Endometriosis and me – part 2

This is my second post in a series about having laproscopic surgery to treat my endometriosis.  Why am I telling my story of endometriosis on a website dedicated to migraine? Well, it’s because of the correlation between endometriosis and migraine in women. Recently I wrote about having been diagnosed with endometriosis after years of suffering through painful periods, pelvic pain, and mittelschmerz (pain during ovulation).  Many women who have been diagnosed with migraine have also been diagnosed with endometriosis, and vice-versa. You can read a little bit about that here in my colleague Diana Lee’s article, and you can read even more in Dr. Hutchinson’s book.  Since so many women with migraine do have endometriosis and may one day need to decide whether or not to have surgery to formally diagnose and treat it, I thought I’d tell my story here. 

After weighing the pros and cons of laproscopic surgery, I decided to move forward with it and scheduled my procedure for mid-January 2015.  I was told I might need to rest anywhere from five days to two weeks, so I went ahead and took about twelve days off work, starting with the day before the surgery. I figured the day before the surgery would be mostly quiet with an hour or so of pre-op appointments.

I was a little off in that assessment: the day was a pretty long one, chock full of hurry-up-and-wait.  The hospital where I’d be having the surgery is just five blocks from my house, so I tried to figure out a way for the doctor to conduct her pre-op appointment at the hospital instead of at her office seven miles away, but alas—that’s not how it works.  So my sister J. (loyal friend and health companion) and I first went to the gynecologist’s office and reviewed the plan for surgery again. We talked about the risks and I asked about eight thousand questions. Knowing how genetics play a major role in women’s health, my sister opened up and told the doctor about some issues she had in the past that were treated with medication instead of surgery—was that an option for me?  No, the doctor said. Based on what they saw in my scans and on my medical history and symptoms, I didn’t have the same type of problems as J.  J. asked a lot of questions that hadn’t occurred to me—almost all of them had to do with her concern for my pain and potential issues with the recovery process. That girl has always got my back, and it was sweet to see the doctor’s face as she admired what a good sister I have.  Worriedly, I asked if it was too late to change my mind, and the doctor was cool as cucumber and very comforting. She assured me that I could call her office the next morning right before the surgery was scheduled and cancel it then, and there’d be no problem. The decision was mine to make, and that made me feel a lot more in control.

We then went to the hospital, where I had to have some lab work done to make sure I was fit for surgery. They weighed me a couple of times, drew blood (after not being able to find a vein and poking me more times than I was comfortable with!), and asked a gazillion questions. I had the uncomfortable but necessary conversation about what would happen if something went wrong and I died from complications. Complications at all are very rare for this type of surgery, but of course you legally must go over the worst-case scenarios as well as the best-case ones.  I also met with the anesthesiologist to discuss what would happen the next day. With each smiling face I encountered, I got a little less nervous about the surgery.

Hours after we’d begun this journey to doctors’ offices and the hospital, we were done. Almost. We filled a prescription for pain medication so I’d have the pills at the ready the day of the surgery. We also picked up an over-the-counter medication called dulcolax, which I was told to take a few of in order to empty my bowels completely.  I took it a few minutes after I was supposed to and spent hours feeling anxious about my lack of poop.  You see, the intestines must be as empty as possible before abdominal surgery.  That way the doctor has more space to work and also decreases the risk of infection in case the bowel is nicked during the operation. By the time I went to bed, I still hadn’t had the serious bowel movement I’d been waiting for. (Ugh.) I slept fitfully, nervous about not going to be able to go to the bathroom in time and having to cancel the surgery. It seems to me now that I was probably nervous about the surgery itself and its implications and fixated on one smallish thing: my ability to poo or not to poo. That way I wouldn’t have to be as anxious about the other thoughts spinning through my head.

Guess what, guys? I pooped. It was gross (I don’t ever recommend taking a bunch of laxatives unless you absolutely have to for medical reasons), but it was over after a bit and we were able to go to the hospital on time.

Jim took me to the outpatient surgery center near our house and was sweet and loving, rubbing my back and making sure I was comfortable.  By the time I was wheeled back to the operating room, things were already moving faster than I’d anticipated (that’s a good thing). I saw the smiling anesthesiologist from the day before, and she introduced me to her fellow doctor. The process went just like they said: they put a mask over my face and told me to breath normally and count back from ten.  There’s no way I’ll be out cold by the time I reach one, I thought, but the last word I remember saying was “six,” so I guess it worked.

Next thing I knew I was blinking my eyes awake, groggy and wondering when the surgery would happen. I was comically out of it.  I was still in the recovery room so hadn’t seen Jim yet, but there was a nurse by my side who checked in with me.  I kept asking her, “Did they do it yet?” She patiently told me the surgery was finished and that I was in the waiting room.  I was so out of it, I can’t even tell you—I had seriously underestimated how the anesthesia would affect me. It wasn’t all together unpleasant, though.  One thing was worrying me. Somewhere in the room, a woman was sobbing dramatically. A voice told the crier it was over, once and for all—he was leaving her.  The crying got louder, and the woman begged the man to stay.  I got so upset about this, you guys. I beckoned the nurse over and, with tears of sympathy in my eyes, I asked, “Is she okay? That woman…she’s so sad. Is she okay? Is someone else going to be with her? Is she okay? She’s so sad. That woman.”  The nurse looked at me and patted my arm and said, “Oh, honey. You’re so sweet. That’s just the TV.”

