Diary of a Hysterectomy – The Hospital

Day 0. “Eviction Day”

I’m a wreck. No other way to put it. The enormity of what’s happened over the past 18 months (marriage separation and uprooting my life, illness, the death of my aunt, etc), and now this has proven to be too much to handle today. I’m tired and anxious and can’t stop crying.

Anything and everything is setting me off and I am so, so cold. I’m taken to what will be my room and, thank you private health insurance, my room is a delightfully vintage single with an outlook onto the leafy street below. Single and bloody cold. What is it with hospitals and having the temperature set to a max of 12 degrees?! Anyway, M and I wait for the nurses to come in, check my files and issue me with the appropriate wrist bands. Thus begins the constant repetitive questions:


“What is your name and date of birth?”
“What are you here for today?”
“Do you have any allergies?”

The theatre nurse comes in and introduces herself and I lose the plot entirely, much to her shock. I’m sheepish through my tears and assure her that it’s nothing personal.

Catlyn Tears
Can’t. Stop. Crying.

I change into my gown (less clothes, even colder now) and pressure socks and with a last smooch from M, I’m wheeled out, still bawling, to surgery where I meet one of the other theatre nurses who gives me one of those wonderful heated air blankets. OMG SO WARM! I nestle under it and ignore the urge to put my head under the covers and hide.

My anaesthetist arrives and he sees that I am one big snotty mess. He gently tells me what’s going to happen, how I am going to feel, that he’s there to make sure I stay asleep (a bloody good thing if you ask me) and bring me out of it again when all is said and done. His voice is very soothing and I am more inclined to believe that I’m not going to die this day.

Finally I get wheeled into theatre and there’s my surgeon to greet me. She grabs my hand, holds it tight and gives me a pat before going through the official process of starting the procedure. They take away my heated airbag and I instantly start shivering and crying again.

The surgeon hovers above me while the anaesthetist does his thing. I squeeze her hand as the needle goes in and the cold heat of the happy sleepy-time medicine shoots up my arm.

I only vaguely remember asking for another shot of whatever that was before I surrendered to the darkness.

That lovely fuzzy feeling.
More glorious, numbing medicine…

Waking up again seconds – though it might have been hours – later, I realise that I’m already back in my room. If I woke up in recovery, I don’t remember it.

I don’t remember much of anything for the rest of that day.

The one thing I do remember before drifting off again was that it was FUCKING FREEZING in that room.

Day 1 – First day Post-Op

Happy sleepy-time drugs finally wore off and reality set in. I was down one uterus but up one very annoying catheter. Not in a whole lot of pain, but then I hadn’t tried to move, so “yay, catheter!” I guess.

Thoroughly entertained by the fact that my entire stomach is numb from mid-rib to my girl bits. I spend much time poking at it. My stomach, that is. I poke my stomach. Not my girl bits.

Nurses (both student and fully qualified varieties) are lovely and checking on me every couple of hours around the clock. Lovely, but it means I can’t sleep. The pressure cuff around my arm keeps waking me and they keep asking me my name and date of birth and if I have any allergies.

I discover the Food Network on television.

I’m still cold.

I keep confirming my name and date of birth every two hours.

Every. Two. Hours.

Day 2.

Given my first Clexane in the wee hours of the morning. For such a tiny needle, that shit hurts like hell.

Still being asked who I am as if the answer will be a surprise.

Still cold. Starting to think the coldness is a sterile environment thing. It has to be cold so bacteria doesn’t grow. At least, that’s what I am telling myself to justify why I can’t feel my fingers and toes.

Nurse comes in with a tray of Stuff and Things™. Interesting.

“We’re taking the catheter out today!”

Oh. Yay…?

YEOUCH. That is the most unpleasant sensation.

“You feel like getting up and having a shower now?”

What the what, now?!

“Not really…”

“It’s best if you start moving around, it helps speed up healing.”

Nurse-speak for, “You stink. You need a shower and we need to change the sheets.”

I slowly – so slowly – manage to manoeuvre myself out of bed.

Oh, wow. Wow. With a side of OW. You know that sensation, like you’ve been sliced open and your guts are falling out? No? Well, use your imagination.

