(abdominal) Battle Scars

Dermoid cysts. Ovary removal. Chocolate cysts. Complex cysts. Abdominal hernias. Abdominal keloids. Laparotomies. Laparoscopies.

These are my history.

And this is what a history like mine (well, really mine, because these are pics of my actual abs) looks like:

abs

Not pictured: my seven laparoscopy scars (bad lighting) and only a partial picture on the left of my low transverse incision (6-inch horizontal cut, which is the same as a C-section incision).

I’m quite used to the appearance of my abdomen, even though I realize that it doesn’t look normal. As a caveat, I recently lost 18 pounds, so I’m not actually not “used” to right now, since I’m still relishing just being able to fit back into my size 8 jeans! Sorry, just had to throw that in there, as I’m thrilled to be only eight pounds away from my goal weight! Hooray:)

My original scar—which is the vertical one extending from what was once my belly button—became infected post-surgery back in 2004. Like, bad infected. Think smelly pus, antibiotics, and frequent bandage changes. Ick. The result of that infection is that the bottom of that scar is now permanently indented like a miniature frowning face. During my 2012 surgery, my surgeon/RE attempted to fix the scar site, but only so much could be done. It seems I’m stuck with the frowny face for the time being.

My low transverse scar also didn’t heal correctly. This is what I’ve asked Dr. Din to fix during my upcoming surgery:

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See those little black dots? They lie on my incision site and are buried into the skin. After examining them, Dr. Din told me they are a type of surface cyst known as epidermal inclusion cysts. Epidermal inclusion cysts are not painful or dangerous in any way. But mine bother me simply because I’m a picker, and it takes a lot of restraint for me to not pick them out of my skin. Gross, huh? For that reason alone I want them out. They’re a nuisance. It will be nice to see them gone.

As for my upcoming surgery, it will change my scar landscape like this:

beforeafter

Basically, I’m only adding one new incision. The bottom two blue circles are where Dr. Din will go in with his laparoscope over top of my existing scars.

Here’s some tips I’ve picked up when it comes to abdominal surgical scars:

  • Drug store creams meant to reduce scar visibility, such as Mederma, don’t work. Seriously. Save your money. They don’t do a thing, and are very expensive for the amount of actual product that comes in the tube. Plus, who has time to rub ointments made of questionable chemicals onto their skin thrice daily?!
  • Rest! Especially sleep! Even if you feel ready to be up and running a few days post-op, staying rested anyway will help scar healing. Our skin repairs itself while we sleep, so getting lots and lots (and lots…) of sleep will promote quicker healing.
  • Do.Not.Pick! Scabs. Loose hanging sutures. Crust. Blood. Whatever it is, don’t pick it. It doesn’t help scars heal and can lead to…
  • infection. See your doc at the first sign of scar infection. Don’t wait like I did.
  • In the meantime for infection, hydrogen peroxide is your new BFF.
  • Keep your surgical area very clean with gentle (geeeeeeentle) washing and frequent bandage changes.
  • Eventually you may be tempted to allow the skin under the incision site to “breathe,” but resist! If the scar is in a place where clothing will rub against it (like your abdomen), uncovering it will only serve to irritate the surgical site. Keep that bad boy covered up until it’s healed.

There you have it. I hope this helps someone facing an abdominal surgery in the future.

And if not, well, you got some stellar views of why you don’t want to have endometriosis.

 

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Would You Like a Hysteroscopy With That?

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Not having to be conscious during unpleasant medical procedures makes me deliciously happy. Why, yes, I would in fact enjoy a nice dose of anesthesia while having my lady bits poked and prodded with frightening medical instruments, thankyouverymuch! So, in that sense, it’s a dream come true for my pain threshold. Confused? Read on: this is a quicky post.

I don’t actually expect my readers of this lil’ blog (all 98 of you awesome people…still shocked that nearly 100 people find this stuff remotely interesting. Mwuah!) to remember what I’m talking about. I’m kind of an infrequent blogger, although one my new year’s resolutions is to fix that.

So, quick recap: I was supposed to have a combination hysteroscopy/D&C/uterine biopsy with my RE, Dr. C, earlier this month to investigate my last six months of continuous unexplained bleeding. After that procedure, I was supposed to have a laparoscopy cleanup surgery for endometriosis with my other doctor, Dr. Din, in early February. Pleasant ways to start off a new year, eh?  j/k. I’m actually grateful to be in the hands of such good doctors and to have God’s blessings of finances to pay for this medical care.

After I’d already scheduled my hysteroscopy/D&C/biopsy with his clinic, Dr. C suggested that, instead, Dr. Din could do these procedures while he was already operating on me… Which came down to a real “duh” moment for me: Why would I want to have two unpleasant procedures spaced out over the course of a month when I could just have them both done at once (and—bonus— while not having to feel the actual procedures while they were happening!)?

I saw Dr. Din again last week. He was extremely cool about adding these extras to my surgery.

