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Shashi's Journal
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Laser surgery 05-26-2007 - 03:37 PM
Well, I had my laser vaporization surgery May 9, 2007 for the vaginal carcinoma in situ. It wasn't too bad at all, especially since I slept right through it.

The recovery has been great - I haven't had any pain at all and no bleeding either. Honestly, I'd never know that I had anything done.

I'm hoping though that this takes care of the problem and that the cancerous cells don't return. I had my follow-up appointment on Monday and the oncologist told me that everything looked like it was healing fine. He said that I'd need to return in three months for another Pap and then three months after that, we'd do another colposcopy, just to take a look and be sure that everything was still okay.

I did tell him about the ovarian cyst that was on the ultrasound report I just got a copy of from last May. At that time, the cyst was 6 cm and was classified as a complex cyst. No follow up was ever done though (nor was there any mention ever made to me of the tumor in my kidney that was found on the same ultrasound or that my liver was enlarged at that time. What the heck is up with these doctors?)

Anyway, the oncologist said that the cyst should have definitely been followed up, especially since I'm still having that dull, achy pain from it. He ordered an ultrasound, which was done yesterday. The cyst is still there (after a year and a half!) It's 4 cm now and still has irregular borders, though it doesn't look like there's anything in it other than fluid. I'll know more when I talk to the doctor on Tuesday about it.

My DH and I have an appointment with our new internal medicine doctor on Wednesday. I'm going to ask about following up on the kidney tumor and the enlarged liver and elevated liver enzymes then. Hopefully, he'll be more proactive than our last doctor, who didn't seem to give a hoot.
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My battle with dysplasia/CIS 04-20-2007 - 01:16 PM
May 2005: First abnormal Pap - results are ACS-US. Told to have repeat Pap in one month, but my mother became seriously ill in June and passed away in August, and I didn't get a chance to have the test done until after her death.

August 2005: Recheck of Pap - results are still ACS-US. HPV test done and shows one or more of the cancer-causing strains.

September 2005: First colposcopy and biopsy - results show three lesions on vaginal cuff - VaIN 2 and 3. Scheduled for laser surgery at that time, but due to other circumstances, surgery canceled (my fault, not the doctor's.) My gyn told me at that time that my body's immune system may clear the dysplasia itself and that we would wait and see. For some reason, he told also told me it was not pre-cancer and did not seem concerned. (I think he was just a tad over-optimistic!)

November 2005: I requested a referral to an oncologist because I wanted a second opinion on the dysplasia and because of a small tumor that had been found on ultrasound on the internal side of my vaginal cuff (which turns out to be just a fibroid.)

January 2005: Appointment with gyn oncologist. Another colposcopy and biopsy done which comes back negative (though the doctor admitted that the tissue samples may have been too small for analysis.) He recommended that I should follow up with another Pap in 3 months with my regular gyn.

May 2006: Went back to my regular gyn. Another Pap with ACS-US results. Another colposcopy a few weeks later, but gyn did not find any areas to biopsy.

August 2006: First normal Pap in a year.

December 2006: Pap test shows LSIL, a grade worse than my previous Pap tests.

February 2007: Had another colposcopy and biopsy which shows two areas of severe dysplasia/carcinoma in situ (cancer which hasn't spread yet) in the same location as the biopsies taken in September 2005. Gyn referred me to a different oncologist than the one I saw last year. (But he again told me that it's not cancer or even pre-cancer. However, that's not what the oncologist said!)

March 2007: First appointment with oncologist. History taken at that time. Another colposcopy done to determine the extent of the lesions. Laser vaporization surgery scheduled for May 9.
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Pap tests after hysterectomy? 12-20-2005 - 09:27 PM
Have you wondered if you really need a Pap test after a hysterectomy? Let me tell you my story and you decide.

I had my family physician tell me that I would never need another Pap test because I had my cervix removed when I had my hysterectomy May 23, 2002 and I had never had a bad Pap. I thought he must know what he was talking about, so I went for almost four years without a Pap test.

I switched doctors the beginning of 2005, and in May 2005, during my annual physical, she recommended that I go ahead and have a Pap. It came back with abnormal cells (ASC-US). It was thought at that time that I had a bacterial infection which was causing this result, so I was given an antibiotic and told to repeat the Pap in a month.

Well, due to my mom's illness and death, I didn't get the repeat Pap until August 2005. It again came back with a finding of ASC-US. My doctor requested an HPV test, which came back positive for one or more of the viral strain which causes cervical cancer.

