Second time around

Our daughter is six years old today. I am one week post-op since my second major abdominal surgery this summer. 

Two major surgeries a month apart. 

I absolutely need a cathartic ugly cry. The kind where I need tissue after tissue to wipe my eyes and blow my nose and takes a long while to stop. It hasn't happened yet. I suspect because I want to be strong for my partner, our daughter and my mom who have all been trooping alongside me since my hysterectomy on June 28th. A. has been doing it all, taking care of N. and home. Mom, who may as well be a saint, slept over and remained with me every night during both of my hospital stays, not to mention the tag teaming cooking and laundry she's done with A. It's so true -- in sickness and in health whether it's my partner or my mother. Despite all the chaos, N. has been self-entertaining and able to roll with every trip back and forth to the hospital. I know it would be absolutely fine to let it all out, but it just hasn't happened yet no matter how many hallmark movies or masterpiece theatre shows I view. I've come close a couple of times only to amount to a tiny well up. 

Admitted to the emergency room on July 31st in the afternoon, I'd not improved at all since I'd been home the first time on the mend -- barely eating, dehydrated and in constant peristaltic pain and gas pressure and unable to sleep. The second surgery lasted longer than expected, but I was out of the operating room by 2am. The chief of trauma surgery had never seen my situation before in her 27 years of experience. More complicated than your typical hernia. My intestines seem to have poked into my layers of stomach wall which were probably already weakened probably by two surgeries given my previous C-section and recent hysterectomy.

I just wanted to be home before my sweet sassy girl's birthday. Before my birthday. And I was -- finally home on August 3rd. 

So here I am sitting for the moment, alone, in a hotel room. We decided to gift N. with an adventuresome local hotel stay complete with Build-A-Bear, pool time, and eat in room service. While my feet and legs are still swollen from all the IV fluids they pumped into me when I was in the hospital, I am deeply grateful to be on a healthful road to recovery this second time around.

Still waiting for my ugly cry. 

And tomorrow morning, I can confidently say . . . I survived 45. 


Body Reset

Two weeks and one day since my scheduled hysterectomy. It's taken me that long to rack up the courage to write about it. Still processing what was supposed to be a two-night stay in the hospital turned into one hellish week that included no sleep (hospital stays are never restful with nursing staff constantly taking around the clock vitals) and a very much undesired nasogastric intubation due to sleeping bowels, otherwise known as ileus, a major post op risk. 

I was supposed to have my surgery end of May, but my original doctor gave birth early, and I had to reschedule with another doctor in the practice. A blessing in disguise, the second doctor, who's much more seasoned, gave it to me straight. His take: Laproscopic hysterectomy was not posisble given the size of my overgrown fibroids and their impact on the positioning of my uterus. Surgery would have to be an abdominal incision. 

The gigantic cross abdominal incision that has erased my c-section scar doesn't bother me so much. It doesn't even hurt much. It's the wavelike peristalsis and enormous gas bubbles in my stomach that give me reason to pause as I make my way through the house gingerly. And my flashbacks to vomitting an entire plastic bowl of bile as the nurses tried to thread through an NG tube (bigger than a straw), which fell out accidentally four hours later. I refused to have it reinserted as it was the most uncomfortable experience I've ever had. It did its job and drained the greenish brown contents of my stomach so that I would stop vomiting.  

Damn post op ileus.

On my last day in the hospital as I hoped to be discharged, Dr. Silas, my surgeon, finally came in. I hadn't seen him since immediately before the surgery. I'd only seen attending residents and others from the practice. I'd been vomiting through the night not from the ileus, but from the exhaustion of not sleeping at all. Looking at the clock every hour from my hospital bed waiting for the sun to come up. I know my body. I grabbed his hand and looked directly into his eyes. "Doc, I absolutely cannot stay in this hospital one more night. I can't sleep here. I need to go home." I was so grateful to be discharged by noon. 

Thankfully Mom was able to carve out and extend her time to support us during and after my hospital stay. In fact, she returns next week when A. returns to work just to keep us company though I should be able to drive N. to music camp by then on my own. I've managed to walk around the bluff a couple of times and accompany N. to our neighborhood playground when the sun's not quite beating down yet. 

I'd looked forward to losing some weight post op. But not like this. As my body resets, I embrace my body's natural healing force to get me to wellness. In this summer's pause, I pray for my spirit's courage and patience in pain, that my body may reset and be retored to its most optimal strength. Among my blessings I count my entire medical team as well as my husband and daughter, who have shown the most graceful and composed vim amidst my recovery. 

Slow and steady wins. I hope.

Dr. Silas showed me a photo of my 16cm+ uterus and overgrown fibroids, one of which was squishy and had to be sent immediately to pathology to be tested for cancer. Thankfully all clear. My uterus was one of the biggest he and his surgical team had ever seen, bigger than originally anticipated pre-op. 

Farewell, Uterus. I look forward to wearing my white summer pants soon. 



Thus far it's been a most passionate June. Between my beloved uncle's unexpected open heart surgery and my daughter's kindergarten wrap-up, what intensity. Because of #familygoals, I shot up on the Amtrak Acela to Stamford (CT) to support my cousins as they, Auntie & Mom waited with baited breath. I am all too familiar with the experience of waiting for your husband to emerge from bypass surgery. Thankfully Uncle was in the best medical care as possible. New heart center with wide crystal windows overlooking Long Island Sound. These are the kinds of like-vacation-luxury hospitals people pay for abroad instead of having their surgeries done stateside. Family members can wait in the peace rooms fully equipped with relaxing massage chairs. Update: Uncle is at home recovering lovely. 

Upon a weekend turnaround, I threw myself into a series of last week kindergarten events -- KinderGames, Camping Under the Stars, Pizza Party, Ice Cream Extravaganza. I took over being Class Mom when one mom had her third baby and the other works full-time outside of the home. What an experience it has been to support N.'s teachers and her class as "Nayla's mom." Here we come, first grade!

Then I have my own upcoming surgery. It was supposed to happen end of May. But my doctor gave birth early, and I had to reschedule, now in 10 days, June 28th. Sometimes the Universe has a strange way of working things out. Had I had my surgery when it was originally scheduled, I would've missed out on N.'s kindergarten wrap-up, and I wouldn't have been able to support my family through the most difficult waiting. 

And I have been waiting the last six months to have a hysterectomy. Relieved no cancer, but necessary. Stay tuned for HysterSister stories. Can't wait to don the white capris with no worries!

To the box turtle who paid us a visit this past Father's Day weekend in our yard:  Grateful for your Spirit in reminding me to walk my path of peace with determination and to stay grounded even in the midst of chaos. 

In the meantime while trying to kick feeling run down and a lingering cough, I have the deepest gratitude for family intimacy, health insurance, my generous and patient Nightingale mom, and incredibly supportive spouse. Thankful everyday for his passionate love, respect and partnership in this wacky adventure called Life. 

Almost 15 years together, happy 13th anniversary, A.