The subject I will write about today is not comfortable or nice, but I think it is necessary. Women’s reproductive health is very important and raising awareness about it is even more important, especially today when we have a huge spike in various reproductive diseases, infertility and infections.
Two weeks ago I had an open (abdominal) myomectomy and today I will share with you my experience hoping that some of you will find it useful if you have any doubts or similar problems.
What is Myomectomy?
Myomectomy is a major surgical procedure that involves making an incision through the skin on the lower abdomen, known as a “bikini cut,” and removing the fibroids from the wall of the uterus. The uterine muscle and the skin are then sewn back together using several layers of stitches.
How did I discover that I have fibroids?
Three years ago (2017) I went for a regular follow up with my gynaecologist in Bosnia. During the ultrasound, he found a small fibroid and told me to do Laparoscopic treatment and remove it while it is still small. However, I decided not to touch it and to wait for some time to see if it will disappear by itself. It DIDN’T!
Why I decided to wait with surgery?
When I was 20 years old I removed breast fibroid and 6 months later it returned. So, I decided not to go under the knife again knowing that it can always return. I thought that the body can clear itself naturally and I tried to live as healthy as I could afford.
What symptoms I had?!
Pain in the lower back, increased urination because of the pressure on my bladder and occasional pain during intercourse. Recently, I also started feeling bloated, especially days before the period. Also, I had very low levels of energy and I would get tired very fast.
Why I decided to finally remove it?
During my last ultrasound in Dubai, the doctor told me that fibroid reached almost 9 cm which is the size of a baby head. Because of its position, my fibroid is called submucosal and it grows in the middle muscle layer, or myometrium, of my uterus. After a consultation, the doctor told me that I could have problems with conceiving. In case I manage to conceive there is an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy or preterm delivery. And as I still didn’t have kids, she advised me to remove it to avoid problems later. The ultrasound also showed that one more big fibroid has formed as well (7 cm). Sometimes this fibroids can grow extremely big and they can damage or displace your other organs or make your belly look big.
Required Tests Before Surgery
Before they scheduled my surgery I had to do Covid19 test, regular blood test, an x-ray of my lungs and an interview with the anesthesiologist. Once it was confirmed I am negative on COVID, I received a call from the hospital to confirm my surgery date and time. The nurse called me a day before to tell me that I need to fast 8 hours before (no water, no food) and to come to the hospital 3 hours before the myomectomy.
The Day of Surgery
F. took me to the hospital and stayed with me until I woke up from anaesthesia. Before surgery they connected the venous catheter for medication fluids, they checked my blood pressure, oxygen level, temperature and I had to change to a special hospital gown. I was getting more and more nervous, however it was too late to run. A little bit before 4 pm I was taken to the operating theatre, I inhaled 2 times and everything went black. The next thing I remember is waking up around 7 pm at intensive care, feeling high, nauseous and with a sensation of a full bladder. A few minutes later F. was beside me and I was taken to the private room. He stayed with me for some time, he informed my Bosnian friend that I woke up so she can inform my parents (because of the language barrier). As soon as he left, I fell asleep again. The whole night nurses were coming inside the room to check my temperature, blood pressure, the oxygen level in the blood, to give me more and more medications and to empty my catheter. At one moment I thought I will vomit so I called them to bring me a bag, however, I didn’t. Also, my temperature increased to 37,8 degrees as a reaction to the surgery shock.
First Day Post Surgery
The next day, around 6 am, the nurse woke me and forced me to get up. I was taken to the washroom where they refreshed me, changed my diapers and hospital gown. In the meantime, the housekeeper changed my linen and refreshed the room. I felt mostly tired and drained and as soon as I lie down in bed I fell asleep again. Around 10 am my gynaecologist came to check on me and informed me that I will need to carry a catheter for the next 14 days due to bladder injury. Soon after the urologist came as well and told me the same. I found catheter so uncomfortable first day and I had a feeling that my urine is not draining and that my bladder is still full. I also had blood in my urine which made me more nervous and anxious. That day my belly was painful and full of gases and overall I felt horrible. Although, I felt extremely bad, having gases is apparently a good sign.
Days Spent in Hospital
The third day finally I got rid of diapers and I was able to wear my personal underwear. I managed to pass stool in the morning and in the afternoon I managed to walk a little bit around the room. I had an issue with my catheter as it got blocked because of blood cloth and they had to change the tube. Thankfully, the new tube was much bigger and finally, I could relax a bit. Feeling slightly better, in the afternoon I had a cup of warm coffee and some cookies. However, my “slightly better feeling” didn’t last for a long time. Half an hour later I got diarrhea and spent the next three hours in the washroom. The nurse brought me probiotics to calm down my belly and that night I put on some sleeping music with the moon and ocean and I slept like a baby. Even nurses asked me what is that nice calming music each time they would enter the room.
