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Fibroid Surgery: ALL The Deets

09.14.18

Health

Hi guys! Happy Friday. 🙂 I am loving, loving, loving blogging 5 days a week this month. It has been only minorly difficult to stay on top of because of basically being on bedrest post-surgery and having very little energy to play with, but for the most part it has been keeping me goin’ and keeping me inspired while I hang at home. I love the consistency and knowing you guys are getting these emails every day!

( If you’re not getting the emails, go here to sign up for the newsletter! Literally just blog posts straight to your inbox, no other spam or anything at all. )

Anyway, today I am here to chat about the abdominal myomectomy I had last Friday, a.k.a fibroid surgery to remove the grapefruit sized fibroid that had grown on my uterus. *Insert face palm emoji.*

*Insert dancing girl in red dress emoji too because it’s out now, yay!*

TW: I’m just going to go ahead and warn you now that there are some photos of the fibroid in this post, and some bloody pics of the fibroid while it’s getting removed. If graphic images are not your jam, I would not recommend scrolling far down in this post! Or just don’t look too closely. 😉 I personally think it’s super fascinating to see a fibroid up close and hopefully will be fun for you to see it too if you’re like me!

So I guess I should start with pre-surgery. I found out about the fibroid in November of last year, and my OBGYN ( who also happens to be a fibroid expert, which I am SO GRATEFUL FOR ) told me we’d just keep an eye on it to see if it was growing. Of course as a holistic medicine nerd and wellness freak, I tried everything in my power to shrink it on my own from Ayurveda to castor oil packs to water fasts to diet and hormone supplements and more.

Unfortunately… instead of shrinking with all of my holistic methods, the fibroid only grew. When I went for a followup earlier this summer it had grown to 8.5 cm, a.k.a the size of a large baseball or a small grapefruit.

I was lucky that my fibroid had not obstructed the uterus ( it was not inside of the uterus ) because that can cause major complications with fertility down the road and also makes the removal process much more painful and difficult, I have heard. Not that it isn’t painful and difficult to begin with because I am here to be real with you and tell you, IT IS.

The complications with my particular fibroid were that it was sitting on my uterus and pushing itself onto my lower back, my intestines, and my bladder. Of course I have had terrible digestion for a long time now, and having a fibroid in the way of all of your digestive organs is not helpful. Because it was pushing on my bladder I found myself getting up to pee at least 3 times per night, totally messing with my sleep.

I thought this was NORMAL and didn’t realize I had something so large and in charge resting on my bladder — and homegirl drinks a lot of liquids. I am beverage obsessed.

The biggest complication for me was fertility. Having a fibroid on your uterus makes it quite difficult to get pregnant. Not impossible by any means, but definitely brings the percentage far down. Then if you do get pregnant, it often causes complications with pregnancy as well as miscarriages.

NOT WHAT I WANT TO GET MYSELF IN TO. I pray that when the time comes for J & I to have babies it is smooth sailing. I know my body has been through a lot health-wise so I am up for whatever challenge comes our way, but I don’t need an extra mass of tissue in the way that is for sure.

Lyme + Fibroids //

I just quickly want to address that having Lyme disease and co-infections definitely contributed to me developing a fibroid. I am not sure that all doctors would agree but I know the mine does (both my Lyme specialist and my OBGYN)… and regardless, we all have a heightened intuition about our own bodies and mine 100% tells me that these issues are related.

Lyme has compromised my body and my immune system so much that my body has trouble fighting off anything that begins to go awry. Fibroids are mostly caused by a mass amount of estrogen in the body that comes together and starts making a mass of tissue on your reproductive organs. The hormone imbalances I have experienced over the last few years have been WILD and are greatly connected to Lyme. Lyme is wildly known to mess with the female hormones and reproductive organs, which is why many of us sadly have hormone imbalances, acne, ovarian cysts, PCOS, endometriosis, etc.

Speaking of, having fibroids was actually one of the reasons I FOUND my Lyme doc to begin with! My friend heard about fibroids, ovarian cysts, etc. being linked to Lyme (as well as eczema and fatigue and other issues I was experiencing) and told me that I needed to at least try out seeing a Lyme doctor.

I believe that everything in our bodies is connected. Earlier this year when I knew I had fibroids, full body eczema, extreme fatigue, horrible acne, and acute pain throughout my body I KNEW these things were all linked. I knew I was far too young and healthy to be experiencing all of this separately. Now it makes so much sense.

