Thursday, November 29, 2012

Will Dr. F take me back?

Dr. F, my pelvic pain specialist, is my very favorite doctor. He's so smart, open-minded, thinks outside the box. We have all these interesting conversations together. If he weren't my doctor, I would want him to be my friend. And I don't even like doctors! But I've been feeling somewhat sheepish about telling him that I went off and had surgery with some other surgeon. Would he be hurt? Betrayed? Would he ask me awkward questions about why I liked Dr. S better than him?

Not wanting to spill the beans yet, I asked Dr. S if it would be okay to ask my primary care physician to remove my sutures rather than Dr. F. He said no problem, and my appointment with my PCP was today.

The only problem was that she didn't seem to know what she was doing. She couldn't tell the difference between a suture and a scab. She looked back and forth being my operative report and my pelvis before giving up and calling Dr. F for help. Dr. F!

Apparently, Dr. F is still speaking to me. He's willing to take the stitches out and do my post-op. My appointment is Monday.

Well, I guess I have no option but to go back to Dr. F. And it doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem that I didn't have surgery with him. Among all his other good qualities, he's humble.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wedding Bells

Thanksgiving Day, DH and I went for a long walk around my parents' neighborhood. Long in duration, not in distance as I am still not up to walking more than a tenth of a mile at a stretch. I caught a glimpse of our shadows; I was clinging to him, walking slowly and unsteadily. The band I wear to protect my incisions made my torso look substantially thicker than it is. In shadow, we looked like a couple in our seventies.

It struck me that DH and I have only been married a year and a half, but I feel like we've been married twenty.

We never had a formal church wedding. DH has been married before to a woman who left him after fourteen months with no explanation or even a good-bye. We were engaged and waiting for his annulment when my adenomyoma was diagnosed and the recommendation from the doctor was to postpone surgery until after I was done with childbearing.

We got married immediately, in a court-house.

We are still waiting on DH's annulment. Apparently, in the diocese where he filed, the wait is three years. (The priest at DH's parents' church told us it was eight to ten months.) We haven't even seen a "thank you for your application" form letter. DH is done with Catholicism. Reliving the worst thing that ever happened to him only to be met with silence and indifference broke his relationship with the Church, and I'm not sure it will ever be fixed.

Meanwhile, I was learning that I could not go through the worst thing that's ever happened to me without the Sacraments. I could not go without the Eucharist. I could not have my surgery without the anointing of the sick. I started going to an Episcopalian church. That church has been my rock these many months.

DH and I will be married in that church this winter. In front of God, our extended families and our friends, we will promise each other that "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health," we will be husband and wife.

I'd say we've already had more "worse, poorer and sickness" in one and a half years than many couples have had in twenty. I know that when I hear DH say those words, I will be thinking that through infertility, through pain, through surgery, through depression and through despair, DH has stood by me.

Recovery Update

Turns out that I did have diaper rash--but when you're an adult, they call it a yeast infection. I've just begun a course of Diflucan and should be feeling better soon.

I'm still tired and high on painkillers most of the time, but every day, I walk a little farther, I take fewer painkillers, and I'm conscious for a greater part of the day. This is progress, frustratingly slow though it may be.

DH left my parents' house this morning and I have been feeling emotionally vulnerable and weepy ever since he left. Though he had a bad cold, we have a lovely Thanksgiving, just the four of us. I also love seeing how my parents love my husband. I know that they loved him before, but after my sojourn in the hospital, something has changed with his relationship to my family and to my parents. He is one of us in a new way.

My mom and I are flying back to my city on Tuesday. I'm not ready to go back to work a week from Monday, so I will call Dr. S's office tomorrow to see about getting another week off work. I'm trying not to feel like I'm malingering, but every time I think about going back to work in a week, I burst into tears.

Oh, I'm not sure I mentioned this before, but DH and I are benched from TTC for the next three months. My uterus needs time to heal before it could sustain a pregnancy. In a way I'm relieved to have the time for DH and I to focus on our relationship and sex lives without the stress for TTC.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On recovery and regression

According to the information on Dr. S's website, laparoscopic surgery isn't that big a deal. I should have been discharged from the hospital after twenty-three hours (sooner, if I wanted), able to travel after seventy-two, and back to work in two weeks.

Lies, all lies.

