Marathoner’s Hysterectomy Journey -Day 3

Okay, 2nd night’s “sleep” was WAY better than the first, though not great. I got in a solid four hours, but then I kept getting out of bed every two hours to walk around and try to get my GI tract moving. Having no catheter or IV was very freeing and even though I was still very uncomfortable, it was okay. I haven’t taken a narcotic pain killer since last night around 9pm. F yeah.

I’ve still had some off-and-on extreme “period cramps” type of pain all day, but it’s definitely manageable and comes and goes, it’s not always terrible. My husband had to go pick something up from Home Depot before we left Prince George, so while he stepped out I went for a walk and managed 2km in half an hour! I wasn’t trying to push it or anything, I just wanted to try moving for 30 minutes and it felt great, and the kilometres took me about 15 minutes today instead of 16-17 minutes yesterday.

At the hotel breakfast I had some Shreddies and a mandarin orange, and then I started having some good burps so I ate two more oranges and it felt good to put down some food and to expel some air. Coffee was good too. No BM today, but since I haven’t eaten much at all since Monday I am feeling okay. The gas bubbles that are trapped in what feels to be the areas both above and below my diaphragm are still there and I can hear them (and so can my husband) when I’m deep breathing. There is no pain from this but it’s not comfortable.

We decided to really, REALLY take our time getting home (it’s an 8 hour drive) and to stop for the night if needed, wherever that may be. But, we stopped for real about every hour, and I fell asleep three or four times quite deeply, and it went by pretty fast and I didn’t have any problem with coming all the way home. Most of the stops I walked around for at least five minutes. The pillow from Lisa is so amazing and I felt relatively comfortable in the truck with it cushioning my abdomen. The few bumps in the road had me bracing myself, but I didn’t have pain, it was more guarding just in case.

Once we got home, I had a shower! I mainly let the water hit my back only, and stuck my face in the water to wash, but it was nice to have a rinse. I took off the dressings to have a look at the tape bandaids, which I have been told need to stay on for one week. This is how it looks – I am in disbelief that this is the extent of the carnage on the outside LOL.

Still pretty bloated and my low back and hips are so achey, but I feel so lucky that I can walk and get dressed, etc. Also, still rocking paper manties. I think I have 2 pairs left haha.

My surgeon wants me to come back to Prince George for a follow-up appointment in early September, and in the meantime, any concerns I have will be directed to my GP. I can’t remember if I mentioned it yesterday, but no driving for two weeks, simply due to having major surgery, but she did okay me to go on a plane…so I am looking at flights to go visit my sister who recently moved to Mexico. What a good place to go walking.

Crossing fingers for 4+ hours of uninterrupted sleep tonight and for more gas bubbles to leave my body in any way possible as time goes on. Tomorrow I want to try two walks, some calf raises and some time spent standing on one leg at a time for hip strength. I’ll try some gentle stretching, too, as long as it feels safe, but if not will abort mission.

JK

Hysterectomy – the rest of Day 2

Today basically kept getting better. An intentional 15 min walk outside, a bit of real food (toast with some sort of prune potion that my nurse gave me), another BM and more walking with a friend, Gillian, who has experienced far more when it comes to gynecological surgeries than I have, and a nap.

Still feeling bloated but nowhere near to the degree of last night and this morning. I was able to get in and out of the truck without help, the seatbelt pillow that Lisa gave me is fantastic, and I even went to Lulu, though they didn’t have what I was looking for. I would not have been able to try on clothes but I know my sizes there.

There was one last nurse visit where she gathered all the gear and equipment, gave me more of my new favourite outfit (see mesh manties below) and took the IV out of my hand since the earlier bloodwork showed no need for antibiotics. I was officially discharged from Hospital at Home but we are spending another night in the hotel – the though of driving home today was out of the question. If you have this surgery or one like it, I would not travel the next day!