Fast forward to surgery day!!!!

For some godforsaken reason I was not nervous at all. I think this is because, like I said, I have been through a lot with my health and my doctor assured me that on top of Lyme and co-infections, this surgery was basically a piece of cake.

However I will say I did not realize just how freakin’ painful it is to have your uterus sliced open, but we’ll get there.

I had my entourage with me at the hospital, AKA Jonathan, my mom, and my dad. They were amazing troopers who waited there all day ( okay they actually shopped at the Brentwood Country Mart LOL but they were there pre-surgery and immediately post-surgery so I was very happy ) and Jonathan spent the night at the hospital with me and took care of me every waking moment. He is a saint.

Going into it I was in good spirits and just excited to get that awful mass of tissue out of my body. Now that I was aware of it I knew it was causing me a ton of discomfort and even a bit of pain. The anesthesia did its job and when I woke up, to an amazing nurse named Gina who said, “Your surgery is over! I know your fiancé and I read your blog and I think you are so strong.” I MEAN WHAT? THAT WAS THE BEST WAY TO WAKE UP EVER!

But I truly didn’t believe her that the surgery had already taken place. Anesthesia is wild, you guys. I am sure a lot of you know. The only reason I believed her was because A) she seemed trustworthy, but B) my lower abdomen was on absolute fire. I immediately started shivering, not from being cold, but from being in MAJOR pain. I couldn’t believe it.

“So this is what I’ve gotten myself into…” I thought. My mom, dad, and Jonathan came in and I was overjoyed to see them. I was emotional from the anesthesia and the meds and started crying about people who have it way worse off than I do, who have to live with this kind of pain all the time, and wondering how the HELL they keep their will to live with such constant pain and difficulty.

Shoutout to those people. For real. My few days of pain are absolutely nothing next to what many chronically sick and/or terminally ill people face on the daily. Some of whom I know personally. You are true heroes.

Post-Surgery…

Anyway, to make a long story short… I could not move at all so nurses were sliding me from one bed to the next on a big blanket type thing, giving me pain meds through my IV, and eventually gave me my room for the night where J and I watched Atypical on Netflix all night and I tried to drink an Erewhon mint chip energizer smoothie but had zero appetite.

The pain meds did their job and I wasn’t in much terrible pain except for when I had to move. The weird thing is, after a fibroid surgery everything down there is numb because of a numbing shot they give you before the surgery. So even though I tried to pee when I got up to use the bathroom, I really couldn’t even do it if I tried. It was excruciatingly painful on top of that because of the catheter (anyone who has had one will definitely understand) and that uncomfortable feeling persisted for a few days.

The doctor said that walking would help, so Jonathan being my ever-evolving coach of sorts (you guys know he trained me for a marathon before we ever even dated) pushed me to walk down the hall that night, which was SO FREAKING HARD but it was so helpful to have him there cheering me along.

I slept really well that night and the next morning truly questioned how in the HELL I was going to leave the hospital that day but between a wheelchair and a very strong and patient fiancé I made it to my own bed.

FIBROID PICS BELOW… I mean can you believe it?!?!

Coming Home //

My appetite was zero for a few days, I slept and slept and slept and slept, rotated my pain meds, had an AMAZING reiki session with my angel human of a friend Kelsey Patel, and have slowly been able to move a bit more and walk around the block a few times now that it has been a full week.

I feel very lucky that my surgery went smoothly, there haven’t been any complications (yet!!! but there won’t be, not jinxing it) and I seem to be progressing rather quickly. The hardest part has been the severe, massive, crippling fatigue. I think it’s worse right now because I was already experiencing exhaustion with Lyme, and of course surgery is very taxing on the body. I have had trouble waking up before 11am and have been sleeping most afternoons and going to bed early.

I am grateful for the rest, that is for sure. I have also not checked my email ALL WEEK LONG and I can’t even tell you how good that feels. I am taking true down time, and I have had all of the Huddy snuggles in the world.

OH BY THE WAY… this just proves that a mother’s instinct blows any pain to shreds. Huddy needed to go to the animal hospital last night because we could tell he was in pain but didn’t know what was wrong, and it was hands down the most I have maneuvered since my surgery tenfold. We were there from 11:30pm until 3 in the morning, and we were carrying him all around and up and about. I NEVER could have done that even earlier that day, but something came over me and I powered through it. Anything for our fur babies / babies, right mamas? Literally anything.

