Monday, 28 March 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

"The best laid schemes of mice and men, oft go awry." ~ Robert Burns

Well after the last post you may, or may not, be wondering how training is going.  Well as the saying above indicates, things didn't quite go as planned.

To be honest, I wondered if I would blog about this, because it's quite personal.  But hey, I've blogged about getting a colonoscopy and a colposcopy, so why not what's going on now?!  Besides, I'm hoping this may help someone out there.

I had planned to train for the race.  In fact, I was getting pretty excited about my training program.  Then I was struck with some migraines.  So I followed the advice of my acupuncturist and put my training off for a week or so.  The race was far enough away that I wasn't worried.  

It was Friday, a couple of weeks ago and I was driving out to the parental units home.  Training was to start next Monday, but before that I wanted to help them prepare for the big house move.  I felt totally normal that day, but for some reason when I was about 20 minutes from their place I started to feel some pain low down in my abdomen.  It felt like menstrual cramps, but I wasn't expecting anything for a week and a bit.  So then I thought, huh, maybe my seatbelt is bugging me?  As the pain increased I thought maybe I have to use the loo??

I called my Mom and asked if her and Dad wanted to meet me outside their place and I'd drive them to dinner.  By now I thought maybe I was just hungry for dinner.  Really hungry.  The pains were intensifying.  We got to the restaurant, a sushi place of course, but it was really busy so I suggested we do take away.  By now I wasn't sure if I would be able to stand for a while.  The wait was going to be about 20 minutes so we left Dad there and we walked over to the grocery store to pick up dessert.

In the store I started to feel nauseous.  And clammy. And dizzy.  Then the pain went up a notch.  I said to Mom that something wasn't right and I was going to sit back in the car till Dad got the food.  We finally got our dinner and I drove the folks back home, by now having my breathe sucked in now and then because of these shots of pain going through my abdomen.  Thankfully it was a really short drive to the house.  When we walked in I folded over and headed to the couch.  Mom said I should maybe lay down upstairs so I crawled up there.

I was starting to get scared.  I have a really high tolerance for pain.  Mom knows this.  So when she came to check on me a few minutes after I went upstairs and found my crying and curled in the fetal position, her worry level went up a few notches.  She called one of her friends, who is a retired nurse, that lives down the street.  She knew the I was in good health and told my Mom to get me in the car and to swing by and pick her up...we were off to the hospital.

I sat in the waiting room for about 4 hours - not bad considering.  I was folded in half in the chair most of that time.  The only thing that stifled my crying was hearing a very high pitched, hysterical male voice say 'I need help NOW! I just had surgery yesterday and I have blown a stitch, my testicle is bleeding!! I am bleeding like a stuck pig!  You need to get me a doctor NOW!!!'

Sorry boys, but I couldn't help but laugh.  It was the level of hysterics in his voice that got me.  I looked up at my mom, I was still folded in half at this point, and said, 'I bet he is in and out of here within the hour.  Heaven forbid we ignore a bleeding testicle...'.   She and her friend were also giggling at this point.  Let's face it, all the women were.   Heck, I had stabbing pains that sucked my breath in and had me in tears, but I still managed to keep my voice low as I gave my information.   For the record, he was in and out of there within an hour.   He, and his girlfriend that had accompanied him and who was also yelling, were in a much calmer state.  Although his track pants had a much larger 'package' in the front.  Ice pack??

But back to the story at hand.  I was admitted into the emergency room about midnight.  The doctor said he suspected appendicitis and told my Mom that I would be there all night.  I sent her and her friend home.  No need for them not to get some sleep.

I somehow lucked out and had my own room in the emergency.  I'm sure I wasn't being whiny, but for some reason I got the 'baby room'.  Hmmm, did this mean I was a big baby, or is that just the room?? It's a small hospital so they didn't have a lot of beds in emergency, so I'll go with the fact that I just lucked out and got that room because they had no other areas for me.  My room had some very funky paintings on the wall....a googly eyed giraffe that stared down at me all night.  And a bright purple hippopotamus that I loved.

 This little guy watched over me during the night.  

My purple hippopotamus, and lovely IV bag. 

I was given a hospital gown that, of course, did not cover the back end, some fanatastically heated flannel blankets, an IV and a shot of morphine, then pretty much left alone after the Doc made his initial diagnosis.  The morphine didn't help, but being able to lie down as heavenly.

At about 2:30 am I was wheeled down the hall to get a CT scan. Okay, here we go.  Maybe my appendix is ready to go?  Still, the pain seemed lower down then that.  My suspicions were confirmed at about 3:30 am.  It's a good thing I wasn't able to sleep that night cause I'd be ticked being woken up so often!

