And then there was one … ovary

Well, that was interesting.

This whole thing ended up with me getting a referral to a gynecologic oncologist, who examined me and recommended that I get surgery to remove the endometrioma, which had grown to 10 centimeters by the time I met with him. He did not feel strongly that the uterine fibroids had to go too, but he was fairly adamant that the cyst needed to go quickly, or else I’d risk it rupturing.

So, I scheduled a laparoscopic procedure for the end of August.

I bathed in antibacterial shower scrub the night before and the morning of surgery, donned brand new fat pants, wore my glasses (no contacts allowed), had Richard be my chauffeur, met my parents at the hospital, forked over a grand to get through the doors, and waited for them to call me back.

They did pretty much right on time, and my crew and I trekked to the surgical waiting room, where I gave out hugs and goodbyes and wished Richard well, as he and my parents were going to be hanging out for a few hours together.

Back in the first waiting area, I stripped down and put on a paper gown that was lined with little places that would balloon up with warm air. I laid on a gurney and waited while the surgical prep folks got ready for me. They started giving me medications — antibiotics, anti-nausea, etc. — and asked me to lie down and relax. Finally it was time to take me back to the pre-op area. I had to hand over my glasses, so from that point on I couldn’t really see anything, which is a super bummer, because the whole process is completely fascinating.

I took a trip down some twisting hallways on the gurney, still totally awake and aware. They parked me in some kind of staging area, where there were several other people parked, too, waiting on their number to be called. A team of people descended on me, one or two at a time, and hooked me up to an IV. The anesthesiologist’s assistant guy wore a big gold watch and was cracking wise with me. I couldn’t see anyone’s face, which was disorienting. Watch guy asked me if I was freaking out, and whether I was ready for the relaxation drugs. I said sure, whatever. I had a pretty calm head about me at the time because I felt like I was in pretty good hands, but I didn’t put up a fight about the drugs either. So he pushed something through my IV and in a few seconds I definitely felt it. I was suddenly super chill, and they were pumping warm air into my weird puffed-up gown. There was a lot happening around me with four or so people doing stuff on either side of me and me just sort of lying there, unable to see anything. (Being very near-sighted sucks for lots of reasons, but it’s an extra kick in the groin to not be able to watch what’s happening around you in this setting.)

Then it was go time. They wheeled me into the operating room, and I was feeling pretty good from the drugs. I remember it being so cold in there. The crew loading me into the room asked me to help scoot myself from the gurney onto the operating table, and I complied as best I could, even though maneuvering in my weird puffy gown with my IV dangling around my arm was awkward. I remember getting onto the operating table and looking up and trying to make out the huge and complex lights above the table. And then I was out. I don’t remember counting.

When I woke up I was in recovery. Someone was speaking to me and I don’t remember what they said. I remember being in a room with many other beds. I remember waking up and feeling pain and not realizing it was pain at first. It took me a few minutes for my brain to understand how intense the pain was. I was in a fog and it hurt so bad to breathe. I remember hearing someone moaning in pain. Maybe it was me, maybe not. I remember lying there for a while in pain, thinking it would go away on its own, but every time I breathed or moved or coughed, which I felt the need to do (having been intubated), there was this searing abdominal pain across the middle of my torso, just under my lungs. I recall having to work up the strength and stamina to summon someone to tell them I was in pain. They must have upped my medicine then because I relaxed and it didn’t hurt so badly to breathe, although I was careful to not move too much.

They let me lie there for what seemed like a long time, until finally Richard got to come back to bring me my clothes. I reached down and realized my gown was hiked all the way up to my armpits. I had been lying there thinking I was naked. Weird. Richard’s task was to get me to the bathroom and make sure I peed before I could get dressed and go home. I was totally out of it but I peed and I think he let me have a drink of his soda or something.

They put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me to the curb while Richard went to get the car to retrieve me. The ride home I felt pukey and sleepy.

I went straight to bed and stayed there with intermittent breaks for a few days. Breathing was excruciating. It felt like someone had gone in and pummeled my diaphragm and lungs and for about two or three days, taking in air was so painful and I was hoarse and could barely talk from the intubation.

So, what they did:

They went in through my belly button and puffed my belly up full of gas to get my skin away from my organs. A robot, controlled by my surgeon, put a bag around the endometrioma and proceeded to drain it. Then they extracted it through my belly button.

A ROBOT, Y’ALL.

They tested the tissue for cancer during the surgery and came up negative. (An in-depth lab showed negative later as well.)

Then the doc zapped a few spots of endometriosis for good measure.

They stitched up my belly button from the inside and then glued my belly button together on the outside.

For a week I just wanted to sleep. Getting up out of bed and going from lying to sitting to standing was painful. I haven’t been able to lift things. But I feel good now. It’s incredible how they were able to do the procedure through one incision that you can’t really even see (although my belly button is all bruised to hell and weird looking right now).

My follow-up appointment went well and I seem to be making a full recovery.

Having one ovary shouldn’t really adversely affect my fertility or hormones, which is pretty amazing.

I’m so grateful everything went well and I’ve had such a good recovery.