My cycle was regular and asymptomatic since I was 13.
But the last three years, I got tired of suffering each month with extremely heavy periods. I even landed in the ER a couple months ago.
Ultrasound and MRI showed two fibroids, probably in my uterus for a decade or longer.
Who knows, really? Since the only time doctors took scans were to view pregnancies.
What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall. Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity. Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus.
Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that stimulate development of the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy, appear to promote the growth of fibroids. Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine muscle cells do. Fibroids tend to shrink after menopause due to a decrease in hormone production.
After removal, they can grow back. I have years before menopause, so I worry.
Symptoms of Fibroids:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Backache or leg pains
I had all those symptoms for a really long time.
My belly is still big even though my youngest child is now 10. The few times I asked doctors about my bladder issues and tummy flab, I was dismissed.
I feel really let down by the medical community. No one really knows why women get fibroids. No one really know hows to stop them or treat them. Women’s health doesn’t seem a priority.
A female NP prescribed Mirena IUD to see if that would help my symptoms, just a bandaid.
I agreed to try it to reduce my estrogen and see if it would shrink the fibroids or reduce my period bleeding.
It didn’t help at all.
I weighed all my options. I didn’t want anything removed that didn’t have to be. Many doctors only do hysterectomies because that’s easier for them and a permanent solution to many gynecological problems.
I chose to remove my uterine fibroids with Robot Assisted Laparoscopic Myomectomy.
Thankfully, Wright Patterson Air Force Base hospital has a doctor on staff highly trained. She has been wonderful and I was able to get the surgery scheduled, even during the pandemic.
I wanted to be as healthy and strong as I could be so I would have the quickest and easiest recovery.
I’ve been exercising and eating well for months, but I really ramped it up this last month and lost a few more pounds and got very toned. Still can’t lose this C-section pouch, but maybe with the fibroids removed, it will help.
No fish oil or flaxseed or anything that could thin the blood for two weeks prior to surgery. I had never heard this before. No vitamins or supplements for 72 hours prior to surgery to ensure no interactions with anesthesia or drugs.
I ate very light the few days leading up to surgery. No alcohol. Less caffeine.
I stocked the fridge, freezer, and pantry with quick and easy healthy foods for the kids and my husband to make. I planned dinners based on worst case scenario since I really didn’t know how I would feel the first week. I made them promise to make and eat vegetables.
Day of Surgery: Thursday
Nothing to eat after midnight. Just like a Mogwai.
I did not opt to sip water or Gatorade up to two hours before surgery. I hydrated well the last few days. I have a history of vomiting during my four childbirths, so I was very nervous about that. I’ve never had general anesthesia before so I was worried what my reaction might be.
I wore comfy loose clothes so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything tight across my belly.
I showed up at 0545 and got prepped for my 0700 surgery.
I got changed in to a surgical gown and got an IV.
I had already signed all my consent and risk forms. A nurse verified everything and asked some questions. It was quick and easy since I have no prior conditions and I take no prescription medications. I’m pretty healthy and boring.
Pre-surgery meds for pain, muscles, nerves, and an anti-nausea were in pill form. I got an anti-nausea patch behind my left ear that works for three days. I got anti-anxiety meds and saline through my IV. I got compression boots to relieve swelling and that was a great relief to me since I usually swell up very badly with IV fluids. I was told I would probably receive a block injection in my abdominal muscles before surgery to help alleviate pain.
The techs, nurses, and anesthesiologists were all so very comforting.
Last thing I remember was viewing the OR and it seemed like a whole crowd of people in there and my doctor asking if I liked her music as two nurses held and rubbed my hands.
My husband said he got an update that they had begun and another update when I was going to the first recovery.
I woke up rather suddenly and it didn’t seem to take long for me to get released home.
I was wrapped with a thick elastic velcro belly band and that thing was sure a life saver.
I was sent home with ibuprofen, Tylenol, and tiny Oxycontin. Also Colace for a stool softener.
I had a larger incision in my navel and two small ones on either side. There were gauze and Tegaderm over the incisions. There were steri-strips over the stitches. The stitches dissolve. Granulation tissue appears as the tissue comes together and heals. It can be red and puckery or white.
The two fibroids were 75.4 grams, 10.0 x 8.5 x 1.5 cm.
I wasn’t under too many restrictions. No heavy lifting. No driving until off pain meds. It was a long weekend, so I had plenty of help with my kids and husband home. I didn’t drive for over a week.
I was very woozy and dizzy and not at all hungry the whole first evening.
I had to force myself to sip water, Gatorade, and apple juice until I felt I could eat a little. I was pretty queasy.
My belly was very sore and swollen. I had a huge bruise under my belly button. A heating pad helped so much.
I had pretty horrible gas pains all evening Thursday and all day Friday. The Colace helped and I took that for a few days.
My throat and diaphragm were terribly sore from the breathing tube for a couple days. Ricola herbal drops helped.
Day 1: Friday
I slept in my recliner in the living room for the first two nights, Thursday and Friday.
