having spent the last several weeks digging through the internet (which seems surprisingly small sometimes when you can’t find exactly what you want) looking for detailed accounts of the uterine embolization process, i had it in my mind before i got down to surgical business that i would write my own detailed personal account of the procedure. i could entitle it something hopeful like “surviving uterine embolization” or encouraging like “UFE is not so bad after all”. like a fibroid filled sacagawea, i could guide the women of the internet through this harrowing territory, and safely out to the other side.
as you can see from the above title, my rose colored glasses got ripped off my face on friday morning, and immediately smashed into powder. perhaps someone spit on them for emphasis. when the only other choice is hysterectomy, and you’re 34 years old and not ready to potentially catapult yourself into premature menopause… it isn’t really a choice. and truthfully, despite the fact that i’m just now starting to not be completely bedridden, it’s still probably the choice that i would have made. but seriously… WHY DIDN’T SOMEBODY TELL ME?!
if you have a weak stomach, are eating at the present, or possibly might be interested in having sex with me someday… i would recommend not reading any further. however, if your uterus looks like a little like this, and you’re not ready to have that fucker removed completely… here is what you might be in for.
now, i should probably preface this whole shebang by saying once again that i have 5 fibroids of SIGNIFICANT size. like grapefruits or softballs. many women who get this procedure done have much smaller fibriods and as a result, probably less pain and complication.
friday was actually pretty much what i expected. got to the hospital, checked in, was given some sack like unflattering garments to wear (am i the only one who wonders how many people have died in those johnnies?). was told to put all of my belongings in big pink garbage bags bearing the logo of the hospital (they did not find my “just like getting out of prison” joke very funny). had to pee in a cup and give them some blood (not pregnant! wait? um… my uterus is covered in tumors and has been spewing blood for MONTHS- did they really need to check? not exactly a hospitable environment for life). got suited up for my IV. got wheeled into surgery. cried a bunch. declared that i wanted both my mom and my dog. blacked out.
AND WOKE UP.
conscious sedation is kind of awesome. something really terrible could be happening (like having a camera jammed down your throat, or getting cut open and having a tube threaded through one of your major arteries), and you wouldn’t know a damn thing. you might ask questions or drift in and out of consciousness. or, you might lay there and be wide awake the entire time. it’s weird, but i definitely felt no pain.
well, i felt no pain until the procedure was almost over and the magic started to happen. the magic of INFARCTION! this is what happens when otherwise happy living tissue loses its blood supply and starts to die. necrose, if you want to use all your fancy t.v. doctor speak. and speaking of t.v. doctors… an infarction (of the quadriceps muscle) is EXACTLY why house m.d. is a cranky old vicodin addict who walks with a cane.
star wipe to a 24 hour montage of me intermittently begging for death and pressing that hydromorphone button before blacking out for another 8 minutes. i would press that button every 8 minutes until my bags were packed and they were shutting down the “short stay” ward for the weekend.
your doc is correct when he says that it feels like really severe menstrual cramps. your ability to imagine how severe menstrual cramps could possibly get is WOEFULLY INADEQUATE.
at least i didn’t have to be catheterized. i did have to use a bedpan at one point (a little humiliating, but passable in the drug addled moment). you’re not allowed to move for 4 hours after the surgery, yet the meds make you thirsty as hell, and have to pee like a motherfucker. i would spend the rest of the night dragging my IV stand into the tiny bathroom in my room every half hour or so. unremarkable, except that there was this pan in the toilet bowl so they could measure how much i was peeing.
i don’t know if it was the narcotics or the pain, but when i peed a lot, i felt a little bit proud.
they sent me home with some giant fucking horse percoset, some anti-nausea meds, and some colace (because apparently narcotics make it hard to poop- more on that later!). and it was probably just the remains of the day long pain button orgy, but the first percoset seemed to do the trick. i go a couple of cookies and some applesauce down the hatch, and passed out for a few hours… UNTIL I WOKE UP IN THE MOST UNGODLY UNBEARABLE PAIN I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED.
horse percoset ≠pain relief in the world of fibroid infarction. especially if you’re me.
i spent the entirety of saturday night in a half fever delirium of sweating and abdomen clutching.
ever polite, i waited until 7 am to call a friend (thanks zak, you were an awesome nurse!) to take me to emergency room. because if there was one thing i needed more than more hydromorphone (which they would eventually give me), it was ANOTHER IV hole in my arm (i had 6 puncture wounds by the end of this ordeal). i also got myself a sweet abdominal x-ray out of the deal. still not sure why. TERRIFIED of hospital bills.
but like i said, they sent me home with the good shit, so the next couple of days were blurry.
so let’s leave it there for now. me, sweating quietly in my blanket nest, waiting for my next 4 hour dosage. but you’ll have to tune into tomorrow for the exciting and revolting conclusion of “uterine artery embolization is horrible and disgusting”.