Monday, August 12, 2013

A Year Ago Today: Surgery #1

During my cancer journey,  I was hesitant to let too many people know before I had all of the facts.  Since I let everyone know I was planning on Joining the Survivors Club, there have been many questions.  In this "A Year Ago Today" Series, I will attempt to answer those questions and also work out what the hell happened this last year in my own head, heart and soul.  Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

This post will be a little longer because I didn't start it in June, when I first started experiencing symptom.

A year ago today, I went in for surgery to remove a 10cm cyst from my left ovary.  I had been experiencing a lot of strange symptoms, most of all a frequency, pain, and urgency of urination that seemed like a UTI on steroids.  After a little urging (fighting, crying, and insisting) the midwife in my GYN practice agreed to an ultra sound.  After the cyst was found, I was referred to the doctor in the practice who assured me this was routine and necessary for fertility and overall health. He explained that cysts are a natural part of the ovulation cycle and than some do not burst when they release an egg or grow larger due to fluid build up or other abnormalities.  He assured me was too young to be concerned with cancer.  I'd also known  many people who had problems with cysts, whether it be getting them removed or having them burst.  I figured if it would help the whole fertility thing along and make me feel better, I was all for it. 

Read more here 

When it came time to have the surgery, I was extremely nervous.  It was honestly the first really big medical procedure I'd ever had.  There was the uncertainty of how I would feel after, what it would be like to be under anesthesia, what they would find. The doctor told me he would do his best to keep both ovaries in tact, but would have to take the left one out if it looked questionable.  I tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but I honestly wondered how I would feel about having a piece of me missing.

I had a laparoscopic surgery that was supposed to last about an hour. Check in went smoothly and it was no surprise that it took the nursing supervisor to come in and do the IV once my veins decided to hide.  I felt incredibly comforted by the anesthesiologist.  Once they start talking about the different drugs and what they will do to keep you asleep, everything started to feel real and I got very nervous.  She was confident, competent, and really distracted me by telling stories and keeping me calm.  My doctor introduced me to the doctor who would be assisting him and before I knew it, I was wheeled into surgery.

What was supposed to take an hour ended up taking much more (probably 3-5 hours).  I learned later that the doctor found abnormal looking cells during the surgery and called in a oncologist to consult with him.  They decided to freeze a sample and send it to the lab.  It was also decided to remove my left ovary as it was was just swallowed up by the tumor/cyst. My doctor kept my family informed through it all and when I woke up I was in a patient room as recovery was full.

Right after I woke up, I was too tired and drugged to care what happened in the surgery.  I remember waking up, talking to my family then quickly falling back to sleep.  I had never felt so tired.  The goal of the nurses was for me to be able to stand, walk, go to the bathroom unassisted and to return home that night.  I remember begging them to let me stay, I just wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep.  Walking to the bathroom was such a major production that I just could not imagine all of the steps of getting out of the hospital, into the car, drive 30 minutes, get into the house and into my bed.  It honestly felt like they were asking me to climb Everest.

With the help of my super nurse sister, my superhusband, and the hospital nurses assuring me I did not want to sleep there all night, I made it home around 8pm.  I believe I slept most of the night and spent the next few days recovering.  My surgery was on a Tuesday and I was back to work on Monday.

The doctor scheduled the follow up appointment for two weeks from the surgery.  Pre-surgery he told me it would be scheduled for four weeks post-op.  I had a nagging feeling that something was just not right, and this change in schedule reaffirmed that feeling.

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