I sat on the toilet in our hotel room, slumped over with my chest on my thighs, desperately wishing it would end so I could get some sleep. Alas, no sleep would come until I was rendered unconscious in the OR by the mechanisms of modern medicine several hours later. The clock was slowly counting down the remaining hours until my excision surgery.
Upon arriving at Northside Hospital at 9:30 am (since I was second case), we went to pre-op admissions so I could sign my life away. I had to choke back a laugh during the Ebola screen. (“No, ma’am, I haven’t had any diarrhea or fatigue or nausea. I was just up all night after chugging 64 oz of Gatorade and crapping my brains out!”)
Once I was back in the pre-op area, I was greeted by a very cheery nurse with an adorable Southern accent. When we started talking, she paused at my Northern accent and asked, “Are you from Georgia?” I explained that I was from Ohio but I was here for excision surgery with Dr. Sinervo. At that her face lit up and she said, “Oh, that explains it! People come from all over to see Dr. Sinervo! He’s such a nice man and the best surgeon we have!” This was further comfort to me that I had made the right decision. I had my IV placed and (a huge amount of) blood drawn for the platelet-rich plasma therapy. Good thing I was already horizontal.
After awhile, David was allowed to come back to be with me. We were down to waiting at this point. As time went on, I began to feel more anxious. David asked if I was ok because he had been observing my heart monitor and said my heart rate had been in the 70s, but was now holding steady above 100.
At this point I came close to a meltdown. It suddenly struck me the sheer audacity of what we were doing. Here we were, over 700 miles from home, in a health system we didn’t know, in a city where we didn’t know a soul, putting our trust in a surgeon we had just met less than 24 hours before, paying out of pocket for a surgery we only hoped could fix me. What if it failed? David held my hand and I called the nurse for my dose of pre-op midazolam to calm me down.
At last, around 12:15 PM, Dr. Sinervo came in. We reviewed again what he was going to do. Then this blessed man offered to pray with us. David and I are both Christians who love the Lord, and we could tell by his prayer that Dr. Sinervo does too. That put me at absolute peace that I was in the hands of Jesus and that everything would be all right.
Once David and I had given each other a hug and a kiss, I was brought back to the OR at 12:30 PM. Now here is where I noticed a distinct difference between other hospitals and Northside. For my previous two surgeries, I remember everything seemed so rushed once I got into the OR. Sliding over onto the table, followed by a bunch of people practically attacking you to get your arms strapped down, your leads on, and to get you knocked out as quickly as possible. Not at Northside.
Once they had me on the table, a nurse immediately covered me with warm blankets and asked if I was warm enough and comfortable. Then Dr. Sinervo came in, which is unusual because most surgeons don’t come into the OR until the patient is asleep. But he sat down level with me, untucked my right arm, grasped my hand, and placed his other hand gently on my shoulder. He asked, “Are you anxious?” and I admitted I was. He said, “Don’t be, you are in very good hands.” Then, as I was breathing into the mask the anesthesiologist had placed over my nose and mouth, I remember it suddenly seemed as if someone had stuffed cotton in my ears, because sound suddenly turned off. Then my vision started to tunnel, and finally went black.
The next thing I remembered was a voice saying, “Laura, open your eyes. Laura, can you open your eyes?” I cracked my eyes open and realized I was in PACU. My excision surgery was over! The next thing I realized is that my pain was basically gone. The right lower quadrant pain felt like it had been released. My back wasn’t hurting. And I really wasn’t in a whole lot of pain at all (thank you, anesthesiologist!) The nurse told me I had a PCA and could push the button when I was in pain. I was then transferred to the extended recovery unit to be observed overnight.
When David came in, he played the recording he had made of his post-op conversation with Dr. Sinervo (at Dr. Sinervo’s encouragement, so David wouldn’t have to remember every detail!) Basically I had a healthy, but small bladder; healthy, though slightly soft uterus (indicating possible adenomyosis); clear and open Fallopian tubes; and lots more endo than what was found in June. I had adhesions at the site of the appendectomy and more adhesions on the left side around the bowel somewhere. Whew!
After doing everything I was suppose to do that evening and overnight (pee, walk, tolerate liquids and oral medications, and use my spirometer every hour), I was discharged the following morning after Dr. Sinervo came to check on me and gave me the green light. My nurses took fantastic care of me the whole time and I have to say I didn’t have a single negative experience at Northside Hospital!
The remaining days spent in Atlanta were a combination of sleeping, taking pain meds, slowly advancing my diet, lying around watching TV, and walking laps around the hotel room regularly. (Who doesn’t wasn’t blood clots? This girl.) At my follow-up appointment with Dr. Sinervo on November 3rd, the final pathology report confirmed endometriosis at the following locations:
- Left ureterosacral ligament*
- Left pelvic side wall
- Right cul-de-sac*
- Right ureterosacral ligament
- Right pelvic side wall
- Posterior uterus
Locations with a * indicate where I had endo burned off (ablation) in June. Now, based on what we’ve learned about proper treatment of endometriosis, does this surprise anyone? Didn’t think so. Excision surgery is where it’s at. I gave Dr. Sinervo a big bear hug for finally fixing me!
The next day, we returned home to Ohio and my long-term recovery began. It took a good 3 months before I finally felt completely recovered, but it was a 3 months I was willing to wait. Before long, I was able to do simple household tasks that I hadn’t been able to do in months. I had energy again and felt good. David and I attended the 2nd annual Worldwide EndoMarch in Washington D.C. in March 2015 and led the march with a few sisters we met up with from Ohio!
My endo story is far from over, as my next post will show. But this part of my story ends in triumph because I was able to have excision surgery, the gold standard of endometriosis treatment.