The doctor came in looking quite serious.  He said to me, 'The good news is your appendix is fine.'  Uhm, ok, then what the heck is going on??  Then he said, 'You have a fibroid in your uterus, and it's the size of a grapefruit.'

My mind started to work.  I said 'Well, I was told about 14 years ago that I had a fibroid, but they told me it was something I didn't have to worry about....  Why is it so big?  Why did it start to hurt so intensely out of the blue??'   He explained that the fibroid had grown so big it was unable to get blood so it was bleeding into itself and that was what caused the pain.  My first thought at this point was of the film 'Alien' and how that guy ended up having the spidery thing come out of him.  Ugh.  I focused on Mr. Giraffe at this point.

The doctor then asked me if I planned on having kids.  I knew at this point that things were pretty serious and that this wasn't going to just go away.  I explained that I wasn't planning on kids, that I loved my role as 'Favourite Auntie' to some of my friends kids.  He said that I would be there till the morning and then the Ob/Gyn doctor would come in and talk to me.  They weren't going to give me any food in case I got rushed into surgery.  I hadn't eaten since 2:00 pm the day before so was really craving the sushi we got for take away.

The morning came and with it my Mom returned.  My Dad was with my cousins helping clear some of the things out of the house.  This is what I was supposed to be helping with and I felt guilty I wasn't there.  About noon the Ob/Gyn came in.  He said that I must have been important because they don't always do CT scans in the middle of the night.  He'd reviewed my file and confirmed what the emergency room doctor said.  Then he asked me about the kid thing.  A few times.

He said although the fibroid had been there for some time, we didn't know when it chose to grow.  And if had grown rapidly in the last while, that would be a bad sign.  Another bad sign was that it was bleeding into itself and it needed to be removed.  He said there were three options....the first two I through out immediately because a) the complications that could happen, b) the pain that would be incurred, and c) one didn't remove the fibroid but tried to shrink it.

That left the last option, a total hysterectomy.  This would involve removing my uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes.  My ovaries would be left so I wouldn't be tossed into full blown menopause, which would have it's own complications.  Because my uterus was the size of a woman's 4.5 months pregnant, they would have to go in through my abdomen.  This is where I started to get scared.

How long would I need for recovery?  Could I work out?  I have a race?  What about my job?  He explained that I would need six weeks recovery, that I couldn't work out, and my race was not an option.  My job he said, I would have to explain to my boss and he would provide a letter explaining things.

I was to see him the following week with my decision.  Not that there was much to decide.  I mean I friggin hurt - I had to do something.  Not having kids wasn't a huge problem, but I did let it sink in that if for some strange reason I changed my mind, there would be no possibility.  I was okay with that.  The recovery period and my future ability to exercise was what scared me the most.  For a period longer than six weeks I would have to be concerned about an incisional hernia, not to mention I may never be able to regain the core strength that I had worked so hard for.  When would I be able to run again??  What about hiking? Snowshoeing?  Ugh.

I went to visit the doctor the following week and discussed the surgery.  I was booked into the hospital for surgery the following week.  In between that time I started to make arrangements. I cancelled my race.  I told my work. I made sure my diet was super clean so I could prepare my body for the trauma and healing that was to follow,  I cried and was scared.  The funny thing is I really couldn't pinpoint why I was so scared.  Was it being 'put to sleep'?  Having someone slice into me and removing bits and pieces of my body??

Last week I had the surgery, it was successful and I'm now in recovery mode.  It's been a rough adjustment, but that's a story for another day.

Why I wanted to write about this is because I'm a healthy person, I'm a veggie girl who eats whole foods.  I work out.  I look after myself.  I was told that I had a uterine fibroid and that it was nothing to worry about.  That it may cause problems if I wanted to conceive, but that's all.  I wasn't told to monitor it.  I have had a few doctors over the years and I always went in for my annual physicals.  No one said anything about it.

Within an hour I went from feeling peachy keen to being folded over, crying and dealing with severe pain.  Within a day I would learn I had to have surgery to remove this thing and because it was so large, they would have to go through my abdomen.  I would then have to do nothing for six weeks.  

I wanted other women to know that they should follow up if they find out they have a fibroid, don't just ignore it.  Ask the doctor how often you should follow up with it.  They can do ultrasound to monitor it. They don't always grow, and they don't always need to be removed, so you don't have to panic, but you don't want to get caught like I was.  I am thankful I didn't have dreams of becoming a Mom, because then hearing I couldn't because of this would have been one tough blow.

Be proactive. Ask questions.

Peace out my wonderful healthy.