It feels like I’m closing the last chapter of my medical year from hell, to frankly put it; as Friday my ‘return to work’ form was officially signed by my doctor. I start back the first week in August.
This past year has been incredibly challenging.
(If you need to catch up, here’s the blog posts for surgery 1, surgery 2, surgery 3 and surgery 4 that all began last August)
Right when I felt as though I was getting stronger over the last month, my stomach became swollen. I thought my incisions were hurting from the inside, but couldn’t tell which ones. I had a hard time keeping food down. I felt nauseous, worn out and depressed. The pain was probably the best indicator something wasn’t right. My instinct feeling, which has really never steered me wrong, gave me an unsettling feeling.
This past Monday I called my doctor describing my symptoms. They wanted to see my the same day. Unsure of the exact diagnosis, they had to perform multiple tests with the most invasive being a contrast CT scan on Tuesday. The initial diagnosis was intestinal mortility or intestinal damage with the worse case being a hemorrhaging something near the internal incision sites. Clearly I didn’t even want to hear about that so I didn’t ask details after the doctor rambled something with the word hemorrhage. I felt like I needed to say something to let people know what’s going on while waiting on the official diagnosis. I also didn’t want to leave friends and family wondering about my absence and lack of response when it came to messages, comments and phone calls, but yeah, I hadn’t been feeling too great and to be honest, was scared.
Moving forward, Wednesday my doctor who ordered the contrast CT scan called and said from a gynecological standpoint, there isn’t anything wrong. At that moment, I experienced the weirdest feeling of relief, but at the same time fear. I mean, NOW what’s wrong with me? Because I certainly don’t feel normal or that I’m getting better each week like I was told.
Thankfully, there was nothing hemorrhaging and I didn’t require immediate medical attention. That part of the news felt great, especially after two emergency surgeries last month. But that didn’t really help in terms of the symptoms that made me go to the doctor this week in the first place.
Fast forward to Thursday. I had an appointment with a different doctor that ended up having to cancel and switch the appointment to Friday so we could read over the CT scan together. What is causing the pain, swelling and nausea is abdominal adhesions.
The doctor explained that with each surgery, more scar tissue develops. He then reminded me from the notes in my shared hospital chart that it took the doctor an additional 30 minutes during surgery #4 to get through the scar tissue from surgeries # 1 and #2. Wondering why scar tissue is adhering to multiple organs, he said because I had surgeries that required incisions all over the place; the right side, the left side, the middle and let’s not forget the c-section from 2011 that was larger than normal which then opened up weeks later.
Here’s some snippets from Web MD about abdominal adhesions:
- An adhesion is a band of scar tissue that binds two parts of your tissue that are not normally joined together. Adhesions may appear as thin sheets of tissue similar to plastic wrap or as thick fibrous bands. They’re a common cause of abdominal symptoms, particularily abdominal pain.
- It can feel very similar to endometrosis.
- The tissue develops when the body’s repair mechanisms respond to any tissue disturbance, such as surgery, infection, or trauma. The formation of scar tissue is a normal part of healing when there is inflammation.
While I had wished for a better outcome after having to go through the four surgeries in the past year, I’m honestly grateful to be alive. Things could have gone WAY worse, especially the surgery in Belize. I feel that for the most part, I’ve accepted that I might be living in pain and have issues for the rest of my life. Crunches and ab workouts are a thing of the past and I might possibly have to go a pain management specialist if things don’t resolve on their own. But I feel mentally stronger than I’ve ever been.
The amount of people who’ve reached out to see if I needed help, brought meals, watched Myles, visited me in the hospital or even just let me vent, has really helped me get through the times where I just want to give up.
Usually just throwing my hands up and having that feeling of giving up isn’t something I’d do, but I’m also going through ‘sudden menopause’. It’s an unnatural, unexpected and difficult-to-treat unwellness after having all females parts, including the ovaries, removed. Sudden menopause it said to be radically different from natural menopause. With natural menopause, the body gradually transitions from higher hormone levels to lower hormone levels. It’s a progression that happens over years, not overnight. Literally. When menopause happens overnight, it’s a shock to the body and throws so many things out of whack and until the right hormones and dosage are administered, it’s horrible!
For me, the menopause seems to be for the most part managed, but there are still things about me that seem off. I can’t remember anything unless I write it down. I couldn’t understand why my short-term memory was not up to par, but the doctors said this is a normal reaction to sudden menopause. I was blaming the narcotics! I have bouts of sadness, but think that’s justified. The hormones I’m on have been adjusted several times this past month and every time, I feel a little better.
While I’m hoping the worst is behind me, I still have a ways to go in terms of recovery. Thankfully I’m in a time where information is plentiful and I’m determined to feel better. With recipes, exercises and herbal remedies that can all help with abdominal adhesions and sudden menopause, I’m sure there are things that can offset how I’m feeling. And once I feel good enough to write a book, I just might pursue that.