Hysterectomy Hack and Slash
Exactly like this.

I am honestly frightened everything is going to fall out.

I feel vaguely sorry for the poor student nurse who has to stand in the shower and help wash me but I am feeling mostly extremely aware that I am naked, sore, and not alone in the shower. The hot water is a small comfort but I would much prefer it alone.

By the time I’m out, dried and dressed in my own PJs, my bed has been remade and I have to admit I feel better for the shower. I finally beg for a couple more blankets as I just can’t deal with the cold anymore.

Extra blankets are brought and I am happy as a bug missing a uterus in a rug.

Warmth and food and sheer exhaustion from just moving between the bed and the shower means that I crash out hard for a couple of hours. When I wake up the nurse comes in and says that I was completely out and she didn’t want to disturb me so she just checked my temp while I was sleeping and left me alone.

I really like that nurse.

Day 3.

Given Clexane again. Nasty little fucker of a needle, that. Not a great way to wake up.

I really want to go home now. Third night in on very little real sleep apart from cat-naps that are interrupted by changing of the guard at the nurse’s station or pain keeping me awake means that I am very quickly losing the plot. I’m tired and bored and I miss my mum and my cats and my boyfriend and I am seriously starting to regret having the operation because of the sheer amount of discomfort I’m in. Moving hurts, the bed hurts, my neck hurts, every muscle not used to being employed for the simple act of walking is screaming at me. I’m on a cocktail of Endone, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and something that might have been slow release morphine…

The nurses ask me how I’m feeling once or twice and I just start crying again. They do their best to soothe me and explain that even though it might not seem like it, I’m actually doing quite well.

I don’t believe them.

I want to go home, I tell them.

I can go home when I can manage to go to the toilet on my own, they tell me.

OH REALLY?

CHALLENGE. FUCKING. ACCEPTED.

Thus begins the Quest to Poop.

The Mission to Void the Bowels.

The Goal to Drop Anchor in Port.

You get it.

I can’t go home before they see that my poop shoot is shooting the poop unimpeded.

In hospital, you poop…. or you die.

With the catheter gone I’m peeing like a champ on my own. Still can’t feel much down there so it’s only when my bladder is absolutely aching that I realise I need to go. I can never really tell when my bladder is empty either, which is slightly disconcerting. It’s a weird sensation of stuff being there but not quite as there as it was pre-op.

I decide that since I am up and able to shuffle around by myself without help, I may as well have a shower. In the meantime, someone comes in and changes my bed again.

THEY STEAL MY BLANKETS.

Major whining ensues until I get them back again.

Missing everyone. With the exception of M, no one has come in to visit me. I don’t mind it so much but I honestly had not expected to be in hospital for so long and the lack of sleep mixed with pain mixed with medication is making me constantly weepy and I just want a friendly face that isn’t attached to an arm with a hand that’s weilding a needle…

End of the day, still no poop. Worrying because I have hideous, painful gas. My stomach is bloated beyond ridiculousness.

Day 4. This day has been officially renamed to  Waiting to Poop Day

The nurses still can’t remember my name or date of birth. It’s starting to get old.

Able to walk around a little bit more so I’m wandering slowly around the ward. I’m doing well, so they tell me. I don’t care, I tell them back. I want to go home.

“But you need to…”

“Poo. Yes, I KNOW.”

Peppermint water is supplied to help settle my bloated tummy but all that does is make me gag. I’m given some laxatives but after a few hours there’s still no joy.

Suppository time.

Yes, it’s that glamorous but I no longer care.

I WILL TAKE THINGS BEING SHOVED UP MY BUTT TO GET OUT OF THIS COLD, COLD HOSPITAL.

And like everything else in this hell hole, the nurses fingers were freezing too.

Suppository works in the vaguest sense of working. The colt from Old Regret didn’t exactly get away but the gate was left open. I no longer feel so stopped up. Small blessings.

“Can I leave now?”

“Yes, you can go home…”

“YAY!”

“…tomorrow.”

“OH FUCK YOU.”

Day 5.

