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So Incredibly Blessed

Hi guys.  I know I promised I’d share the story about my surgery yesterday and I will in just a second.  I just wanted to say again…thank you to all of you who have been here with me through this entire process.  The love that you have given me has made all the difference.  I feel like phase one of my journey is over.  Now we wait.  Do I have cancer?  We should know in a week or so.  I know that whatever we find out, I’ll be OK.  There is absolutely no disease strong enough to beat love.  It’s just simply not possible.  Thank you for being in my lives and for lighting my heart up from within.

We were running a little bit late yesterday (oops, supposed to be at the hospital at 8, made it at 8:14! Guess it’s a good thing I’d done all that pre-admission stuff the day prior, eh?)  I wanted to get several photos outside the hospital, but I only had a few seconds to take just these two shots…

My nurse, Susan, was waiting for me.  She wrote my name on the board…

…and strapped an ID band on me…

…and then the adventure began.  A student nurse from the University of St. Mary, Loren, was with us, and she asked for my permission to follow my case from pre-admission to recovery.  Of course, I said yes.  She and Susan were wonderful…made me laugh, kept me focused, and answered all of my questions.  Things went very well.  IV in.  Did you have anything to eat or drink after midnight?  (No)  Do you understand why you’re here today?  (Yes, to remove cervical polyps and endometrial tissue)  Is your name Jennifer G-o-t-s-h-a-l-l S-m-i-t-h?  (ever since I married my husband…just G-o-t-s-h-a-l-l before then) Were you born on February 22, 1972?  (yep) As long as we talked, I was fine.  No tears, no worry.  After the IV was in and we were almost ready to go, they left me alone behind the curtain for several minutes to go in search of the leg stockings they give surgical patients to keep their blood moving and prevent clots.  In those 10 or so minutes when I was alone, the fear came back in a big way.  The wi-fi coverage back there was spotty, so I didn’t really have any connection to the outside world.  It was just me and an IV and a huge “Smile, Kansas City” poster on the wall (when smiling was the very LAST thing I wanted to do)…

When the tears were at their heaviest, the wi-fi kicked in suddenly, like a little gift from God.  I saw two messages of love and support from my dear friends Kerstin and Sara, and I felt instantly reassured and less alone.  Talk about a wonderfully timed gift of friendship.  Finally, Susan and Loren returned, and once the leg bands were on, they called my husband back to sit with me.  My doctor came in and did last-second Q&As with us.  She explained that the hysteroscope was a lighted camera and that they’d be watching everything on the screen.  She knew I was blogging the experience and would try to get pictures for me.  She said that she thought the pathology results would be back in a week or two, and promised to call me personally, when with other patients, she’d wait until the follow-up visit to discuss findings.  She was wonderful, just as she has been all along, and I felt grateful and reassured.  I told her about all of you, and all of the love and support behind me.  And then I said, “Thanks in advance.”  She smiled and as she left, she said, “You did great…in advance.”  Not long after, the nurse anesthetist (Mark?  David?  I forgot his name) and a member of his team came to take me off to the operating room.  A few Q&As with them, too.  He was wonderful.  I told him I was a singer and that the last time I’d been intubated, the extubation was horrible.  I was awake and lost my voice for six weeks.  He promised to use a special gel on the tube, which I can only surmise was to make the whole intubation experience less horrible.  I did later hear him say something like, “She’s a singer, so we need to _____” (didn’t catch all of what he said).  I told him that I was afraid of waking up mid-procedure, and he told me that the likelihood of that is 0.2%, and that’s in patients having significant surgeries, like traumas or C-sections or heart surgeries.  He said that because my procedure was so much less invasive, the chances of it happening to me were even less.  I also told him my fear of how afraid I’d be when I was laying on the table looking up at them just seconds before showtime.  He smiled and reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a little vial of what he called, “happy juice.”  He said that he’d put it in and by the time we got there, I’d not even know it.  I smiled and said, “OK!  Do it!”  Off we went to the OR after a few kisses from my husband.  Honestly, I remember so little after that.  I remember Loren not being gowned and them sending her away, presumably to scrub up before the surgery.  I remember a sweet lady saying hello and introducing herself as my surgical nurse.  I remember an anesthesiologist saying hello.  They had me move from the pre-op bed to the table.  Mark told me to move toward him, and I did.  He said, “Come closer, sweetie.  Move back more.”  When I did so, he asked me to lift my chin back, and that’s where it allll went black.  When I woke up, I was in recovery with Loren and Aaron, my recovery nurse.  I asked them if I was OK and they reassured me that I was.  I was in and out at that point…not really remembering anything other than Aaron’s smile and Loren being at the foot of my bed.  At one point, I heard a conversation Aaron was having, I’m guessing on the phone, with….not sure who he was talking to.  I vaguely remember him saying things like, “No, she’s not cramping.  Two polyps.  She’s doing great.  She’s not mentioning any pain.  She looks great.”  All were wonderful things to hear, of course, and made me feel comfortable and confident letting go of the little strength I had and surrendering to sleep once again.  Not long after, he said something like, “Well, this is where our time together ends,” and he rolled me down to what they call “Phase II Recovery.”  On the way down, I saw the beautiful face of my dear friend Mom V., followed by the handsome smile of my wonderful husband.  Enter Rick, my Phase II nurse.  Wonderful and funny and sweet and just all around amazing.  Coherency began to set in, and my husband explained that the doctor had told him that I did have two polyps and she’d taken them both.  She also told him that when they looked at my cervix, it had already started to dialate on its own.  The reason is because my uterine lining was so thick that it was beginning to descend through my cervix.  I can only imagine how painful and frightening it would have been for me to have seen that come through my body.  (OMG – just thinking about that!!!)  He asked her if this changed the probability that I may or may not have cancer, and she said no.  We knew that there was a lot of tissue, we just didn’t know that there was so much.  All of it was taken out, and all of it would be sent off to pathology for a cancer screen.  She drew him a photo of what a normal cervix looks like…

