*Not to be confused with Diary of a colonoscopy from earlier this year in which I was also oversharing. Hey, you all know I didn’t start a blog to show you how I do my hair.
Disclaimer: If you are a dude, you probably don’t want to read this. It’s all about lady parts … and not in the way you want to read about them. Here, read this instead, and carry on.
Sometimes being female sucks.
Settle down. I’m not bashing women, so put away your feminist flag.
I’m just telling it like it is. Like you know it is.
Seriously, we have so many parts down there that can get all screwy that it sometimes makes me want to be a dude … but then I remember all the cute clothes and shoes I’d be giving up and change my mind.
A few days ago I had to have a laparoscopy (among other invasive things that I will spare you the details of) to see if maybe there was some endometriosis hanging out around my uterus (and other various organs) that has been causing the horrendous cramps I’ve been living with for over four years.
Debilitating, excruciating cramps that even 800 mg of Advil chased by two extra-strength Tylenol off and on for three days do not help (nor when chased with Appletinis, which is shocking).
•I tried going back on birth control pills a couple of years ago, which did, indeed, quiet the cramps but came with the price of a 10 day migraine, which just wasn’t worth paying.
•I tried a mini-pill (progesterone only) last fall but it made me lose my mind, see a shrink, and basically think I was crazy(er than usual).
•I tried a prescription pill that did nothing for me except deplete my health savings account.
•I’ve had ultrasounds to investigate the insides of my uterus and ovaries.
•I’ve used heating pads, taken herbal supplements, and rubbed essential oils on my abdomen. All futile attempts.
For about 36 hours each month, no matter what I try, I’m out of commission. And I finally HAD HAD ENOUGH.
My doctor was also at her wits end trying to help me find relief, and this summer we agreed that it was time for her to go explorin’ … in a way she doesn’t usually go explorin’.
When she suggested the laparoscopy and told me it was a quick, outpatient kind of a thing, I was like, LET’S DO THIS. And then she casually mentioned the fact that she’d insert a scope IN THROUGH MY BELLY BUTTON to look at the outsides of all my organs.
Um. I’ll take the cramps, thankyouverymuch.
But after another couple of months of being in a fetal postition wrapped around a heating pad for a day and a half doing labor breathing (something I never really had to do), I knew it was time to grow a pair (if only) and suck it up. Besides, it would mean a few days post-op laying in bed watching movies and reading, which sounded fantastic.
Eh, who am I kidding, I do that on a regular basis anyway so that honestly wasn’t the selling point.
Regardless of what it was that finally tipped the scale for me, here’s my experience with the lap (which is what all the cool kids are calling it). Maybe you’ve had one, maybe you need one. Maybe the thought of someone STICKING A MOTHER EFFING TUBE INTO YOUR BELLY BUTTON is horrifying and you’ll deal with monster periods. Hey, I hear ya. Whatever your experience is, take this overshare for what it’s worth.
And don’t worry, I won’t post the photos of my organs. Although they are spectacular.
One month before:
Schedule surgery. Google laparoscopy images. Realize immediately you should not have googled laparoscopy images. Wonder if forcing menopause would be that big of a deal.
Two weeks before:
Continue research, this time reading first person accounts of the procedure where you learn that not only will there be a tube snaked in through your belly button and tools inserted through other incisions, but you will be intubated as well. Having seen enough ER and Grey’s Anatomy with doctors forcing tubes down throats, panic sets in. Husband threatens to take computers away.
One week before:
Acceptance. Start fun game of “next week at this time…” and try not to imagine your abdomen being cut into or tubes being forced down your throat. Does not work. Watch entire seasons of HIMYM on Netflix each night instead of sleeping. Also, develop the worst head cold you’ve had in years which makes your anxiety over the anesthesia skyrocket.
Three days before:
Go shopping. Buy yourself some new lounging pj pants to convalesce in that are as soft as the inside of a baby lamb’s ear. Also buy a few other things that have nothing to do with the procedure or the convalescing because you feel sorry for yourself and having a freaking TUBE INSERTED THROUGH YOUR BELLY BUTTON earns you a free pass to buy all the things.
Two days before:
Realize you won’t be able to drink wine for several days or take a bath for a week, which are two of your survival skills. Drink 2/3 of a bottle while in the bathtub.
One day before:
Go back to the mall. Buy more stuff. Blame it on “needing a distraction.”
Wake up at 5-ungodly-a.m. because you have to be at the hospital at 6. Wonder again if those migraines and cramps were really that bad. Spend a few moments alone with your intact belly button and apologize for not noticing it more in the past.
Two hours before surgery:
Check into hospital, go into room and change into an insulated paper gown that immediately makes you sweat in places you really don’t want the doctors to see. Entertain the parade of nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists who come in to ask you your name, birthday, and what you’re having done. By the fifth or six time you contemplate just telling them you’re here for boob implants to see if you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you wake up.
After an hour or so—and after you ask your trusted gynecologist of 13 years if she’ll take a picture of your blown up, puffer fish of a belly after she inserts the gas and she says, Oh, hell yeah which elevates her coolness level tremendously—they have you walk back to the O.R.
Did you get that?
THEY HAVE YOU WALK INTO THE O.R. AND LAY ON THE TABLE. It’s like walking in to your own execution. You eye the lone, narrow, white table lit by stadium lights and have Dexter flashbacks.
Within seconds of walking in you are immediately rushed by a nurse named Michelle who you think is coming in for a hug.
She is not.