I feel so thankful that I went for two purposeful walks today, both about 1km. They were slow and I did feel a little soreness after the first one, but I think this is pretty good for the day after the operation. I used my Garmin to keep track so that I can build on the time spent walking and also, in time, the pace at which I’m walking.

Good night, I’m gonna get some legit rest tonight I believe.

JK

Marathoner’s Hysterectomy Journey – Day of, that night & morning after

Wow. I will start by saying that the last 12 hours were some of my worst ever.

My husband drove me to the hospital for 11am yesterday and the check-in process was smooth and easy. Once we got to Day Surgery, I was changed into a gown, booties and some massive gangster shorts almost immediately and had to pee in a cup, which I found out later was for a pregnancy test. After I was weighed (58.1 kg, interested in keeping an eye on this since I have only had a smoothie so far and I am not hungry) and my height measured, I said bye to Husband and settled into a recliner to get prepped.

They took my blood pressure, which was actually really low and freaked me out that I would faint as soon as it was time for any poking or prodding. A temperature monitor was stuck on my forehead. An OR nurse came and gave me a heparin (anti-clotting agent) in the abdomen and it stung pretty bad but wasn’t too big of a deal. Then an amazing med student working alongside the anesthesiologist screened me and decided we would wait until I was in the OR and laying down to put the IV in. My surgeon came to visit and confirm what was happening and tell me a few things about recovery. No lifting heavy things, doing heavy house work or twisting motions, no swimming (FML) or running for 6 weeks, firm. But I asked about increasing walking speed, walking up hills, etc and she said that is fine, and can start run-walk intervals at 6 weeks and build by feel.

What happened yesterday was, IUD removal, total hysterectomy (uterus and cervix) and bilateral salpingectomy (fallopian tubes). I told my surgeon to promise me there was no way the ovaries could get taken by accident and she assured me that would not happen haha.

Once I went to the OR, I felt nervous but okay, it was really bright and chilly in there and it was an all-girl crew and they were all super nice to me. Getting the IV sucked, my usual Arnold Schwarzenegger veins were not great as I was starving to death and very dehydrated, but they got it into my left hand on the 2nd try and then it was time to go to sleep.

I have never had general anesthetic before so it was so wild opening my eyes and being told that I was waking up from surgery! I definitely bit my lip hard at some point because it was sore and swollen and my throat was a bit scratchy from the airway that had been in. Grogginess was high and my lower back and hips were so, so sore. I kept nodding off and apparently holding my breath, leading to O2 to dip too low, so I had to stay in the recovery room longer than they thought but it wasn’t that long. Maybe two hours?

Husband arrived to pick me up and I was pretty fucked up and very overwhelmed so I started to cry a lot and didn’t love the wheelchair ride, but the drive to the hotel wasn’t too bad and getting into the bed with the catheter (or “golden purse” as my favourite nurse says it’s called) wasn’t too bad. But my back was excruciatingly achey and it felt like my ovaries had a blow torch on each and worse period cramps times 100. About 20 minutes after we had settled in, the first nurse from Hospital at Home came. He had me on a saline IV all night and a low dose (1mg) hydromorphone every 4 hours for pain. I would doze for about 10 minutes after a dose but the pain from the carbon dioxide gas that they inflate you with was too much and I just kept getting up and not sleeping all night. It truly fucking sucked to be honest.

Finally by 6am some of my puppy poses and one leg up on the bed at a time for modified wind-relieving pose allowed the passing of a bit of the gas and the beginning of an urge for a bowel movement. Funny how when I’m talking about running I say poomergency but in this case I’m being all medical. LOL. That was a bad night.

A new Hospital at Home nurse came this morning and she removed the catheter (not painful in any way) and disconnected the IV. She also tried to take blood for a CBC but my veins were’t cooperating so the next nurse will do that. She left me a “sombrero” to pee in that measures the volume and unless you can void about 250ml and not retain too much in the bladder (they ultrasound to check) then they have to put the catheter back in! But, don’t want to brag, but I just peed 400ml so I think I might be in the clear.

