“Life is what happens while you are busy making plans.” John Lennon
Regular readers of this blog (all 4 of you) know I spent a couple of months in the spring and early summer doing the Great Purge of 2013. I went through our house room by room and got rid of everything I didn’t use or didn’t need and tons of things that didn’t work right or were just plain outdated and taking up space.
In keeping with that theme, I had a total hysterectomy on Sept. 18.
It wasn’t intentionally part of the Great Purge of 2013 but it worked well with that theme since my lady parts fit into a number of the above categories.
The hysterectomy wasn’t my idea, but after yet another visit to my gynecologist because of yet another abnormal test result, he finally said, “I think we need to talk about taking everything out.” Since I assume I have some male readers, I’ll spare you the details. If you’re like the Farmer, calving cows is one thing but talking about “woman problems” is something else entirely. (Poor Farmer. It took him awhile before he could talk about it with me and now that it’s over, I’m not sure who’s more relieved, me or him.)
I’m 48 years old and have all my original parts: tonsils, appendix, gallbladder, adenoids, spleen and whatever else an otherwise normally healthy human might have parted company with over the better part of four decades. I’d never had any type of surgery. Never had anesthesia. I’ve never even had stitches. (That’s not the same as never needing stitches but that’s another story.)
“Think about it,” said Dr. R.
I thought about it. A week later, Dr. R. called me with the latest round of test results. The endometrial biopsies had come back abnormal. He felt my chances of developing uterine, cervical or ovarian cancer were high. Combined with the endometriosis, fibroids and periods from hell, that was the last straw.
In mid-June I scheduled the surgery for Sept. 18, the earliest available date for my surgeon. It would be out-patient surgery and I would spend one night in the hospital, technically a “23 hour observation.”
I told my mom, the gals I work with and my closest dog friends. I did not tell everyone in the world because I did not want to deal with three months of listening to how someone’s neighbor’s sister’s niece had similar surgery and how she had horrible complications, stayed in the hospital for a week and was in pain for months afterward. I needed positive energy and stayed away from people who tend to be energy vampires.
I spent three months making pre-surgery lists: things I needed to buy, things I needed to get done around the house, things I needed to get done at work, things I needed the Farmer to do and things I needed to take to the hospital. I had sticky notes plastered on every conceivable surface at work and a never-ending stack of lists scattered like leaves on the kitchen counter.
The time flew. I had a wonderful summer. By Sept. 17, I had everything crossed off all my lists. The day of surgery, the Farmer, my mom and my aunt (who is like a second mom) came to the hospital. My good obedience and agility friend Michele came, too. Amy, another dear dog training friend who works at the hospital, stopped to see me while I was in pre-op.
Hospitals are very thorough places. They want to make sure they have the correct information. The admitting nurse, the pre-op nurse, the surgeon and the anesthesiologist all asked me questions. The same questions. Repeatedly. I was starting to feel like it was some kind of memory test.
Thank the Lord for friends whose sense of humor rises to the occasion. I am so grateful for Michele and Amy being there. It’s wonderful to have friends who can laugh about totally inappropriate things. One nurse commented on the “party” going on in pre-op room #12. She made a passing reference to calling the cops. She was kidding. I think.
My surgery ended up being delayed about an hour. We were laughing so hard I didn’t have time to worry about it. (Note to self: if I ever have to have surgery again, it’s going to be scheduled at 7 a.m., not mid-afternoon. What was I thinking.)
The anesthesiologist came in and we chatted. He asked if I was feeling anxious or panicky and offered me a nice drug cocktail so I could relax. I said no, thanks. I was not feeling anxious. Hungry, yes. I can barely go between meals without eating and it had been almost 48 hours since I’d had solid food. Thirsty, yes. No liquids since midnight and now it was 3:30 in the afternoon. Slightly hollow, from having an empty stomach and empty bowels from doing a colon prep the previous evening. But not anxious. I was honestly excited to get this behind me and get on with my life.
Besides I wanted to see the inside of the operating room before they knocked me out. I had a DaVinci robotic hysterectomy, where the surgeon guides the robot but the machine does the actual procedure. If I was going to get spayed by R2D2, I wanted to see him first.
Finally, after an eternity of waiting in pre-op, a nurse came to get me.
The operating room was big, cold and very busy. There were a lot of people there – the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and four nurses. The robot was big and draped with cloths so I really didn’t get to see much of it. I transferred myself from the gurney to the surgical table and they gave me a pillow and covered me with warm blankets.
I remember the anesthesiologist saying, “I’m putting something in your IV now,” and that was that, no counting down backwards, no time to go to my happy place, just instant oblivion.
Tomorrow, Part II: Post-op