Pink Hope Outreach Ambassador Mel had an oophorectomy and she shares extracts from her personal diary covering the surgery, recovery and surgical menopause.
The Week Before
It has taken me a year to make the decision to have an oophorectomy. I was so afraid of what the after effect were going to be after this surgery, I have researched it and researched it and still have so many questions. My biggest concerns…? How is my body going to react after the oophorectomy? Am I going to have hot flushes, night sweats, am I going to gain weight and be a dry prune in the bedroom?
It is a very busy time for me with work, during the day I work hard, at night I watch a movie, go to bed and fall asleep with a book in my hands. I have now given up on doing research on the internet about oophorectomies and surgical menopause. What is the use? Everyone is different and no woman reacts the same way. In a last desperate attempt, I put up a question in the Pink Hope Forum to see if anyone can tell me how long the surgical menopause is going to last. And again no concrete answer…. It is different for each woman. One woman has no symptoms at all, another woman’s symptoms disappeared after less than a year and then yet another still has hot flushes 7 years after her surgery. So, I am giving up. There is no point into researching this. I will just have to wait and see. I have decided to tackle the problems as they arise.
The Day Before
We arrive early at the hospital and I fare a quick goodbye to hubby. I opt for a sandwich first in the cafe and buy a bottle of water. I then make my way up to level 5, Adult Hospital, where I have to admit myself. The stern eyes from admission nurse stare at me across the counter. “Have you been drinking”? she asks me. ” Uh yes”, I reply shocked, thinking what have I done? Then I realise that she must think that my surgery is today. No, it’s tomorrow. I am allowed to drink and eat until midnight tonight.
After an hour waiting I am being taken to the ward. The surgery is planned at 11am tomorrow. I am still relaxed and sign the consent form. Why am I not nervous or worried? Why so relaxed? Am I ready?
The Day of the Surgery
At 6am a nurse wakes me to apply two enemas. Great! I tried to talk her out of it, but she thinks it’s better if she does it. Ouch, not very pleasant and I think she has hurt me down there somewhere. Not long after I’m on the toilet, making a hell of a racket (sorry to my room mate).
I then had my shower with surgical soap and dressed myself in a hospital gown, paper undies and stockings (very sexy). I am amused and still relaxed. Not long after my shower, I am wheeled into the theatre, where the doctor reassuringly squeezes my feet and instructs me to hop over from the bed onto the surgery table. Okay, this is it. The anaesthetist attaches something to the portal in my hand and said not to worry. Then, nothing….
I’m on the other side…. I am waking up and notice there is somebody holding an oxygen mask over my mouth and encourages me to take deep breaths. Please let me sleep…. I am being wheeled back to the ward. I have a sore tummy (feels like period pain), I am thirsty and have a very sore right shoulder (from the gas which is normal). I am given some painkillers and when they have kicked in I am investigating my belly. I got 4 small incisions on my belly and another through my belly button. I am a bit sweaty and hot (is this my first hot flush?). I’m hungry too, which is a good sign, not nauseous at all!
The Day After
I woke up at 7am after about 12hrs sleep. I feel good, except for sore belly and stabbing pains in my right shoulder (referred pains). A huge team of doctors visited me and I’m allowed to go home. I got up out of bed and jeez that was painful. A nurse gave me a strong painkiller and after that I was able to have a shower.
Exhausted after the shower, I wait for hubby to pick me up. The car is parked far away and hubby told me to sit on a bench at the pick up/drop of area. I feel faint from the little walk from the ward to this bench. If someone comes and steels my handbag now, there would be nothing I could do.
The Friday After
I woke up this morning feeling faint and looking pale. I went to the toilet and passed a rather large blood cloth, the size of a 50 cent coin at least. I am dizzy and scramble myself together to get the kids off to school. As soon as they are gone, I am back in bed.
Resting is doing me well. I am starting to feel better. I noticed that today I don’t need any painkillers. The pain in my tummy feels now like muscle pain you get after 100 sit-ups. The referred pains in the right shoulder are gone. The belly is still kind of swollen, but even that is getting less. My bowel motion was difficult, even though I had taken gentle laxatives last night. For lunch, I introduced some more fibre to help keep things soft.
The Weekend After
Last night I woke up again in the middle of the night covered in sweat (menopausal symptom?). I got up for a pee and changed my pj’, since I got an instant chill from walking around in the cold night with wet clothes on. I realise I may have to clean the bed sheets probably a lot more often now too. May be I should invest in some sort of ultra absorbent matrass protector or something.
The Week After Surgery
The doctor who performed the surgery rang today. He said that the pathology results were all clear and that my ovaries were clean and healthy. That’s great news. I did not expect it to be anything else, but felt relieved regardless.
I went to back to work this week because I was bored and restless at home. At lunch time I was completely spend. I took some panadol for the pain and decided to drive home while I can. I realise now that I have totally underestimated the effects of the surgery. Yes, the wounds are healing, but inside I am still on the mend. I feel light headed and as soon as I am home I fall on my bed. Oh, how good it feels to relax those stomach muscles and to lie down. When the kids arrive home, they still find me in bed and they crawl in beside me under the blanket.
The rest of the week I feel extremely tired and lethargic. I have problems concentrating and really feel I do not want to be at work. Is this the aftermath of the surgery or is this part of menopause? I find myself staring at the screen and totally forgetting what I was doing or wanting to do. Resting is what I am supposed to do, whether I like it or not.
Three Weeks After
It has been an interesting journey. What I thought were night sweats, disappeared after a week. I guess these were just an aftermath from the anaesthetic. The memory and concentration problems have also disappeared, the only thing that remains at the moment is tiredness. Other than that, I can’t say I have any menopausal symptoms. Am I lucky or are these symptoms still coming?
One great advantage is “no more periods”. I would have had my period today if I still had my ovaries. I don’t feel premenstrual, I don’t feel the need to eat chocolate and I don’t have pains and aches in my tummy. I like this!
If you find yourself in the same situation as Mel and need a little extra help or advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here.