Saturday, September 06, 2014

Follow Up to My Surgery Announcement

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reach out to me via this blog, social networks, and email. Your well wishes mean the world to me.

One thing I wanted to address here on the blog - first because I was asked, and second because again, I had a hard time finding a good first-person account myself when I looked online - is the type of hysterectomy I am having. As you can tell from my previous post, there are many levels of hysterectomy (meaning, what you keep vs what is taken) and if all goes according to plan, mine falls somewhere in the middle. But as to the type of surgery, there are generally two options.

1. Laparoscopic
2. Abdominal

There are a lot of advocates for laparoscopic surgery online, mostly doctors that are excited about this new technology. As you can imagine, these websites tout all of the amazing advancements in medical technology, and tout the quicker and easier recovery time. I know a few women who have undergone a variety of reproductive organ surgery with this method, and most of them had very positive experiences. Well, as positive as getting your uterus or ovaries taken out can ever be. I kept seeing references to this type of surgery leading to increased likelihood of cancer, but couldn't find anything too specific in that regard.

I didn't give it too much thought though because from conversations with my doctor, and from what I could find online, it seemed that I wasn't a good candidate for this type of surgery so I never lobbied for it. In my pre-op appointment on Wednesday, we spoke a bit more about this method with my doctor and what I learned kind of freaked me out.

To not put too fine a point on it, I have a very delicate constitution. Once, many years ago, my friend Heather was describing a harrowing experience she had giving plasma. As she was telling the story, I turned greener and greener. I saw stars in front of my eyes, and heard ringing in my ears. Then I got dizzy. I thought I was telling her to stop, but I couldn't speak. And then I fainted. To this day it's one of those stories that people get a kick out of: "Remember that time Becky fainted when Heather was talking about giving plasma?" Hardy har har, folks. Hardy har.

So yeah, I don't do well with gore, however minute it is.

So when my doctor said that they call an apparatus that is involved with laparoscopic hysterectomies the "meat grinder" I was well on my way to fainting. You see, in this surgery, they cannot remove the offending organ in one piece; rather, they remove it in strips. According to my doctor, the increased likelihood of cancer is due to cancer cells getting "splattered" back into your body from this tearing situation. (Nearly at a full on faint during this part of the discussion.) Please note: I do not, to the best of my knowledge, have any cancer. But for those patients that do have it, and who are getting the hysterectomy because of it, this is where the risk comes in.

Also, the problem - for me - with this particular surgery is that the doctor is working with less space in the abdomen, and a less clear view, so this can increase the likelihood of something going wrong. All of those organs are pushed up against one another, and in the case of someone with endometriosis, there can be excess scar tissue and organs can be fused together. No, this was not the surgery for me. It's a good thing too because another friend that works in the medical field wrote to Alan yesterday to warn him off this particular method of surgery because some of the instruments are being recalled. With the hospitals that he works with there is a move away from this method because it's just too risky.

Because apparently I am a glutton for punishment, and hearing the description wasn't enough to make me sick, while talking with Heather yesterday about the surgery I decided to go online and look at pictures of this surgery. Holy shit batman! The strips! They were hideous.

So no, I'll not be going that route.

As I told my doctor, I'd like to stick with the tried and true method of abdominal surgery. Sure, it'll leave me with a rather unsightly scar on my lower abdomen - at the bikini line - but I'd much rather be safe than sorry.

I'm sure it goes without saying, but just to be safe: I am not a medical professional, nor am I purporting to give medical advice in these posts. If you are considering a hysterectomy of any kind, please speak with your doctor about the method that is best for you. Do not take my word for it.


  1. Jennifer4:43 AM

    Yowza! My first thought when you said laproscopic was how do they get it all out - um yeah, I'd have been green too, I think I shall NOT google more info. Fingers crossed, but I'm sure everything will go very well for you - hoping for a speedy easy recovery!!!

  2. Ashley P5:54 AM

    I appreciate how open you are being about this. There are so many subjects that are "taboo" that really shouldn't be!

    My mom had a hysterectomy around 12 years ago and they removed everything abdominally. I know everyone is different but for what it's worth, her recovery wasn't horrible. We were going camping not long after!

    I'll be thinking of you on Monday!

  3. cheryl6:38 PM

    I had a hysty 11 years ago...complete...due to having uterine cancer. I had a fibroid tumor removed 7 years before...and I probably should have had the hysty at that time. and learn. I am fine and you will be fine as well. It's scary...I know...but come surgery time on Monday...just take a few deep cleansing breaths...lay back...and let the anaesthesia do it's'll have some great sleep. Don't be afraid to use morphine if they give it...hit the button whenever you need my nurses told me "don't be a hero...use it!'. I imagine things have changed a bit since my surgery...but I was operated on Thursday and released on pain meds needed...just Advil. You will do just fine. :)

  4. Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by. Wish I hadn't needed pain meds. :)

  5. Thanks for the good wishes. Alas, no camping in my immediate future.


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