My First Surgery Experience.

My first surgery – 14th April 2016.

So as some of you may know, my surgery was scheduled for the 21st April 2016. Due to a cancellation, it was moved forward to the 14th April, I literally found out 2 days before! Yikes!

What was the surgery?
The surgery was a laparoscopy. This is a type of keyhole surgery, in which surgeons use to help diagnose things (such as endometriosis, irrital bowel diseases etc). 

It includes being put asleep, being filled with gas from the bikini line, and a camera being inserted through the belly button. A simple procedure includes 2 incisions, but sometimes it can be up to 5, to get different angles on things. There are two types of endometriosis removal however during this procedure. Ablation – This removes the top layer of the endometriosis, allowing for it to grow back but will be slow (usually people need surgery within a year of eachother with ablation). This is usually performed by your Gyno, or one of his consultants. Then there is Excision – This goes to the roots and depths of the endometriosis, creating a more permanent removal, but is not a cure (usually people will need surgery within a few years of eachother with excision) This procedure is usually performed by an Endometriosis Specialist.

How did it go?
Well lets say I was seriously disappointed. I was told at my pre-op, I would have a specialist from their “endo” centre, who would be able to spot endometriosis clearly and remove it through excision (permanent removal) compared to a gyno who would only be able to do ablation (short term removal). I got there for 7am and was told the first surgery starts at 9am. I was also told my mother couldnt come in with me, while waiting. I found out this was a lie, as other girls my age were able to bring their mothers in, I really could of done with my mum being there, as I was quite emotional. 
Anyway, between 7am and 9am, you meet your surgeon, his team, anaesthetist, human resources and after care nurses. My surgeon seemed lovely, but there was something that screamed “confused” when he spoke to me. He wasnt a specialist or a gyno, he was a general surgeon. A GENERAL surgeon. He was planning to do a tonsil removal before me, then eye surgery after me. This did not make me confident. Also, it said in my notes “possible endometriosis, has a weak bladder and irregular and heavy cycle” he read this, and then asked “so are you here today to check your bowel?” It seemed quite dosy to me that he asked this. Nevermind what I find out after surgery. Also, his exact words to me were “I can only WASTE half an hour on your surgery, as I have other surgeries to do. So if I do find something, no matter how severe, I will not be able to remove it in that time.” I think this is major neglet, what if i had stage 4 endometriosis? What if there was something extremely serious? I was majorly lacking confidence at this point. My anxiety was high.

So, as Im a needle-phobe and asthmatic, I was to go second after a diabetic girl who was getting tonsils removed (diabetics get priority.) I was quite happy about this as it meant I would be home quicker. I went into surgery at 10:30am. The anaesthetist was lovely. He understood my fear of a canulla, and told me he would give me a children’s needle, make sure i have my inhaler before hand, gave me oxygen the minute i walked in, and held my hand when the needle was inserted. He was amazing, I wish i remembered his name to recommend him. Anyway, that was the last thing i remembered before I was knocked out.
11:30am – I woke up. Surrounded by nurses, with a IV and my oxygen mask on. I was so confused and tired. The nurses asked me what I was on the pain scale (1-dreadful, 10-perfect). I was a 100% 1. I was given alot of morphine at that moment, once I was around a 4, I was wheeled to the ward. I felt as if i was “full” my stomach hurt, and i felt extremely uncomfortable (especially the fact i went into surgery with underwear on, and woke up with it off!) Anyway i was forced to eat some toast, even though i really didn’t want to. I swigged a large amount of water, due to having oxygen for a long time, my mouth and throat were extremely dry (during surgery, the mask turned into a tube down my throat so of course i was dry.) The girl who also had a laparoscopy was wheeled in next to be within the next half an hour. She told me the surgeon told her, he didnt even know what endometriosis looked like, as hes not a gyno but just a normal surgeon. This made me so scared to see what he found, or if he did find anything. I didnt want to be made out to look like a liar, as ive been judged for the last 2 years.
So after 2 hours, the surgeon came to see us. He told me he didn’t see any type of growth that could of been endometriosis (am i surprised?) but that doesn’t mean I dont have it. He also saw I have a “largly dilated bowel.” And then went on to talk to the next person. I was still drugged up on anaesthetic and morphine so it just made me even more confused than before. What did he mean? Is it serious? Moreover, I was the last person to leave the ward. I had no phone, and they expected me to contact my mum even though I was completely out of it. Before I could go I had to go for a wee. (TMI) I stood up, and there was blood all across the bed, apparently this is normal for 24 hours, so I just ignored it. I could barely walk (normal) but got to the toilet. I was stuck on the toilet for 45 minutes. 45 MINUTES! I got told if this continues to happen after a week there is a problem (update: 2 weeks later it is still happening). And I got walked out to my mum and boyfriend. Gosh I was so emotional, I just wanted to sleep.
So over the past 2 weeks, nothing has gone right. The average time for recovery is:

3 days to walk.
1 week to go back to school/college/work.
3 weeks till full recovery (depending on your BMI) can be up to 6 weeks.
I was told due to my height, I may recover abit slower (im alot smaller than the average height) and due to being extremely sensitive. But I never thought it would be this bad. It still takes me 45 minutes to wee, making me feel paralysed. I can stand up for about 5 minutes, I get tired so easily with the slightest of movement, Ive lost all sense of appetite, Im extremely emotional and Im still bleeding. 
Do I regret surgery? Yes. But this is not the case for everyone. Alot of people have a good experience with this type of surgery. Just I did not, and it’s due to the lack of education in the surgeon especially, and the fact something must of went wrong with the surgery as I feel worse than I did before.

