Before my surgery, I found it really helpful to read about other people’s experiences with laparoscopic surgery to treat endometriosis, so I thought I would share my experience, too! This is a really long post, and it probably won’t be too interesting to anyone who isn’t thinking about or getting ready for surgery.  

Background: I had laparoscopic surgery to remove an endometrioma on my left ovary, to diagnose the level of endometriosis, and to treat any other areas of endometriosis. My RE performed the surgery, and is treating me for infertility. She recommended surgery because of the size of the cyst, regardless of whether we proceed with IVF or continue to try to get pregnant naturally. 

 

Before the surgery:

  • I had to take birth control pills for about 10 days, starting on CD3. I’m not sure if this was because the endometrioma was on my ovary, because of the timing of the surgery, or a combination of both. I took my last pill the night before the surgery.
  • My doctor chose not to do the bowel prep (with magnesium citrate). She said some recent research showed that it wasn’t necessary or beneficial, but her standard practice was usually to do it. I was really glad I didn’t have to do the bowel prep, but it also made me nervous, so I was careful with what I ate the night before. I had a salad for lunch and chicken noodle soup and toast for dinner. I drank water until about 10:45 pm. I was told to not have any food or beverages (including water) after midnight.
  • My surgery was scheduled at 1:00 p.m., and I had to arrive at 11:30. In the morning, I showered, but was told to not use any lotions (I made an exception and put a tiny bit on my face – my skin is dry!) or makeup. The nurse said I could wear a tiny bit of deodorant.
  • I wore loose pants with an elastic waistband, a loose shirt, and flats.

At the surgery center:

  • We arrived at 11:30, dealt with some paperwork, answered a bunch of questions, and went back to get ready. I got changed into the hospital gown, and the nurse got the IV started. This was all done by noon or so. I talked to a few nurses and the anesthesiologist, and my husband and I just sort of hung out, chatted, and waited. I felt pretty calm, considering I was about to have surgery. My RE also stopped by at one point to review things and to see if we had questions.
  • A little before 1, the anesthesiologist came and gave me three shots of something (through the IV). I said bye to my husband, and they wheeled me into the operating room. I felt relaxed and woozy. I slid onto the operating table, and the last thing I remember is the anesthesiologist putting a mask on my face (not strapped on or anything – just placed lightly) and saying ‘this is just some oxygen.’

Recovery:

  • I woke up feeling pretty ok. My husband said I was in surgery for about two hours – maybe a little more. He had talked to the doctor and said things went well. He said she removed the cyst, as well as some other areas of endometriosis. She determined it was stage 3 endo. The nurse told me that there was ice on my stomach because of the swelling, and that my RE had come by and done an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok. I guess the swelling wasn’t distributed evenly – I can’t think of how else to explain it. Basically, there were big lumps in my abdomen – big enough that the nurse was concerned – but it was just swelling, air, and fluid (which I’ll explain in a minute). They put me on this wedge shaped foamy thing, so that I was tilted a little to the other side, to try to get things to distribute a little more evenly. And then I had the ice pack, too.
  • I drank some ginger ale and had some graham crackers. I decided I was ready to try to get up, and then got a little sore, so the nurse gave me a percoset. I got into the wheelchair and started to feel queasy, so she gave me an anti-nausea pill. I really wanted to pee so I could go home, and I may have started moving around prematurely. Anyway, I peed, and then almost threw up, and had to sit down. I was really vomity for a little while, but the nice nurse rubbed my back and told me to take deep breaths, and it eventually passed. I got dressed (with my husband’s help) and realized that while my pants were stretchy, they were not quite big enough. Surprisingly, even the band of my bra was tight. I got everything on, though, and the nurse gave me a ginger ale for the road.
  • Luckily, I didn’t feel queasy again for the rest of the day. I ate some crackers and jello, and took vicodin. My throat was sore, and it was hard to move (or roll over), but I was able to sleep.  I was SO swollen. I read that swelling is to be expected, but I was not prepared for the level of swelling that I experienced. My stomach stuck out by about three inches, and was sort of spread out all the way to my hips. My husband told me that the dr. had put a liter of liquid (I later found out that it’s called adept) in my abdomen after the cyst was removed, to help with healing. So, I can only assume now that I had the air, plus a liter of liquid, plus swelling from the surgery itself. Now wonder I was so puffy!
  • Around 8:00 p.m., I went to the bathroom, and liquid started seeping out of the incision in my belly button. My husband assured me that the dr. said this was normal – that it was from the litre of liquid the dr. put in my abdomen after the surgery – but it was a crazy sight. It was funny, even, until I continued to get my clothes, sheets, and all our towels wet. I had read about having a heating pad nearby, but I didn’t read anything about stockpiling towels to deal with a leaky belly button! It became a bit of an issue, too, because I had so few items of clothing and underwear that would actually fit me. Luckily, the liquid stopped seeping out of my incision around midnight, and I was dry for the rest of my recovery.
  • I was still sore on Friday (the next day), but I think Saturday (two days later) may have been the worst. I was expecting to feel better, but I was still sore, and I got a terrible back ache – I think from the air. I wasn’t as tired, but I also couldn’t get comfortable. I think I may have also had air trapped under my rib cage, because it was hard to take deep breaths, and the whole area around my ribs and down to my belly button was achey, hard and sort of swollen. Another complication was that I hadn’t had a bm since Thursday morning. I didn’t eat a lot on Thursday, but I ate relatively normally on Friday and Saturday. I took stool softeners starting on Friday morning, but nothing seemed to help.  It was hard to eat, sleep – anything – and I felt like I would never be comfortable again.
  • I’m happy to report that while I was still uncomfortable on Sunday, I could at least walk around the house and even went into the backyard. I switched from taking vicodin to Tylenol (at least for most of the day), and I went in the car (which was pretty uncomfortable) to the drugstore, because I had started my period (which was to be expected from stopping the pill) and didn’t have enough supplies. The paperwork said I could use tampons, but seriously?!? – everything ‘down there’ was swollen, and I couldn’t imagine putting anything in there. I found a pair of loose pants I could wear, but not button. I also has a bm (I know – tmi – but it’s good to know!)
  • On Monday, I felt SO much better. I think the trapped air was giving me more issues that I realized at the time, and I think my expectations were also a little distorted from having the surgery so late in the day – I didn’t get much recovery time on Thursday. Anyway, on Tuesday, I felt even better, and today (Wednesday), I can almost move around without even thinking much about it. There are movements that make me sore, and I get worn out easily, but I don’t feel “bad.” I’m still wearing those same pants, but I can button them, unless I am sitting down. I also can’t sit totally upright for too long, or I get sore, and I can’t bend over, because it hurts my incision. I feel like my digestion is still a little off – heavy foods haven’t been sitting well, and it seems like I’m getting more stomach cramps than usual. I know that sounds like I don’t feel all that great, but those things are so minor in the scheme of things. I’m still swollen, but it’s isolated to the area around my belly button. 

Overall, it was a difficult few days, but bearable. I was never in excruciating pain, but the inability to get comfortable gets old fast. I wasn’t expecting to feel so lousy, but once those few days passed, it was amazing how much better I felt. I ended up taking three days off work, plus the weekend. I work from home, though, and I would probably have to take a few more days if I had to go to an office, and definitely more if I had a more physical job. I’ve read that people say two weeks after the surgery, you wouldn’t even know you had it. Over the weekend, that seemed impossible, but now, I believe it. The biggest things that surprised me from the surgery were the swelling and the leaking, so maybe someone else will benefit from reading about my experience!

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