One Year Ago Today…

 

One year ago this morning, I woke up at 4. I had to be at the hospital around 5 to have what we now know was a fist-sized endometrioma surgically removed. Pre-op and the surgery itself was a breeze.  Honestly, the first day that I was home was pretty easy. Little did I know that it would get worse from there and, ultimately, it would take three months before I felt some semblance of normalcy. And by then, I’d be a month into Lupron side effects. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever known what “normal” felt like, since up until the surgery, I thought that random gut-wrenching cramps  were normal. And I still don’t think I know what it feels like since I went from post-surgery trauma to Lupron trauma and now into various stages of hormone-induced fertility treatment trauma.

People keep telling me how strong I am. I don’t feel all that strong. Mostly, I feel like I’m muddling through, grumping everywhere and annoying people, complaining about not feeling good and then feeling guilty for not feeling good when there are so many people with worse problems.

But that’s the nature of a chronic illness, right? You never feel quite right, but you never quite look sick. So you feel guilty for complaining and you just suck it up and keep moving. A year ago, I had no idea that I had endometriosis. I’m grateful to have an answer. But with that answer has come even more questions. Will we ever have a child? Will I have to have a hysterectomy? How long until my symptoms flare up again? 

Those aren’t things I can know. But I do know that I’ve got a great, great God who does know. And I’ve got a wonderful husband, family, best friends, and a snuggly puppy and kitty to cling to on the bad days.

I’ll leave you with a pic from a year ago today; Joey took photographic evidence that I made it through the surgery to send to our best friends. I’ve censored it a bit. It may also have become a greeting card that my mother sent me for some holiday last year.

A picture of the start of this endometriosis journey.

nevermind the below picture; I just don’t want the thumbnail for this link on facebook to be of me flipping a double bird after surgery.

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My Endo Story: Part 3

Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.

“It’s basically a disaster area back there.”  My doctor’s words were shocking.  One of the things I love most about her is that she’s brutally honest (albeit positive and optimistic, so it’s an interesting juxtaposition).  “Your uterus and bladder are glued down to your other organs.  Your right Fallopian tube is glued to your uterus and ovary.  You’re probably going to need another surgery down the road, but hopefully we can sneak a kid in there beforehand.”  She showed me the pictures (which were gross) and gave me a copy to take home (how about scrapbooking that, crafty moms).

Her suggestion was that we put off trying for six months, while I undergo treatment with Lupron to stop my ovaries from producing estrogen and hopefully dissolve the endometriosis.  It would be a monthly injection that would basically force my body into menopause.  Menopause??  I’m already hot-natured and moody, and now I’m going to have something shot into my butt that’ll make it even worse?  She said that, once we were done with that, we’d hit the fertility meds hard again and be a little more aggressive in our approach (I’m still not quite sure what that’ll entail).  And if that didn’t work, then it would be off to Atlanta for another surgery.  Or IVF.  Neither of those prospects sounded desirable.

Six months of nothing?  That seems like a lot of time lost, time spent waiting and not even being able to try.  I agreed to the Lupron treatment, but I was still reeling from being told that my insides are a disaster and it wasn’t just going to be a matter of waiting to heal and then starting to pop out babies.  I also mentioned the abdominal pain and cramping and was told that it was a normal part of the recovery process and was encouraged to take some fiber and make sure I was pooping regularly (really?  You think I was intentionally deciding to turn my GI tract into a war zone?).

The GI pain finally abated, but was quickly replaced by feeling like I was pissing razor blades.  And after a month of misdiagnoses and setbacks, it turned out that I’d probably been nursing a low-grade UTI for eight weeks or so, and it took two full rounds of antibiotics to clear up.  I finally started to feel human again.  But still, a recovery that was supposed to take a couple of weeks ended up knocking me flat on my arse for over two months.  I felt pathetic; why was I so much weaker than everyone else I knew who’d had laparoscopic surgery?  Why were they back at work in three days, doing cartwheels down the hall (apparently) while I was still carrying a pillow everywhere and walking as if I was traversing broken glass?

And now, here I was, facing six months of injections of a drug I knew nothing about, but knew it was our last hope of a non-invasive way to be able to have a child.  There was no question that I would go through it, but what on EARTH was going to happen to me during the process?