I’m going home today! I’m going home today!  The nurses come in and ask me my name and date of birth again, but this time I get a new question…

“Who is coming to pick you up?”

I shower. I pack. I watch more Food Network.

I repeat my name and date of birth at least four more times before M arrives in the early afternoon to rescue me. But we’re still stuck there for a while as we wait for my discharge and to be given all the wonderful drugs which stop me from feeling the fact that I have a rather large hole in my abdomen.

The trip home is an interesting experience. G-force and abdominal surgery are not happy bedfellows. Every time the car breaks, I feel my entire lower half lurch. Fortunately I have a towel and wrap it around my belly for support – I could kiss whoever it was that suggested that little trick.

Essure Implants – A Testimonial

Warning – This post talks about female reproductive organs and contraception. If you don’t like reading about that stuff, go away.

I’m taking the opportunity to write about my experience with the (somewhat infamous) Essure implants.

If you’ve found your way here after googling Essure either before or after you’ve had the operation, firstly, don’t panic.

DO NOT PANIC. It’s the worst thing you can do. I know there is a crap-tonne of information out there and just about all of it bad, and my own story isn’t that great either.  That being said, I wanted to relate my experience because all I could personally find were horror stories.

Preface

Like many gynecologist’s have done, my doctor suggested tubal occlusion, aka an Essure implant, because it was a quick and simple procedure and something that I could have done while I was getting another medical issue seen to.

On the face of it, Essure implants sounded awesome. No requirement to put me under a general anaesthetic, I didn’t need to go to hospital to get it done as there was no need to open me up surgically, recovery time was two days at most as opposed to a couple of weeks for a tubal ligation. Because I am fat (my doctor had the good grace to call me “cuddly”) she said that it would be the easiest option for us both. I couldn’t disagree – being overweight does come with it’s own complications when it comes to medical procedures. But it all still sounded great.

That was pretty much all that was told to me about the procedure and the implants. I got a brochure detailing how the implants worked and was sent on my merry way.

An Explanation

For those not in the know, a tubal occlusion is where two tiny spring coils are fed into the fallopian tubes. This causes a natural reaction within the body and the irritation from the coils causes scar tissue to form around the coils, thus providing a natural block in the fallopian tubes that stops the egg delivery process from the ovaries. The name of these coils are called Essure and they are made by Bayer.

My Procedure

When I went back almost a year later, my doctor was still happily recommending the implants but she did tell me that there was some sort of action against them in the United States. She then explained that she used to just do an x-ray at the three month mark but since there had been questions about it’s effectiveness, I would need a different procedure that involves being turkey-basted with dye to be sure that the fallopian tubes were blocked.  So I just thought it had something to do with their effectiveness.

Sounds good, right? Here’s where it went pear-shaped for me.

My situation deviated from the norm in this regard as I had to get another small procedure called a LLETZ or large loop excision, which did involve being admitted to hospital as a day patient. My doctor did both procedures during the same admission so I was put under a general anaesthetic rather than just being done in the chair. All went well on the day, and I was out of hospital within five hours – most of which was actually spent waiting for my turn and recovery afterwards.

After going home from the hospital I was a little exhausted and a little bit sore, though I am certain that was from having way too much going on up in my privates for one day, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Two days after the procedure I actually felt worse that I did when I came home from the hospital. Yes, it hurt but it wasn’t so much an “ouch” as it was a constant, intense ache in my lower abdomen. Every now and then there would be a horrible pinching that I could feel somewhere from within and it was extremely disconcerting that I couldn’t reach the area to rub it better. It was the weirdest, most unpleasant sensation I can ever remember experiencing. This feeling increased to a weird pulling-like sensation and that’s when I started to realise I could feel these things inside me. The mental damage that did was almost as horrific as the pain I was in.

My Recovery After Essure

I was told that I would be down for a couple days at most.

Here’s what actually happened.

Day 1 (after procedure): A little spotting, nothing serious. Moderate discomfort but nothing a regular headache tablet couldn’t dampen. Was more tired from my usual crappy reaction to the anaesthetic.

Day 2: More discomfort, pain in my lower back and still experiencing spotty/gritty discharge though this was from the LLETZ loop, not the Essure implants. Looked up “essure” on Google and proceeded to have a meltdown.

