I know many of my friends and family are anxious to hear the latest as I go in to surgery, and I also know that sharing my experience step by step could be very helpful to fellow endo sisters about to undergo a laperoscopy, so I thought I’d keep a little log of my experiences as I go. Nothing too fancy, especially since I’m feeling so sick right now. I’m very grateful to have so many people looking out for me, and for the opportunity to help others. This will be my third surgery for endo, so I’m a veteran.
A pre-op appointment consists of three steps: Doctor’s office, Hospital admitting, and pre-surgery testing and orientation.
At the doctor’s office, it was a pretty quick visit – in part because I’ve done this twice already. They took my vitals and the doctor listened to me breathe and made sure my heart was beating and all that. Then he asked if anyone had mentioned to me that the surgery had been moved.
Because of course it has. So now I’ll be having surgery on Friday instead. It’s only one more day, but I’m hurting and very testy right now. I do NOT want to stay this way for one more day.
The reason is actually a good one, to be fair. As my doctor so eloquently put it, “There’s a new robot in town.” This will be the first time I have a robotic laperoscopy. I’ll let you know if I notice any huge difference. But my doctor is very excited about it and thinks it’ll be really good for me. So Mr. Robot, don’t let me down.
But of course, there was more frustrating news. This time I would have three incisions as opposed to the usual two. This makes me nervous, mostly from a pain aspect. Two cuts hurt, now I’d have three? And one of my scars is almost invisible now, too. Boo. Doc did say he can “clean up” the visible scar though and tuck away some of the tissue to make it less Frankenstein-looking. After my last surgery it got infected. I don’t know if that’s why it’s so ugly. It could also be because it was glued shut with liquid skin instead of stitched shut. I don’t know. But maybe it’ll be less ugly now. Next to my brand new scar. It’s kind of loose-loose here aesthetically.
But he did have some good news for me, too. He said that now that we’re thinking about having kids, he’ll do what he can for fertility and do some analysis to maybe look at some fertility hormone treatment. I can’t remember what all we talked about (pain meds are not helpful when trying to absorb so much information at once) but I do remember that at the end he said “So really, we can kill two birds with one stone here. I won’t talk to the insurance company about it, of course. I’ll just do what I can for you.” My doctor loves me. I love him too. Husband pointed out that it isn’t really free since a baby means lots and lots of doctor appointments, but it still meant a lot to me just to know that it wasn’t all about money for him. Plus I’ve begun to think they really should have some bulk surgery deals – buy two get one free or something like that. 😉
There was one more bit of info that does throw me for a bit of a curve. My past two surgeries have been at 7 AM. This one will be at noon. The prospect of sleeping in may seem nice, but I’m a little concerned. Before a surgery like this, you’re not supposed to eat or drink anything after midnight. I’m not a morning person and if I’m up really early, I have no appetite. But by 10, when I’m supposed to check in, I will definitely be wanting to eat something. I don’t know. It’s not a huge deal, but this is all so traumatic that I don’t think I need to be hangry on top of everything else.
It’s also worth mentioning that my doctor’s fee was due today. The anesthesiologist’s fee will also be due at least 24 hours before the operation. I think there’s a hospital fee too, but I’m having them bill me after, mostly so I have time to figure out what exactly I’m paying for. I have Blue Cross, and the doctor’s fee was about $750, while the anesthesiologist will be about $500.
After that I went down to Admitting, which was new for me. The past couple of times I’ve gone through admitting the morning of the surgery, so I was unprepared to go through it today. It’s not a big deal really, I just didn’t have my insurance info on me. That turned out alright since I’ve had this exact same surgery twice before at this hospital, so they cut me slack. But don’t be like me – come prepared!
This is also where they ask you “the scary questions,” as my doctor put it. You have to sign all the legal forms here saying you’re aware of the risks, because any surgery has risks. There are risks of everything from infection to death. That’s scary to think about, but what my doctor has told me every time is that statistically, you are safer in the operating room than you are on the drive home. Acknowledge the risks and make your own choice, but you should work through all that long before you’re sitting at the admitting desk – especially considering that at that point you’ve already paid for everything. 😉
From there, I headed upstairs to the lab. For a laparoscopy, all you need is bloodwork. I was ready to pee just in case, because I’ve had enough horrible experiences to ALWAYS be ready to pee.
