Last Monday, at the hideous hour of 7.30am, I went into Ashford (Surrey) Hospital to have my partial oophorectomy, the removal of my left-hand ovary and the 8cm chocolate cyst that was attached to it and still growing.
The staff at Ashford were lovely (once I found the right department!). I was rapidly seen by the anaesthetist, the staff nurse and then the consultant, and then whisked off as the first patient of the day. I’m not sure how long the operation was, but I have a feeling I went to theatre about 9.30am, and when Kevin rang at find out how I was doing at 10.30am they said I was still in, and I didn’t come round till something like 12 noon, so it could easily have been a couple of hours.
If you want the full description, from my notes, I had:
Left salpingoophorectomy and bilateral ureterolysis, resection of endometriosis and both uterosacral ligaments.
A salpingoophorectomy is when they remove the Fallopian tube along with the ovary. A ureterolysis is “exposing the ureter in order to free it from external pressure or adhesions or to avoid injury to it during pelvic surgery”. And a resection is the “surgical removal of all or part of an organ, tissue, or structure.” The uterosacral ligaments are part of the uterus, “fibrous tissue and non-striped muscular fibers which are attached to the front of the sacrum and constitute the uterosacral ligaments.”
(I’m learning as much about this as you are at this point!)
The reason that the operation took so long was that they found a lot more endometriosis than anticipated. Not only did my left ovary have an endometrioma (cyst containing endometrial tissue, aka chocolate cyst), it was also adherent to the pelvic side wall (PSW). There was endometriosis on both the right and left PSW as well as under the right ovary, which was also stuck to the PSW. Both ureters were also “closely involved” with endometriosis. I suspect that doesn’t mean that they’ve been having romantic trysts and long, late-night telephone calls.
So that meant not only removing the ovary, Fallopian tube and cyst, but separating my ureters and right-hand ovary from the endometriosis and removing as much of the endometriosis as possible. I’ll learn more about the ramifications of this when I have my follow-up appointment in three months.
Interestingly, reading up on endometriosis again, one key symptom that I have that I hadn’t realised was related was lower back pain. The last two months especially have been hell on toast for pain in my lower back, and I had assumed it was because I had lost muscle tone due to doing less intensive workouts at the gym, and possibly also inadequate stretching. I now suspect that it was directly related to the endometriosis. Of the other types of pain that one can experience (some of which I had last year), I’ve thankfully not had any, so if this is restricted to just back pain going forward, well, I’ve had back problems my whole life so there’s nothing new there, and pain can be managed.
The last week has been spent napping, watching tennis, and occasionally checking Twitter and my email to make sure that nothing exciting is happening. My three small wounds are healing nicely, though it’s hard to explain to the cats that they can sit on my legs, or next to me, but mustn’t poke me in the stomach with their paws!
I now have an enormous bellybutton – the first incision is made through the bellybutton, then they inflate you with CO2 so that they can get a better view of proceedings. I left hospital blown up like the Hindenburg, though thankfully less flammable. The gas slowly dissipated, mostly through farts, I think, and I’m now back to my normal size, ignoring inflation due to chocolate.
I had hoped to be back at work, just part time, today, but a bad night’s sleep means I’m probably only good for two blog posts and then it’ll be more tennis and possibly some crochet. I’ve blocked out two weeks for recovery, but it will take as long as it takes. This morning I was reminded that it’s not just the external incisions that have to heal, but all the internal ones too. No picking things up for me for a while longer!
Kevin has been, yet again, fantastic in looking after me, for which I am incredibly grateful! I’m also very grateful to our friend Terry who drove us to and from the hospital, taking us just half an hour each way instead of the two hours that public transport demanded. (That’ll make the follow up appointment fun!)
And finally, I cannot emphasise enough just how fantastic the staff at Ashford were. Everyone was friendly, informative and helpful, especially when I was in recovery and at my most woozy. The kindness of the nurses was outstanding, and I was delighted when they called to see how I was doing the day after so that I could tell them just how brilliant they were.