29 March 2009

Channeling my happy place

I've been thinking about my happy place. A lot.

This is a photo of the table that I wrote my teachers' college essays when I lived in Paris. I hung out at this bar on a regular basis and a good friend helped me write about why I wanted to teach little kids. It seemed like a shot in the dark at a pretty grown up future. Here I am eight years later, and I don't regret ever leaving my amazing life in France.

As my surgery looms closer I'm finding myself worrying more and more. I read through the literature that I was given at my pre-op appointment this morning with my breakfast (big mistake, I know) and the reality is starting to hit me. I've thought about the after a lot -- how much pain I'll be in, the various things that I won't be able to do, but I haven't thought about the during part of my surgery.

So the what ifs have been swimming around my head. What if the doctor finds that I'm super duper messed up? What if the doctor finds out that I can't have babies? What if I have to have bowel resection? What if I have some crazy complications and they have to remove my uterus?

I know, crazy.

I know that lap surgeries are pretty routine. For goodness sakes my mother-in-law had endo removed over 40 years ago! I also need to remember that I'm going to one of the best hospitals in my province and that my surgeon comes highly recommended. I will be in good hands. My head knows it, but the little voice in my head seems to think otherwise.

Part of me wants to run away and change my name. I could always head back to France, you know. I could be an ex-pat writer that lives on baguettes and cheese and writes haikus for tourists to make money. I could teach English at a language school and live in a tiny flat and drink cheap wine. But it wouldn't take away my longing for my own child. It also would be horrible leaving Mr. JB. Honestly, I wouldn't even make it to the end of the driveway.

Instead, I've been trying to push the worries away by remembering our awesome trip this past summer. I've been daydreaming about the delicious meals we had, like the best meal that we had in Biarritz. I didn't think that a salad could be so good, but this salade landaise was to die for! We almost ate at a restaurant in Montreal that had salade landaise on their menu, but I changed my mind. I also didn't want to spoil the memory of this amazing dish!

I do have a few nagging questions that have been bothering me. Those of you that have had laproscopic surgery, please be as honest and open as possible, please. I think I'm going to need a lot more hand holding than I thought.

Here goes:

1) What do I tell my class? I don't think that Madame is sick is going to work on 20 6 year olds. They're going to be worried, but I know I can't tell them the truth. The supply teacher that is coming in for me is a good friend and the kids love her. I can't just leave for two weeks and expect them not to drive her crazy with questions.

2) Do I need to do anything to prepare myself? Should I change my diet this coming week? Should I change my activity level? I know that I won't be able to exercise for at least a few weeks after the procedure and I'm cool with that.

3) Is there anything I need to do to get my house ready? My cleaning lady (God bless her!) changed weeks with us and she's going to come this Friday instead. My house is going to be spotless so I won't have to worry about that.

4) Is there anything I should buy before the surgery? I have an awesome heating pad and I bought an extra-large pack of maxi pads at the grocery store yesterday. I also bought some draw string pants on sale at O.ld Navy since I really don't have any loose-fitting post-surgery clothes. I also stocked up on the black underwear.

5) How much pain should I expect? I've refused pain medication in the past (when I was hospitalized for a really bad flare of my colitis and both times I had ovarian cysts burst). I have a high pain tolerance. I don't think that I can survive without painkillers this time, but I just want to be prepared.

6) How long will it take me to be completely mobile? Mr. JB is taking three days off then it's Easter long weekend so I won't be home alone until April 14th. I do have a couple of friends that have volunteered to take days off to take care of me, but I would really prefer to be on my own.

So that's it for now. I'm sure that I'll have other questions, but these are the first ones that come to mind.

Thanks in advance!


  1. First off, I just wanted to reassure you that you are going to be okay. You are right, you are in good hands. You have good surgeons, but remember that you are really in the care of the great Physician, Christ himself. I pray He will use this surgery toward your healing.