(HPV is a very common sexually transmitted viral infection which can occur in 80% of all sexually active people at some time during their life. There are over 100 strains of the virus, some of which can cause genital warts, but others, like what I have, which cause cervical cancer. And the virus can lie dormant for years before causing problems.)

I was then sent to a specialist for a colposcopy, which came back with a finding of moderate to severe dysplasia on three different biopsied areas. Dysplasia is changes in the cells and severe dysplasia is the stage right before invasive cancer.

Usually the treatment for dysplasia is a hysterectomy, but I've already had one. Since I no longer have a cervix, laser vaporization surgery is usually necessary. However, my doctor feels that all the abnormal tissue was removed during my colposcopy and that my body has cleared itself of the HPV, so the laser surgery was unnecessary in my case.

My last Pap test and colposcopy in August of 2006 was normal. I still have to have repeat Pap tests every three months to be sure the abnormal cells do not return. Hopefully, I won't have any further problems, but there is always a chance of reoccurance, especially since the cell changes were caused by HPV, which can lie dormat for years.

If I had listened to my first doctor, I would never have had another Pap and the abnormal cells may have never have been caught in time. My life could have been in danger just because this doctor told me that I didn't need another Pap test ever again! Needless to say, I am now a firm believer in Paps after hysterectomy! (And will now be having one every three months for awhile.) My gyn told me since there is no clear dividing line between the cervical cells and the vagina, there are always some cells left, so that's why it is so important.

Please, do yourself a favor and get the Pap tests anyway. It's not that big of a deal to have done, but it could save your life.

*UPDATE 4/20/07

My Pap test in December 2006 came back abnormal again, this time a level worse than ASCUS. A colposcopy in February diagnosed VAIN 3/CIS (carcinoma in situ - cancer which hasn't spread yet.) I'm currently scheduled for laser vaporization surgery on May 9 2007, which should take care of the problem once and for all. Let's hope so, anyway!
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My Hysterectomy Story 12-20-2005 - 09:26 PM
May 30, 2002

I had a total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH) on Thursday, May 23, 2003 after months of pain and excessive bleeding from fibroid tumors, one of which twisted around and caused extreme pain for the entire two weeks before my surgery. Here is the story of my surgery.

The morning of surgery, I arrived at the hospital at 8:30 a.m. as directed. I met my Mom and the rest of my support group (two friends and my daughter) in the parking lot and we all went up together. After a brief stop by the admitting office to take care of some last minute paperwork, I was escorted to my lovely, but small private room. Two nurses came in to do my leftover blood test from my pre-op which couldn't be done until THE day, and to get me ready. I was given a gown and some TED stockings, such a lovely coordinated ensemble!

Then my support group came in and we sat and chatted for another hour. My surgery was scheduled for 10:30, but the stretcher didn't arrive until 10:45 to collect me. When I got on the stretcher, the nurses hooked up the nice inflatable stockings and I was wheeled down to the OR. I was left right outside the door to the OR, and met my doctor and the anesthesiologist, and my OR nurse (who was wearing these funky looking cat-eye glasses! I remember thinking how funny they were.)

The anesthesiologist was joking around with me and started the IV in my hand, then I was wheeled into the OR and transferred over to the table. They wrapped me up in a nice blanket and strapped my arms down, putting the pulse ox clip on my finger and a B/P cuff on my arm. The nurse with the funny glasses put an oxygen mask over my face and held it there as the anesthesiologist told me that I was about to have the nicest sleep. I remember blinking twice, and then it seemed that within seconds I opened my eyes and was in the recovery room.

The nurse with the funny glasses was there and trying to get me to wake up (evidentially, I had to be in recovery longer than normal, because they couldn't get me awake enough.) I don't remember any extreme pain, just a achy discomfort, and I think I asked for pain meds. I don't know if they gave me anything at that time or not.

I have dim recollections of being taken to my room and my family hovering around me. My first clear memory is that night. I had been given some ice chips because my throat was SOOO dry!! (From the tube during surgery.) I had a PCA pump with morphine which I had been using regularly, though I don't remember the pain being that bad. (I have a very high pain threshhold.) Anyway, I started feeling nauseous. My nurse was standing next to my bed and the phone rang out at the desk. She went to answer it, and suddenly I let loose with projectile vomiting (just water) which went a good ten feet. My nurse came back and asked what happened. I told her she'd been saved by the bell, because if she hadn't left to answer the phone, she would have gotten the brunt of the explosion.