Walking into the lab was a bit surreal and freaky. Again, pain meds are not helpful for this kind of thing. But it’s located in the day surgery wing, so I get these kind of hazy memories that come almost to the surface that feel like a nightmare you can’t quite remember. Memories of abstract things like pain and fear. It doesn’t feel so good. This was also the first time I went to the lab alone. For my first surgery I had my mom with me. I’m normally very nervous around needles but pair that with the shear panic that I was going to undergo surgery for the first time in my life and I was in pure hysterics. I can remember sitting in a chair while they took blood just sobbing uncontrollably. My mom held my face in her hands wiping tears away with her thumbs and cooing to me like I was a baby again. It was a rough day. The second time I was better but still needed my husband to hold my hand. Now I’m very grown up, and even though needles still bother me, I can hold it together.
When I got in there, I was immediately aware of one other difference. The lab technician was a large black woman with a quiet voice and nothing particularly memorable about her. Except that she was playing music in the lab – which was new to me. But it wasn’t just music – it was very passionate Gospel music – the kind that doesn’t even really have any lyrics, it’s just the word “Jesus” over and over with a lot of clapping. I bet she’s a real fun lady come Sunday morning.
But if I thought she was a character, I was about to be blown away by my orientation nurse. Her name was Elsa.
But instead of being a Norwegian princess who’s icy demeanor foreshadows her God-like ice powers, she was a very hyper Asian lady who talked crazy fast and was very warm and sweet. I sat down in an office where she took my vitals again, being sure to clean everything off while assuring me that even though she had cleaned them before, she liked to clean them again in front of the patients. She went over my schedule with me -arrive at 10:30, go in to surgery at noon, and hopefully be in recovery by 2:00. They schedule 30 minutes with the anesthesiologist and 90 on the operating table. Recovery is the wild card. After my first surgery I slept for hours and hours, but after my second I was up after only two hours.
After discussing the surgery itself, the nurse goes over your entire medical history, which can be a lengthy process. It went quickly for me because I’ve done it twice, so we just went through double-checking. Embrace this time, though, because this is what will prepare you most for your operation. As you go through answering questions, your nurse will point out different things to expect. For instance, I often get nauseous from anesthesia or strong medication, so she told me to ask the anesthesiologist for anti-nausea medicine before and after the surgery. This is one of the few times on the medical carousel that I’ve experienced this kind of one on one care. This meeting is time solely devoted to talking you through every aspect of your health and how it relates to everything else. Unlike a doctor visit, which is usually targeted on solving one problem, this is a rare opportunity to look at your history and overall health. The nurse will tell you everything to say and do before, during, and after surgery, to help you as much as possible. Like I said, though, Elsa talked fast. She told me “If I’m going to fast just go blrlrlrlrlrlrlree! And I’ll try to do 20 mph instead of 100.” I’m sure I didn’t spell blrlrlrlrlrlrlree right. It sounded a bit like this:
Elsa happened to have endometriosis herself, and was somewhat new to the “spoonie” world. I was happy to talk to her about my experience and hear about hers, and it was very healing in and of itself just to share mutual empathy for a few moments. She had actually gone under surgery for suspected appendicitis and woke up being told she had stage VI endo. “Ugh! Those lady farts! Parts! I meant parts.” I really liked Elsa. Her advice was invaluable, and I’d type every word out for you, but the reason it was so precious is that it was all tailored to my specific situation. If you’re going in for surgery soon, remember that this orientation is one of the most valuable things the system has to offer you. Treasure it.
I hope this was helpful and I’m sure I’ve left a lot out. Like I said, this ain’t my first rodeo, so it’s easy to leave out details that are obvious to me but wouldn’t be to a first-timer. I’m hoping to get another post up before Friday explaining in the most basic terms what endo is and why I’m having surgery, because I know that especially my friends and family have a LOT of questions about what’s going on. I hope this clears some things up for now, and I hope to write you again soon!
Thanks for reading!