    Before I get into the practicalities, I want you to know I will be praying for you all day on the day of your surgery! And I am sure I won't be the only one!

    As for the pain issue. Expect to be in some pain. However, be assured: it WON"T likely compare to some of the endo pain you have probably endured over the course of your life. Honestly, I'd take lap surgery ANY day over the pain I had to endure from an average period before I got the surgery. I am NOT exaggerating.

    Don't refuse pain medications. P always recommends to his patients (and I agree) to take ibuprofen every 4 hours as a baseline anti-inflammatory, and if you need a narcotic (which you might over the first couple of days), then take it (whatever your Dr. prescribes). Do NOT take the ibuprofren before surgery, however, as it can thin the blood and you don't want that. AFTER surgery it is great.

    You will want as much anti-inflammatory action as possible to reduce pain AND the risk of adhesions. So ... if I had it to do over again, I'd load up on as much flaxseed and fish oil as you can between now and surgery. It is supposed to be good for inflammation.

    You will be encouraged to try and walk around the DAY of your lap. I know, it might sound crazy. I was barely able to do it after my first lap but I had a LOT of endo removed. It is painful, but you will have meds to help with that.

    (remember, pain meds are your friend post-op).

    You can expect to be walking around the first couple of days, but you might need some help with the little things, like picking up a jug of milk (or juice or whatever). It will hurt to cough and sneeze and laugh, but again, it doesn't last long and you should rarely be feeling anything you can't tolerate b/c you have pain meds to nip that in the bud.

    Remember to stay on top of the pain. So many people seem to try to tough it out ... but then, when they are really hurting, it is difficult to "catch up" on pain control. So I recommend to stay ahead of the pain. Medicate on a timed schedule, then wean yourself down and see how it goes. Don't do it the opposite way.

    As for your class ... maybe you can just say you have to take some days off to take care of some things at home???

    I was most nervous about my lap the minutes before going under anesthesia. Remember, this is normal and anyone going into surgery feels this way. It doesn't mean something bad will happen. We are all praying for you on the other side and will be anxiously awaiting your post-op post!!

    Hope that helped and feel free to discard whatever advice you don't think is helpful!!

  2. OH and more thing that I just thought of on a practical note.

    The day of your surgery, you will be well medicated and the general anesthesia will take some time to wear off. Which means you will probably be feeling pretty great.

    It is the next day, and the days following, that are more challenging as that anesthesia wears off. So I think the first day can be deceiving. It was for me. I didn't take my pain seriously and lapsed on the meds. I think, based on the few people I know who've had lap surgery, this is probably pretty common. So just know that it's normal to really feel some pain in the days following the surgery, not necessarily on that day, and don't lapse on those pain meds, no matter how good you feel! that just means they are working!

  3. I think LifeHopes gave great advice! I agree about the pain meds. And she's definitely right about the day after surgery being more painful than the day of surgery, because of the anesthesia. I really don't remember about the pain meds from the lep, but staying ahead of the pain makes such a difference! The walking really is important, too. I think I had bleeding for about 5 days, and that worried me at first, because I wasn't sure what to expect, but that doctor said it was normal.

    We had a really weird situation post-surgery in that the day after my lap, my husband got terrible food poisoning from the restaurant at the hotel. Since we were in Omaha, that meant I was pretty much on my own to go get food (from the restaurant that gave my husband food poisoning!), and other than that, the two of us were in bed all day. It was pretty miserable! The next day, we drove 8 hours (not home--in the opposite direction), visited family on the way, and arrived that night in time for my sister's pre-graduation dinner. Only my parents knew I had had surgery (I didn't want to take the attention from my sister), and we made it through the whole weekend (including moving her out of the dorm) without anyone suspecting a thing. Not that I recommend doing that, and not that I was feeling 100%, but it wasn't too bad at all. In fact, I was just looking at pictures from the graduation and had completely forgotten until now that I was recovering from the lap at the time. I wore a clothes that were loose in the waist, took some kind of pain medication (can't remember if it was still prescription stuff or just ibuprofen) and that was it.

