This post will include talk of surgery, ladies parts, fertility and ‘wounds’. If any of this bothers you, please don’t read any further 🙂
So this was my view for most of yesterday.
I was struck by how brown my knees looked and how thin my calves were in those special stockings! I’ve now taken all the medication and feel well and awake enough to type…so I’d better get the words out of me before they wear off!
I’ve been a bit of an absentee blogger recently. Admittedly this is partly because I’ve been busy, but also because every time I sat down and began to write, all I wanted to talk about was my upcoming surgery. I wasn’t sure if this was something that I wanted to share with everyone or even what I would be telling them.
A few months ago I was referred to the Women’s Clinic with what appeared to be a growth on my right ovary or fallopian tube. If you’ve been reading Vintage Folly for a while, you might be aware that I suffer from secondary infertility, as a result of damage that was done to my fallopian tubes when Beth was just a baby.
The specialist was horrified to hear that despite years of worry and my many attempts to find out the extent of my infertility, help had been far from forthcoming. She looked at me and said; ‘You’ve been let down and I want to help you.” I cried buckets. Instead of begging for help and being turned away for being too young, too single, too newly wed, this person was offering to help without even being asked. Given my medical history there was as much chance of the ‘growth’ being a symptom of the damage to my tubes, as anything more sinister and the scans were inconclusive. So she suggested that we carried out a series of fertility tests which would give me an insight into my fertility levels and in turn diagnose the nature of the ‘growth’.
The waiting was unbearable. Although I knew that the ‘growth’ was likely a swelling or blockage in my tubes, I couldn’t shake the fear of something more serious. It hung over me like a veil. I struggled to to sleep, struggled to think straight and I really struggled to talk about it – even to my closest friends and family. I think it was largely because I didn’t know what I was telling them? I had no idea of timescales for a diagnosis, percentages, treatments…..I knew that they would worry and have questions and I’d have no answers. I couldn’t talk about how I was feeling – not even to Phill.
I eventually told my dearest friend Kat, over a glass of wine – actually I also placed a shot of vodka in front of her too, just incase she needed it! I then told my friend Kiki who suggested that I write my feelings down and email some of my friends, which I did and it helped so much. My step-mum was incredibly understanding, she and my Dad tried to make me see the positive side – that all this would be over soon, that the team looking after me were clearly on the ball and that in the end, not only would the ‘growth’ be gone, but I’d have the fertility answers that I’d searched for for a decade. Then there was Phill, who allowed me to cry, scream, shout, sulk, blame, sleep, disappear and ultimately shut him out and despite it all, continued to love me.
After a number of tests and scans, I was referred for a HyCoSy which is a procedure where a contrast is injected into the fallopian tubes. They scan your abdomen and can see if there is a blockage or anything leaking :-S
Both tubes were blocked and the right was leaking fluid into my abdomen, there also appeared to be damage to the right ovary. I was as I’d suspected, completely infertile. The ‘growth’ wasn’t a growth at all, it was debris and fluid in the right tube. The procedure hurt a lot. Pants off and legs akimbo, the consultant told me that he would need to operate as soon as possible to definitely remove the right, but probably both tubes and the right ovary.
It hit me like a wall.
But at least I’d be well and there wasn’t anything more dangerous going on (try to see the positive!). Then another wall hit me. “Once you’ve recovered from the surgery we’ll arrange to harvest some eggs, then you can have IVF in the future if you decide you’d like another child.”
Walking out of the Hospital, I couldn’t hold back anymore. Big, hot, wet tears began rolling down my face, the sort that build up over years. It was so much information to receive all at once and without my pants on too!
That evening I explained the procedure to Beth – I felt I had too. She isn’t daft and had
been eavesdropping realised I was having tests done. It seemed cruel to leave her worrying and in any case, I certainly wouldn’t be able to hide a hospital stay from her! I drew a uterus, with fallopian tubes and ovaries I tried my best to help her understand. She said it was difficult to take the explanation seriously now that she knew my uterus looked like an alien! 🙂 Beth took the news very well and asked some very calm, grown up questions which let me know that telling her the truth was the right thing to do.
The days that led up to the surgery were hell! I was in pain and so anxious – I really struggled to stay calm and my pre-op appointment gave me little information. What were the risks? Where were the scars? What were the success rates? I was told that I could ask any questions on the morning of my surgery (until then I was free to worry to my heart’s content!).
So yesterday was the big day and as I drifted off to sleep on the operating table, I thought of this picture and tried to dream of the two people in it.
When I woke up I felt numb. Emotionally that is, as physically I felt like I’d had my insides blended! As soon as I could I asked the Nurse, what had happened in my surgery. She took a look at my notes: “He’s removed them both” she said. There’s those big, hot, wet tears again.
But doctor’s writing is terrible and even the most experienced nurses can come a cropper! The surgeon did remove my very damaged right fallopian tube. But he left the right ovary as it actually looked ok and the left tube: he opened it up! He made it very clear that he couldn’t guarantee the functionality of the left tube, but it’s still in there and both ovaries look great. I must have had an angel watching over me.
I came home to Angel earrings from Beth.
I looked the surgeon straight in the eyes and tried with all the words I could muster to make him realise how grateful I was. He just smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said “I’ll see you in about five weeks, now get some rest.”
So in the last couple of months I’ve gone from being infertile for the last ten years with a ‘worrying growth’ on my reproductive system, to being well and potentially fertile!
Right now I’m exhausted and in quite a lot pain. The hospital has sent me home with all kinds of pain killers but I’m still uncomfortable and the wounds, two at knicker elastic height and one in my belly button, are a bit weepy and grim-looking. But today feels like a new start and I’m over the moon.
The clinics here were fantastic, thank God for the NHS! But I could have done with more information along the way, just to stop me worrying about the unknown. That isn’t a criticism of the service, they saw me quickly, did a great job and everyone was so kind, but there just isn’t time to chat with the sheer number of patients they have to see. Now that I know where I stand, I feel comfortable and confident talking about things and I think it’s important that we do talk more openly about fertility issues. As ‘issues’ go, this one can be crippling and yet here in the UK, it’s something that we shy away from.
If you check back in on me in a week or two, I might even show off my scars ;-P