Preparing to go in for pelvic surgery is a big deal. Let’s be honest it comes with a ton of questions and exacts a host of mental and emotional noise
To alleviate some of the angst and help you prepare I’m writing this article purely as a practical guide on things I have found useful over the course of my surgeries and a compilation of great insights from the larger endometriosis community.
No doctor talk here just real experiences from women who have gone through the laparoscopic surgery process.
Tip #1: Read ALL of the pre- and post-operative care instructions.
I know it seems pretty obvious, but I did work with an endo specialist for a time and not reading and following the surgery prep instructions given by the office did cause issues for the doctor and patient on many occasions.
Every surgeon is different and depending on the type of surgery you are going in for (and depending on the complexity of your case) your doctor may have different requests.
With my first surgery for example I wasn’t required to do a bowel prep. For my second surgery with a specialist, I WAS required to complete a bowel prep and that did come with additional items to complete on my list the night before surgery.
Make sure you read all instructions and follow them. They take priority over this list and any other list on the internet.
Don’t be afraid to call the office and ask questions if something is unclear or you don’t know what to do.
Tip #2: Surgery Prep – Create a Packing List
Everyone is different but here are a few of the things that were on my packing list and some from the larger community.
- Comfy clothes (bra and pants) or skirts and sweatpants. (Anything in your closet that won’t push against your abdomen)
- Warm Socks (because I don’t like the hospital’s socks)
- Pads, panty liners or period underwear. There may be some or quite a bit of post-op bleeding depending on your procedure
- Lots of electrolytes.
- Pillow (for the ride home)
- Meals prepared in advance, online grocery delivery scheduled and a meal train, so you don’t have to think about food prep post-op. (I loved sipping on bone broth and protein smoothies. You need to get enough easy to digest protein in to support healing post-op.)
- Fulfill your post-op pain medication and have it ready for when discharged from the hospital, you want it ready to go! Trust me on this one.
- Anti-inflammatory supplements and herbs at the ready for when you transition off pain meds. Personally, pain meds don’t agree with my stomach, so I do my best to transition off of them to more natural pain relief. (I used a combo of curcumin, high dose magnesium and cannabis patch for post-op pain).
- Entertainment and stress relief. Have a book, music and videos at the ready. Your doctor may be right on time or you may need to settle in and wait awhile. (For my last surgery I had to chill in the pre-op bed on an IV for hours (an unusual circumstance due to previous cases taking longer) but none the less I was happy to have a TV show, book and my favorite calming song at the ready to keep my nerves at bay. If you need a good song designed to help you sink into a calm state, I highly recommend downloading Weightless by Marconi Union from iTunes.
- Eye mask and sound canceling earphones or earplugs. Because hospitals are noisy, and it can be hard to sleep.
Tip #3: Surgery Day – As you wait “prepped” in the hospital…
This is where the mental game happens. Your brain and body work around the clock to keep you out of harm’s way so they don’t exactly like the idea of waiting to be wheeled into a surgery.
Here are some things I found helps.
- Meaning: Tie to your purpose. Whatever that means for you dig deep and tell yourself everything is going to turn out for the benefit of your healing. If you are into praying, pray. Affirmations, affirm and set your intentions. Now is a good time to talk with God, bless your doctor and the medical team serving you.
- Gratitude: I don’t think I can emphasize enough how powerful gratitude is for you and those around you. Meditate on how amazing it is the doctor and medical team can assist you with this body problem. Notice and be grateful for the little things. Find something really small. (For example, my IV went in without pain. That was amazing to me!)
- Download some Binaural Beats or the Marconi Union song. It helped slow my heart rate and ease mental chatter & anxiety.
- Ask your Anesthesiologist: I found out during my second surgery that as soon as your anesthesiologist is on the scene you can tell them you would like to feel calm as you go into the OR. I told my last anesthesiologist this and he helped me feel instantly calm and I stayed that way until he put me all the way under. (that’s how you want to feel trust me).
Tip #4: Post-Op Healing Best Practices
Once you wake from surgery typically your nurse is already attending to your pain management. They will make you stand and go to the bathroom eventually and that was my least favorite part. Warning: It doesn’t feel good the first few times.
After you are released from the hospital the real healing begins.
Here are my best practices for that.
- Shoulder, chest, back and neck pain is normal and typical from the gas used to inflate your abdominal cavity. Self-massage can really help move the gases around, so they get out. Be gentle around incision sites.
- Water, Mild stool softener & Gas X. Keep hydrated and don’t be afraid to use a mild stool softener and Gas x to keep things moving gently. After surgery you do not want hard stool, it is painful to pass.
- Scratchy Throat. I didn’t have this problem, but some women report a scratchy throat from the intubation. If that’s you, cough drops and tea can be helpful.
- Hot water bottles, ice packs and pillows are a must!
- Gentle Movement. Don’t expect too much of yourself, fatigue can creep up fast (so fast in fact I almost go stranded in a Wal Mart one time). Settle into the fact that most likely it will be 4-6 weeks before you start to really feel like yourself again. Gentle walking around your house every hour is good but rest in between, stand to do the dishes for a few minutes and then rest for an hour, break everything up into smaller tasks. No heavy lifting or serious movement until healed or it can cause additional adhesions which can cause future pain.
- Supplements. Ask your doctor first, then look into Serrapeptase and NAC to help with post-op healing. There is quite a bit of research on their ability to help prevent scar formation post-op.
Tip #5: Enjoy your new life!
After healing from my second surgery life has been soo much better. Remember healing is an event AND a process so get back to living your best life possible and preventing the reoccurrence of issues with ongoing healthy mind/body habits.
If you want additional support on your healing journey as always, we would love to have you in the Beyond Endo Support Group.
Healing blessings to you as you go in for surgery!