My Laparoscopy for Endometriosis Experience
Grab a tea, coffee, beverage and/or snack, this is a long one but a strong one.
Like many women, I have had period pain my whole menstrual life. I first got my period when I was 14 and since then I’ve thrown up, passed out and spent countless hours in the good old fetal position waiting for the pain to pass.
I was in and out of doctors' rooms complaining about my stomach pain to which they all said ‘take a panadol it will pass’ or ‘are you sure you aren’t pregnant’. Until one day I ended up in emergency with excruciating pain only to be asked again by the nurses and doctors ‘are you sure you aren’t pregnant’. This was all new to my partner who couldn't believe I was only asked and checked for pregnancy. I told him this happens a lot because when you’re a young woman complaining about stomach pain, either it’s ‘just’ your period or ‘maybe you’re pregnant’.
A new GP who we absolutely love suggested I might have endometriosis. Many of my friends have it, so It wasn’t anything new and a few weeks prior I had started thinking maybe I did too after reading some of the signs. He referred me to a specialist who said the only way to really check was by undergoing a laparoscopy.
First I had to get a blood test and then I had to get an ultra-sound which showed everything came up normally, my uterus was in a normal position and my ovaries weren't stuck. She seemed to think that if I had endometriosis I only have it mildly.
I had never been under general anesthetic before and had my reservations about it. As I write this I’m 2 days away from my surgery and it’s still kind of concerning, but I’ve spoken to so many people who all say you fall asleep so quickly and when you wake up you may not even realize the procedure is finished. Read on to find out how it went.
2 days before (Sunday)
Last night my boyfriend and I decided to go for the last big meal before having to empty my bowels for the next two days. I love my spice but I think there was a tad too much in this meal. I spent Sunday morning on the toilet with a burning bum until I found out that rubbing a bit of olive oil helps the chili burn. Just an FYI 🙈
Today is all about the liquids. Soups, smoothies and the like.
First things first, black coffee while watching YouTube.
Followed by a sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash, potato, cauliflower and coconut cream soup I prepared a few days earlier. I love orange soups with a lot of salt, pepper, and oregano. Then I sat down and finally watched ‘Chiara Ferragni: Unposted’ on Amazon Prime. Boss babes go check it out.
The spice from the Thai food the night before meant I kept running to the toilet. I joked that I’m going to have the cleanest bowels they’ve ever seen by the end of this. I then went to the pharmacy to pick up two sachets of Pico-prep for Monday. This is the stuff that clears you out completely.
We went to Coles to grab a mango to make a gut health smoothie made from cocoa hemp protein and Vivomixx probiotics (These babies stay alive in the fridge), and a tub of sugar-free ice cream. A balanced snack.
I then drove down to mums as she lives closer to the hospital and has taken a few days off work to look after me.
Dinner was a potato, onion and mushroom soup for dinner, which I pre-made earlier that day.
1 day before (Monday)
In the morning I made a black coffee and then popped to the post office to send off My Lady Box parcels and bought 1L of Gatorade as apparently this is necessary when doing a bowel cleanse (electrolytes are vital).
Grab yours here 😉
I take my first sachet of pico-prep at 10 am. Nothing happened. I heard my tummy rumbling but still nothing for an hour. I then made a vegetable stock drink with extra salt (again, electrolytes). 2.5hrs later and still nothing 👀
Throughout the day I sip on orange Gatorade and vegetable broth.
Then I receive a phone call from the hospital who are advising that HCF has told them I need to pay a $500 excess fee, which they didn’t mention the last 2 times I called them. The hospital let me know because apparently this happens quite frequently.
Is Private health insurance in Australia a scam?
I call HCF to confirm only to be told that not only do I have to pay the $500 excess fee but whether they cover the out of pocket fees is now super blurry and I can’t get a straight answer. They want me to call Medicare to check the rebate and Medicare wants me to check with the doctor to check what they have agreed on. What?!
While we’re discussing this, make sure when your doctor sends you a quote that it includes all of the fees, including the anesthetist and the doctor's fees. Check and recheck with your insurer and switch if you are not happy and have time to.
Also, negotiate. I had $4k wiped off my medical expenses because I simply said it was too expensive and I wasn't able to afford the quote they had half given me. They managed to nill out a lot of the fees and it went from a $5k bill to $980 (+$500 excess fee). In the last 12 years I have had private health insurance and never used it. Now when I need it not only do I have to negotiate but also pay a ridiculous amount that I'm sure not everyone can afford. I was better off saving that money in a separate account while accruing interest.
FYI The next bit is quite descriptive
At 2 pm I had my second sachet and the butt pee started. TMI I know, but it’s the only way I can explain it. I think because the last month I haven’t eaten meat (I was fasting) and the chili from Saturday night cleared me out, that the only thing coming out of my bowels was water. Which I’m completely fine with. There was no pain and I didn’t have to run to the bathroom to avoid any accidents, it was just ready and I calmly walked to the toilet and laughed at the butt pee.