And what mine looked like…

And what the entire inside looked like with the polyps and the descending uterine tissue…

(I decided not to upload the actual surgical photos because they’re pretty graphic.)

She sent me home with Lortab and Hydrocodone for the pain, and I’ve not needed either.  I’d say it was around 2 or so when we got home, and I slept until 5:45 or so, and then from about 6:45 until 9.  In between naps, I answered emails and caught up on Facebook and took a few calls from family and friends checking in on me.  The worst of the discomfort was the super-grogginess and the minor scratchy-sore throat from the breathing tube.  No violent, narcotic-resistent uterine cramping!  Today, the only pain I feel is the little residual scratchy-ness in my throat.  Still no cramping, and no need to tear in to the super strong pain meds or the narcotics.  I drove today, running a few errands and going shopping.  A dear friend made some homemade Mexican brownies and Ro-tel dip & chips for us, and brought it by today.  My mom, mother-in-law, and Mom V. called to check on me.  I called the office to check in on the gossip and to hear what was going on with one of my disciplinary cases.  One of our Omaha managers sent me some beautiful flowers.  I called Menorah’s Director of Surgical Services to ask where I could send a letter of “thanks” to my amazing nurses.  It was a good day.  I feel like me again.

I am overwhelmingly blessed.  I feel wonderful and now join a long list of women who have successfully undergone this procedure.  It’ll be my turn now to help the next woman who’s facing this fear  Paying it forward, so to speak.  It’s pizza and funny movie night here at our house, and we’re having dinner and a movie with Sara and her family tomorrow.  Celebrating birthdays this weekend in Missouri with my in-laws.  A wonderful weekend of love following weeks of support and prayers and well wishes from all of you.  I feel tremendously blessed to be OK, and to be loved by so many wonderful people.  Thank you for being a part of my journey, my heart, and my life.

One more thing…..if you live in the Kansas City area and ever need surgery, you owe it to yourself to have it at Menorah Medical Center.  The nurses there were absolutely amazing and everyone was so, so kind.

Comments

  1. So glad you are feeling better! It was nice to chat today! Take it easy this weekend! Have a great time in Missouri! You are precious to all of us !
    <3 Mom V

  2. Thank you for sharing your story ~ I’ll be praying for a speedy recovery and a good report from your doctor. <3 <3 <3

  3. You are such an inspiration to those around you, Jenn. To other women, and most of all, to your daughter. I am sure that she was worried about her mother, but the strength in which you handled it all will make a big impression on her, and she will carry that with her through her entire life. You are a beautiful woman, and we are all so relieved that you have made it through this surgery with flying colors. What would we do without your bright smiles and heartfelt hugs? So glad that you are back to being you, and the cloud of fear left with the surgery! We can’t have you like that!! I look forward to being friends with you forever and am so blessed to have had you in my life during this trying time, for both of us. Every thing, every person, and every event does happen for a reason. And you and I are in each others lives right now for this reason. LOVE YOU!

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  2. Worry says:

    […] enough, it’s not the procedure itself that causes me concern this time around.  In fact, I’ve had (and survived quite well) a D&C before, and have absolutely no doubt that I will do so again.  What worries me tonight is what […]

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