My own (encouraging) laparoscopy experience
I am a 42 year old woman who has been dealing with an ovarian cyst issue since September of 2007. My cyst was discovered during an ultrasound done for pelvic pain and irregular bleeding while on the pill. After going off the pill, I had my ultrasound and they found the cyst which was around 8 cms. After a year and a half, the cyst grew to about 9 cms and it was decided that it had to come out. I had a laparoscopy this past Tuesday.
I had read a lot about the experience and there seems to be a variety of experiences with this procedure. Perhaps mine can help shed some more light for those of you who are getting ready for this experience and it may hopefully also offer you some encouragement.
The morning of my laparoscopy I woke up and took my time to wash (with special disinfectant soap given to me by the hospital) and get dressed (I chose loose fitting clothing .. sweats and slip on shoes .. no tight fighting panties either). I took my urine sample to take to the hospital (to check for pregnancy), gargled with water (you are not allowed to drink anything from midnight on so this helps to refresh your mouth and throat) and took my anti-nausea medication for the procedure (Granisetron .. which worked beautifully for me). I had a bag ready which included throat lozenges, antibacterial hand sanitizer, kleenex, underwear, socks, sanitary pads, a book and my health card (leave all valuables at home !).
When I arrived at the outpatient surgery, they took my urine sample, asked me some questions and then gave me my robe and slippers and told me to change and put my stuff in a locker of my choice. This area is where I began and ended my surgical experience. After I did this, I was led to an area to await my surgery (along with a few others). As I waited, the OR nurse and anaesthesiologist came to ask me some questions and to give me some medications for pain control during the procedure. When it was time, I entered the operating room (on foot) and lay down on the table while a surgical team (inhalotherapist, anaesthesiologist, surgeon, OR nurse and surgical residents) all got busy getting me ready. They were all very professional, upbeat and encouraging and they all knew exactly what to do (like a practiced choreography). A breathing mask with oxygen was given to me (reserve oxygen for the intubation process) and the sleeping medicine was injected through the IV. As I was telling them about my poor sick cat at home (who unfortunately passed away during my surgery), I fell asleep.
I woke up as I was being wheeled into recovery. I could feel pain from my stitches but this was bearable. I also felt something like a urinary tract infection and said so as this was quite annoying. The recovery room nurse told me that this was an irritation from the catheter during the surgery and that this would pass (he was right). I also had some blurriness even though they gave me back my glasses and I was told that this is from something they put on your eyes to protect them during surgery. I rubbed this off so that I could see and I blew my nose to clear the mucus at the back of my nose and throat (I was going through a cold at that time .. lucky me). The OR nurse offered me some water through a straw, which I accepted, gratefully, and he asked me if I need anything for the pain. I said that I could use a little something and he gave me a half dose of Fentanyl (a narcotic). This helped and after a while I was wheeled into recovery room two, where I begun the day.
By this time, the urinary tract irritation was much better, my nasal passages were clear and I had gotten rid of the eye ointment so I could see. I did not feel any nausea at all but I was tired and a little groggy so every once in a while I would close my eyes and take a short nap. When the gurney was put beside my recovery bed, I had to scoot over and this was a little painful because of my stitches. I made it though and once on the bed I relaxed. Another nurse came over to inquire about my pain and I said that my pain was getting a little annoying (bearable but annoying) so she gave me some demerol and this took care of things. After a time, she came by with crackers, juice and water and I asked to sit up. I ate, drank and napped for a while until it was time to go to the bathroom. I was helped to the bathroom (although I was quite able to walk on my own) and I urinated. Urinating was slow and a little painful (due to the catheter) but this got better and better during the days that followed. After returning to my bed, I was paid a visit from my surgeon who told me that the cyst did not look at all threatening and that she was able to remove the ovary and tube with only three incisions instead of the planned four. She discussed a few things with me and after I thanked her profusely (she was truly amazing both before, during and after the surgery) she took her leave of me. My throat felt raw so I took a couple of the throat lozenges that I had packed and I read my book (the grogginess had dissipated by this time).
By around noon, I was ready to leave (my procedure was at 8 am) so I got dressed and when my husband was ready (he works at the hospital and had to take care of a few things) he took me home. I had no nausea throughout the entire time and I was extremely grateful for this.
The rest of the day was spent chatting with my parents and walking around slowly in the house. I was incredibly thirsty and I must have drank about 15-20 glasses of water that day (I actually had no saliva in my mouth and my tongue was sticking to everything around it). I ate sparingly and had a light supper. The next day I felt better and I ate a little more but continued to drink lots of water. I had my parents take me to the park and I walked for around 30-40 minutes (slowly). I spent the rest of the day relaxing, watching TV and talking to my parents (they came to take care of me for the week). Day three was even better and I was able to go shopping with my parents (for groceries) and to take another walk. I began taking Metamucil to help the bowels to get back to normal as I was starting to experience some gas (nothing horrible). Day four I felt more like my old self. My tummy was no longer as tender and I was able to pee quite normally (no dribbling at the end and with more pressure). I also had my first bowel movement post surgery. At the end of the day I was able to take a 1.5 km walk around the lake with my husband, although not at the brisk pace that we usually take. Unfortunately, I was still blowing my nose and coughing a little from my cold (not pleasant with stitches). Also, my throat was still a little raw, either from the anaesthesia tubes or from my cold (or both) so I needed a throat lozenge from time to time.
It is now day 5 and although I am still feeling the bruising around the stitches and am still a little "tender" inside, I am quite well overall. Tonight I am taking my parents out to dinner to thank them and to celebrate the removal of this cyst that has caused me so much anxiety over the past year and a half. I will probably limit my wine intake to one glass and will not pig out but it should still be a very enjoyable evening.
Overall, the experience was not unbearable. I had no shoulder pain at all (I had read about this a lot) and no nausea either (Granisetron, remember it !). The anaesthesia does leave you a little groggy and sleepy after surgery but this wears off after about an hour or so. I was also able to sleep through the nights right after my surgery and my mornings felt quite rested. I am not saying that this was a picnic as it most certainly wasn't but it was definitely a more positive experience than I was expecting. My incisions are quite small: I have one in my bellybutton (which I hardly ever felt), something slightly under 2 cms just above the pubic bone (which I felt after surgery but which was fine afterwards) and another small incision off to my right side where they put the tools (which has a bruise and which was the most painful .. not very though).
I hope that this experience can perhaps help some of you who are getting ready for a laparoscopy. Be patient with yourself and be prepared to take care of yourself for the next few days. Above all, KNOW that your recovery will be very quick and that you will be back to your old self in no time at all. I also found it extremely helpful to think about the results of the surgery, which in my case was finally getting rid of my cyst which I had been watching for so long and which caused me so much pain during ovulation. Keep your eye on the prize ! Now I await the pathology of the cyst. I am told that it looked completely normal which is very encouraging however knowing with 100% certainty is the ultimate reassurance.
All the best.