drryyyy, dry mouth.

The night was pretty uneventful. I think we watched HGTV for a few hours (my guilty pleasure!) and then I drifted off to sleep. The nurse came in to check on me here and there, taking my temp and blood pressure, but that was about it. I was very surprised at how minimal my pain was and how easy sleep came. Thank you, pain meds :)

Dr. Gray stopped by to visit pretty early the next morning and brought with him the details of the surgery. John had already chatted with Dr. Gray right after surgery, so I had a few of the details, but I was anxious/excited/nervous to hear Dr. Gray's take. 

He did find some endometriosis! Going into surgery, I would waver back and forth on whether or not I thought he'd find endo. I really didn't have any noticeable symptoms of it except for the infertility, so I really wasn't sure if I had it. Turns out I did! He found it in a few places around my uterus - right side, left side, front, and near one of my ovaries - and on my cervix. He said it was a very mild case and he was able to excise all of it. Thank you, God!! 

He also said he saw the fibroid we had seen previously on ultrasounds. It was on the top of my uterus, on the outside, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, in a spot that most likely isn't affecting our fertility. I had asked him before surgery if he was thinking of removing it, but he said removing fibroids can cause uterine scaring, which is probably worse than having the fibroid stay, especially if it's not causing trouble. I am honestly a little worried that it might be weighing things down and causing my tubes to close off when I stand up, but perhaps this is an irrational worry? I suppose it's something we can look into in the future if we are still having trouble.

We were happy to hear that my tubes were completely open, though a little surprised when he said he saw some teeny tiny polyps in my uterus which usually indicate endometritis, or uterine infection. He was surprised to see it because John and I had both just taken a full course of antibiotics to clear it up. So it seems like this infection just doesn't want to go away. He sent off a sample to be tested and we should hear back soon about whether or not I still have an infection.

Overall, I think our news is rather hopeful. Dr. Gray said about 1 in 7 patients get pregnant just from having the surgery. I know statistics are not on our side here, but here's hoping we're in that lucky 14.3%. He also said that the severity of endometriosis does not necessarily indicate its affect on fertility. So, though my case was mild, we could continue to have problems well into the future. Only time will tell now :)

Before he left, he asked us to stop by his office (right up the road) on our way out of town to pick up a video of the surgery. That's right, a video of my insides during surgery. I thought this was a little strange and I haven't brought myself to watch it yet, but I guess it's becoming more common these days.  I think I might wait until our follow-up appointment with him in a few weeks to watch it. He said he'd go over it with us during the appointment and explain what's going on on the screen. Cool, but a little weird. I guess I'll report back on that later.

We packed up our few belongings in the room and a wheelchair dude was called in to wheel me away to our car. I put a comfy pillow between me and the seatbelt and just relaxed the whole ride home. Husband helped me up the stairs to our apartment, another part of the process I was worried about, but it was much easier than I had anticipated. I quickly found my way to the bedroom and crawled into bed for a little while. 

Johnny went out and picked up my pain meds and bought me a most beautiful bouquet of flowers, a recovery gift from him and his parents. Such a sweetheart, right? He helped me move from the bed to the couch and we watched movies and enjoyed each others' company and ate easy-on-the-stomach meals for dinner. 

My home recovery station - flowers from husband and in-laws, flowers
from my parents, water, meds, get well cards. All the necessities :)

The next day, I was already starting to feel better! I took it slow in the morning and put two very simple tasks on my recovery list - walk to the mail box and back with husband and shower. I accomplished both and was feeling so good that we decided to go on a little outing! Johnny and I were both excited about upgrading our getting-old-and-slow phones, so we went to the Verizon store and bought two new iPhones. Quite a treat for a girl 2 days post-op, amiright? We also stopped by our favorite Chinese food restaurant and picked up some take out for dinner. The wonton soup and a liiiittle bit of fried rice were exactly what the recovering belly needed. 

It was great to be getting back to my normal activities, though I think I pushed it a little too much because I was feeling pretty groggy the next morning. And the gas pain in my shoulders was horrible from the start of the day. I allowed myself lots of lazy time, including lots of time with my heat pack and lots of watching online episodes of The Pioneer Women (another guilty pleasure). I gave myself a few more recovery tasks - stop taking heavy pain meds, only ibuprofen, take another shower, and go to mass with husband. I accomplished all three! And husband treated me to Five Guys for dinner, which I figured I'd regret in the morning, but it was not the case! And their fries were SO so good.

That brings me to today. And today I'm feeling back to my normal self, only four days post-op. All I can say is, what a blessing! God has been so good to me through this whole process. I mean, it probably helps A LOT that I was only under for 2 hours, but seriously, thank you, God! And thank you to everyone who prayed with us through this process. I know it was through the power of prayer that everything went as smoothly as it did. 

Here's hoping and praying that the next steps in our journey go smoothly as well. Wouldn't it be so nice to be one of those 1 in 7 that get pregnant right after surgery? I guess we'll just have to wait and see!! 


  1. Hoping and praying with you Stephanie. I'm glad that everything went smoothly with the surgery and recovery and yay for the iphones :D

  2. I am glad the surgery went well and that you are recovering nicely! Praying for your continued healing!

  3. So glad to hear that all went well and that you are recovering! Continued prayers for your healing.

  4. Thank you, ladies! The prayers are so so so appreciated. Sending up some prayers for all of you as well!

  5. I hope the recovery continues to go well!! I'm impressed at your reaction to the nurse - and still shocked when I hear of people actually saying such silly things...prayers for lots of rest and TLC from your hubby!!

  6. So glad to hear your surgery and post-op went well. Love the picture with the thumbs up, and that your hubby is taking such good care of you!!! ... my DH video-taped me as I was coming out of anesthesia. It was funny to watch that afterwards. Regarding the video of the surgery, that was too weird for me to watch (maybe just because I am not a medical person). Speedy continued recovery.

    1. Haha. I love that he video-taped you coming out of surgery. I actually gave my husband permission to video me once the anesthesia kicked in or if I was loopy post-surgery. Unfortunately, I wasn't entertaining enough so no video happened. Oh well :)

  7. Glad to hear your surgery went well. Prayers you are that 1 of 7 and for speedy recovery!

  8. I'm glad the surgery went well. I hope everything continues to go well and that you are in the lucky 14%. :)

  9. I'm so glad that your surgery turned out good. hopefully this will be good news for the future:-)

  10. Steph, So sad I just signed on tonight to see how you were doing (I've been praying for you and thinking about you lots as I walk through the halls of CRJ every day... sniff, sniff). I knew your surgery was coming up but didn't realize it was this past week. Glad to hear it went well and that your dh is pampering you so well. You are an inspiration to me! Will keep praying for y'all (had to put that little Texas in there for you!). Miss you more than you know...

    1. Miss YOU more than YOU know! I think about you, your precious family, and your work at CRJ often. I'm hoping the students are treating you well this year. Prayers to you, my friend. And thanks for your prayers. <3

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