October 8, 2019
I arrived at Northside Hospital at 7:00am for surgery, which was scheduled for 11am.
We checked in, and N was provided with a pager, like the type you receive in restaurants when you are waiting for a table. With this, anytime it buzzed, all he had to do was go to a phone within the hospital and he would get an immediate update – he was ensured a call when I entered the operating room, during my surgery, and when I was in the recovery room.
With each pager came an ID number, specific to each patient, and within the surgery department were television monitors that displayed the number, along with the status of the patient; waiting room, pre-op, operating room, recovery. N was extremely impressed with the way the hospital kept him constantly updated – they called him while I was in surgery to let him know I was doing ok (Canada, get on this level).
Nerves were high, but what sounded like it was going to be a long 3 hours went surprisingly fast. It wasn’t long until I went into pre-op, where I was set up comfortably under an air-heated blanket, had my IV placed and my blood drawn for the Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy I would receive before I was sewn back up. (PRP) therapy uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. In this way, PRP injections use each individual patient’s own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems.
My legs were placed into an intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) device, which helps prevent blood clots, and Dr. Sinervo and his assistant came to chat with N and I about what to expect, and he then said a prayer with us. I’m not a religious person, but it really did set a calmer mood in the room.
Shortly after, I was taken into that operating room. I had asked the day before if there was any way they could let me keep my glasses (an old pair) with my chart, because with all my previous surgeries I had to wake up in the recovery room completely confused as to where I was and couldn’t see – this is terrifying. If you have vision a bad as mine, waking up somewhere you didn’t fall asleep, in pain, and disoriented, having your glasses is a big deal. Dr. Sinervo said “no problem!” and taped that spare pair of glasses to my chart. I’ve never gone into an operating room being able to see, so that was a whole new experience – it is VERY white and VERY shiny.
The anesthesiologist came in, and Dr. Sinervo held my hand while I (cried) going under. The next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room, handed my glasses and a cup full of ice chips, given another dose of morphine, and told everything went really well and I could see N soon.
During surgery, the hospital had fantastic WiFi and food in the cafeteria (which is all according to N) and he says the grits were the best thing he has ever had – a first, because any hospital food I have had previously was terrible!
Dr. Sinervo met with N once surgery was done, where he let N record the conversation so that I could hear it when I was more conscious – since I was flying home and having my follow-up appointment with my doctor here, this was especially nice to have an explanation directly from him. Full breakdown of all the medical bits is a bit further down, but 4 incisions were made, 2 small, one in my belly button, and the largest was on my appendectomy scar for its revision.
I spent one night in Northside Hospital, and I truly cannot say enough good things about the care I received. Every nurse and member of staff genuinely cared about me – my water never ran low, my pain never got unbearable (the morphine clicker was a perk), constant graham crackers which were amazing for nausea, I was wrapped in an abdominal binder (10/10 recommend if you get any type of abdominal surgery) and I felt like I was in the best care, so much so, that I told N he could go back to the hotel to get a good night sleep at around 8:30pm.
The meals I received were incredible, and they accidentally brought me a regular dinner on top of my ‘post abdominal surgery’ meal, so they told N to help himself. I don’t entirely remember everything that went on that night but I do remember feeling very calm and like everything would be ok.
I was given a full toiletry kit with toothpaste, floss, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and more, a massive canvas bag (which proved to be super helpful in the airport), and a gigantic plastic reusable cup. Walking was encouraged multiple times throughout the night, so each time they would disconnect me from the IPC device, help me up, put my slippers on, and help me shuffle along in the hallway.
Anytime someone asks me how care was in the states, my answer always is “if you can afford it, do not hesitate – it will be the best care you ever receive in your life”
I was discharged on Wednesday and we went back to the hotel where I proceeded to pass out for 4 hours. N apparently checked my breathing a couple times because I did not move. When I woke up, I felt so good that I had N adjust my binder, help me get dressed, and we went to the mall to get food – Shake Shack milkshakes are the bomb, guys. It was a quick trip, but I was shocked I could even function that well since my surgeries at home had me bed bound for days. We even went to the outlet mall on Thursday for a couple hours (making stops only at stores we really wanted to go into).
We flew home Friday evening – my only suggestion to anyone seeking surgery out of country is to possibly extend the stay a couple more days. While we had upgraded to premium to fly home so I could be more comfortable, the atmospheric pressure changes were a bit tough to handle. I wanted nothing more than to get home though, so I took a bit more pain meds than I had been and I managed just fine.
What was done (get ready for some medical terms):
- Diagnostic laparoscopy
- Laparoscopic lysis of adhesions
- Laparoscopic excision of endometriosis
- Total laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingectomy
- application of platelet-rich plasma
- Bilateral inferior hypogastric nerve block
- Diagnostic cystoscopy and hydrodistension
- Scar revision
- Stage 2 Endometriosis
- Abdominopelvic adhesions
- Normal cystoscopy and hydrodistension
- Left Uterosacral Tissue: fatty adhesions showing fibrous adhesions
- Left Pelvic Sidewall: fatty adhesions showing fibrous adhesions
- Left Pelvic Sidewall: endometriosis
- Right Uterosacral Tissue: fatty adhesions showing fibrous adhesions
- Bladder Tissue: endometriosis
- Cervix: mild inflammation
- Endometrium: decidualized stroma with inactive glands suggestive of progestin effect
- Fallopian Tubes: bilateral cysts
- My endometriosis returned to the exact same stage it was 2 years prior. The areas that were previously excised were evident, but many areas were still coated in the scar tissue
- The scar tissue from my appendectomy was tethered all the way down to the fascia
- My left ovary and fallopian tube were adhered to my pelvic sidewall
- Fibroids throughout my uterus – these are benign tumors
- Cysts in both fallopian tubes
- Both fallopian tubes and broad ligaments were coagulated together
- Adenomyosis – a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus – and the only treatment is a hysterectomy
- My bowels and intestines were also completely adhered both together and to my pelvic sidewall (per Dr. Sinervo’s recorded message)
I didn’t get my pathology results for 6 weeks, but between what Dr. Sinervo had said post-op and what the results showed, I had (some) comfort that losing my organs really was the right decision.
Finding out that my tubes were stuck to themselves, my uterus was attacking itself and was ultimately the root cause of my never-ending pain, I was full of cysts and tumors brought me both relief and sadness.
I was off of work for another 4 full weeks after surgery, which resulted in the realization of many, many things. The mental recovery has been harder than the physical recovery…stay tuned for part 3.