Day 3: Increasing discomfort.  Not spotting but lots of watery discharge. Again, this was most likely my reaction to the loop, not the Essure implants. Still very upset by what I found online.

Day 4: Post op pain diminished and back pain gone but I was still feeling uncomfortable and sore. Noticed a weird smell at that point and took myself to the doctors and was prescribed a general antibiotic.

Day 5:  Back at work, however sitting for long periods of time became uncomfortable. The horrible pulling sensation starts. Emotional/mental distress increases a thousand fold as I had read even more what Google had to say about these fucking implants.

Day 6: Mild spotting starts.  Discomfort remains high and steady. Had to go home from work early. AGAIN.

Day 7: It still hurts to sit for long periods of time and the weird pinch/pull sensation increases when I move around too much.

Day 8 to Week 2:  Bleeding increases. Pain still as it was.  Constant, tiring. Starting to become a little despondent and, frankly, frightened as hell at what I had allowed to be done to my body.

Week 3: Bleeding seems to be on the rise.  We’ve gone from spotting to proper bleeds but at the end of the day.  This makes sense, as it could be from increased activity, but it is very concerning as I shouldn’t be bleeding at this point at all. (Still on the active contraceptive pill, too.)

Week 4: Ok, I might have had sex a couple days before I should have (I had to wait for my cervix to heal completely which was horrible, particularly when you quite like your boyfriend) but I was more toey than a Roman sandal and needed physical reassurance that I was still desirable and that my bits still worked. Answer; I am and they do. I was happy. But the day after I still had the bleeds. And the hurting was still very much happening if I walked around for too long… or coughed.  This prompted a call to the gyno for a follow up appointment.

At that appointment I was told that my cervix looked awesome (yay, I suppose) but that it smelled like I had an infection.  I also explained about the bleeding too and was given medication for both.  As I was still in pain, she referred me on to have an x-ray to make that the implants were where they needed to be and also have a blood test to see if anything serious needed addressing.  The results from both of those were clear.

Week 5:  Round one of medication taken and the infection seemed to clear up.  The pain had definitely improved too so I get the impression that it might have had something to do with the Essures at this point.  STILL bleeding heavily though.

Week 6:  Started taking the non-active contraceptive pills and let nature take its course just in case it was my period breaking through as the gyno suggested.  HOLY SHITBALLS, the cramps…  That was new.  I sometimes get horrible cramps but this was something else.

Week 7:  Period finally finishes but still spotting. ARGH! It stopped towards the end of that week.

Week 8 to present:  NO BLEEDING. NO PAIN!

Yes, it took eight. fucking. weeks to recover from this procedure and I still have to go back sometime soon to get that final examination done.

What I Found On Google About Essure

I won’t repeat what I found but very little of it is good.  The only positive testimonials to be found are on the Essure website itself which, frankly, I find dodgy as fuck.  I discovered that I had been sold on something that is swiftly proving to be dangerous.

What is most frightening was the sheer number of women who have come forward to say that they are or were unwell and in pain and needed full or partial hysterectomies to get rid of both the implants and the pain they caused.

Hell, even Erin Brockovich is in on it – she’s running the class action.

Am I angry at my doctor for not having told me these things?  YES.  Yes, I am.  Very much so.

Am I upset that I didn’t turn to Google first to do my own investigations before getting the procedure done?  Yes, I am. If I had seen this information beforehand, I would have simply opted for tubal ligation and just dealt with the recovery process.  Buyer very much beware.

Would I recommend this to anyone?  No. No, I wouldn’t.  Certainly not based on my experience.  Eight weeks is a lot of time to be in pain and to be bleeding. Now I have the added stress of wondering what is going on inside my body at any given time, if these things are going to move or break, if I am bound for a lifetime of recurring infections, if I will be in pain again if I start a serious regime of exercise, IF I WILL GET PREGNANT – WTF?!

Let me just reiterate that I got these things put in because I didn’t want to get pregnant and wanted a hormone-free method of long-term contraception.

So far, these things have not made my life any easier. I am yet to see if they are going to make it horribly difficult.