    Surgery always is scary--at least it is for me!--but you'll have lots of us praying for you!

  4. Don't you worry. You will be in some pain, but take all the drugs they give you and don't forget to relax through the pain.

    My bowel resection hurt like bloody hell, but I would do it all over again, to feel how I feel now! Oh my gosh you are days away from a NO ENDO BELLY!!!!

    As soon as they say you can get out of that hospital bed, WALK. If you just have a lap I think you will be in some pretty tip top shape. :) So just walk.

    If you are in pain, walk, if you just want to lay in bed, walk. Walk, walk, walk. It hurts at first but if you get past the first few steps you will be good. Walking is the best pain relief. My DH and I walked all hours of the night all through the day. :) You will meet some really neat people walking too! :)

    Enjoy the whore baths! ;) My feet were so swollen I couldn't wear shoes so I just wore my slippers.

    I don't know what just a lap is like, so if you do have a bowel resection don't get behind on your pain meds.

    How are we going to know what is going on? Can your DH text me if you live in Canada?

    We will be praying like crazy for you!!!

    Its 5 months past surgery for me and I am still healing from my bowel resection. :) I am still a little swollen on the left side. But its nothing big.

    I just can't wait for you to feel this and finally be on the "other" side.

  5. Oh my gosh, my DH had to change my monster pad and wipe me after I went pee!!!!!!!!!!! hahahaha

    He even had to change my hosptial issued mesh panties! :) But let me tell you those hospital issued mesh panties I work for weeks after my surgery! No lie. They were so comfy, we got extra and just kept washing them!

    He even gave me my whore baths. Poor man, I earned him some purgatory points! hahaha!

    I just remember his face when he had to wipe me, I was screaming DON'T PLAY WITH ME, WIPE ME!!!!!! hahahaha Geesh, I don't need a urinary tract infection on top of all of this! ;) hahahaha

  6. You got some great advice from all the ladies! So I can't really add much more to it. We will all be praying for you in a big way! Surgery is not exciting, but it helps to know that it's an important part of the journey towards healing and fertility.

    Everyone's situation is different, so you just have to be prepared for anything and take it one day at a time. I know for me I had it pretty easy - my surgery was on a Thursday morning and I was at work on Monday morning. I ended up leaving at lunch that day, but I was fine the rest of the week. (If you remember, they found and removed mild endo during my lap.)

    Keep us posted on everything! We're praying for you!

  7. My lap surgery was okay. I had it done at a not so great hospital. I was out the same day they practically kicked me out after 3 hours. I could barely stand and almost past out. The nurse had me sniff some alcohol to wake me back up and sit me on the wheelchair that would eventually get me out of the hospital and to my car. I didn't drive of course my husband was there. I had it done on a tuesday and took the rest of the week off. Was back at work the following week. The anesthisia made me extremely nauseous. The nurse called me the next day to make sure i had a bowel movement (mainly pee) I told her I hadn't and she's like if by the end of the day i hadn't to call her. Apperantly they should wait till you pee to go home but I did end up peeing afterwards.

    That's my experience. I'm not sure what else the doctor will do with you and St. M's hospital is supposed to be really good! (mine was not there)

    The only scary thing for me was the anesthesia. I was scared I wouldn't wake up from it. I had some endo removed, a chocolate cyst and he threw in the dye that apparently didn't go through the scarred tubes.

    You are in great hands Dr. I is a great doctor!

    You are in my prayers!!

  8. I wish I had worn slip on shoes to the hospital, my sister an RN, was pushing me out the door forcing me out the door (compassionate, I know!). Also, get the ginger ale because drinking water tastes like crap after the meds. I felt fine and didn't need any narcotics but I didn't have any endo removed because I didn't have any. I actually went on a scrapbooking weekend 2 days after my lap, crazy, I know!

