I realise this is months on since my post last year of my pre opp for the laparoscopy. Feel free to check that post out for more information on what the process was like, particularly during this pandemic.
On July the 1st, 2020, I had my first ever laparoscopy and surgery a part from a minor operation I had as a baby. A laparoscopy is the only way that you can officially be diagnosed with endometriosis, so although doctors may suspect you have it with symptoms, scans etc, surgery is the gold standard test needed for a confirmed diagnosis. As I’m sure some of you are aware the symptoms of endometriosis can also mimic other conditions which is why it’s important to get it checked out and not leave it thinking it will go away or its simply just ‘bad period pain’.
I also just want to quickly mention that I had mine done privately therefore some things might not be exactly the same as on the NHS.
What to bring with you on the day?
Typically it is a day case surgery so you are expected to be out on the same day. However sometimes patients are kept in overnight or for several days depending on how the surgery goes etc therefore its advised to bring an overnight bag with you just incase.
I brought my gym bag packed with a dressing gown which was useful to put on over the hospital gown as well as my slippers. You will also want to pack some loose fitting clothes to go home in as your stomach is likely to still be very swollen/bloated from the gas they pump inside you during surgery. Jeans are a definite no no!
You may even want to bring some think like a magazine or book to pass the time as sometimes you can be waiting a few hours for your slot. It won’t necessarily always be in the same order as well as some surgery could take longer than expected as well.
A room to rest in while waiting for the opp!
I was so grateful to have a room to myself to be able to relax in before the surgery as needless to say I was incredibly anxious. I think the fact that I wasn’t allowed my mum with me due to the covid rules at the time made it even harder emotionally. I had also got myself into a bit of a panic mode the night before and on the day as all I could think about was whether the cyst would come back cancerous.
I was going into this surgery with previously being on a 2 week pathway and an abnormal CA125 result as well as a confirmed complex cyst on the ovary on my scans so I really didn’t know what to expect. Therefore having this room to allow myself to get emotionally prepared for the surgery helped a lot. It also had a lovely garden area just outside my door where you could walk around post surgery too!
When the nurse came in to check on how I was doing she gave me these to get changed into while I wait to see the surgeon before my opp. Like I said I had never done this before and embarrassingly I thought the blue thing that goes on your head were the knickers. Soon discovered that was for my head of course and not down below. I also had my mask to put on even though I could take it off while in the room alone unless someone came in.
I definitely had a christ its like I’m casualty moment. I think that’s fairly normal though to going into the unknown, especially when it involves surgery and being put to sleep for the first time.
When the nurse came in, who was lovely by the way (all the staff were) she answered any questions I had and tried to put me at ease as much as possible. For sure she could tell I was nervous but reassured me that everything would be fine and I have a great surgeon. I told her my concerns, some were reasonable and others were a little bit ridiculous like what if I wake up in the middle of the opp and I choke on my tube lol.
I was more concerned about the tube going down my throat than anything else. I have a fear of even swallowing tablets so had no idea what I would do if I come around and its still there. I was thankful to be told that I won’t feel the tube going in as they do that after being put to sleep. They will also remove it as they start to see you coming around again so you shouldn’t feel anything or be conscious enough to realise.
Later on another nurse came in with an injection which was to my surprise. I think its to stop you getting blood clots? I expected it to hurt but to be honest it was fine. I was zoned out already with panic that I couldn’t even focus on it going in anyway. She injected into my stomach and it was over just like that.
Meeting the surgeon
As time passed by I finally met the surgeon. I had already met and spoken to him on FaceTime (new covid rules) so I got to know him little bit beforehand and felt comfortable and safe for him to do my opp. I knew I was in the best hands and that’s all that mattered.
He came in as friendly as I remember him, asked me about my work and travel plans as I was due to move abroad soon after. Chatting away about his time in Egypt I began to feel a lot more relaxed about the whole thing.
He briefly explained what would happen from being put to sleep to the actual surgery and recovery etc. The next time I would see him would be on the operating table.
The time had come
Legs like jelly, mask and my big fancy hospital knickers on, I shuffled into the wheelchair to wheel me in to surgery. Bless the nurse taking me up to theatre, she was so kind and friendly yet I could barely speak out of nerves. I was then left outside theatre for I think around 15 minutes to do the final checks etc.
