This morning I woke up with a city view at Pennsylvania Hospital. I am home now, but it was a long 23 hours.
I had a full hysterectomy. Everything was taken out along with some apparently sizable cysts and fibroids. I remember my surgeon Dr. Sarah Kim making her hands into the size of a big naval orange.
I had no idea.
I had robotic / laparoscopic surgery. Unbelievably my health insurance view that as basically a day procedure.
I am exhausted and my pain is still somewhat fierce. My hand and forearm is bruised from IVs and needle pricks – As a breast cancer survivor who had lymph nodes taken out I only have one arm they can do all that with. And they ran out of veins because my veins ran out on me for a while .
My belly looks like a patchwork of little incisions, but it is a heck of a lot better than the full open surgeries of not so long ago.
I am somewhat stunned at how the cysts and fibroids have grown while I have been on Tamoxifen. I am so glad it’s over.
I received amazing nursing and one of my nurses named Kathleen lives not too far from me. Truly from the surgeon down to the sweet lady who cleaned up my room, my care was incomparable. But I also experienced healthcare today with all of its flaws and foibles.
Female gynecological patients don’t really have a segregated and quiet place in hospitals. Cancer and cardiac patients do. Women giving birth have maternity Nirvana. But women undergoing gynecological surgeries both simple and complex don’t have a segregated or particularly quiet place to be.
My surgery took much longer than they anticipated. I had a lot of years of internal scar tissue and no one quite expected the size of the cysts and fibroids…so everything took longer (and it explains why I feel like a truck has been running around in my abdomen.) I remember basically nothing from pre-op to post-op this time. They are just lost hours.
After post-op I was taken to a room with another woman in it. I was grateful to be next to a window because my hot flashes were wild after surgery. But the woman in with me was a bi-polar person who had experienced some kind of a break. I also think she was some sort of addict because they spoke to her about withdrawal. Well that and when I first came up from post-op her bed was empty and there I was all dopey and head spinning not so long out of anesthesia and this neurologist comes into the room and asks me about my “episodes”. I asked her if something I didn’t realize happened to me while in surgery…then they realized my “roomie” was on walkabout,
She was eventually moved as she needed to basically be on a floor where she was watched one on one because she kept taking off heart monitors and wandering or trying to leave. She wasn’t any danger to me, she was one of the most lost people I had ever met. But having someone like that in a room with me after I was literally just out of post-op was not relaxing. Also having someone like that next to me meant I was behind my pain last night instead of ahead of it because hospital staff was busy. She also had a bad cold which is unnerving to be next to right out of the operating room.
Then around 11 pm after I finally had dozed off they bought in a very elderly woman with severe dementia and her very LOUD family member who did not leave until close to midnight. Then the lady with dementia turned on all the lights and her television and proceeded to cough and scream until about 2:30 am when a quiet room opened up and the night nurses decided to move me.
Throughout all of this I wasn’t my usual self because I was right out of surgery. I am so grateful to these nurses and doctors for being my advocate. I discussed this with my surgeon this morning when she was making her rounds. She asked me to tell Penn and Pennsylvania Hospital when they send me the satisfaction survey and went on further to say that she and others have been advocating for better post-op set-ups for gynecological patients.
So I told her I would also do her one better and blog about it.
Between that and the television that costs $8 a day to an outsourced company who won’t turn it or the phone on without a credit card when the hospital specifically says leave all valuables at home, Penn is an amazing health system which needs to be tweaked more in favor of female patients undergoing gynecological surgeries.
I don’t know if this makes sense to any of you because I am writing this barely a day after surgery, and I am exhausted and I just sort of hurt all over. Well that, and I am also having a slight allergic reaction to one of the something’s they have me on.
I have some bed rest ahead of me. So I’m signing off.