Friday, April 13, 2012

I don't need to "grow a pair"

A little over two weeks ago I had a date with my surgeon in the operating room.  As I lay on the table, waiting for the drugs to kick in, staring at the instruments that would soon be invading my body, I thought of Betty White.

I had originally thought that I would not share all the details of what I’ve been through, you know, the whole TMI thing.  But then as I talked to some of my close friends, I started to realize that there may be some women who could really benefit from hearing about what was involved.  And, truth be told, I think there are some men out there too who should listen.  Women’s bodies are strong – stronger than we realize – but sometimes we have to put up with a lot. A hell of a lot.

Childbirth can do a number on our bodies, to which I can certainly attest.  After three big baby boys, ranging from 8lb 6oz to a whopping 10lbs, all delivered completely naturally at home, my insides weren’t quite in the shape – or in the place - they used to be.  They were dragging, literally.

I’ve been dealing with pelvic prolapse, which is something that many women encounter, post childbirth.  Not everyone needs surgery to correct it, but if I’m going to do something, then I want to go all the way. 

Darn perfectionism.

My surgery corrected 2 problems – a cystocele (a prolapsed bladder, which falls into the vagina) and a rectocele (a prolapsed rectum, which also falls into the vagina).  The cystocele was more of a nuisance than anything.  Stress incontinence.  Sneezing, coughing, laughing and sometimes running would typically result in an, um, accident. Ugh.

My doctor used a bladder sling to fix that prolapse.  He cut open the front of my vagina and inserted a mesh tape around my urethra to put it back where it belonged, then stitched me up.  Over time, my own tissue will grow over the mesh to keep it in place and prevent the stress incontinence.  Whoo hoo!

The rectocele was much more of a problem for me.  I had no idea that the rectum could even prolapse!  Sounds gross I know, and believe me, it is.  And a pain in the ass.  Absolutely.  My rectum had prolapsed so badly that it actually came out of my body. 

Hello world!  
From a piece of my anatomy that should never, ever, ever see the light of day.  And that became very problematic.

To fix my rectocele, my surgeon cut open the back of my vagina, pushed my rectum back into place, cut out some tissue and then stitched me back up.

The whole procedure took about an hour. 

I had a wonderful sleep under anesthesia, but boy recovery was rough.  Talk about pain and swelling. 

But I had some wonderful drugs.  Oxycontin.  The first couple of days were a bit of a blur.  But then my body started to react to the anesthesia and the oxycontin.  Essentially, my intestines stopped working.  They stopped moving things along for 5 days. 

5 long, painful, days.  Let me tell you, when that part of your body is full of stitches, constipation is the last thing you want to deal with.  The VERY last thing you want to deal with. Ever.

My doctor put me on all liquid diet and a variety of medications to get things moving.  Thankfully on day 6, things started working again.  Painfully so.  No more oxycontin though. Sigh.

It’s now been two weeks since my surgery.  I’m on a lot of restrictions.  No lifting anything more than a gallon of milk for 2 months.  No strenuous exercise.  No carrying a laundry basket.  No carrying groceries.  No pushing a shopping cart.

I still feel foggy.  And I feel it if I’ve been up and around for too long.  I’m still taking a couple of naps every day.  And sleeping for a long time every night.

Oh, and now I have a bladder infection.  Great.  More pain and medication.

Thank goodness my dad flew 3000 miles to help out.  He’s been doing the laundry, shuttling the kids around to whatever practices and clubs are going on, plus odd jobs around the house.  My friends have been bringing us meals.  My BFF Beth, a nurse, has been expertly looking after me. My husband has been coming home a little earlier to help out and took a few days off right after my surgery.  My dad is leaving on Saturday, so I’ll be on my own next week and back to shuttling the kids around.  We are going to just muddle through.  If the kids have dirty clothes for a few days, well, so be it.  We’ll survive.

I just have to remember to not lift anything, and take it easy.  As a typically busy marathon-running mom of 3 boys, it’s hard to slow down.  But I have to.  If I don’t, I will undo everything the doctor did, and believe me, I don’t want to go through this again.  Ever.

If there is one thing I believe in, it’s a sense of humor.  To go through this, and the testing that I had to have before the surgery, and emerge emotionally sound, I’ve had to call on my sense of humor numerous times. 
I’m going to write about that.

And as a political news junkie, I’ve also had a lot of time to think while laying in bed.  With all the discussion lately in the media about birth control and womens’ rights, you better believe I’ve got some very strong opinions about the rights I have over my body. 

MY body. And I feel I have to write about that, too. 

After all, this is my journey. With my body. 

My pink miles.

And I will never need to grow a pair, because I'm a woman and my bits are strong. 

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