Around 5.30 pm I received a text from the hospital with more information about my admission. Later that night I’m knackered and ready for bed, but MAFS is keeping me awake and then mum and I went down a YouTube rabbit hole 🙈
Day of procedure
I was up at 7.30 am reading the news and catching up on blogs. Then I showered and packed a bag. I made sure I packed a jumper and socks as coming off anesthetic can apparently make you feel quite cold.
The doctor's office then called me to pay the out of pocket fee, the receptionist was able to confirm that the out of pocket fee is not covered by Medicare or my private health insurance (wtf am I paying you for every month when the only thing I need to pay isn’t covered?). If you recommend a health insurer please let us know in the comments below.
Apart from that, I’m actually feeling totally fine about the whole thing. These are professional doctors in some of the best hospitals in the world, we’re good. I have a feeling a lot won’t be found, and the doctor has given me the worst-case scenario by saying I need to stay overnight and it’s severe. Or I’m in denial and that is actually the case 😂 I like my denial story so I’m sticking to it! Read on to see the actual outcome.
9.30 am we jump in the car as admission is at 10.45 am. We get to the hospital and after seeing the nurse we see the anesthetist. I start asking her if there’s a chance I can wake up. I don’t know why this scared me so much but I started crying. I’ve never been under before so I panicked and thought of the worst-case scenario. She assured me that the chances are so rare she’s never seen it in her career and neither has this hospital. They also have all these different machines now that monitor your brain, heart and blood pressure activity that can tell them my level of alertness and if they saw some activity they'd be able to add more anesthetic. I calmed down and now felt totally ready, just hungry!
Pinteresting food helped 🤤
They then give me a gown to wear, super sexy underwear, a robe, and compression socks and then we wait.
At 2.20 pm they called me in for the procedure.
I was put on a bed and mum was able to come with me until a certain point. We said goodbye, I was completely fine until they took me to the second waiting area where I met John who is a lovely and soothing man that came to check on me.
Of course, that’s when the waterworks started, he asked if this was the first time having surgery, I said yes and we talked about it. I let myself experience the emotions and totally understand that it was coming from a place of not understanding what I was going to experience. He asked what I was most worried about and I said the anesthetic. He explained more about it and said I’d have a relaxant first and a lot of first-timers experience these emotions.
A few minutes later the doctor came in, saw I was a teary and also reassured me of what he was going to do, saying I was his 4th for the day. A few minutes after that the anesthetist comes in energetically saying ‘this (holding up a huge needle) will make you feel so much better. It makes you feel like you’re drunk on champagne and from this point on you won’t really remember much’. I was all about it.
Next minute, I vaguely remember being taken to the theatre and saying ‘this shits great’ 😂 and goodnight. There was no countdown, nothing. I woke up and my doctor was there. All I remember him saying was it took 45 minutes and calling my mum to explain more.
After the procedure, I was in and out of sleep and loved it.
When I started coming to consciousness I was super drowsy and the pain in my stomach felt like when you have a stitch from eating too much. I asked for pain relief and whatever they gave me was amazing.
Mum then told me the doctor said they found a lot of endometriosis and cleaned it all out, they also said they were really happy with it. I was so happy and so relieved that all of this wasn’t for nothing. I’m glad they found it and so happy they fixed it, but I wouldn’t see the doctor until the next morning so for now, that’s all I knew.
As the day progressed the pain stayed like a stitch or really bad period pain but consistently. It felt like my abs had a huge workout but nothing Oxycotin wasn’t able to fix. I had compression pants on with a pump on both legs and a needle of a solution to ensure clots wouldn’t form.
When it came time to eat I wasn’t ravished like I thought I would be, I had a plain cheese and tomato sandwich and my sister brought me cashews. I told her she couldn’t make me laugh because my tummy was sensitive. It didn’t stop her even slightly. We then took the edge off and the three of us watched MAFS.
Throughout the day/night they checked my blood pressure, temperature and at 4 am I complained of my shoulder to which the nurse gave me peppermint water and explained that the gas they use to pump up your stomach, can make your shoulders feel slightly sensitive and peppermint water helps relax the muscles.
I had a catheter so didn’t need to get up and pee, I just hung out and dropped in and out of sleep.
Day after the surgery
I woke up at 6.30 am being asked by the nurse if I’d like a coffee and the other nurse removed my catheter. It didn’t hurt, they deflate it and pull it out. I then felt like I was leaking but the nurse reassured me it was blood and I had a pad on that soaked it all up. The blood coming out was just the endometriosis they burnt clearing out of my body.
Tummy pain is still there but just feels like I-ate-too-much-food stitch when I’m sitting or lying down. When I got up to use the bathroom for the first time that’s when the pain was a little heavier but manageable. It felt like I had down a big workout and pulled a muscle in my abs, I just walked slowly and it was fine.
The doctor wasn’t able to see me but spoke to me on the phone. He said that I had a lot of endometriosis and I was right to think that was the problem. There were no cysts or anything, my fallopian tubes looked good, I’m very fertile and he was very happy with it all. He’s got images to show me also when I see him in 4 weeks and I need to see my GP in a week who will change my dressings.