I was able to eat more normally by Friday afternoon and I felt my appetite return. Still, I ate light, less than I really wanted. I was still pretty woozy.
I walked to the end of my street and back.
The doctor called to check on me and told me I could remove the bandages and shower.
My husband grilled some honey lime chicken breasts and I ate ok.
Day 2: Saturday
I was able to shower. My kids told me I smelled like hospital so I guess that was their way of telling me I should bathe.
It took a long time to get over the dizziness. I had no energy or stamina for a week. It takes about that long for all the meds to wear off.
Saturday was a painful day. I started getting nerve pain in my incisions and cramps inside worse than any menstrual cramps I’ve ever had. My pelvis felt sore and heavy.
I was able to sleep in my bed.
We had our usual pizza night but I could only eat about a third my usual portion.
Day 3: Sunday
I took off the belly band because I didn’t think my belly was getting enough air to heal well. My belly button was too moist and the steri-strips fell off.
I walked one lap around our neighborhood pond.
My husband grilled a tritip steak and I was able to eat that ok.
Day 4: Monday
I felt pretty good and proud I didn’t need the support of the belly band anymore. My muscles weren’t as sore.
I did my regular walk around our neighborhood pond: 3 laps.
My husband made cashew chicken for dinner and I ate that ok.
Day 5: Tuesday
Rough day. I was so sleepy and woozy all day long and just longed to go back to bed. I was sore and crampy.
I craved salt so my husband made homemade potato chips with kielbasa for dinner.
Day 6: Wednesday
I felt better with more energy. I sat outside in the sunshine and sunned my belly to heal.
I was able to eat a little beef stew for dinner.
Day 7: Thursday
My two smaller holes are almost completely healed and barely visible. I was worried my navel incision was getting infected. I had diarrhea all morning and a slight fever. General malaise.
I made delicious spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.
Day 8: Friday
Still had diarrhea this morning and slight fever. Worried about infection. Got more steri-strips for my belly button incision which was not healing as well as I had hoped. Doctor said it is not infection, but it is angry.
Still have bruising on my pelvis and where the IV was in my hand.
Pizza night again! I made a white chicken pizza.
Day 9: Saturday
Rainy all day. I didn’t do much today. Resting is good.
My husband made homemade Philly cheesesteaks and fries for dinner.
Day 10: Sunday
Rainy all day. I was quite lazy. Resting is good.
My husband grilled an eye of round roast for dinner. I roasted a sheet of veggies.
Day 11: Monday
Didn’t sleep well.
Follow-up Appointment with my surgeon. My belly button wasn’t as healed as she liked. She told me to use bacterial ointment on the wound and cortisone for my rashes.
This was the first time I drove since the surgery.
Still feeling bruised and wearing jeans was probably not the best choice. The button was irritating.
My dishwasher died and I’m in mourning.
I made chili and tacos for dinner.
Day 12: Tuesday
Didn’t sleep well.
My kids had a dentist appointment and after waiting on that two hour ordeal, I was pretty tired the rest of the day.
We bought a new dishwasher and will get it installed in a week. I’m still in mourning.
My husband grilled salmon and chicken. I made couscous, sauteed spinach, and salad.
Day 13: Wednesday
I weighted 139 when I woke up!
Didn’t sleep well. Woke up with a bad headache.
I was tired all day.
My belly button is still bright pink and puckery.
I put my belly band back on for my walk around the pond and the rest of the afternoon for extra support.
I made borscht and goulash for dinner in the slow cookers.
Day 14: Thursday
It’s the two-week mark!
I feel strong. Sneezing and coughing doesn’t hurt.
My digestion is still off a little.
My bladder doesn’t feel as inflamed as it did before the surgery. I don’t feel the same urgency or spasms.
My belly button is almost completely healed. The scars are barely noticeable. My hand still feels bruised from the IV!
We cleared out the fridge of leftovers for dinner this night.
I’m making changes to my lifestyle to insure healing and hopefully these fibroids won’t grow back.
I don’t smoke. I’m cutting way back on my alcohol intake. My D levels are good. I walk almost 2-3 miles every day. I’m not overweight and I’m almost back to what I weighed 15 years ago, but stronger and more toned. My blood pressure is great.
I’m increasing my fiber intake. Potassium-rich foods, full fat dairy like cheese and yogurt, and green tea are in my daily diet.
I’m avoiding sugar and soy. I just learned to avoid flax since it’s an estrogen-increasing food.
I read the Mediterranean Diet is best for overall health, but especially for women’s hormonal issues.
I already love the foods I ate in Italy and Greece and I’m incorporating more recipes into my daily repertoire. I’m learning about other cuisines from the Mediterranean region, which varies greatly. So thankful my family is willing to experiment and try new flavors and textures.
I go back for my last follow-up appointment with my doctor in early November.
Hopefully after my follow-up appointment, I will be cleared to begin exercising regularly again. I may look into abdominal massage if I still can’t lose this tummy after resuming my workouts.