Most of my days in the hospital I spent lying on the bed, watching the clock on the wall, connected to medications, trying to post occasionally on social media. My vision was blurred due to heavy medications so I was not able to read books or watch movies as I planned. Most of the time I also felt drained and tired and the time was passing very slowly. Firstly, I was supposed to spend 3 nights in the hospital, but they extended to 5 nights due to bladder complication. The third day I had a little meltdown in the morning and started crying as I was scared and under shock, however, I couldn’t even cry as my belly hurt so had to stop immediately. The same day my venous catheter got blocked on the left hand, so they had to change it to the right hand. Also, my back and heals were sore from lying on the bed and they put on some special socks for blood circulation to avoid potential blood cloths.
The fourth and fifth day I felt much better, I managed to walk around the room, my belly calmed down and my wound was healing well. Finally, on the 6th day, F. came for me around 5 pm. I was able to shower before, the doctor prepared a discharge summary, the nurse gave me a final dose of painkillers and antibiotics and a bag full of medications for the next 7 days at home. They scheduled me to come for a follow-up and removal of stitches three days after.
On the 6th day, I was released home where I had to spend the next 8 days with catheter and drinking lots of fluids and medications. I noticed that my hair starting falling out a lot, my skin got super dry, I got dandruff, my nails got weaker and I was thirsty all the time. Later, a friend told me that is because of anaesthesia. Considering that my natural hair is very thin and weak let’s hope I don’t get bold in the next few days.
All 8 nights I slept very bad as I had to empty catheter during the night, plus I could only sleep on my back. Finally, three days after they removed my stitches, and 8 days later my catheter was removed after I did cystogram. During cystogram, the radiologist and urologist injected contrast dye into my bladder and took x-rays of it. The contrast dye gives a clear photo of the bladder and the doctor is able to see if the injury healed. After receiving positive news from a doctor they removed the catheter. The process of removal was just a little bit uncomfortable, but it was not painful. The catheter is a thin, sterile tube inserted into your bladder to drain urine. The part that is inserted in bladder looks like a little balloon.
Two Weeks After
Today, after 16 days and catheter removal, I am learning how to pee again. The side effect of the catheter is the high risk of infection and problems with urination. For the next few days, each time I will need to pee I will feel pressure and burning sensation. I was also advised not to let it get full and to drink plenty of water. I got one more antibiotic shot in the hospital and they gave me one more box of antibiotics at home to avoid infection. I have got two more weeks of sick leave as well.
My Message to All Women Out There
Please, get your reproductive health seriously and react on time. Although I did visit gynaecologist every 1-2 years, did regular papa smears, didn’t have any special problems with infection or bacteria, I still ended up in the hospital and in the operation room. Why fibroid grew so fast in such a short time, I really don’t know?! Maybe because of genetics, maybe hormones, maybe stress.
My Lifestyle For the Last 5 Years
- I don’t smoke
- I drink only occasionally and mostly wine or beer
- I don’t use contraception pills, although I did use them when I was younger. To be honest I don’t like to drink any pills not even painkillers.
- Last 10 months I am doing yoga regularly and I always did some activity here and there
- I walk a lot and I like swimming. Sometimes I go to the gym.
- I don’t have a problem with my weight
- I never had heavy periods or PMS
- I avoid using bleach and other harsh chemicals
- I didn’t dye my hair for the last 3 years either
- I am trying to eat healthier food, but today there is so many information that sometimes I am not even sure what does it mean healthy food?! Recently, I developed allergic reaction to milk so I am avoiding it, I am trying to eat less meat and I stopped using white sugar. But, how can you be sure what your body needs?! That green juice or a good piece of steak?! We have different bodies and different food requirements and one size can’t fit all.
- However, I live in a very hot and humid climate where I spend the whole year under A/C. I am drinking water from plastic bottles, and very often I eat food that doesn’t have a taste at all. I work very long hours, drive and sleep most of the time. And to be honest all these years in Dubai I didn’t enjoy much as I was stressing a lot about money, jobs, long working hours and climate.
Myomectomy I had was almost like a C-section but instead of the baby, I popped out 8 fibroids. During the procedure, they found 2 big fibroids and 6 small and they removed them all (you can see how fibroids look on the photo below). My uterus is cleaned, however, during incision, I got bladder injury which postponed my recovery for almost 2 weeks. Instead of recovering 3 days in hospital and 2 weeks at home, I ended up 5 days in the hospital, 14 days with a catheter, and 2 additional weeks at home. Full inside healing will take approximately 3 months, and I can start doing yoga after 6 months again. I can’t get pregnant in the next 6 months to 1 year. The fibroids can return and if I do have kids the chance to have natural vaginal delivery are very low. Probably, I will be recommended to do C section again and I hope that when that time comes I won’t have any other complications. Finally, it seems that our emotions, thoughts and reactions on life problems and stress have a huge impact on our health so it is necessary to find something to filter all the bad emotions, mean people and stressful situations we encounter every day.