two weeks later (my BRCA story)

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey, I apologize for it being the extent of my content here lately. I will try to fix that!

 

Two weeks ago today was the day of my full hysterectomy. I opted for this optional surgery in light of the news I received last November that I carry the BRCA1 genetic mutation. To read all about that click the green button right under my picture. It will get you all caught up! 

I went into the surgery expecting to feel pretty much like I just had a baby when I got out, that I would be on my feet in a couple of hours and chomping at that bit to go home by the next morning. My experience turned out to be a little bit different. I thought it might be beneficial to any of you reading this who are facing the same surgery. Mind you, everyone is different. 

The goal of the surgery was to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. My doctor told me that there is recent research suggesting that some ovarian cancers actually start in the tubes, so she wanted to get those too. As a little bit ignorant on female anatomy, she also had to inform me that she couldn't get all of the tubes unless she took the uterus, because those two pieces if equipment are attached. Who knew? Her plan was to take everything out vaginally, hence my reasoning for thinking this would be like childbirth. My main incision was to be internal, but she would go in laprocopically with cameras to make sure she got everything, because even the smallest bit of tissue left behind has a potential to develop a cancer. She's a go-getter and very thorough. Gotta love that in a surgeon. 

I had my procedure done at a small local hospital that basically just handles women's care and sports injuries. Conveniently, I was the only patient that day, so I got all the attention and it was super quiet. It was the kind of place that recognizes that the patient is a customer and has options where they receive their care. 

I went in and everything went according to her plan, the surgery was on time and successful. Doc said I was an easy case. Yay :). 

But everything did not quite go according to my plan. The first thing I remember is seeing my handsome hubby. I had just been moved into my room from recovery when I came to. The next thing I remember is the pain. For me, it felt a lot like back labor. Just an intense, deep pain in my lower back. I was on a morphine trip which I could access every 10 minutes, but I wasn't of sound mind to push the button yet. I remember between blackouts hearing Cameron asking the nurse if he could help me push the button. She said no. This cycle lasted a while, I'm not exactly sure how long. Blackout, then pain, blackout, then pain. After a while the nurse came in and gave me some demerol. And I could finally take a deep breath. I stayed coherent long enough to assure Cameron that I was okay, and then I was out for several hours.  

In the morning I was feeling pretty good. I was on a lot of meds. Morphine, Demerol, and another one that started with a T. Sorry, never took pharm in school. They said that I could head home that day if I met three conditions. I had to hold down food, take a walk, and use the restroom. By noon I had done all three things. They unhooked me from my IV and started me on the meds I would take when I got home, ibuprofen and perquisite. By three I was sent home and in bed. So far so good. 

Then the backstroke of pain meds from the hospital started to wear off and the home meds were not even touching the pain. By 9 at night I was doubled over on my bed in blackout pain again. I was at a pain scale 9 - and I have had four children and appendicitis, so I have experienced pain before. The nurse recommended that I take another perquisite and scheduled to see me in the morning.

When I went back to the doctor everything still looked fine. She said that I had a dramatic decrease in pain in the hospital on demerol and that some meds just work better for different people. She she sent me home with a script for demerol. 

My mom was taking care of all of the kids while all of this went on, a big thank you to her!! 

She stayed for a week and a half after the surgery and by then I was feeling much better. She basically did everything for me. I just moved from couch to bed for several days and didn't have lift a finger. So when she left on Wedneday morning (day 9 post surgery) I thought I was good to go and pretty much expected to be able to resume all normal activities, without lifting anything of course. So I took the kids to library story time with my 2 and 4 year old and planned to get veggies to plant my garden. I still had meals coming, so I could cut out cooking, but everything else was back on the list.

Twenty minutes into storytime I hit a wall, I felt like I should just curl up on the floor and sleep. I was so exhausted I had a hard time thinking. Apparently, this wasn't quite like having a baby. 

So that has been the hardest part and the biggest take-away from the experience of surgery itself, I may feel okay sitting, but my body was using all of its energy to heal, and so there just wasn't anything left for the extras. This is a hard lesson for me. I don't like to stay home. The boys and I are used to getting out every morning, so to stay home and play on mom's bed all day took a bit of an adjustment. It was necessary though, because I knew, if I didn't discipline myself to rest, I wouldn't be able to heal. And I need to heal, because I have another surgery in four weeks. 

Rest is a hard concept for me. It always has been. I not only like to work, and move, and be busy, and productive, but I find value in it and I like the value I create from it. But there are things to learn from resting, and this season has been helpful with that. It takes times like this, the forced down-times to remember that I don't have to perform for God to love and accept me. I am loved and accepted by him on the basis of what his Son did, not ever on what I do. The work was finished on the cross, so I don't have to perform for God. So days like this, beautiful, sunny days by my window with my feet up and my boys driving cars up and down my legs are the only days when my busy, often hectic mind and schedule allow for such truths to seep in. 

 

Here are some verses on rest that I have been meditating on, followed by a couple quotes. It is my prayer that God will be glorified in my weakness right now and that He could use this to bless others. Thanks for coming along.

The willingness to be and to have just what God wants us to be and have, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, would set our hearts at rest, and we would discover the simpler life, the greater peace.
— Elisabeth Elliot
Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
— Psalm 127:1-2
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30