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Friday, April 7, 2017

This countdown until surgery is getting ridiculously real! In kid terms–we have 3 more sleeps! Mr. Pennington and I have to be up before those happy birds in the thorn tree out back start chirping on Sunday morning! I’ve had so many questions flying  at me lately. “Are you nervous?” “What are they doing?” “What are you having surgery for?” “How long is recovery?” I have some answers, but a lot of unknowns as of now! If you know me, you can imagine how well the unknown factor is working out for me. #controlfreak I do want to chronicle every step of this process though! Not only for family and friends, but for those of you just beginning the endo journey! Below you’ll find some of my recent FAQs 🙂

Are you nervous?

Nope. I am ecstatic. I’ve spent so much of my life feeling like this disease was in control (even when I didn’t realize WHAT was making me feel so bad). I’m just ready to get on the road to recovery! I will say, though, I’m not looking forward to leaving my kids for 10 whole days! I’ll miss their martial arts yellow belt ceremony, school art show, baseball practices, and will just miss THEM. In the long run it will be worth it because I’m giving them their mom back, but I haven’t convinced myself of that totally yet. 🙂

While I’m not nervous, I do keep having these ridiculous dreams that we got lost on the way to the surgery, that I went in for surgery and they found zero endo, that the doctor was mad because I came too close to Easter. All pretty irrational stuff that has me waking up in a panic and forcing me to have 1am dates with the Golden Girls on Netflix. I’ll be happy for the anxiety to be over.

What are they doing?

I am traveling to the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta. A very skilled team of specialists will be excising my endometriosis. I’ve had surgeries in the past to “burn” the endo off (ablation), but that is just a quick fix that really just band aids a big problem. So many physicians (even those who consider themselves specialists) really are not aware of how excision works or that it even exists. The way I explained this procedure to my kids is this: when you pull a weed in the garden, you have to get the root. Otherwise it just comes back. Endo is the same. You have to excise the WHOLE thing. Zero cells can be left behind or it can come back! Read more about the procedure here if you’re interested in learning in a little more detail.

What are you having surgery for?

I hear this a LOT. Usually followed by, “I thought you had a hysterectomy”. I did have a hysterectomy, and also lost my right ovary. I have ONE ovary left. That does not stop endometriosis from growing. Endo is fed by estrogen, and also produces its own estrogen. Even if both ovaries were removed, without having the endo excised it could still run rampant in my body. It can no longer attack my uterus and other parts that are no longer in tact, but endo doesn’t discriminate! I am unaware right now of where all my endo is located, but it can be found on the bowel, bladder, intestines, appendix, diaphragm, lungs, vagina, rectum….in rare cases, it can be found on the brain! You don’t need your reproductive system for this monster to keep breeding. Bottom line:  Hysterectomy is NOT a cure for endometriosis! And don’t let anyone convince you that it is.

How long is recovery?

I’m spending 10 days in Atlanta for maximum peace and quiet post-op. Aside from that…I have NO idea. As long as I need. I have spent damn near 20 years with this disease. I’ve finally found the gold standard in ridding myself of the symptoms (not of the disease–there’s no cure). I will not overdo it and push myself to do more than I should only to ruin what a world renowned specialist has done to help me. Some people feel great in 2 weeks. Some take months. As a general rule, around 3 months is when people really start to notice the benefits of the surgery. It truly just depends on how much of your body is involved and how invasive the surgery is. For me, my GI symptoms far outweigh the pain that some women have (and that I had in my early 20s). My body has become accustomed to working a certain way to accommodate the endo and it will take some time to retrain itself. I just have to be patient! Totally not my strong suit, but…well…I’m going to learn.

Speaking of patience…I’m super antsy right now and REALLY have to get to cleaning the rest of this house and putting the finishing touches on my suitcase before I attempt to zip that sucker up! Is it a problem that I absolutely intend to sneak my son’s “blue blanky” with me for the trip? Totally doing it.



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