He is okay now too, thank goodness. Playing and eating and happy as a clam!!! But on some meds like his mama. 🙂

Also also… my mom has been here taking care of me since the surgery and I do not know what I would do without her. She has gone out to get every meal for me, ran errands, cleaned, and just taken care of me. I would highly recommend anyone who gets this surgery have the support of SOMEONE around for the entirety of your post-surgery week or two weeks. Very necessary. <3 My mama is a hero!

Q & A //

These are addressing some of the great Q’s you guys asked me on Instagram throughout the week!

Q: What type of incision did you have? Laparoscopic? C section style lower abdomen?

I had a laparoscopic incision (x4) which means that they make tiny incisions on your lower abdomen and use a power morcellator to go in and cut the fibroid into pieces to remove it. This keeps you from having a large scar and removing the fibroid all at once. I wanted this way for many reasons but mostly because it is the least invasive with the easiest recovery. One downside is that IF a fibroid is cancerous and it is taken out in pieces, the cancer can spread. My doctor was confident that because of my age and my overall health we didn’t have to worry about that. Now I have four little incisions on the lower abdomen — even one over my belly button!

Q: Foods / supplements to help recover? Daily movement / exercises?

I am eating/drinking all of the anti inflammatory foods! I take a curcumin supplement which is extremely anti-inflammatory, and drinking lots of nutrient rich smoothies and green juices. I am having as many leafy greens, beta carotene and mineral rich fruits and veggies I can get. I didn’t have an appetite for several days at first so it was a little hard — smoothies and juices did the trick. Now I am also craving lots of healthy fats so I am incorporating nut butters, avocado, and coconut meat to name a few.

As far as exercise I am unable to work out for the next 4 weeks. I went on a walk around the block today which was a huge step! At first I was just walking around my apartment which helped me heal and kept me feeling somewhat active. I cannot WAIT to get back to yoga as soon as humanly possible!

Q: Did you do anything special to prep your body for surgery?

I stopped my Lyme supplements for about a week and a half leading up to the surgery, because many of them were blood thinning. Otherwise I just worked out because I knew I wouldn’t be able to for a while, ate a clean plant-based diet, did a lot of infrared sauna and cryo to detox the excess toxins, and listened to my doc by not eating or drinking anything for 12 hours pre-surgery!

Q: Did you experience a lot of anxiety?

Not until it was down to the wire. I was VERY calm ( strangely calm, my fam and the nurses will tell you!!! ) the whole time, but when I looked up right before I went under anesthesia and saw 12 doctors and nurses standing over me I did start to get a little freaked. Luckily the feeling passed quickly and then the surgery was over!

Q: After finding out you have a fibroid what are the next steps?

Usually your OBGYN will tell you whether they recommend removing it or just keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t grow. If it is impairing your quality of life or may affect a future pregnancy (if you want to get pregnant), they will recommend removing it. I knew about mine for about 10 months before removing it but I have to say… knowing that you have a growing tumor inside of you and not doing anything about it feels pretty weird and not right. I am very, very happy to have it out.

Q: How do you keep fibroids from growing back?

The truth is, there is no guarantee they won’t come back. I will stay away from estrogen-enhancing foods / meds / supplements and work very hard on getting my hormones back in balance. I am also working on killing my Lyme and mold bacterias so my immune system is stronger and my body can go back to a state of homeostasis. I will get routine checkups with my OBGYN and if we see it growing back at all, at least it will be way smaller and I MAY be able to actually shrink it holistically if that is the case — mine was too large by the time I found out about it to be able to do that. And all in all… I will stay positive and HOPE FOR THE BEST.

Q: What were your reasons for opting for surgery?

I want to have babies in the next few years and did not want to deal with the challenges it presents for pregnancy. Also, general discomfort and pain. And I am convinced it was further messing with my hormones since it was just a dominant mass of estrogen right there on my uterus.

Ok !! I hope I answered your most pressing questions and gave some insight into the experience. Leave any other Q’s below and let me know your experiences too!! I love to hear how the surgery or similar surgeries went for other people. Lastly… if you haven’t seen an OBGYN in a while, I highly recommend it. I hadn’t seen one in a few YEARS and if he had not done an ultrasound I never would have known what I was dealing with. <3 So much love to you all!!