I was discharged at 11.30 am and went to the pharmacy down the hall to collect all the meds I’d need. Then mum brought the car around and we went home where I was in and out of sleep most of the day. They recommend eating a lot of food with fiber to help with digestion as the anesthetic can make the bowels sluggish, they also gave me laxatives for this.
When I got home I slept for a few hours. I walked around really slowly, took some pain meds and just kept it all light and slow.
Later that night I was in a fair amount of pain so I took another 2 paracetamol and oxycontin. This helped me sleep. I woke up around 5.30 am and emptied my bowels for the first time. It was such a relief and the gas coming out as well helped so much.
I fell back asleep much more comfortably.
2nd day after the surgery was way easier
I woke up feeling so much better. I was still walking quite slow and being gentle but my stomach felt much better. I had breakfast and after I took a Voltaren & laxatives. Shortly after breakfast, I took my first shower, I took it slow and used the handheld shower to wash. It felt great being clean.
I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my siblings and enjoying all the pain killers 😂 (I don’t normally take pain medication so this was a whole new world for me).
Every day after this became easier, especially as the gas left. Expect sore shoulders as the gas gets trapped in the sockets and I had a sore chest/ribs. I could feel the gas in there, it wasn’t too painful just super uncomfortable.
I also bled lightly for a few days, I thought it stopped at one point but came back the following day dark brown, which continues for a few more days. I went through 1 pad per day, which is normal but if you get through a few pads go to the doctor and get that looked at immediately.
A few days later...
I sharp tingling sensations on one side of my body which came on sporadically. They weren’t too painful but were t comfortable either.
A week later...
I woke up in the middle of the night with immense stomach pain. The following morning (Wednesday) I went to the bathroom and was biting my tongue and clenching my fists at the pain my bowels were in. Luckily that day was the day I went to get the bandages removed. The pain settled in the morning and I jumped in the car for the hour-long journey to my GP. I travel this far because he’s a great doctor and I am yet to find anyone as thorough as him, he’s the only doctor that recommended and encouraged me to get checked for endometriosis and his advice is always sensible.
On my way, I was fine for the first 20 minutes, but in the last 40 minutes I was in so much pain I was crying, driving and trying to find a comfortable position while wanting to get to the doctor ASAP. As soon as I got there they sent me straight to the nurse who called the doctor immediately. My doctor laid me flat and pressed my stomach at different points to locate the pain. I said my bowels hurt, through tears. He called the surgeon who said this was quite common.
Basically, I stopped taking pain medication and laxatives/stool softener for two days as I thought I was okay. This ultimately ended up turning into me being constipated and that pressure is what was causing the pain. The doctor recommended I take 3 paracetamols and Voltaren per day + the stool softener twice a day.
When I got home later that afternoon even after taking pain medication and opening my bowels I was still in a decent amount of pain, I had stopped taking oxycontin because it’s quite strong but I had a few left and decided if there was ever a time to use it, it was definitely now. The rest of the night was much better. I couldn’t feel any pain and managed to get some sleep.
I realized in all of this, even though mentally I felt fine physically my body had undergone a lot and I really needed to just relax. I wasn’t used to taking so much pain relief but I had to give myself permission to do so and not be so afraid of it as I really did need it. I also learned I needed to drink more water and eat more fiber-based food.
My first period...
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I started feeling my stomach pain begin again and thought ‘here we go’. I read up and so many blogs said the first period is the worst. I took a magnesium pill the first day, bled heavily for 2 days and that was it.
I had started taking Yaz a month prior which seems to be the only pill that works for me as the rest send me up the wall, so I’m not sure if that played a big role in the pain management and length of my period but I was somewhat relieved.
I am so happy I had this done. I wish I had it done earlier, I wish doctors and nurses took my period pain more seriously and I wish this was government-funded. $5000 just for the surgery, not including pre & post-consultation fees approx $500 + $64 in post pain relief medication + $500 excess fees + time off work is a lot of money to ask of most people for a medical procedure that can cause serious health implications to many women.
I also learned that ultrasounds really don't pick up endometriosis. To think the ultrasound lady was certain she couldn't see anything but then the doctor saying I was covered in it, with photos as proof goes to show that they can't find it without doing a laparoscopy (for now anyway)
What I recommend...
- Get a complete quote (including doctors & aesthetician fees)
- Confirm what your healthcare covers
- Negotiate with your doctor if its too much
- Take 2 weeks off work (I didn't think I would need it, turns out I definitely did). If you are in a position to work from home the second week then do that, but you will be walking like an old lady for at least a week and a half.
- Take a stool softener at least once a day for the first week.
Its been almost a month and now I can honestly say my stomach feels better and what is even more surprising my gut health is better. I go to the bathroom more regularly and where I used to urinate far too often, now I don't have that urge as much (super weird and might just be me). If you think you have this find an Obstetrician/gynecologist and ask your GP for a referral.
I would love to hear your story, questions or concerns. Let me know in the comments below