After that, I was nauseated and vomiting all night and into Friday morning. After my doctor came in the next morning and checked my inscision, he ordered a switch in my pain meds to Demerol, thinking that maybe I would do better with it. The first time I hit the PCA pump with the Demerol, I vomited. I decided then and there that there was no way on this planet that I was hitting that button again!

The nurse came in and gave me some Torodol in my IV so that she could get me up and change my bed and give me a sponge bath. (What, was she nuts? Me, get up?) She took the catheter out. (I had barely noticed that I even had a catheter as it was inserted after I was asleep in surgery, and it was really nice not to have to get up and go to the bathroom. I also hardly even noticed when the nurse took it out. And it didn't hurt at all!) She also took off the inflating stockings. (It was good to get those things off, though they were pretty nice!) Then she made me sit in a chair and she helped me bathe. She said I had to be up in the chair for an hour (sadistic woman!). Well, after 45 minutes, I was exhausted and ready to get back in bed, but she was helping some other poor soul who had just come back from surgery, so I very carefully got myself back to bed.

After the Torodol (wonderful stuff!), I did not have any more pain medication for 24 hours because I was afraid of though I was given anti-nausea drugs in the IV (which made me very sleepy.) However, the IV infiltrated twice and had to be reinserted, and they were having trouble finding a vein to put it in. They wrapped my arms up in hot towels to get the veins to pop out, but it didn't work very well. They even called the nursing supervisor in to try to find a site, but she blew one good vein. The last place they inserted the IV was very painful and I was scared to move my arm, just in case it infiltrated too.

Friday night, I asked my daughter to stay with me. I was getting more alert and miserable and whiny. I wanted the IV out, I couldn't get to the bathroom without dragging the whole pole with me, and I couldn't get comfortable in bed. My big toe kept poking out through the hole in the TED stockings and was driving me crazy! And a couple of times when they checked my temperature at night, I had a slight fever. After using the breathing apparatus and coughing, my temp went back to normal. (Make sure you use that little machine frequently and cough. It can prevent post-op pneumonia.) I did pass the gas test (pun intended) on Friday, which is the only positive thing about that day.

Saturday was much better. I hadn't eaten or drunk hardly anything Thursday or Friday because of the nausea. Saturday I was able to eat a real supper, and the IV was disconnected. I could get up and move around and could take a shower and take walks. Saturday night I slept well and even somehow managed to turn onto my left side during the night (I'm a side-sleeper and hate sleeping on my back!)

Sunday my doctor came in and said I could go home. The nurse came in and removed my staples (which didn't hurt at all) and put on about 40 steri-strips. I was given a prescription for Darvocet, which I took fairly regularly.

After I came home, I was able to be up and around pretty well. I took a shower (my daughter put a plastic patio chair in the shower for me) and I could sit in and get out of my recliner by myself. I could also get into and out of bed by myself. I even fixed myself simple meals. So my previous fears of helplessness were unfounded.

Check out the next page for my recovery story.
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My Hysterectomy Recovery Journal 12-20-2005 - 09:26 PM
I had a total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH) on Thursday, May 23, 2003 at the age of 39 years old after months of pain and excessive bleeding from fibroid tumors, one of which twisted around and caused extreme pain for the entire two weeks before my surgery. I had a textbook recovery and no complications at all. Below is a summary account of the different weeks of my recovery:

Week One: 10% of normal. Shuffle to the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, recliner, and around the courtyard to the mailbox. Can only sit up straight for 15 minutes before pain sets in. Shower with a plastic chair in the tub - but am totally exhausted after washing my hair and shaving my legs. Can make quick meals (Lean Cuisines). Pain level - 3 to 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. Pain pills - One Darvocet every six hours. Don't feel as bad as I was afraid I would.

Week Two: 30% of normal. Shuffle to the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, recliner, and around the courtyard to the mailbox. Can only sit up straight for 25 minutes before pain sets in. Shower with a plastic chair in the tub - but am totally exhausted after washing my hair and shaving my legs. Can make quick meals (Lean Cuisines). Insomnia has set in and I'm only sleeping a couple of hours a night and none at all during the day. Tried Tylenol P.M. Works okay sometimes, but makes me rather groggy when I first wake up. Pain level - 2 to 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Pain pills - Got dizzy off the pain meds, so cut back to 1/2 Darvocet every six hours with a couple of Motrin thrown in for good measure. Feel pretty good (pain meds and lingering effects of the anesthesia.)