Leave it to me to emerge from a drugged haze in the middle of a soap opera episode.

Next up in the series I will tell you what the recovery process was like and how things have been since.

For those of you who have been diagnosed with endometriosis, I’d love to hear from you. If you haven’t been diagnosed but also haven’t been to your gynecologist in awhile despite pain and discomfort in your abdomen, I encourage you to schedule a visit just in case!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (7)
  • lauriefaust
    3 years ago

    Wow.I am amazed at your .honesty..its refreshing and waY needed,so thank you!Now,I saw the email title,as I have been a member for awhile,and it was riveting!So I will def comment!I have many issues healthwise..have had,to me,enougH sugeries!. but,like you I put off going to Gyno..but had issues with my periods foR yrs.,started at age 9,and now at 47 was like.seriously.enough!I’d use boxes of super plus,left work due to accidents..down mY leg..horrid!pain,migraines,vomiting..called out to work many times.endless bs..buT..went to gyno this May,told him all..said I’d had cryoblasion few yrs back to remedy heavy bleeding/painful periods and fibroids..but now I had bigger issue..prolapsed uterus..I knew it was bad..and he did exam..oh yeah..verY bad and other..issues.So surgery slotted 8/27\15..Mind u just had hernia repair 4/15/15..aloT to deal wirh anD heal.so after surgery..I wont get to involved as I have hand issues,typing gets crazy..Dr tells me..uterus out.had cysts on ovaries,very large fibrouds and yez.endometriosi. ..what I call full diaper(a load of crap!)so..that being said..I have still had my mindf’d migraines since surgery…and Fiorecet didn’t do squat for two days,but thank God I didnt vomit once!didnt want to cause damage!anyway,I hope you feel better,heal well and I have said for a long time now.this too shall pass.and it will.just slowlY!take care

  • 100%Chronic
    3 years ago

    While my entire adult life has been dictated by migraines, hormones have played their part with them. I learned at a very young age that life doesn’t always go the way you would want &/or hoped it would, & that some things were just never meant to be. A very long road that has been a domino affect in all aspects of my life. While deep down inside I always knew I could never have that little blessing from my own womb, it is that impact of taking that last little bit of me forever. Yes, a total hysterectomy, post op now 10 weeks. While I can provide humor with all of my experience & keep all in stitches, it doesn’t mask the grief. The only reason I made myself go through it was because of the physical pain, the hope to find or have some kind of normalcy, to be able to regularly exercise & go & do, & most importantly the hope & relief of these migraines. I wish I could say there’s a happier ever after. They’re the same if not worse. I’m not quite sure how much more my body can endure. Any type of pain Rx can trigger a migraine as well as the reflux & nausea, which then gives me laryngitis & more nausea. So having abnormal periods, a D&C, a conization, & what was suppose to be a removal of my right ovary ended up being endometriosis, to more cysts in my uterus & ovaries, to a total hysterectomy….. All I’ve really done is prolonged the potential of cancer in another part of my body.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Oh gosh. I appreciate your sharing your story, 100%Chronic, and am sending you virtual hugs as you work through your grief. Knowing deep down you couldn’t give birth to your own biological child is indeed very different from having a hysterectomy and removing all possibility of it ever happening. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

    That said, it sounds like you have reason to be hopeful that your pain levels and discomfort will improve as you continue to recover. I’m sending you lots of good, healing vibes and, once again, thanks for sharing your story here.

    -Janet G.

  • Lisa Riley
    3 years ago

    Endometriosis showed up just shortly after the migraines did in my world…about age 14. I had ovarian cysts as well. The next 15 years were sheer misery, but the migraines weren’t and still aren’t hormonally related.

    After 2 laproscopies at 29, a complete hysterectomy was recommended. My surgery lasted 7 hours. The endometriosis was attached to everything in my abdominal cavity. My ovaries were full of chocolate cysts, with one measuring 4″. The gyno put me on lupron for a year to hopefully stop regrowth, and I had one more laparoscopy for adhesions. Best decision I made, despite not having children.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Lisa,

    I’m so pleased to hear you were able to find relief and that you’re happy with the course of treatment you decided on. What a journey you’ve been on with endometriosis! I appreciate your comment here and hope you are having a migraine-free day.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Lifecoachjane
    3 years ago

    I had painful endo for years. I had gotten Lupron injections for many years and found out thru my own research you shouldn’t take Lupron for that long. I got off it and had complete hysterectomy. I never had migraines during this time in my life, it wasn’t until about 4 years later when they started. The neuro is having a difficult time figuring out why I get them and also finding something that helps. I wonder if getting Lupron for all those years back then played any factor in the migraines I now have or am I just grabbing at straws?

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Lifecoachjane,

    Your story is definitely interesting. I, too, wonder why the migraines didn’t start until four years after a hysterectomy. Were you perhaps nearing perimenopause or menopause? Sometimes the imaginary switch of migraine disease can get turned on when there’s a major hormonal shift. I hope you find some relief for your migraines, and I appreciate your sharing your story here.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

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