In less than four hours I am heading off to the hospital for my laparoscopy for removal of endometrial implants, adhesions, a bilateral uterosacral nerve ablation, and possible removal of my right ovary. And the idea of 'resting before the big day' is laughable. I am tired, and few times I've almost drifted off to sleep, but then I remember something I need to do and I'm up.
Probably because this is it's last day to torment me, but my endometriosis pains have been awful today. Cramping, stinging, stabbing, tremors-down-the-legs awful. It's like it needs to get in all it's last moments before it's cleaned out. Luckily I have had some awesome friends to distract me from it all.
My old friend Jane* and I have been reconnecting these past few weeks and she came over for the whole evening. She was patient while I wandered aimlessly in my bedroom, trying to finish last minute cleaning and organizing so I don't have to stare at a messy room I can't clean while I'm recovering. And after we convinced myself to leave it be, we made savory salmon crepes (crepes with cream cheese, arugula, and smoked salmon--let me know if you want directions!) that were absolutely delicious. We wanted to get in some henna tattooing time, but thanks to my out-of-it, ADHD behavior, we ran out of time. But we still got to talk-talk-talk the whole time and it was a lot of fun!
Next I talked to my lovely but tired boyfriend Josh*. With the time difference between states, it was already almost one-o-clock by the time we connected. But we chatted for about thirty minutes and he gave me great advice for calming myself for the surgery today. I could share it... but I also don't care for broadcasting the details of my conversations on my blog :).
After we hung up, I was alone and I couldn't get over the anxiety coming from a combination of horrendous pain in my gut and anticipation for the surgery. Luck was on my side however, because I soon bumped into my good, old friend Dave* on Facebook. First he offered to drive two hours to come keep me company until I could fall asleep, so I wouldn't have to be alone and in pain the night before my surgery. But upon finding his gas tank near empty and local gas stations closed (remember in Oregon it's illegal to pump your own gas), his trip was canceled. To compensate for the loss of a visitor, we chatted on Facebook and then the phone for 2 1/2 hours.
Some great friends have really come through for me at various times during this experience. If anything, I wish I had a few more friends because I refuse to take up the same friends free time over and over again to satisfy my need for support! But the ones who have come through, please know how grateful I am! My friends have done such a great job of distracting me tonight, and I'm appreciative. I needed it. Because now that I've been left to my own devices, at 4:20 am, the pain is back and I am doing everything I can not to worry about my surgery. Everything logical tells me I am excited for this. I will finally be stopping the pain, pain I've had badly for almost a year now! My doctor said I should feel better even IMMEDIATELY after the surgery, because even though I'll be cut up, I won't have adhesions tugging on my body. I try to imagine what that might be like, but I honestly cannot. But I think it will be pretty amazing.
Problem is, that no matter how necessary a surgery is, no matter how great it will make you feel or how life changing it might be (and at this point now this surgery will be life changing for me--at least drastically changing how my life has been these past few months), no matter how much you want and need it, it is still scary. And it does not matter how many you've had or whether you're an adult or child. Going into surgery is scary. This will be my third recent procedure I've had. Two years ago I had major shoulder surgery, one year ago I had a laparoscopy for a 7 cm cyst and ended up having my appendix removed (chronic appendicitus is more common in women with endometriosis), and today I am having a laparoscopy for severe abdominal pain due to endometriosis. I've had complex MRIs and CAT scans. I've had a sigmoidoscopy and a colonoscopy. By now I should be a seasoned OR traveler. But I am not looking forward to having those IVs hooked up to me and being wheeled into that OR. I don't like that I won't know what they'll find till after the fact. I feel frustrated that I won't know if I'll lose my ovary until after. And being put under makes me nervous, because a small part of me is worried I won't wake up.
But a combination of writing this now and advice from friends and myself is helping me get by. Writing about what is happening is therapeutic. Of course I love that I am informing people of what's going on. Whether it's family/friends checking in on me, or a stranger who might gain some valuable tidbits for themselves or a friend who is suffering from one of these diseases. But it is also therapeutic in that I am able to sort through what is happening and how I feel about it. Not to mention that I absolutely love writing and having something interesting to write about, that people may want to read--it's very satisfying.
But onto the advice. I was reminded tonight first not to worry about the things I can't control. It's true that there are risks with surgery. But when I've reached a point that surgery is my only option for a chance at a normal quality of life, I have reached a dead-end point where the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. And my family and I have gone lengths to get me a great and experienced doctor, a surgery at a capable hospital, and we can afford all the precautions to ensure my safety. I am healthy enough now, have overcome the inflammation with ulcerative colitis, that surgery is a safe option. I've done all I can. And worrying about the 'what ifs' is not going to do me any good. And as for my own advice--after a friend commented on my ability to remain positive through all the disasters that have occurred, I first confessed that I am not always so positive. I have my down moments. But I generally try to remain positive. And without thinking much, I said, "You can choose to be upset or you can choose to be positive, but either way, s#*! is going to happen. But you get to choose how you handle it."
This surgery is going to happen. It needs to happen. And though it is very difficult to chose not to be nervous, I am going to try my very best to instead be excited. I am excited to be normal again and not be in pain 24/7. So I am thus excited to be cut up this morning. Things will go well, and everyone will see my elated post reporting good news either this evening or tomorrow morning. Please wish me luck and keep me in your prayers--Ash
*I did not have time to ask permission to speak about my friends, so I changed their names to protect their privacy