The flurry of nurses running around is overwhelmingly terrifying and most of them start grabbing your various body parts straight away: Anesthesiologist #2, who is about 26-years-old (there were three of them there—for checks & balance reasons you assume—which makes you feel better in case one of them graduated from University of Phoenix or, I don’t know, IS TWENTY-SIX YEARS OLD) immediatly grabs your right hand and masterfully inserts an IV. A nurse is strapping pulsating boots on your calves to prevent blood clots (Hey, Brookstone, you need to get on these), another nurse is pulling back your ear to attach an anti-nausea patch, one is covering you with a warm blanket (which makes her your favorite), and then anesthesiologist #2 drops a mask on you and tells you to start taking deep breaths because he’s giving you something to help you relax.
Um, dude. Totally could’ve used that before entering the party in the O.R.
You decide to just shut your eyes to the flurry of activity, but suddenly your doctor is leaning over your head with her mask, cap, and glasses all in place. At least you assume it’s her. Swear to god this is the conversation you then have, which seems highly suspect in hindsight:
Doc: Do your kids drink?
You (through the mask of relaxation): Um, well, one is only 14.
Doc: What about the older one?
You: No, she really chooses not to. But this summer I made her a cocktail of raspberry vodka and lemonade (totally legal in Minnesota BTW, so don’t make a call) and I guess I put too much raspberry vodka in it and she didn’t really like the way it make her feel.
Anesthesiologist #2: Take more deep breaths! INHALE! EXHALE!
Doc: Let’s just think about raspberry vodka.
You: I’d rather think of Appletin—
And justlikethat, lights out.
Appletini. The last word you say, which is perfect.
As for the doctor really asking if your kids are booze-hounds? You’ll have to ask her in a couple of weeks. Either she asked something completely different (likely, which makes the entire exchange embarrassing) or just likes to have fun with her patients as they’re going under (which would elevate her coolness factor even more). Whichever, the bizarre conversation is the last thing you remember, and either way, you’ll be bringing a bottle of raspberry vodka to your post-op appointment.
In an instant you are waking up in a recovery room with a lovely nurse checking your blood pressure. It is 9:30 a.m.. She says you’ve been in there since 8:50 TALKING TO HER. Do the math, folks. That’s FORTY MINUTES you have absolutely no recollection of where you surely were oversharing and trying to be witty because that’s your go-to form of communication. *facepalm*
After checking your wounds and having to re-bandage one because “it was oozing” (Lord almighty) and helping you get dressed (not awkward at all) you are released to another room where you finally see your husband, who has arrived with pictures. Many pictures. OF YOUR ABDOMINAL ORGANS. He gives the happy news that there was, indeed, some nasty endometriosis that your doctor burned out, although she had to root around to find it and discovered it behind your uterus.
You heard me. BEHIND YOUR UTERUS.
Going in through the belly button is only half of it, ya’ll. They also cut two small incisions (one on the right hip and another right above your pubic bone) to insert other terrifying instruments used to toss around your organs like a summer salad.
At least that’s how you imagine it.
Four hours post-op:
Once home and in bed and hopped up on narcotics (which you get to choose in a “what’s your favorite narcotic” kind of a game that you fail because you’ve never taken them) the only pain you’re feeling is the excruciating burning up in your right neck and shoulder. Apparently it’s from all the gas they filled you with so they could jumble up your organs. You know, the gas that made you look like this:
The gas that ballooned your belly up that your awesome doctor took a picture of.
(Don’t worry, I won’t post it. In fact, I haven’t even been brave enough to look at it yet.)
Six hours post-op:
Despite being severly dehydrated, you have to pee, and once you start peeing you realize (with a sharp intake of breath) that you were catheterized. Super.
10 hours post-op:
Still can’t bring yourself to look at distended tummy, especially when the incision in your belly button begans to angrily make itself known. Fall into a codeine-enhanced sleep.
One day post-op:
After a night spent *cough* eliminating a great deal of the gas that’s still trapped inside you, you wake to realize you can pull yourself up and out of bed on your own with minimal discomfort. Your shoulder is still aching and on fire, the belly button incision is still demanding attention, your entire abdomen feels exactly like someone has recently been inside it (imagine that), the inside of your lip is rough and raw where the vent tube was obviously hanging out (erasingfrommemory…erasingfrommemory) but for the most part things are feeling a bit better, although standing upright is still a bit of a challenge. You stay in bed hopped up on pain meds watching Gilmore Girls and make your husband go to McDonalds and get you an Egg McMuffin at noon. #breakfastallday #imlovinit
Your head cold that all but disappeared after surgery returns and you spend the afternoon coughing and honking your nose which makes the STITCHES in your belly button (as well as every abdominal organ that was prodded) yell horrible curse words at you … which you yell right back.
When the medicinal smell radiating from every pore in your body begins to bother you, you take a shower and muster up the nerve to examine your incisions. You were instructed to remove the band-aids, which you do over the span of about 18 minutes. All that’s now left between your incisions and complete unconsciousness are the thin, bloody layers of steri-strips that will stay on until they fall off. Which you hope is sometime in the year 2018.
Two days post-op:
Still sore inside and out but feeling well enough to go it alone, you send your husband-nurse back to work. It’s okay. You’ve got backup.
Apparently you’ll feel like resuming your life by Day Three, although you think you’ll stay away from pants that button for another week (or four) and milk the whole “I need to lay in bed and convalesce” thing for the same.
As for the cramps? We wait and see. Because—get this—there’s no guarantee that removing the endometriosis will be a game-changer.
That’s right. No guarantees. JUST LIKE LIFE.
But listen, there is one thing that’s for certain: If all of this turns out to be for nothing, at least you got a few days of guilt-free rest and a couple of cute new outfits. That right there spells success, even if you do have a nasty split in your belly button.