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    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    They Took My Balls!

    So now I'm a girl.

    No, seriously, that's what it feels like!

    So I had my hysterectomy. They call the complete procedure that I had a Supra-cervical Hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy. That means, essentially, that when the doctor went in to remove my uterus, they found severe endometriosis on my ovaries and tubes, and had to remove those too.

    It makes a pretty funny story in the retelling...

    See, when I went in to the intake appointment, I was determined to make absolutely sure that they would not put me to sleep for the procedure. I was going to have an epidural or a spinal block so that I could be awake, and nothing was going to stand in my way. I had to be awake for medical reasons. I'm resistant to most numbing medications, and I wasn't about to risk being paralyzed on the operating table and unable to tell anyone if I started to feel pain. Also, abdominal surgeries that are done with a spinal or epidural have significantly faster recovery times, and better pain management than those done under general anesthesia. There is also less risk of complication after the surgery. So yes, I had my mind made up.

    Needless to say, the intake nurse tried very, very hard to stand in my way, telling me numerous times precisely how long she had been a nurse, and exactly how amazingly competent their hospital's anesthesiologists were. In the end, I won. I was awake during the procedure, and, honestly, I'm VERY glad that I was. I also had to submit to the very last pregnancy test that I will ever have. *grin*

    When I went in to actually have the surgery, everyone was very friendly and helpful, answering all of my questions while they prepped me for the procedure. There were a few folks who were surprised by the thoroughness of my questioning. The doctor came in and looked through the curtain to let me know he had arrived, I got the medical power of attorney forms signed and notarized, the IV in, and then they let Richard in to see me before they took me off for the rest of the preparations. It was really good to be able to see him one last time before I went into surgery.

    After we parted ways, I was taken in to get my spinal and head off to the operating room. That was particularly uneventful except I got to experience a bed to bed transfer via blanket lift (a bit unnerving), and that it was really chilly in there and I had to have my gown open. *chuckle* I didn't even feel them giving me the spinal block, but then I didn't feel it when I got the epidural when I birthed Ladybug either. The ride to the operating room was odd, what with it being mostly in reverse, and then the real fun began.

    They put a little sheet-curtain up at my chest-level so I wouldn't see the operation and freak the heck out, and got to work. I chatted with the anesthesiologist for a bit while he was reading the local newspaper, and then I promptly fell asleep. I woke up several times while they were still treating my innards like meatloaf mix, and one time, the doctor peeked up over the curtain to let me know that I had severe endometriosis all over both ovaries, along the back of my uterus, and on one of my fallopian tubes. We had chatted about the possibility of needing to take my ovaries if he found something wrong with them during the hysterectomy. Honestly, I had wanted to keep them if I could because slipping hard into early menopause not only didn't sound like a fun proposition, it also carries with it a lot of potentially serious health risks. But we HAD chatted about the possibility, so I told him that I understood, and to go ahead and take them, but to please leave my cervix. After a quick question and answer session, he agreed to leave my cervix, and went back to work, this time, removing the parts that I had thought, made me truly female.

    I'm really glad that I was awake for this because I hadn't realized that he hadn't been clear on my desire to keep my cervix, and being awake when the doctor found out about needing to remove my ovaries allowed me to both come to terms with their loss while still on the operating table, as well as verify with him that I did very much wish to keep my cervix.

    So they wheeled me into my room (because when you aren't knocked out, they don't have to wait for you to come out of anesthesia), and brought Richard in with my things that we had prepared for my hospital stay.

    Richard told me later that when the doctor came to tell him how the surgery went, he was laughing about me demanding to be awake, then promptly sleeping through most of it. *laugh* Have I mentioned that I love my doctor? No, not like that you silly goose, he's just a really great physician. He's been my OBGYN since I was 14 and had my first girl-doctor visit. He has a fabulous bedside manner, a good sense of humor, is amazingly competent, and I trust him implicitly. Those of you that really know me, know that I have an innate distrust of allopathic physicians in general, so my saying that I trust him so much is saying a whole heck of a lot!

     After the spinal wore off, the real fun began. And by fun, I mean that I learned to hate morphine. The on-demand button on my machine malfunctioned repeatedly, and my pain level was at a 10 (the most pain I've ever felt) off and on for the first day, and a good portion of the second. There was a LOT of crying and wailing until they plugged some Tramadol into the port in my IV. That one actually worked, and I was able to get some rest. I was really glad at this point that nobody had come to visit me, because the whole fiasco was quite pitiful, and there's no way I would have wanted my friends or family to see me like that.