It always sounded unlikely that I would be able to get up and waltz on home right after having my uterus shredded and surgically reconstructed. Twenty-three hours after my surgery, I still couldn't walk or pee on my own. The walking, I expected, but no one warned me about the pain of having a distended bladder in the middle of the night, crying on the toilet as DH ran to get the nurse who would inevitably drain me with a catheter so I could repeat the whole scary process a few hours later. I have a fear of catheters.

When nothing worked to induce me to pee, they put a catheter in connected it to a large bag and sent me back to the hotel where my family was staying, hoping that a few days of complete "bladder rest" would enable me to pee on my own again. I ended up traveling back to my parents house with the catheter. I was scared that I still wouldn't be able to pee during the drive and then my family would be driving around rural _____________ looking for an ER to drain me.

The irritation from the catheter made my vulva swell up to twice its size. On Monday night, when my parents' neighbor (thankfully, a urological nurse!) came over to remove it, I cried from the relief of finally having the catheter out and the remaining anxiety that I still could not void. But I woke a few hours later with a full bladder and used a tip that the nurse  suggested: I sat on the toilet and poured a bucket of warm water over my vulva and I was finally, finally able to pee. My mom did a little dance in the bathroom in celebration and my dad sent a text message to my DH.

Now, my vulva is still swollen and covered in a rash. Monday night, I ditched the mesh hospital panties for my regular cotton underwear and pads, and now I'm wondering if that was the best idea. Could I have diaper rash?

If there is anything more infantalizing than having my dad change my pee bag and having my mom in the bathroom with me cheering me on as I try to pee, it would be a case of diaper rash.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Surgical Findings

1. NO ENDO: Anywhere, at all. The choice phrase from the surgical report was that my ovaries, fallopian tubes, and entire pelvic cavity were all "grossly normal."

2. Adenomyoma: The mass in my uterus was larger than expected: 10 centimeters. It was all across the top right hand side of my uterus and a bit on the back side of the uterus as well. My uterus was the size of a sixteen weeks pregnant uterus! This meant that the surgery went longer than expected: six hours rather than four. I'm so glad that I went with the more experienced surgeon, despite the expense and inconvenience that entailed. What if a less experienced doctor had called my uterus a lost cause and performed a hysterectomy?

So for Thanksgiving, I'm feeling very thankful. For the health of my ovaries (despite the DOR, which I guess is really DOR), tubes, and newly reconstructed uterus. For the expertise and compassion of Dr. S. For the support of my parents and DH upon whom I was until very recently dependent for even my most basic bodily needs. I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

T - 1

The fast has begun.

Pre-op surgical consultation has been had.

The first of many doses of laxatives has been swallowed.

Happily, I have not bitten anyone's head off, including my loving husband and my dear parents who have flown in to be with me during the surgery.

Even better, Dr. S. is very optimistic about the surgery; no more adenomyomas were found during my ultrasound today, though he did say I could have adenomyosis. Also, the adenomyoma doesn't appear to have grown since last year.

Though I am a wimp about medical procedures, I'm actually feeling optimistic and relieved that it will be over soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fear and Trembling

Today, I received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick in preparation for my surgery next week. Father J anointed my head with oil, he laid his hands on me and prayed that Jesus would keep me in the hollow of his hand during the surgery and my recovery. He prayed that God would guide the hands of the surgeon and everyone who will touch me.

I know that I am loved by God all the time. But it made me feel so special to receive God's love through human hands and through the (extra)ordinary substance of (holy) oil.

Father J assured me that he would put my name on the list of the sick so that all in the parish at all the Masses would be praying for a successful surgery and my quick recovery. This made me feel loved too, by God and by God's people.

The sacrament gave me a moment of peace in what has been a very anxious week. I have irrational fears of needles (I get dizzy before a flu shot), knives, germs (I am afraid of contracting an incurable flesh-eating bacterium in the hospital), drugs (a big reason IVF was never a temptation for me), and pain. I know that most of these fears are irrational, but they are very, very real to me. In addition, I am swamped with work that needs to be done before I go, work that I cannot finish efficiently because I am so distracted by my anxiety.

I ask you, my dear readers, however many or few of you there are to pray for me, as I go into the week of my surgery. Pray that I may have courage. Pray for Dr. S my surgeon. Pray for my DH and my parents as they watch over me.