First week after Da Vinci Hysterectomy
I had a very hard time deciding when would be the best time to have a hysterectomy. Is there ever a good time??? No really. I am a solo-practitioner attorney and if I'm not there --- there is no revenue coming in. I still have to pay staff and overhead but no income stream. Time away from the office was my paramount issue. I had done much research into the recovery period from Hysterectomies and knew I could not be out for 4 to 6 weeks. Da Vinci seemed to be a blessing if all the promises of "less invasive" and "faster recovery time" was true.
I had been suffering with fibroids for the last 3 years. I mean really suffering. The bleeding was so bad that on my heavy days I had to wear an Extra-Super tampon with a heavy pad and dark pants. I kept extra panties and period supplies in my desk drawer for those "just in case" moments (which was each and every month). I had an ablation in the winter of 2006 that really helped control the bleeding but did absolutely nothing for the fibroid.
Everything went along fine until about Nov 2008, when the fibroid seemed to take on a life of it's own. Actually, what it had done (that I know now), is that it started feeding off the blood supply from my right ovary. My uterus went from a 12 week pregnancy to a 20 week pregnancy in 6 months. When I was laying down, you could feel this really hard bump on the right/middle side of my pelvis. This bump went up above my belly button. And around February 2009, it became more and more apparent that I could not just "ignore this fibroid away." The pain on my right side became absolutely unbelievable. But there was the issue of being off from my office. I just could not spend 4 weeks away from work. We'd go broke if I did!
In March the pain was really wearing me down physically and emotionally. I was living on alleve and motrin. My fibroid started having a period of its own, usually about 2 weeks after my regular period. It was clear that a hysterectomy was in my near future. I started really researching hysterectomies and found out about the Da Vinci machine. There was no Da Vinci surgeons in my area, so I had to find one either north or south of me. I called and interviewed lots of doctors. I finally settled on my Gyn that did the surgery. By May, my pre-op date was scheduled and my surgery was put on my calendar! Doc said, you need to take at least 1 week off. I said, I can manage that!
Surgery - day one: went to the hospital around 10am. Surgery was scheduled for noon. I was the 3rd Da Vinci hysterectomy my doctor was doing that day (good sign -- he does a lot of these). I was grouchy because I couldn't have my morning coffee. Pre-op was great. Got my IV started. Didn't have to wait too long before being moved to the surgical holding area. Met the anesthesiologist and they gave me so meds to make me sleepy. Right around noon I got rolled down to the Da Vinci surgical suite. Got to see the machine being draped before I was out.
Got to surgical recovery about 5 pm. My surgery took 4 hours because of the size of the fibroid. My fibroid/uterus HUGE. 700 gram (about a 1.5 lbs). Turns out that the fibroid had fused into the right ovary after hijacking its blood-supply. I had to have my right ovary removed to stop the bleeding. I kept my left ovary and my cervix. The pain was not bad, they had left one of those little marcaine balls in the incision sites. The post-op nurse brought me hot tea for my throat. They put in a catheter while I was under. I was fully awake by 9:00pm - and they took off my leg compression devices. I could sit up, roll over, and left my legs.
By 10pm, I put on my pj's, panties and a pad (with the catheter in place). The nurses were awesome and kept my pain very much under control. I brought my pillow from home so as soon as I could, I rolled on my side and dozed off. I finally got moved to my room about 1am (the hospital was at full capacity) and settled in. I was drinking and drinking and had an IV. For all of those that are worried: I absolutely LOVED my catheter! My roommate was really nice and very quiet. She had a hysterectomy 2 days before (a regular TAH).