–to be continued–

 

My Endo Story: Part 2

So, I last left you as just as surgery was rapidly approaching and our last two months of trying being to no avail.  We must’ve had at least twenty people praying specifically that I wouldn’t have to go through this surgery, but sometimes God doesn’t work that way. Honestly, I didn’t get my hopes up.  I’ve seen people miraculously delivered from things, and I’ve seen people have to suffer through, so I knew it could go either way.  I’m also (painfully) realistic, so I wasn’t about to get myself hopeful about a possibility that was so unlikely.

I’d never had a surgical procedure before, other than having my wisdom teeth out at seventeen.  I was absolutely terrified, so for two months, I pushed all thought of it out of my mind.  And it worked, for the most part.  However, I specifically remember as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, being hit with a great sense of uncertainty.  I would be having this surgery in six short days; what would 2016 hold for us?  Would it be the year that we finally got to have a child?  I turn 35 this year.  Was it already be too late?

The next five days were a blur.  I remember the doctor calling me a day or two beforehand and asking me if I had any questions.  I told her I was training for a 5K on 2/13 and asked how long it would be until I could start running again. She told me that I could start back after a week as long as I was feeling up to it. Holy crap, I thought to myself…This must not be that big of a deal, then.  I remember the night before the surgery having dinner with Joey’s “second mom.”  We talked for a long time; she encouraged me and reminded me that God was still in control and that she would see me the next day after I got back home.  I also remember messaging with a friend who’d had the same surgery; she gave me the run-down on exactly how hers went and told me that she’d gotten pregnant three months after.  It put my mind at ease that the procedure wouldn’t be too bad.

And truthfully, it wasn’t.  Getting the IV inserted was the worst part; I have small veins, and the anesthesiologist had to go through the side of my wrist, which hurt like hell (on a funny note, when the post-op nurse took it out before sending me home, she looked at it and said “wow, this is a big-ass needle!”  Joey asked her if that was the professional term for it).  Incidentally, here we are eleven weeks later and I still have a scar from that needle.  But the rest of it was no big deal.  They started the surgery around 7:30 in the morning and I was home by 11:30.  Just three small incisions…one in my navel and one on either side of my lower abdomen.  No stitches, just a little surgical glue.  I had Joey stop by Starbucks on the way home so I could get a white chocolate mocha and a scone.  I thought this would be a breeze…a few days of discomfort, and back to walking/running in a week, and pregnant by spring!

It was not a breeze.  First, the doctor told Joey that the endometrioma was almost as big as her fist…much larger than the ultrasounds showed. She said that she had no idea how I wasn’t having pain from it (I’d never complained of anything) and that she suspected that pains that I wrote off as GI discomfort/mid-cycle cramps were probably from the cyst.  She also mentioned that she thought she saw some endometriosis on the back side of my uterus, and that it may end up having to result in another surgery with a specialist (in Atlanta) at some point.  However, she said that we’d probably let me heal for a while and then start trying again for a few months and see what happened after that.  She told us to call in two weeks and schedule a post-op follow up where we’d discuss strategy in greater detail after she’d had more time to go over the pictures.

I was not running in a week.  In fact, I wasn’t even walking.  I ended up “backed up” three different times from the pain meds (I actually just quit taking them after a few days).  On a related note; if you know anyone addicted to Oxy, PLEASE let me be their interventionist.  I have some stern words about choosing a life where you opt to never poop again.

I did manage to walk half a mile about ten days after surgery, and did a full mile a couple of days later.  But they were excruciating, and I was exhausted afterward; I was so discouraged.  The doc told me I could RUN after a week.  Why in the hell was I still feeling so terrible??  I had gut-wrenching abdominal cramps and gas pains so bad that I almost fainted more than once. I was afraid to eat, because eating would make me need to poop, and my GI system seemed to be vacillating between refusing to move food through and forcibly expelling everything I’d even THOUGHT about eating for the last five years.

Still, through all of this terrible-ness, I kept telling myself that it would all be okay.  As soon as I recovered, we’d start trying for a kid again and it would be easy peasy.  Maybe I could even get pregnant and have the baby before the end of the year, and then it would all be free because we’d already met our out-of-pocket maximum for the calendar year with our health insurance!

Boy, was I wrong.

-to be continued-