Friday, September 18, 2015

The Tummy

I faced "female problems" from my early teen years. Thirty years later, this picture was taken last week, a few days before my final hysterectomy, which will hopefully lay the consequences of a diseased reproductive system to rest once and for all!

You see, this was actually my second hysterectomy, going back to take my cervix, remaining ovary, and once again (as has been surgically required so many times over the past 20 years) clean out the mess and pain created by Endometriosis. I am 43 years old and dramatically entered menopause in full force last week.

There had been absolutely NO CHANCE of that belly hosting the life of a baby for nearly seven years since I had surgically said farewell to the body of my uterus and first ovary, yet to look at me, all bloated and inflamed, it would have been a common presumption to think I was well-along into pregnancy!

This got me thinking and reflection on our decade of active infertility. My tummy HAS looked like this before, sometimes, at least six in fact, from the hard-fought blessing of carrying a child within! For all those stretch marks, I am rewarded far beyond anything I had ever dared hope during our infertility years, with three living children in my home today, ages 15, 12 and 9. I do not take them for granted. I so wish I could have worn a t-shirt (or neon sign on my forehead) that read something like, "Don't hate me infertile friend. This baby has been 7 years in the making!" Just because I was finally pregnant, the feelings of infertility were not magically erased! I readily still related much more with the infertile word than the fertile one!

Our living miracles' known siblings who never got to come home would be 20, a likely twin of the 15-year-old, 14, and 13. I am ever so blessed that my womb was their entire earthly home, yet they are still missed! Pregnant tummy mis-speaking about the state of my fertility once again, in each of their cases.

More strangely, my tummy has looked like this before because of the very reality of not being able to conceive! Illness and swelling such as I just pictured , from Endometriosis or other reproductive illness, but also sometimes from PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), in response to fertility drugs, fibroid tumors, and/or due ovarian hyper-stimulation! What insult, added to injury, to "look pregnant" simply because of whatever condition(s) is causing sub fertility in the first place!

So next time you see a "pregnant" woman, don't presume! Maybe she is. Maybe she isn't. Either way, there may be much more to her story than meets the eye. And to the lady I naively asked how far along you were, 20-some years ago, before I knew better, I'm still so very sorry for the tears I brought to your eyes that day. Please forgive me!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Surgery Update

Wow! Realizing my brain is still slow from anesthesia, I've spent over 2 hours trying to catch up on everyone's well wishes and am still not done! AMAZING friends. Thank you!!!
I was in the hospital less than 8 hours, check in to check out. Pastor Joe, of South Reno Baptist Church, was waiting for us when we got there and prayed with us before check in. (He offered to help with the surgery too, and while I told him I was glad he knew my Designer, I declined his offer when I found out he wanted to be sure my parts were labeled in there. wink emoticon )

Great news, I was already in far less internal pain by the recovery room than I had been in prior to surgery. I have 4, 2-3 inch incisions where the robot arms did their thing and they each have big purple/green bruises around them, but that is my most painful part now! Yes, I feel "tender" inside and a little swollen from them cutting around inside, but nothing like the pre-surgery pain that's been more on than off since Aplir.

They did NOT find a hernia and found surprisingly little Endometriosis growth (mostly only on that left ovary they were taking out anyway). They did say my cervix was unusually long and high up into my pelvis. They also said that while my appendix did not have visible endometriosis growth on it (pathology report may find microscopic growth) and looked relatively "normal" for the most part, it had a few areas that looked odd and was also unusually low, way down lower into my pelvis than normal position should have been, and sort of folded back on itself. The consensuses is that this was likely the primary source of my pain.

I woke up in recovery with my face burning and itching like crazy. This was tremendously more distressing than any post-op pain! I asked for Benadryl and they gave me 12.5mg that didn't begin to touch my itching. A few minutes later they gave me another 12.5. After I fought off the sleepiness of surgery enough to go to the stage 2 recovery room, I was still itching like crazy and got another 25mg of Benadryl. 

When they let Rick come see me, my face was still deep red/purplish and a cool washcloth wasn't helping much either, so the nurse called and got permission to give me another 50mg as hives were now forming down my neck and arms and chest too. It was only then we learned I had been given Morphine during surgery, something I have a documented allergy to and had specifically asked my anesthesiologist to avoid! Within about 20 minutes of the second 50mg Benadrl the itching quieted and swelling/redness was down exponentially.

After another 20 minutes itching started to build again. I asked for more Benadryl and they said I would have to stay for several more hours of observation before receiving another dose. We requested discharge, came home (by then it had been about 4 hours since my first dose and I know my body can easily handle 100mg at a time), took another 25mg orally, then finally could relax enough to sleep. I woke up at midnight and 4:30 with worse hives, including entire torso, each time and took Benadry again then, but am managing pain with just Tylonol - as I said, I am in less pain now than I have been for months!

I was hived out again when I woke up just before 8 this morning, so took more Benadryl at 8:30. Today I just feel very tied, drained of energy, itchy and a little sore, but have had absolutely NO nausea (praise the Lord!). I am on total bedrest (up for potty trips) for 48 hours, then light activity for at least 3 weeks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

In-Labor Day

20 years ago, Labor Day fell on Sept. 2. I know this because it was Noel's due date, the day I was to be "in labor". Since all my living kids showed up 1-4 weeks "early," she likely would have actually been born in August, but Sept. 2 is still "her day" in my mind. We learned of her life around Christmas in 1994, a balm after 2 years of infertility. Noel Alexis, our "Christmas Minister of Needs," we love you and have been so amazed to watch God unfold the legacy of your life through Hannah's Prayer over these past 20 years.