I did a short walk down the hall to the elevator and back and if felt good to move. I was side stepping and walking forward and backwards last night but with all the riggin I couldn’t really go anywhere. The very gentle yoga poses and simply getting out of the bed often was all I could do to feel a tiny bit better, it fucking sucked. But as of right now I just feel a bit bloated and like I have period cramps and an achey back. There is also carbon dioxide gas trapped around my diaphragm and I can hear it when I’m doing deep-diaphragmatic breaths and it’s making my right shoulder hurt a bit but apparently that’s normal referral pain from pressure on the phrenic nerve..

Time for bladder ultrasound and another short walk. I feel like it can only go up from here, fingers crossed. PS, get yourself a spouse like mine. Wow.

Jamie

Marathoner’s Hysterectomy Journey – morning of

Good morning!

I’m sitting in a massive bed at our hotel and just took my final sip of (black..) coffee. At 11am my husband is taking me to the hospital to check in and we both have to sign a consent form for “Hospital at Home.” Hospital at Home is, what sounds like to me, an awesome program where eligible, medically stable patients get hospital-level care in their homes (on in my case, hotel), instead of staying in the hospital. Medical team members care for the patient using both in-person home visits and virtual visits (phone and/or video). They also use technology to monitor you. Hospital at Home care is short-term (average 3-7 days) and is available 24/7, and 365 days a year. Northern Health is currently trialing Hospital at Home in Prince George, through the University Hospital of Northern BC, which is where I’m having the procedure today. I hope it all goes smoothly!

I swore I was going to get up early and run this morning, but this king bed is pretty comfy. Maybe I’ll go for a little shake out when I’m done writing this.

All there really is to do this morning is not eat (since midnight) or drink anymore clear fluids (since 8am), take my one prescription medication which I’ve done, and have the final shower. I’m feeling pretty nervous, I always half-faint when I get blood drawn so I’m scared that having such an empty stomach and lower blood sugar is going to make me freak out at the hospital, but I’ll just have to get through it. I’ve never had an IV before and they gross me out. I’m also scared of how much pain there will be after.

The extremely nice gentleman who called yesterday from the Hospital at Home program was very thorough, and he reminded me that even though I’m a H@H candidate, if the surgeon decides for whatever reason that it’s safest to stay a night in the hospital after all, she can make that call. So I packed a light over night back just in case but as long as all goes well my amazing husband will come and get me once I’m done in the OR recovery.

Here we go. Talk as soon as possible.

Jamie

Marathoner’s Hysterectomy Journey- pre-surgery week thoughts & actions

Hello!

Wow. So my plan to get super fit and race an 8k right before the operation kind of fell apart. I was definitely in denial about how burnt out I was from marathon training and Eugene, quickly followed by the Victoria 70.3 and a couple other fun events in there. I see now that I was trying to force myself to keep pushing up until this surgery because I do have fears about losing all the fitness. Irrational, yes. Human nature? Also, yes.

I got SO sick about three weeks ago and haven’t really felt like doing much since. Aside from a few trail runs and short bike rides, all I’ve really been doing in the last month is swimming. Now it’s T minus five days until the procedure and I’m just trying to be nice to myself about still not wanting to run! It’s all good – I really do believe that the recovery period and not having the option to run is going to slingshot me back into full-blown running stoke, when it’s appropriate. But, I also feel so scared about what it’s going to be like trying to build back up. And I’m sad that I crashed and burned energy-wise right before this forced time off.

My good friends keep reassuring me and reminding me about lifetime fitness, or the total accumulated fitness gains over the last, say, ten years. It has been really helping to reflect on that, and if you are reading this and preparing for something similar, I think it can only be helpful for you to do it too. What have we been doing over the last decade? Make a quick list. Mine looks like this

  • 3-4 years of a pretty dedicated yoga practice
  • years in total working with various personal trainers, both group and 1 on 1
  • many triathlons, including two Ironman 70.3
  • +25 half marathons
  • 13 marathons
  • trail running with friends and a few trail races, including a 28k
  • hiking
  • HIIT and other full-body stuff with November Project
  • swimming with a coach 2-3x/week since 2019, open water swimming
  • lots of spin classes
  • working as a RMT since December 2020, which is hard work!

