No (undiagnosed) Pain, No Gain

In August, I had laparoscopic surgery to identify and remove my endometriosis—a one hour and fifteen minute surgery that I waited almost ten years to get.

I’ve spent the past few months with mixed emotions about the procedure. Prior to, I was having some difficulty with my mental health (understatement, I was having fairly persistent suicidal thoughts). I was in the most pain I’ve ever experienced. I was lethargic, angry and hostile. I was also scared. Pain had become a way to identify myself – almost like a hobby – for all of my adult life. What would happen if this was taken away from me? But also, what would happen if there was no apparent cause of the pain and it’s always been something I’ve imagined? I’m still very emotional (literally crying as a type lol) about the concept of undergoing ten years of extreme pain and a surgery to emerge with no solid diagnosis. This happens to so many women and the thought of this is heartbreaking.

For months before the surgery, I spent hours Googling what to expect, reading horror stories and tips on how to prepare. But there is an unsurprising lack of more recent and honest experience pieces out there, from women who’ve had endometrial laparoscopy. This inspired me to share my experience.

Day One:

Generally discouraging. Even minutes before the surgery, one of the surgeons and the anesthesiologist introduced themselves to me and added “this should be a pretty quick procedure; most patients don’t even have endometriosis anyways”. As if I hadn’t already been doubting myself for a decade. After the surgery, I was pretty disoriented and sore. I was sent home in two hours where I spent the evening napping, taking morphine and trying to fart.

My very large, round tummy, about 6 hours post-op. Three incisions were made (right and left sides and one running from the inside of my bellybutton down my stomach about and inch)

Day Two:

I felt amazing on day two. I walked almost 10,000 steps, got a coffee at my favourite shop and took a friend’s dog for a stroll. I was still taking Morphine and Naproxen, I had no abdominal strength and my incisions were still very tender, but I had endless energy. I wish I knew what was coming for me the following week.

Day Three, Four and Five:

I was very, very tired. Walking anywhere had me out of breath and achy. I had done too much on day two which made me even more sore, set me back. I was too eager to move my body and be more active—my body definitely didn’t cooperate as much as I’d hoped. I couldn’t go to the bathroom because my painkillers caused constipation. I was also scared of relying on morphine too much, so I started taking THC liquid gels before trying to nap.

Day Six:

I GOT MY PERIOD. HOW TRAUMATIZING.

Also, your first poop after surgery is bizarre. Blogs will tell you about the gas that becomes trapped in your shoulders or back, but none describe what it will be like to have a movement. It can be felt travelling from its’ conception through your bowel until it reaches the exit in one death grippingly uncomfortable move. The whole experience feels like it’s in slow motion.

Day Seven, Eight and Nine:

But really, inside my abdomen was essentially a large open wound that had been cut, poked, scraped and cauterized. Now this organ was contracting and it IS as painful as you think. Imagine being wrapped – snugly – in barbed wire and then set on fire. Or someone has mistaken you for a wooden beam, so they drill into your pelvis and throw you into the ocean to be eaten alive by sharks. Catch my drift? I would not wish a post-op period on my mortal enemies. I was attached to a heating pad and exclusively watched CSI Vegas Seasons 12-14.

Today:

It’s been almost two months since the surgery. The surgeons were able to identify endometriosis through my uterus, colon and ovaries. They were able to release my colon and ovaries from my abdominal wall, and my uterus from my colon. My (excellent and compassionate) gynecological specialist said that she UNDERSTANDS the pain I was in, she believes that we’re able to treat my endo at a critical time and is ready to work TOGETHER moving forward – in pain maintenance and fertility.

I still have pain; I have sharp pains when I ovulate and persistent aching when I menstruate. But they are manageable, and almost less debilitating now that I know it’s not all in my head. I know the reason for my pain, I know that I have someone in my corner ready to fight for me when I need it. Most importantly, I’m able to recognize how incredibly lucky I’ve been to reach a point where I’m on the path to recovery—as opposed to the battle of fighting to be heard. I cannot stress this enough: you are the only body you’ve got. If you feel that something isn’t right, fight until you find someone who will take your concerns seriously, and then fight some more until they do something about it.

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