  9. Sweetie, you're going to be okay. I swear up and down. I've heard that the level of endo pain has only limited correlation to the amount of endo. Which is why they can't say what's going on until they take a peek inside.

    My recommendations?
    -Get DVDs, something silly you can watch while extremely tired and groggy. I had no desire to read, and regular TV can be so annoying when you're needing extra care.
    -Get the pain killers! Even if you decide you don't need to take them, or that you need lower than the rec dose, just have them on hand.
    -Drink water up until the last minute permitted. Guzzle it. Suck down a gallon at 11:55. Seriously. (for me the cut off was midnight, and my surgery wasn't until 1 PM the next day!).
    -Up your fiber before surgery, or even get a stool softener to take beforehand. Gen anesthesia can slow things down to a painful crawl, right when you do not want to be straining.
    -Bring a little easy to digest snack (applesauce, yogurt, etc) with you for post op (all they gave me was some gross saltines) and a pillow to cushion your tum from the seatbelt for the ride home.
    -I was up and about within 3-4 days or so, back at full energy. I wouldn't work out until your doc gives you an okay (I think that depends on the extent of what they have to do during surgery). Just be gentle on yourself. You'll know what feels right.

    Would it be appropriate to explain to your students that you're getting a special test at the doctors that will make you very, very tired, so you can't be with them for a few days? Close enough to the truth, without being too graphic.

    You'll be in my thoughts on Thursday, dear. I have complete faith you'll come through this with flying colors!

  10. I have had 4 laps in total, one was gallbladder, though.

    I can tell you it does hurt. Take the drugs. How much it hurts after will depend on how much work is done once they are inside.

    Make sure the house is stocked with comfort food. For me, that means puple grape juice, peanut butter and banana sandwiches on white bread and mashed potatoes.

    Walking really does help things, especially in the beginning when you first wake up and have gas pain. They fill your belly with some kind of gas, and you will feel that pain in your shoulders. So, if you wake up and your shoulders hurt, don't be alarmed. It does pass.

    You will be pretty mobile by the time Mr. JB goes back to work. By that point, you may even be up to driving to the store or running quick errands.

    You will be tired afterwards for a while as your body heals. Just don't push yourself too hard for several weeks.

    If I can think of anything else, I will email you. Or if you can think of anything you want to ask me, go for it.

  11. I wish I had good advice for you, but my lap was done at the same time as a laparotomy- a 5-6" incision that required 4-6 wks for full recuperation.
    I have been told by others who only had the laparoscopy done that the recup. time is minimal, with minimal pain. I was told not to lift anything heavy, so in terms of getting your house ready, DO LAUNDRY NOW! Like I said, you won't be on quite the same restrictions as I was, but with any incision I think you should just be extra cautious in preventing adhesions, etc.

    I've been praying for you! For peace of mind in the days leading up to the surgery, especially.

  12. I've had two laps actually and both were very very easy...well at least compared to what I was expecting.

    The pain I had in my pelvic area (including the incisions) was basically nothing.

    The most pain I had was the shoulder pain that you get from the gas they used to puff up your belly while they do the lap. But what I found was that my shoulder only hurt when I would stand upright. As long as I was laying down, it didn't bother me much at all.

    I don't think you'll need too many heavy duty pads...I think I only used a few and I had my septum resected at the same time.

    As for the pain meds, I agree with everyone else except I have one warning. I had a hard time stomaching the narcotic pain relievers they gave me. They made me feel very nauseous!! I realized that I much prefered just taking 800 mg of ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) instead.

    As long as they don't have to do anything super extensive regarding the endo removal, I have a feeling you will be feeling pretty darn close to normal within 2-3 days or so! I think I went to my neice's soccer game two days after one o my surgeries!

    So don't be too worried...ok!!! We will all be praying for you! I'm sure it's going to be better than you are expecting!


  13. I know that any type of surgery is scary, but you'll get through this with flying colors.

    Just know that I'm thinking of you and praying for you to have a breeze of a surgery.