We also scheduled my surgery while I was at his office. I picked the first available date. It all goes down on Wednesday, February 1, 2017:

  • Laparoscopy for endometriosis removal. This includes checking my bowels, abdomen, uterus, ovary, fallopian tube, cervix, pelvic cavity, and bladder for endo and/or adhesions.
  • Hysteropscopy to see why the heck I keep on bleeding and bleeding (including as I type this on cycle day 24) like a crazy woman between periods.
  • D&C to empty out whatever mystery intruders might have taken up residency in my uterus, possibly causing the bleeding.
  • Uterine biopsy to make sure nothing more sinister is lurking in my cells.
  • Correction of one of my previous surgical scars (post to follow) that looks….well…not like it should.

I’m pretty chill about the surgery itself. This is not my first rodeo, so I’m fully aware of what to expect afterward.

It seems like I’ve been writing on this blog for months now about having another surgery. Literally, months. You must all be bored to tears reading about something that never seems to actually happen! It’s a great feeling to finally have a set date, rather than just a looming possibility hanging in perpetuity in the general future.

Next up: all about surgical scars. I promise it will be nice and gory.

Peace. 🙂

 

The Long-Awaited Surgical Consult

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Guys, seriously. It actually happened! After like a zillion false starts and so much stupidity, I fina-freak-ing-ly had my surgical consult for endometriosis cleanup! That only took six months. But, praise God, He made a way this time!

I returned to see my latest surgery prospect, Dr. Din*, two days ago. I’m glad I gave him a second chance after the epic fail that was my original consult. Dr. Din ended up being extremely thorough and knowledgeable, and patiently answered all 1,000 of my questions. I’m so pleased that my first impression about his practice was changed for the better.

This time around there were no other patients in the waiting room, nor were there any ridiculous delays. I waited maybe 10 minutes in reception and an additional 15 minutes or so in the exam room; I think that’s pretty standard for a doctor’s office.

As I was hoping, I didn’t have to change into a gown or have an exam, or any other such nonsense. I remained in my regular clothes and Dr. Din didn’t press me to have an exam. I believe when you meet a doctor for the first time that it’s always better to be fully dressed. When you’re wearing only a thin paper gown and feeling virtually naked, it automatically puts all authority and power in the patient/doctor relationship in the doctor’s court. So I appreciated being able to keep my pants on.

Here’s how it went down, bullet style

  • Dr. Din reviewed the ginormous packet of records I’d brought. Specifically, he took time to read my last two post-op reports.
  • After reading my records, he looked up at me and said, “Boy. You’ve got a real mess going on in there.” This didn’t faze me or upset me at all like it used to. He’s certainly not the first (or second, or even third) doctor to say that to me: I already know my endo is way bad. Like, if they counted past Stage 4, I’d probably be a Stage 6.
  • Dr. Din was concerned about my colon. I’d forgotten this, but apparently in surgery #4—but not in previous surgeries—I had significant endo on my colon and bowel/rectum area (forgive me if these are not in the same neighborhood of the body. My anatomy knowledge is sparse).
    • Option A: Because of the colon thing, Dr. Din gave me the option of referring me to a reproductive oncologist (an “RO”) to do my surgery; ROs apparently frequently work within the colon area. My experience from a previous surgery with an RO is that they’re quite scissor-happy. I do not want another laparotomy. Period. I do not like Option A.
    • Option B. Dr. Din often work in tandem with a colorectal surgeon. This means that, during my surgery, Dr. Din will do all the work (well, the Da Vinci robot will, actually) as far as removing endo, but a colorectal surgeon will be the surgical suite too. If Dr. Din sees endo on my colon/bowel/rectum areas, his colorectal colleague will take over the Da Vinci robot to remove endo from those areas. I am a fan of Option B.
  • My endo will be fully excised. The only time Dr. Din would burn it away is if there were “very small spots” (his words) that would be too small to bother excising. I’m okay with this.
  • Dr. Din is buddies with Dr. C (my RE). Apparently the two of them frequently exchange patients: Dr. C does IVF, but not obstetrics. Dr. Din does not do IVF, but he’s an OB who often follows post-IVF pregnancies. I was pleased to know that, between the two docs, I’d be in good hands.
  • Dr. Din examined the myriad of surgical scars on my abdomen (seriously, there’s so many). He pointed out where he would make incisions over top of my existing scars. I was happy to know that I’m only adding 1 tiny new scar to the collection.

I am to send Dr. Din a copy of the report following my upcoming hysteroscopy. If he has any questions about it—or about my history in general—he will touch base with Dr. C. In the meantime, Dr. Din promised to thoroughly review my plethora of records.

After the hysteroscopy, I’ll schedule a second appointment with Dr. Din. I imagine he’ll go over my procedure, order some blood tests, and schedule my pre-op stuff and the surgery itself. Time frame = end of January/early February.

Here’s to pain relief, to finally freeing my ovary from a tangle of adhesions, and being one step closer to restoring my fertility for natural TTC!

 

 

*Nope, not his real name; just a pseudonym to keep up my privacy in the blog world.