8 Things You Should Know for After Pelvic Surgery
If you've been following along with my story for awhile, you know I had exploratory surgery in February to try and diagnose what's causing my chronic pelvic pain. While I've had many surgeries in my life (I've had five on my knee!) there was so much about this one that I wasn't prepared for. With exploratory surgery they never know what they're going to have to do or what they'll find, so you never really know until you're through it.
Here's what I wish I had known before, so that I would have been a little more prepared for recovery. Everyone's experience is different, so if you're about to have a laparoscopic exploratory surgery these are some things that you could potentially deal with after. I'm not a doctor, just sharing my exoerience, so obvs talk to yours if you have any questions or concerns.
How much pain there would actually be
I deal with chronic pain almost daily, pain so bad it lands me in the ER. THIS WAS WAY WORSE. Like a whole other level of pain I had never experienced - I could barely breathe some days. It was acutally a couple weeks before I could take deep breaths again. It also wasn't just my stomach that hurt (although it was the worst). I had pain in my shoulder (from the gas they pump you with), as well as my throat, back and even my legs. It was absolute fucking hell.
How much bleeding there would be
I normally have a fairly heavy period, but after this surgery I bled for days - more than I would when I'm normally on my moon. As in a pad every hour or two for the first few days. The same went for my first period post surgery. It was a bit of a shock, and something I wish I had been prepared for.
How Much I would bruise
This one I had no idea was a thing. My belly was black and blue all over for days. I've also got a new map of stretch marks!
How much help I would need
Isaac stayed home with me the first day after surgery, and then my mom and sister took turns coming to check in on me. For the first few days I had a hard time sitting up or standing up on my own. I couldn't stand up long enough to make food for the first week, so people would either bring me food or Isaac would cook for a few days and just have stuff ready for me. I couldn't think clearly enough to remember my pain med schedule, so we set alerts & alarms in the iCalendar to make sure I wouldn't miss a dose. I also couldn't bend over for a few days, so if something fell, there it stayed until Isaac got home from work.
How vulnerable and humbling it Would be
I rely on Isaac quite a bit normally for help when my pain is bad, but I'm usually able to still do many things by myself, even if it's just getting up to go to the bathroom on my own. I was not prepared to have to depend on people for literally everything. It was super uncomfortable for me, and I struggled with feeling like a burden.
How difficult it is to rest and not work
I thought I was decent at taking care of myself and resting when I need to... turns out I'm not! This experience made me actually realize I use work as a coping mechanism, so not being able to work at all was remarkably difficult. Since I love what I do I felt like a piece of me was missing for awhile. There was also a lot of worthiness issues and fear about money and the future that were triggered because of this. Not having benefits, a salary, or paid sick leave is one of the most terrifying parts of being an entrepreneur.
How much anger I would have
For the last four years I have been in and out the ER, seen multiple doctors and specialists, and have been in pain almost daily. Much of the time (until I found my current care team) I was told it was in my head, that I was overacting, or that nothing was wrong. During surgery they found and removed four areas of growth. THAT IS NOT NORMAL. I had so, so much anger about how I was treated, how long it took to get help and how hard I had to fight to be heard. There was also anger at life in general for how much this impacts my life and how I thought my future would be. Dealing with chronic pain is no walk in the park - especially since some days I can barely walk around my apartment, let alone to the park!
How much anxiety I would have around pain
When I was finally able to move around a little more, and the pain was bearable, I had intense fear around doing anything to bring the pain back. I was terrified to leave the apartment. I actually had a panic attack the first time I tried to go out on my own, even just across the street to get lunch. The first time I drove alone was both exhausting and exhilarating, but I put it off for as long as I could because I was afraid. I'm still afraid to do anything super strenuous, since there are things that do make the pain awful and I still have days where I'm laid up.
All of that said, there were some good things to come out of this. My relationships are all a little stronger, much deeper, and more vulnerable. I've become aware that I need to work on slowing down and resting. I've learned to trust I am taken care of, and that I can't control everything. That this life is a journey, we have no idea what will happen, and we really have to wait to see how it plays out, having faith that it will all work out for the best.