Do you have a laparoscopy coming up? 
Before my lap, I asked some advice from people I knew who had this surgery done previously and they gave me some advice, and some things in which to have with me during my time in hospital, and after.  I took a dressing gown (this would be as I had a hospital gown on, I didnt want people to see my behind), some slippers (these you dont really need as the hospital provide you with surgical socks), magazines (the waiting time was up to 2-3 hours, although I was basically waiting for an hour, a magazine did help), a cute hospital bag (to store stuff in, like pyjamas, clothes i would go home in etc, incase i stayed in I brought my typical daily stuff) then for when I got home, my mum bought me loads of food (typically dry food as I had a bloated stomach, but I chanced some 7up due to be completely drowsy, and lack of sugar in my system.), my 3DS (Animal Crossing keeps me distracted okay?), a medication bag (I was given one by the hospital, but you can buy some cute little pencil cases/bags from H&M to store them in)

Various Magazines and Puzzle Books for Waiting.

Slippings – Extremely Comfy – Matalan – £3

Hospital Bag – Primark – £10

Animal Crossing New Leaf and Happy Homes Designer
White Thin Dressing Gown with Fluff Lining on the Inside – Matalan –  £10

I never recieved any after-care after my surgery except a bag of very strong painkillers, so I rather someone get the tips I got afterwards, before.

Before/Just after Surgery:
1. Be sure to meet your surgeon. You should meet him/her and the rest of the surgery team before hand but sometimes the surgeon may be off somewhere preparing, always ask to meet him. It can help calm your nerves and be sure he’s professional.
2. If you have any fears/phobias, tell one of the nurses you see. They will write it down, and then you will see your chaperone/anaesthetist. A chaperone is someone who will stay with you during the surgery at all times (mine was my anaesthetist aswell!). They can be sure you’re as comfortable as possible the whole way through the procedure, and during the ward process. 
3. Try and get someone to stay with you. I was told my mum wasnt allowed to stay with me, but others were told they could. This made me seriously panic. So always check if you take someone with you, they can be with you right up until surgery.
4. Once you are out, they will ask you, what number you are on the painscale. No matter what, if you feel fine, say you’re the lowest and in alot of pain. This will result on morphine, although you may not feel you are in pain, the morphine can help you relax incase you do eventually feel pain.
5. You MUST eat,drink,walk and wee before being discharged. If you feel lightheaded/dizzy/extremely sick, tell a nurse, you will not be discharged if you do not feel right. 
6. Before going home, ask questions. The nurses will be busy attending to others who would of just been brought in from the operating room, but there are always nurses on hand to walk you out, so you can always ask them.
7. Bring clothes that are loose and comfortable. I myself, just brought pyjamas and walked out in them. They were elasticated and comfy. Why would anyone suffer without pyjamas?

For at home:

1. Do NOT lay flat once home. It will be a pain in the bum getting up, you will need help getting up whether youre flat or not, but it alot more hassle, as you are using your abs when getting up. For atleast a week, try to lay with atleast 4/5 pillows (I myself had 8 pillows but each to their own!), Then try and have one on your stomach, this seems to help I had no idea why! You may have to buy spare pillows or use some, but it’s worth it.
2. Do not worry about being emotional afterwards, it can take between 24-48 hours for the anaesthetic to leave your system (even though my boyfriend always says it lasted a week to wear off for me…I have a hormone imbalance the idiot!)
3. Stick to plain food afterwards, your stomach is already bloated, you don’t want to aggrevated. My personal favourite is plain chicken strips (Asda’s Own) with boiled rice. Try not to have anything greasy or seasoned foods, atleast until your bloating has gone down, or 3/4 days after.
4. You will have issues during the first 24 hours (dry throat, back/shoulder pain, insomnia, bladder issues, bowel issues). Do not panic. It can take up to 5 days before your bowel empties due to all the gas, this is normal. It can take 24 hours for your bladder to not be in shock from all the movement, and the pain you’re getting is normal as the anaesthetic wears off. If these sort of things happens a little over a week, go see your GP. I myself now have an infection and have to be referred to a gastro and urologist specialist, because something has gone wrong during the surgery, and I have to be seen to (never mind this is after 3 weeks!). Also it is very likely you will get dissolvable stitches (this means they are inside of you, and come out naturally). Sometimes the body has a reaction to them and can cause problems, Be sure to get checked if you have any abdnormal pains/feelings.
5. The average timings of recovery: 2/3 hours = Walk. 3-7 days = Go back to school/college/work. 3 weeks = Feeling completely yourself again. 6 weeks = Scar should develop. How ever everyone is different, as for myself it’s been nearly a month since, and I dont feel any better or recovered.

6. Be greatful for the people you’ll have around you. You can’t be alone for atleast 24 hours, but I’d say at most 4 days, as it can be tiring doing things for yourself. My boyfriend and mum helped me alot, cooked me food, changed my clothes and dressings for me, and Im not going to lie, I was very emotional and frustrated at myself for going through with the surgery so I was always angry but I appreciated what they did for me.

So I hope that’s helpful. I ended up writing this like a month later after my surgery as I’ve been constantly tired, and my recovery has took alot longer as you guys know! I hope you enjoyed reading! Have any questions? Dont hesitate to contact me!

– Amylou

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Last Updated: 16/05/2016

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