A Year In Review: Laparoscopy #2
At the time of writing this post, it has been exactly one year since my second laparoscopy. For those who are perhaps new to my journey, my first was in 2016 which is when I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis. If you're reading this later on in the year, my second was in October 2020. Context aside, I thought it poignant to reflect on the recovery process, the impact of this second lap on my health and where my health is now as well as provide an opportunity for myself to be honest with myself about how I'm feeling in regards to all that.
This second laparoscopy happened as a result of my symptoms returning towards the end of 2019. Whilst my Mirena IUD had for the most part kept my body in check (hello, no periods!), it seemed it wasn't enough to keep my endometriosis fully under control. Of course I knew this would be the case - what with endometriosis having no cure and all - that but I think I had been lulled into a false sense of security as for the most part everything going on in my body was tolerable/manageable for a good 3 years.
By the end of 2019 it seemed the endometriosis had encroached enough to start causing noticeable issues again. I had begun spotting throughout the month; sex had become intolerable and incredibly painful (dysparenuia) despite the progress made with my vaginismus therapy; I had a constant feeling of pins and needles in my pelvis (pudendal neuralgia); my sciatic pain had intensified and I often found myself reaching for over the counter painkillers when usually I would be able to manage my pain with CBD and/or my tens machine. All in all, the endo monster was well and truly raising her evil head; the devil was back.
So, in December 2019 I went back to my doctor and asked to be referred back to the gynaecologist who performed my first laparoscopy. February 2020 brought about a consult, trans-vaginal ultrasound (with the same radiographer who did my first one and remembered me due to the fact that I passed out, oh the memories!) and my first ever MRI. These investigations lead to it being suspected that my endo had grown back on my ovaries, bladder and pouch of Douglas and the MRI suggested that there might be endo growing on my bowel too. As a result I started on Zoladex injections in preparation for a laparoscopy (for more information on these, click here) and was booked for another laparoscopy with a view to excise the endometriosis that had grown.
My surgery was originally supposed to be in May 2020 but due to COVID, it was pushed back until October 2020 and as a result I stayed on the Zoladex injections for 8 months in combination with HRT to reduce the risk of my bone density decreasing. I had good results with it and found that it minimised my pain and symptoms but obviously it was only ever meant as a stop gap and to prepare me for surgery.
That then brings me back to a year ago today. All in all, surgery went fine. I had endometriosis excised from my bladder, uterus, ovaries and pouch of Douglas again, as well as new nodules that had grown on my bowel and ureter tubes. I also had my Mirena IUD replaced at the same time because it made sense to have it done when I was in the twilight zone. The original plan had been for me to stay overnight to be monitored as I was supposed to have stents fitted on my ureter tubes as a precaution but due to the Zoladex reducing the inflammation, this wasn’t necessary and I was home by 8pm. All in all, I was pleased with how it all went. I felt supported, well cared for and I left knowing that everything that could have been done, was done.
So with that I went through the recovery process again. In the immediate week following, I felt awful. I bled profusely for the first twenty four hours and could barely stand, let alone walk. My abdomen turned dark purple with bruising and I suffered from constant nausea and bloating which was barely dented by my usual green tea remedy (I hate peppermint tea…). Yet, as days went by and I allowed myself to rest, I slowly started to feel like myself again except, better.
In the weeks that followed this laparoscopy I noticed that the pins and needles in my pelvis had dissipated and that I was no longer spotting (in fact, the changing of my IUD meant my periods have once again stopped completely). As the year has progressed there has been a huge reduction in the intensity of my sciatica pain, uterine cramps/spasms and I seem to have less bloating episodes too. Sex whilst still at times uncomfortable (thanks vaginismus!), doesn't bring with in the painful pressure or burning sensations and has once again become enjoyable.
I might seem like I’m glossing over it but in all honesty, that’s how it’s been. I’m not 100% but I’m better than I was. Yes, I still have flare ups and yes I still experience pain almost on a daily basis but in comparison to pre-second laparoscopy, I’m in a better place health wise and it’s more manageable.
With that in mind, I’m now starting a new journey in preparing to have a family. As a result I’ve made the decision to have my Mirena IUD removed a few weeks ago so that I can have a natural menstrual cycle for a few months before actively trying to conceive. Whilst I am concerned that this might exacerbate my symptoms and the regrowth of my endometriosis, it’s a necessary evil and a journey that I hope you will continue to follow me on.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to know more about my journey with endometriosis, please do get in touch.