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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Fibroid Follow Up

Published November 30, 2010 9:48 PM by Barbara Mercer

Back in August, I wrote about my battle with uterine fibroids, and my decision to undergo a surgery to remove them. The unfortunate fibroids were causing uncomfortable and life-disrupting symptoms that had progressively worsened. Since my husband and I hope to have a child in our future, I opted for an invasive surgery that was designed to remove these benign tumors while preserving my ability to carry a fetus.

Let me share something I may not have made clear in that blog -- I was really nervous. Especially after the surgery was postponed due to my being anemic, and I had a whole month to: anticipate it; read way too much about anesthesia; have a dream in which Shaqille O’Neal told me everything would be fine (what?); and end up in the ED one night due to the heavy bleeding caused by the fibroids.

Ugh.

When the big day came Sept. 15, I was ready, and quickly learned to be at ease. I couldn’t have been in better hands than the admissions staff, perioperative staff, OR nurses, CRNA and anesthesiologist at The Chester County Hospital and, of course, my surgeon John Orris. Every single one of them confirmed my name, birthdate and what procedure I was having done. Then it was time to get things going.

One minute Dr. Orris was standing next to my gurney joking with me before we headed to the OR; the next - or so it seemed to me - a PACU nurse was asking if I wanted more pain medication. The answer was a raspy but definitive "Yes."

Then Dr. Orris appeared. In reality, more than 4 hours had gone by – my surgery was supposed to take about 2. Instead of the four fibroids the ultrasound had shown, the light of the OR revealed 16 of them, weighing a total of 11 ounces. Dr. Orris and his team removed every one of the darn things, reinforced my uterus (With steel? With duct tape? I forgot to ask.) and put me back together. We never were able to maintain my hemoglobin at a healthy level prior to surgery, so he also gave me a unit of blood.

That’s where the excitement of this medical drama ends, because my hospital stay, nursing care and recovery were textbook. The nurses on the surgical floor were attentive and gentle, and helped me get the rest and medications I needed to get through the first hazy 24 hours postop. I was thrilled to be able to head home the day after my surgery and be "nursed" by my husband, whom I have dubbed Caregiver of the Year.

After 2 weeks at home and 4 more weeks of taking things v e r y s l o w l y, I can’t help but marvel at the difference in my quality of life. I have energy again! I enjoy exercising again! My pants fit again!

To me, this surgical intervention feels like a miracle, but it is modern medicine, and my good fortune in finding a local surgeon who has made it his mission to perfect this specific procedure. This route won’t be for every woman experiencing the problems I did, but it’s certainly worth investigating.

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