I’ll start with the basic information for those of you that do not wish to read a longer more graphic post. I had my first appointment and consultation with the surgeon in Iowa City yesterday. The appointment went well. They explained what they are going to do, laparoscopic hysterectomy, what they know about my cancer so far, and what could go wrong and what happens if they find something unusual. They received approval from the insurance and we scheduled the surgery for Thursday, January 5, 2017. If everything goes well I will be released the next day, if they need to make a larger incision or something else goes wrong I will be in longer. He told me to expect a recovery of six weeks, but depending on how I feel it could be shorter. All of my pre-op tests were done yesterday so I don’t have to go back until my surgery.
Alright, that is the basics. If you don’t want to read more graphic information or details about the day you might want to stop reading now.
I was surprised at how smoothly everything went yesterday. We arrived 20 minutes early and I had just sat down when they were calling me back for my appointment. As a child, I remember waiting hours for my father’s appointments. Things have definitely improved or my memory is tainted by the perspective of a bored child. The hospital is as large as I remember and Sel and I were unsure about getting around so we stuck together.
For the appointment itself they took my vitals, BP was a bit better than the last times I had it taken recently, but my weight was up… The nurse was very sweet and took my information and told me the doctor or the person following him around that day would be in shortly. This is a University Hospital, a teaching school, so I expected to interact with those in training. The person following the doctor came in to talk to me about my cancer and was the one to administer my exam. Nice fellow and he did a good job. Of course, it was a bit awkward to have my third pelvic exam in my life from this young (!) man. I mean really, who enjoys a stranger putting their hand up your vagina… Anyway, it had to be done. Everything looks normal he said so this gives me hope that the cancer is contained inside the uterus. He was under the impression that they might just take only my uterus, but I knew better.
After my exam, the actual doctor came in to explain things, ask questions, and to see what questions I had. I knew I should have some, but with all of this happening so quickly I just couldn’t think of anything. What he told me seemed straight forward and I understood it for the most part. I’m glad they gave me a card to call when my brain wakes up from shock and starts thinking of information I need. I know now that I should have asked him how many of these surgeries he has performed, the amount of complications he has dealt with, etc. I just drew a blank when he was sitting there across from me.
The surgery I am having is a laparoscopic hysterectomy where they remove my uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix through my vagina. From what I’ve been reading it is a type of hysterectomy that usually results in shorter recovery time. It might take longer than just a vaginal hysterectomy on its own but I imagine this is being done so they can also see if there is anything else that looks abnormal. The doctor told me they will cut open the uterus while I am under and examine the cells to see if they need to take a lymph node biopsy at that time. Otherwise, the uterus will be sent away for testing to see what stage the cancer is and if there is a possibility that it spread. If that is the case I will have to be back in for surgery for them to remove my lymph nodes which will probably mean I need to have chemo or radiation to treat the cancer.
Best case scenario is that we caught this early and simply removing my uterus will remove all the cancer. I’m trying to not blow things out of proportion and worry about what might or might not happen. I will know more next week after the surgery and even more than that two weeks afterward. I shouldn’t panic about what can’t be known yet, just deal with the issues at hand.
The doctor was nice, a bit abrupt, but that is to be expected at a busy place like the University of Iowa. He did tell me we will treat this, I will make it through and I will be fine. I appreciate his confidence but a part of me just doesn’t want to get my hope up too high or get cocky. There are a lot of unknowns still.
After the doctor left the nurse came back and we started to go over what tests I would need to take that day to get ready for surgery. We were also waiting on authorization from the insurance. That is what is starting to bother me today. Worry over what the insurance will or will not pay for. I know we will probably end up paying something but it really sucks that this is something a person has to worry about when they are fighting for their life. Other countries have universal health care why can’t we? Oh yeah, nobody wants to give up our for-profit system. Sorry, I just received an explanation of benefits where it looks like I am going to have to pay $103 for one of the tests that diagnosed this… I’m a bit touchy. Anyway. They had me go get labs done, chest x-ray, EKG(?), and a CT scan of my abdomen. All of these tests took so little time and if we didn’t have to wait for the CT scan until 2:15 we would have been out before 1:00.
While we waited we looked around the hospital and I contacted work to let them know when the surgery was scheduled for. Husband finally called his work to see about the time off and filling out the FMLA paperwork. We thought that we might have someone take me but eventually we came to the realization that he really needed to be there. If something goes wrong and they need permission for something he needs to be there to grant it. So today he is struggling to get the paperwork, they have emailed it twice…, so we can send it off to the hospital and get his time off forgiven at work. He still won’t be paid but we will survive two days off even with me not getting a paycheck for six weeks.
So now we wait, again. I’m feeling better since I started taking some iron, still tired early in the evening. I’m glad we will get to celebrate New Year’s Eve together, essentially husband’s Christmas. I’m also glad to get a couple more days of work in and attend the board meeting on Monday. I’m still not sure if everything will be alright but I’m trying to deal with one thing at a time. The idea of this costing us a ton of money does make me a bit sick to my stomach, but what is the alternative. Not having the surgery and end up sicker or dead. I must have this surgery. It is my life we are dealing with. Money shouldn’t even be a concern right now but with our messed up system in this country it is.