Week Three: 50% of normal. Shuffle to the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, recliner, and around the courtyard to the mailbox. Can only sit up straight for 35 minutes before pain sets in. Shower without the plastic chair, but still get tired. Start going to dinner with my Mom at my favorite restaurant, but have to sit in a booth, kind of slid down in the seat. Trip to grocery store, rode the little cart around. Another day a fifteen minute killer trip to Walmart to buy a printer. Big mistake!!! By the time I got to the front, I was in pain and about to pass out. Drove once on my own. No long car rides, as I can feel every bump and sudden stops make me wonder if my innards are going to come flying out. Still dealing with insomnia. Pain levels - 1 to 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 Pain pills - mostly Motrin with a 1/2 a Darvocet thrown in when I go out. Feel worse this week because the pain meds and anesthesia have worn off, and I've overdone it with the killer trip to Walmart.

Week Four: 60% of normal. Up and around more. Dinner out with friends at a tea house. Sat in a straight chair for an hour and was in pain the whole time. Drove to my four week appointment - released for everything, including work - yeah, right!! Still tire very easily. Made it down three aisles at grocery store before I needed the little riding cart. Avoiding Walmart like the plague! Can sit for about 45 minutes without pain. Went to a movie with a friend. Was able to slide down in seat most of the time and did pretty well. Trip to Books-a-Million afterwards was a big mistake! Finally cleared to take a bubble bath! Ah, such luxery! Still dealing with insomnia - how long can a Princess go with no sleep? Pain levels - almost zero. Pain Pills- occassional Motrin with an occassional 1/2 Darvocet thrown in if I'm going to be out for awhile. Internal stitches starting to dissolve - sharp pains in right side and mild aches and pains elsewhere.

Week Five: Feel more human this week. About 80% back to normal. Able to be out and about. Had a tooth filled at the dentist. Can sit most of the time now without pain. Went back to work at 5 1/2 weeks on half days. Return of discomfort while sitting at my desk. Came home exhausted. Insomnia hung on for a couple of nights after going back to work, but finally my sleep schedule got back on track and I'm sleeping normally again. Pain levels - 1 to 2. Pain pills - back to 1/2 Darvocet while at work. Now my hair is falling out! Talked to my doctor, he said it was normal after surgery - a side effect from anesthesia, stress from the surgery itself, and fluctuating hormones.

Week Six and Seven: Almost 90% of normal. First full week back at work at 6 weeks. Discomfort from sitting getting less and less. Still tired, but not as much as the previous week. Pain levels - almost zero most of the time. Pain pills - an occassional Motrin.

Week Eight: Almost 100% back to normal. Still get tired occassionally. Almost can't even tell I had surgery. Pain levels - zero. Pain pills - None.

Thirteen weeks post-op: Feel almost totally back to normal (except I moved to a new apartment this weekend and overdid it a bit, and I'm still tired from that.) Can barely tell I even had surgery though I still get an occassional twinge of very light achyness in my abdomen and that bone weary fatigue still hits without warning on occassion. (Oh, and still dealing with swelly belly, which seems to be worse at the end of the day.)


Added Note: February 28, 2005

I had a pretty uneventful recovery - my doctor called it a "textbook" recovery. True, I had more aches and pains during the months ahead and the swelly belly monster made frequent appearances if I did too much, but after all, it does take 6 months to a year for full recovery. (And my hair finally stopped falling out and got back to normal - but only after a perm I got at 4 months fell flat and my haircolor turned out all wrong for almost a year!)

I'm now almost three years post-op, and I feel better than I have in years (other than normal aging issues, of course.) My health is much better than it was before my surgery. I'm no longer anemic, I no longer have the constant bleeding, and no longer suffer from the pain I had before. Since I kept my ovaries, I have no hormonal issues either. I have developed high blood pressure, but it is controlled by medication. I also need to lose some weight, but I just can't seem to get motivated with my busy schedule to do what I know I need to do to lose it.

This web site was a Godsend, I could never have made it through that time before and immediately after my surgery without the caring and support from my Hyster Sisters! I hope that, by describing my "journey through the Land of Hyster", I can help someone else and, in some small way, pay back a little of the wealth of support that I received.

(Additional note added 8/14/05) - On July 19, I had a bilateral reduction mammoplasty (breast reduction.) I went from a 44F to a 42C, a total of five pounds was removed during the surgery. The neck and back pain I suffered for years has totally gone, and the numbness in my hands and arms has disappeared too. My only regret is that I didn't do this a long, long time ago!

Love and hugs to all,

Shashi - the Chocoholic Princess
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