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My experience with laparoscopic surgery

[2]That was my view last Wednesday as I was wheeled to pre-op before I spent 3 hours in surgery having 2 liters drained from a mystery cyst on my liver.

I had my thank you note and tape and a box of doughnuts to share. And I had my brave face on.

I’ll back up a bit…

Back in October I started having heartburn and reflux and intended to get it looked at, but trips and life kept getting in the way. In December I noticed my clothes were getting tight and called my husband into the closet one Friday night as I was getting ready to go out with him.

“Do you think I look pregnant?” I asked. I quickly explained that I knew I was not, but asked his opinion.

“Umm, Amy,” He began, “I have thought that for a few days now.”

Poor guy! How can a sweet husband tell his wife she is looking a little pregnant without fear of repercussion!?

We decided to go ahead and go out for the night and the next morning I called a doctor. She told me to call her again Monday morning as she would find an appropriate doctor to see me.

That doctor ordered blood tests and an ultrasound and, after that, a CT Scan was ordered, as well.

The radiologist told me I had a cyst on my liver that would need to be removed or drained. It being Christmastime, the suggested surgeon was on vacation so I sat and waited a week into January when I finally met the surgeon and scheduled surgery. In addition to being a liver surgeon, he was also a oncology surgeon, which I confess was a bit unsettling and reassuring at the same time.

My husband and I were told it was most likely nothing to be worried about, but that after surgery the cyst would be sent to pathology.

Before our meeting with the surgeon we didn’t share much about the surgery with many of our friends because, well, we really didn’t know what to share. Once the surgery date was set, we shared here and there, but didn’t tell too many people because we didn’t want to alarm anyone.

Well, surgery happened last week and, as far as I can tell, it all went quite well.

I’m not sure if I ever realized how serious the whole surgery thing was. I was so fixated on getting things done before surgery that I didn’t let myself dwell on that act of surgery much.

When I was led to my room to change into a gown and have blood drawn and noticed the IV holder things in the ceiling, I started to think about what was to happen and the potential seriousness of it all. But I didn’t let myself go too far.

We waited and waited and then I was wheeled to Pre-Op. There the surgeon asked me if I was ready, as did the anesthesiologist. I told them both that all I was going to do was lay there and that I hoped they were ready. I asked if they had seen my thank you note and asked they share it with others. One doctor taped it onto my chart.

“I saw you on TV last night,” the surgeon said.

Houston’s NBC affiliate aired a story on mom bloggers [3] the night before surgery. They aired a follow up piece [4] with more information the next day, the morning of surgery.

“They aired another story this morning,” I said. “Did you see that one?”

“I was probably working,” he said.

And then I realized even more how nervous I was. I told my husband that the surgeon must have thought I was so arrogant going on about being on TV, but that I had a lot of nervous energy.

“It’s okay, Amy,” he said.

Then the doctors came back and explained that I would have a breathing tube inserted once I was sedated. I was shaken to reality again. I just hadn’t thought that much about it. A breathing tube sounded serious.

I distracted myself by wondering what stupid things I might say  before I was asleep. Then a doctor who looked just like a guy I dated in college introduced himself to me. Then I really began to worry what I might say before I was asleep!

“Where else do you want to go on vacation?” I asked my husband, hoping to think about that for awhile. I figured if I talked about that before being drugged, I might share silly vacation stories which couldn’t be too embarrassing.

I remember them telling me it was time and I remember waving goodbye to my husband. Next I remember being amazed at how big the operating room was and commenting on all the equipment and lights. I wiggled from my bed onto the table and the next thing I knew I was in a different room and someone told me he was going to give me an X-Ray.

I remember saying “Right here?! How cool is that?!” and then fell into a fog again.

Then I remember there being some discussion as to why my main line was still in and the surgeon sounding a bit stern.

I had no idea what they were talking about at the time, but have since found out it was a line in my vein on my neck. I have all sorts of holes there. I wonder if I look very Twilight. (I’ve never read the books or seen the movies.)

I found out that the surgery had indeed been laparoscopic, as had been hoped, and all went well.

I remember that the kind woman who tended to me in recovery listened to me babble on about something for awhile. I can’t remember what I was telling her, but I remember thinking that she was being so nice to just listen.

After awhile they moved me to a regular hospital room and I announced my arrival in the wing by spitting up. I was not so proud of my first impression and also felt bad that that was the first thing my husband saw of me after recovery. Nice.

I spent one night and the next day in the hospital and then came home.  Rather than bring the kids to the hospital, I waited to see them at home. My boys were interested in seeing my incisions, my daughter opted not to look.

I’ve been recovering pretty well at home, but I’m ready to be myself again.

I’m still a bit groggy and sore here and there and one of my arms has a dull pain that seems to move around from my wrist to my shoulder, but I am told that could just be the gas from the laparoscopy trying to escape. (I’d like for it to escape.)

That’s about it for now. Just waiting to get better. And trying not to get frustrated about not getting much done.

But being ever so thankful for a successful, event-free surgery and recovery.


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