This morning I found out Surgery No. 2 is imminent, thanks to my Endometriosis. The date will be sometime in September; I’ll know more in a few days. I met with my doctor today to discuss my ongoing symptoms and worsening pain. After a long talk and history, an a transvaginal ultrasound (OUCH), and another looooong talk in his office: he felt it’s time to peek under the hood. I knew going in today that the surgical option was likely it. I wish we could tell if it was present in other ways. But nope. My CT was normal. My US was normal. But, as you and I both know, it may not always show up on imaging studies. My symptom history is what convinced him:
- Painful sex with deep penetration
- Cramping after sex (sometimes for days)
- Bleeding after sex
- Right upper quadrant pain in my abdomen
- Pain in the middle of my lower abs
- Pain to the right of my belly button
- Pain above my belly button
- Pain when he pushed on those areas of my torso
- Waking up at night screaming because of the pain in my torso
- Examining my prior surgery photographs and seeing they line up with my present complaints of pain (diaphragm, liver).
- Extreme bloating after exertion
- Flare-ups after exertion
- A change in the quality of my life, once more.
My surgeon is also my gynecologist, so he is intimately familiar with my bits. And even better? I like him. And I trust him. And he believes in removing the disease, not just burning or scraping it away…but cutting it out. And he frequents many conferences about the disease (he just returned from an Endo conference in Russia). And he TEACHES robotic laparoscopic surgeries, so he really, really, really knows what he’s doing.
He will look in all the usual spots one finds Endo (pelvic region, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, pouch of douglas), but he’s also going to check my bowels, bladder, liver, and diaphragm. AND he’ll keep his eyes peeled everywhere else while he’s in there. If the lesions are back, I’ve no doubt he’ll find them. And if there’s no Endo present, he’ll still remove the adhesions/scar tissue.
And I cried like a baby in his office. A new nurse practitioner was also present, and she scrambled in search of a tissue box. It was kind of cute watching her through my tears as she tried to non-nonchalantly reach around his desk and bookshelves, only to come up empty handed. We talked about my fears:
- What if it’s all in my head?
- It’s not in your head. We’ve already confirmed you suffer from Endometriosis. Pain is not normal. And Endo can come back. You know this.
- What if you get in there and there’s no Endo?
- Then we’ll clean up your scar tissue. It’s the best case scenario, Lisa. It’d be good.
- I feel so stupid. Like a hypochondriac. Like a wussy.
- You’re not stupid. You’ve already been dealing with the pain for at least six months. You’ve suffered long enough already. It’s time to clean you up.
And, of course, his incredible support just made me cry harder. He knows about our support group and our blog. So he was wonderful when he said, “I know you know all of what I’m about to tell you, but I’m going to tell you anyway.” And proceeded to explain about Endometriosis’ return, how excision surgery is the “Golden Standard,” and how robotic surgery is usually the best choice. I absolutely love my doctor.
The DaVinci robotic surgery system is nifty. The surgeon sits at a console with controls (yes, a grown up gamer system!) and controls teeny-weeny-itty-bitty robotic hands to surgically cut out my Endometriosis lesions and free up scar tissue. He can also suture with the bitty arms. Wanna see something amazing? Watch this video of the robotic system skinning a grape….
Now watch this grape getting stitched back together by robotic-assisted surgery system…
So bear with me over the next few weeks as my emotions go up and down. I may clam up and turn hermit for a while. Or I may suffer from verbal diarrhea and you won’t be able to shut me up. I may sniffle at the slightest thing. Or may just stare out in space. I don’t have any fear of the surgery; it’s the recovery I dread. It’s incredibly painful. And after my surgery, don’t mind me if I cancel things on ya. It’s not that I don’t want to go, it’s that I can’t.
I know many of you reading this suffer from Endometriosis. And many of you know people who do. Continue to spread the word about it…I was 35 years old before I’d even heard of it, yet suffered from it most of my life. If you’ve never heard of it, 1 in 10 women suffer. And it’s incurable: they cut it out, it grows back, they cut it out again, it can grow back again. I made it two years since my first surgery before popping daily pain pills…here’s to hoping for a much longer remission this time around.
All in all, I’m doing okay. What started out as a tearful morning has turned into a kind of “get it over with already” resolve. I’m ready. And will let you know when my date is, once I receive word…