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What a pain! – Lisa’s story

I knew I had endometriosis as it had a laparoscopy that identified this in my mid thirties as part of infertility investigations. I tried ICSI once after that and paid privately but we were unsuccessful in having a baby. We carried on ‘leaving it up to nature’ for many years after that but nothing happened.

At the age of forty three we decided that we wouldn’t actively pursue my getting pregnant any more and put the idea to bed – my husband has a 17 yr old daughter from a previous marriage and she lives with us. Lovely girl, good relationship but not my own child. I had an IUD fitted – horrible, painful procedure and I felt awful. Periods were very heavy and becoming more debilitating.
At around this time I started to get a nagging pain in my right side. After being referred and MRI scans, etc., the IUD was removed and the scans showed my left ovary stuck to my bladder, my right to my bowel. No wonder I was in pain.

Through consultation, I agreed to a laparoscopy to try to free everything up and detach my ovaries from other organs. This went ahead in February 2016.

Waking up from surgery, I found I had a deep stitch on my left side (seriously restricted movement and very painful) as there had been some bleeding they couldn’t stop. I was then also told that when they’d ‘gone in’, they felt there was so much endometriosis that I really needed a full hysterectomy. They couldn’t do it there and then because I hadn’t had my bowel prepped and if during the op, they’d perforated my bowel, there’d have been serious complications and infection.

The recovery from the laparoscopy was fairly quick – 2-3 weeks. In the post op discussions I agreed to try 6 months of a medication called Zoladex. This injection, which is given once a month into the stomach (stings!), shuts down ovarian function and forces you into a false menopause. The purpose of taking this was to see if it would take away the ovarian pain that I had continued to experience. It worked BUT you can only be on it for six months otherwise it starts to damage your kidneys therefore it’s purpose was to mimic a hysterectomy and if it worked, help the consultant decide that a hysterectomy was the right way forward. So fast forward to February 2017…

6th Feb – Bowel prep – drinking 2 litres of a lemon flavoured drink over the period of a few hours and staying near a toilet to empty your bowel. A fairly unpleasant experience that I hope I never have to repeat.

7th Feb – total hysterectomy. I had an epidural – bizarrely, after everything I’d been through, that really panicked me! It was a bit painful but not horrific. I do think I’ve got quite high pain thresholds after everything. I went in at 10.30 a.m. and woke up on the ward at about 2.45 p.m.

The consultant described the operation as ‘challenging’ but he’s managed to take everything out without damaging any other organs and managed it all laparoscopically which was the best possible outcome I could have hoped for. He had inserted a stent into my urethra which I presume is to stay there. I had a catheter, canula delivering plasma into me and a drain running out of the right of my abdomen but I felt pretty good! I was in hospital for three nights, partially because my blood pressure was very low.

Once home, I stayed in bed for the first couple of days and then gradually and with help, had a shower and dressed. The first week was spent between sofa and bed although I wasn’t in a great deal of pain until I tried to empty my bowels. Codeine phosphate, anaesthetic and general immobility served to bung me up and as they’d obviously had to cut by ovary from my bowel, that area internally was sore. That settled down after about ten days.

It’s now 18 days since the surgery. I can spend about 20-30 mins on my feet in every three hours otherwise I ache internally and I scared myself when I started to bleed on Tuesday. This stopped after a day of rest. Because I’m not in pain, I can’t gauge what ‘too much activity’ is but my body is telling me to slow down. It has taken me aback just how little ‘too much’ is but I’m listening body, I’m listening.

The hormonal issues have started to rear their head and I’m getting regular hot flashes and my brain is a bit foggy. That could also be down to watching too much TV!

I found myself having a weep at 1.30 a.m. the other night for the baby I couldn’t have, something I wasn’t expecting to happen as I thought I’d dealt with those emotions but hey, who knows? I’m getting stronger, I know I’m going to feel better and not in any pain any more. It was the right decision for me.

Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational counsellor, coach and women's health advocate. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in change management, culture change and adoption of digital technologies in large enterprises and organisations. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

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