    As soon as I could feel my feet, I demanded that they let me sit up, and of course they required that I have two hospital staff members there to help me, so I had to wait for quite a while until they had two people available at the same time. Now, the amazing amount of assistance I got from these two trained professionals as I pulled myself to a seated position on the side of the bed was shocking... As they stood each of them, about three feet to either side of me and we chatted. *sigh* And here, I'm thinking, I needed to wait for them, why? After they saw me do that on my own, they commented on how surprisingly great I was doing for so soon after surgery, and left. That sort of comment, or even meaning, in looks with raised eyebrows, became a sort of running theme for the rest of my hospital stay. Feeling rather competent, after they left, I stood up, then promptly sat back down and gently tossed my cookies into a nearby bucket. It was the absolute mildest episode of vomiting I've ever experienced. Lesson one: Morphine makes you nauseous and dizzy. I set myself back into the bed to get some well-deserved rest.

    A few hours later, I decided to give it another try, and feeling much better, I was able to stand without loosing my all-liquid diet again. After badgering the hospital staff to please take out the catheter and let me eliminate wastes on my own, they finally complied early the next morning, and I walked my happy tushie, with IV stand in tow, to the bathroom. I was a little shaky, but I made it just fine. I was walking on my own the morning after my surgery. I've since learned that this is not exactly on the expected side of the post-operation schedule. *chuckle*

    Half-way through the day after surgery, my doctor came in to check on me and found me standing next to my bed. He asked how I was doing, I told him that aside from the pain, I felt pretty good, and he asked me if I remembered what he had said during the surgery. I said that I had, and that we had discussed it as a possibility, so I was fine with it. He smiled and left me to get back into bed for some more rest.

    Later, the nurses removed my IV, and I asked Richard to walk with me around the ward a bit so that I could get a little exercise and speed up my healing process since I no longer had to drag the IV stand around with me everywhere. So we walked. Of course the nurses were shocked by this too. One of them said that my doctor hadn't put it on my chart that I was allowed to walk around, but stopped short of telling me to get back to my room, while another offered me some non-slip socks, which I gladly accepted and promptly put on right then and there, standing up in the hallway while leaning lightly against the wall for support. She gave me the raised eyebrows that I had become accustomed to, and we finished our short lap around the ward. *chuckle*

    When we returned to my room, we discovered it being mobbed by two of the hospital's cleaning crew. It seems that as soon as I left my room, they ran in to change the sheets, dump the trashcans, and whatnot, hoping to have it done before I returned. It was funny, and I was duly impressed by the hospital's efficiency.

    The rest of my stay was pretty uneventful. I healed up quickly, got some decent, yet mild exercise, and impressed the doctors and nurses a lot. I discovered that I knew one of the cleaning crew from a prior wine tasting at the local European market, and that the nurses at the hospital were quite a wonderful and varied group of women from all faiths.

    My last night there, the evening nurse saw my jewelery (bracelets and necklace made of semiprecious stones and a spirit pouch), and said things like "crystal healing" and "amulet". I knew then that it was going to be a great night.

    I tried to get online repeatedly while there in the hospital, but for some reason the WiFi didn't reach my bed with a strong enough signal to actually do anything with, so that was a no-go. I even tried to ping and tweet from my phone, but when I got home, I realized that none of my messages to the outside world had been delivered properly. But no worries, because before I went into the hospital, I made a Facebook event page for my healing process, and Richard was kind enough to update it for me each day when he stopped by the house to shower and pick up clean clothes, so my friends and family weren't completely in the dark.

    But I never thought about what all hormones are actually secreted by the ovaries... I knew that women had testestorone, and that we had a lovely little collection of estrogens and progestrin. I knew that the estrogens came from the ovaries, but not much else. I'd never had reason to study in much detail about women's health issues in particular before, see...

    So when I got out of the hospital, and was suddenly feeling weak, maleable, moody, whiny, needy, and walking with a different posture and gait, I didn't know what to think! I had forgotten that the ovaries are also where the testosterone comes from. Not only did they take my girly bits, they also removed my balls! My chutspa, my mojo, my strength and straight-up, forward nature were gone, in the blink of an eye.

    Add to that, the fact that I can't do any form of HRT  until at least three weeks after the surgery, on the off chance that any small part of the endo may have been left behind. We need to make sure that my body is completely clear of the hormones it feeds on so it dies off all the way before we start any process that might feed it and cause it to grow again. So we're starving the endo to death, just in case, and the power surges are already here, making themselves known.

    So all told, I was and am feeling and being more girly than I've ever been before in my entire life.

    That's why I say, that they took my balls, and now I'm a girl. I sure do miss my testosterone! *sighs wistfully*


    Juli said...

    I'm so glad you're doing so well! continued healing and strength !! :)

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