I could go back even further and think about the amount of soccer, volleyball and tap dance I’ve done in my life. Skiing. Sprinting bases in and in the outfield at slopitch. CRAZY dance parties. LOL. The point is, reviewing how much activity the body has done over the long-term is pretty comforting, and just like riding a bike, everything will come back quick!…I just have to keep reminding myself every five minutes so I don’t freak out. LOL.

So, step one of the hysterectomy journey was just some simple pre-surgical blood work two days ago. Having blood drawn doesn’t usually go well for me, LOL. Slumped over the highchair-style seat, moaning, is how I end up, but it’s done. Fasting was not required, thank the gods, and now I just have an annoying green bracelet on my wrist until I go to the hospital on Tuesday. All vitamins and non-prescribed supplements have been stopped, but routine prescriptions continue, including on the morning of surgery. Ten-foot long phone charger has been purchased, thanks to the advice of my friend Lisa, who had a LAVH last fall. She also sent me a beautiful seatbelt pillow!

Tomorrow I call the day surgery department to get info like hospital arrival time and the time to stop drinking clear fluids. No solid food, milk/dairy, candy or gum after midnight on Monday. I don’t actually live in the city where I am having the operation so I am a bit anxious to get the info tomorrow.

I’ve never had any surgery in my life, aside from wisdom tooth extraction while awake, so this is all brand new to me. This means it is likely brand new to others as well! As runners, we are planners. We are detail oriented. Type A control freaks, even. So, I am going to update this blog series as often as I can, and any time I learn something new or experience something worth telling about!

Jamie

Next Project…Hysterectomy recovery from a marathoner & triathlete perspective.

I haven’t talked about this before on here, but my next project is not about running…well, I will totally make it about running LOL but that’s not really what it is.

In late 2020 I had an abnormal Pap test, which is very common and half the people I know have had one of these. The following colposcopy showed the extreme end of pre-cancerous tissue. After removal of that tissue via LEEP (laser electrosurgical excision procedure) in early 2021, tissue examination lead to a diagnosis of stage I carcinoma of the cervix! What a phone call to receive while on the treadmill. Following lots of conversations at home, as well as with my original and current OBGYN and surgeon, I am scheduled for a total laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingectomy next month. Wow.

This will be my first major forced rest period, and I am actually looking forward to the down time in a way. But, on the other hand, I am both nervous, curious and scared – about my mental health, loss of endurance and speed, scar tissue, how long it will actually take to recover and not knowing when I will be able to run, swim and bike again?.. all of that. Thankfully, I have a few IG runner friends who have had the same operation and I have seen them come back strong!

Why am I writing about this on the internet? A few reasons. Primarily, I want everyone with a female reproductive system to GET YOUR PAP SMEARS REGULARLY. I had a delayed exam due to the freaking pandemic. Now I’m preparing for a hysterectomy…

Secondly, I know I am not the first endurance athlete who has gone through this and I will not be the last – someone may find it a helpful resource to follow the detailed recovery timeline. Personally, I have found a little bit of helpful info, but nothing overly specific! So I’m going to carefully document the process, which will give me something to do and will also, hopefully, help out others in the future!

I am feeling really thankful. Things could be so much worse. I do not have any cancer right now (as far as we know), I don’t want children so I’m not dealing with most of the emotions that many experience regarding hysterectomy, and I am so, so lucky to be fit going into this and have the best husband ever who will be with me each step of the way. I also get to keep my ovaries, thank god!

Stay tuned for LAVH Recovery as a Marathoner. Surgical screening tomorrow, surgery date in a month. Kelowna Midsummer 8k two days before surgery, woo!

Jamie

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