Today was my 6 week follow up appointment with Dr. Mac. And I must say…I am feeling very much like a bad ass. Pretty damn beastly in fact…which has nothing to do with the facial hair.
First thing Cori (surgical nurse) did when we got there was to give me two shots of lidocaine. These were given on the left side of my lower abdomen. Here I wasn’t as much of a bad ass as I was a big wimp. Jim came over and let me squeeze his hand while she gave the injections. They didn’t hurt, but the anticipation was AWFUL. The shots were to numb me for the insertion of the bHRT pellets. It took about 15 minutes for them to work.
Dr. Mac then came in and did a vaginal exam. That was all clear, which we expected. After that, we discussed my surgery and lab results. I had no idea there needed to be labs. I forgot that everything that comes out of the body has to be examined. Makes sense. First off, the cysts that were on my ovary and the ovary itself were all normal other than the endo. That was not a surprise. The appendix was apparently covered with implants and adhesions, but nothing else. The thing that surprised me was that they had to take out lymph nodes that had been compromised with implants. I had not realized this had happened. Doc said that those lymph nodes are so close to the ureter that it would be nearly impossible to remove them without some sort of damage and this is when he nicked mine. Thankfully, the lymph nodes were clear as well.
After that I asked him to explain the various stages of endometriosis and asked where I fell on that scale.
Very simple run down:
Stage I: Minimal. Only a few endometrial implants within the pelvic area. (yet, this can still cause excruciating pain for women)
Stage II: Mild. Implants in the pelvic cavity and involvement with ovaries.
Stage III: Moderate. A moderate amount of implants with adhesions throughout the pelvic area.
Stage IV: Severe. Implants throughout the abdomen…not just the pelvic area. A lot more adhesions. Involvement of bowels, bladder, etc. (he said he just finished working with a woman who has implants on her diaphragm!)
OK. So I was definitely a Stage IV. We suspected that, just nice to know for certain. Then he said “Let’s put it this way, on a scale of 1-10…you were between a 14 and 15.” This was most likely inappropriate, but I looked at the husband, laughed, we high fived. I said “YES! I WIN!” Thankfully, Dr. Mac is understanding of my sense of humor.
Now, the reason I feel like a bad ass; Doc said that from the day I came out of surgery, I have been doing better than most patients he has dealt with who have had this sort of procedure. Sure, I’ve been whiny and have felt sorry for myself on and off, but my overall healing has been damn fast. Not Wolverine fast. But still impressive.
This REALLY made me feel good because there have been a few times where I doubted myself when friends have said they were worried that I wasn’t bouncing back faster. I am NOT upset with them at all! They were all women who had either had a hysterectomy themselves or C-sections. They only had their own experiences to compare it to. They did not realize the extent of mine, which included a horizontal AND vertical incision. (yes, I am emphasizing that, because the doctor did) So getting confirmation/validation from my doctor that I am actually healing MUCH FASTER THAN EXPECTED is a WONDERFUL feeling!
Then it was time to insert the hormones. He made an incision that was less than an inch long. He then inserted the pellet introducer into the incision, dropped the pellets in and used the plunger to insert them under the skin. (4 estradiol pellets and 1 testosterone)The pellets are a bit larger than a grain of rice.
The site is covered with a bandage and steri strips. It is still tender, but not painful.
|Picture from: http://www.truemd.com/2010/09/hormone-pellet-therapy-safe-for-women-and-men/|
A bit of an explanation of the pellets and my hormone levels:
My doctor would like my levels to be over 200 for my estradiol (E2) and 100-300 for my testosterone (T). (I will TRY to explain both of these hormones in another post)
My initial tests back in May had my E2 at 41 and my T at 66.
My 2nd test June 27th showed my E2 at 283 (due to the birth control pills I had to take pre-surgery) and my T at 57.
Surgery was July 17th. Doc inserted 1 T pellet and 4 E2 pellets while I was in OR.
My 3rd test was Aug 16th. My E2 was 162.91 and my T 125.
Now we wait to see how things progress. I did great with the initial insertion of the pellets. Hoping things continue to improve.
The husband said that part of him will be very sad if it turns out that my depression, anxiety and very low libido were all due to a major hormone imbalance that could have been fixed if we had only known. I don’t really feel that way at all. I know it has been a number of things that have contributed to those issues. But right now I am just thrilled with the thought that maybe we have options and WooHoo! I can start feeling BETTER!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot!! I am cleared to start running! He just recommended that I wear compression shorts or use the binder. For now, I will use the binder. And hope that in the next couple weeks I can find some compression shorts that fit me properly. He told me to listen to my body. If it hurts, then STOP. If I am tired, then REST. He also said that I should not expect to really start feeling "normal" until about 3 months.