As I came into the theatre it was just as I imagined. Without a doubt the scariest part when lying down on the operating table fully awake with lots of doctors and the surgeon around you getting ready. I remember scanning the room to try and get a look at what tools they would be using lol. Wouldn’t advise that!
The anesthisast man introduced himself to me and again was very pleasant and professional and put me at ease. I then found myself beginning to relax. He was injecting something in first which I didn’t realise wasn’t putting me to sleep just yet, I just kept asking him will I go soon, am I going lol I then felt my arm feel a bit cold and he told me to start counting and that’s all I remember. I don’t remember feeling like I was going to sleep at all I was just completely gone.
Waking up after surgery
Hours later I finally came around in a recovery area of the theatre. I still had quite a lot of people around me so as I was coming around I thought I was waking up during the opp. Thankfully I was definitely not still being operated on.
My first thought was where the heck am I. My second thought was why don’t I feel any pain. My third thought was thank god I don’t have the tube in my throat still. I think I expected to feel pain straight away as soon as I was conscious. As I felt nothing, almost numb like I thought to myself yes ‘escaped it’. Little to my knowledge did I know it would hit me hard when I got back to the ward.
Very soon after in theatre the surgeon suddenly reappeared and confirmed that it was a benign endometrioma and he managed to remove it without loosing my ovary. I felt so relieved it just felt the best feeling ever. I know endometriosis is not a good thing to have and I wish I didn’t have it but I was just so thankful that he didn’t tell me it was cancerous and the germ cell tumour that was previously suspected. That was my worst fear from the whole operation.
As the IV pain relief was easing off I soon became hit with this sudden pain in my chest which then was also in my shoulders. I expected if anything it to be my stomach and where they had cut and gone in for it to hurt but I felt nothing there despite it being swollen.
They did worn me of the gas pain as it can become trapped after surgery as its hard to get all of it out completely however I never expected the level of pain to be this much. I remember my chest just in agony every time I breathed to the point where I would just cry to the nurses in agony.
The surgeon came in later that day to tell me I would be staying in overnight as I wasn’t fit to go home and the surgery took longer than expected. He would then come in the following day to tell me the results.
That first night was not the best to say the least. My oxygen levels kept dropping and I was given gas and oxygen to try and help me breathe better. My blood pressure was also high which never happens as I always seem to suffer with low blood pressure. I had nurses take it in turns to take care of me that night and help me to go to the toilet. The first time I managed to go I just passed a lot of blood in the bucket.
The following day I was still in a lot of pain with my oxygen levels still not good. The shoulder and chest pain was getting a lot worse and I was kept in again that night. My parents had come to pick me up but I wasn’t able to come home due to the level of pain I was in.
I couldn’t eat although the sandwiches looked very nice. Finally on the third day I was able to sit up on my bed and try to walk around the bed to move my shoulder a bit to release the gas. I felt so embarrassed how I wasn’t recovering as quickly as I liked to have but the nurses were amazing in being there for me and looking after me.
Eventually my bleeding had calmed down and my oxygen levels got better despite still having high blood pressure. Eventually I was allowed to go home after thee days being kept in. Recovery time took around 3 1/2 weeks before I could properly get around again without being in pain.
The surgeon came in to see how I was doing and talk me through the findings.
. My endometrioma was excised from my left ovary
. I had endometriosis excised from my pouch of Douglas
. The most severe endometriosis was the recto-vaginal endometriosis where a nodule (a small abnormal lump) was found. They weren’t able to get to this to remove for pathology due to the amount of endometriosis and the location being very tricky to reach. A nodule is basically an abnormal lump that is not big enough to be called a tumour. He reassured me that he thinks it’s fine due to the size.
. Endometriosis was also excised in the right ovarian fossa.
. Adhesions had stuck my stomach, bowel, ovary and rectum all together which also was one of the main reasons why it took longer than expected in theatre. He also stated that this was likely to be another reason why I was in so much pain.
He stated that I would likely need surgery again but he hopes that with the coil now fitted inside it will suppress the endometriosis growth and slow it down. Overall I’m so glad I had the surgery, especially as since then despite my problems with bleeding, the severe pain has gone for now which was what was taking over my life.
I hope this was informative and feel free to check out my other two posts I’ve already made on what endometriosis is and my pre opp.