Day 2 - at 7:00 am they came in and took my beloved catheter out. I begged them not to -- but they said it had to come out and I had to get up on my feet. Still no real pain but my belly felt that I had done 500 sit-ups. It was sore but not "painful." Really, you want me to walk around? Were they kidding. But within 30 minutes of that catheter coming out -- I had to pee. So my first walk was right to the bathroom! Ok, so I was up. It was about 8:30 the day after surgery and I was walking up and down the hallways. I couldn't believe I was on my feet and walking around. My IV's came out and the Gyn came in and said, "you ready to go home?" And I was out of the hospital by 9:30 and home by 10:30. Just 22 hours later and I'm on my way home. Most of the day, I just slept. It's true what they say about not getting any rest in the hospital. They came in every 2 hours for vital checks. The hardest part of day 2 was getting out of bed (sitting up). I just slept for the better part of day 2. My DH made me homemade chicken soup - and I started down my new and improved path!!!
Day 3 -- I'm up more, more awake, no pain. Very sore belly. No pelvic pain whatsoever. I don't have much bleeding at all. I think I've bled more from paper-cuts, really. I finally took my local pain medicine ball out. And I finally took shower. There is nothing like warm water on a weary body. I'm drinking a lot of tea and walking around the house as much as I can. I took my pain meds every 6 hours alternating Perocette and Motrin. Feeling stronger and less tired but still spending lots of time in bed just resting. I finally had a poop. I had been taking Mirilax and it was incredibly helpful. I was eating a regular diet and drinking lots of decaf tea and Gatoraid. Nap, eat, walk around, nap again, eat, walk some more... repeat. That was day 3.
Day 4- Wow, I feel better than I did ever with that humongeous fibroid. The pain from the fibroid is really gone. Gone! My worst day recovering from surgery was never as bad as my best day with that fibroid. The weekend right before surgery, I spent in bed with the heating pad, crying from the pain. The pain was constant and throbbing. Like cramps-XL!!!! I had put it off about a year longer than I should have! But here I am on day 4 after surgery, and I am walking around my back-yard, cleaning out the coffee-maker, moving laundry from the washer to the dryer. Basically just very little activities to get me moving around. I'm taking less pain medicine because I'm really not in pain. My stomach/belly is still sore. I have 5 small, 1-inch incisions that are dermabonded (glued not stitched) are starting to turn black-and-blue. They are tender but not painful. My husband says it looks like I came in 2nd in a knife fight, lol. The glue is a little sticky to the touch but otherwise pretty innocuous. I'm sleeping good at night, resting a lot during the day, but getting out of bed often.
Day 5- out for a little trip to Walmart. I have much more energy in the afternoon than in the morning. About 3:30 DH and I go to Walmart, more just to get out of the house than anything else. I also needed to get 2 new collars for 2 of my Standard Poodles. So while we were out, we went to a great store called "The Grateful Dog." I got two great collars and then after being out for an hour or two we came home. DH and dogs went swimming in the pool. I sat on the patio watching the action. I have pretty much stopped all the pain meds, except at night just before I go to sleep (because I get so stiff at night). I'm taking 2 ibuprofen every 6 hours. After pool time, we go in, cool off, and go out for dinner. By today, while I get a little tired -- I'm feeling GREAT!
Day 6 -- My swelly-belly is going down. My incisions are turning a yellowy-green. All systems are function again (pooping and peeing just like before the surgery). I woke up this morning without much stiffness in my belly area. Today I will be going into the office in the afternoon. If I had known that the recovery would be this smooth, I would have had this hysterectomy done a year ago. Really, the only thing holding me back from doing this sooner was my inability to take time off to recover! One week post surgery, and I feel really pretty good!
I can say honestly that having the Da Vinci surgery was the best decision that I made. I interviewed 5 docs before I settled on the one that I picked. Interview lots of docs if your Gyn doesn't do the procedure. Talk to other women. Get referrals from Hospitals that have the Di Vinci machine. Most hospitals now have referral phone numbers. Check the Da Vinci website and get phone numbers of docs that are listed. Make appointments to meet them. If you don't "click" with one of them, keep interviewing. Doctors are just like other "service providers," keep looking until you find a good fit!