Recovery After Laparoscopic Hysterectomy by a Robot
Nearly two weeks ago, I was lying on a surgical table, belly bloated with CO2 gas, head tilted towards the floor, legs in stirrups, with a robotic laparoscope inserted in 4 different places in my abdomen. The thought of it sounds like a sci-fi movie, and I only wish I’d had a photo of the position I was in just for laughs.
When I was awakened after the surgery, I didn’t feel too much pain at the time. I was still high on anesthesia and whatever other pain meds they pumped into my system intravenously, but all I wanted to do was sleep it off. The nurse put me in a corner station, saying it should be quiet for me there. Shortly after, I felt like I was going to vomit, mainly because the assistants outside of the curtain were talking loudly and banging around and talking on their phones. Seriously! I wanted to yell, “Library voices!!” But I didn’t even have the strength.
The nausea worsened with the noise, and the doctors said if I vomited, they would have to keep me overnight. I wasn’t about to stay overnight, because I was an hour from my house, and no one wanted to make the drive again the following day. Once I got my stomach to settle down a bit, I got my bag of meds and left for home. All I wanted to do was lay down and sleep off the anesthesia and meds. But that didn’t happen.
As soon as I lay my head down on my couch, my neighbor started the lawnmower right next to my door and windows by the room I was in. Noise and movement is what made me want to vomit in the first place, and I was beginning to get a migraine from it all. Not only was I annoyed, I was feeling really awful. The nausea, the headache, and now the pain meds were really wearing off.
Later that evening a friend came over to help me. At some point I did start puking, and the excruciating pain from the CO2 gas started. If you’ve never experienced that pain (I have before but not to this extent), it can be compared to the feeling of having a heart attack, because the gas is pressing on the diaphragm, and you feel like you’re being suffocated. The best way I can describe it is it’s as if someone is nailing railroad spikes directly down into your shoulders. Or it’s like having labor in your shoulders. Add puking to that and you just feel like you’re dying worse than any flu x10. Since I couldn’t keep anything down, I couldn’t take anymore pain meds. This went on all night. So there I was in excruciating pain on Night One without any rest whatsoever.2
The following day I slept very little, still in pain. Same story for Night Two – no sleep, and no amount of pain medicine helped (I was given Tramadol, because I requested NO opioids, which make me sick). I had stopped puking, however, but I had no appetite and couldn’t eat more than a bite or two of toast or crackers and some fluids. In fact, I didn’t eat more than three to four bites of anything for a couple of days.
Then came Nights Three and Four. I started to finally rest a little bit, but because I had been in so much pain, it didn’t occur to me to take my temperature. I’d been running a fever, and that lasted for the next two or three days/nights. I was to call the hospital if it went over 101, which it was, but I’m stubborn and decided to try some Tylenol instead. It worked, and the only thing about having a fever is that it actually made me sleep quite a bit. Once the fever broke and I started feeling better, I tried eating soup. (At that point I’d only had crackers, toast and water.) Again, three or four bites and I was full.
Day Six is when the other pain started – back pain, which I suspect was a result of being tossed around during surgery. It felt like a pinch that a chiropractor could fix, but I couldn’t go to a chiro. I had only been given 3 days of pain meds, and I spent the next two nights in more pain and literally awake the entire night until 4 or 5 a.m. Nothing I did helped the pain. By then I was about to lose it. Pain, lack of sleep, lack of nutrition = meltdown. I spent a lot of time crying, which was a bit of a release.
By Day Seven, I threw in the towel. I had a friend bring me some beer, drank more than I should have, but slept the night away. Paid for it by sitting on the toilet the entire next day, but at least I slept. Now I am on week 2 and still trying to get my body back on a regular schedule. Sleep pattern is all over the place. I eat maybe one full meal a day, but other than that small meals throughout the day. As for pain, it’s pretty much gone, but I do feel tender and sensitive at the incision areas and some of my insides. My stomach muscles feel weak, as expected, and I can’t wait to be able to go back to yoga class. Tomorrow I go for my first post-op visit.
In the meantime, I’m not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds, do any type of housecleaning (yeah right), and for now I haven’t been driving yet. This is definitely taking a lot longer than I had expected. I’m just anxious for the rewards of never having a period or a PAP again!