Mary’s daVinci Hysterectomy Story
Hysterectomy Type: daVinci – robotic hysterectomy
Age at Hysterectomy: 50
Location: Northeast USA
I wanted to tell my story about why I choose to get a DaVinci Hysterectomy and it is also a story about doing your own research, advocating for your own health, and making your own decision about whether you need/want a hysterectomy.
LESSON 1: DOCTORS DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING
I am 49 years old and had always been told by my gyn that I had fibroids but not to worry, fibroids are benign and that there wasn’t much I could do about them.
That being said I had always noticed a bulging of my stomach outward despite the fact that I did not not have a lot of fat around my belly and I had never had children. I mentioned this to my gyn and and she had no answers. (Of course I blamed this on heredity and mom’s genes lol). In addition I began to have a few issues with holding my urine – not big just sometimes urgency and sometimes peeing when I sneeze. I told this to my gyn and again she had no answers, said perhaps I should see a urologist. Then in November of 2011 I noticed a hard bulge on my right side – kind of felt like a walnut, sometimes a small pear. Well at 3:00 in the morning I was sure it was cancer (don’t we all jump to the worst conclusions – esp in the middle of the night!) but the next day after some research I thought perhaps it was a hernia. I went to my Gyn who said it could be but she couldn’t really feel anything.
LESSON 2: ADVOCATE FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH
I insisted to my GYN that I get an ultrasound, I wanted to determine whether or not it was a hernia. So I get a script from her to get an ultrasound. During the ultrasound the tech is commenting to me that I have very large fibroids. She asks if I have a lot of bleeding. I haven’t in fact periods were not every really an issue for me (sorry) and in fact I hadn’t had a period for two years. She was really surprised based on the size. So I ask her to specify what she meant by “large”. She gave me a centimeter number which I asked her to equate to something and she said that my fibroids were the size of GRAPEFRUITS. Holy mackerel my GYN never said that. She said that I should look into my options if I wanted to get them out. I could do nothing since most are benign, I could choose a new procedure EMBOLIZATION that could block the blood supply to the fibroids (thus shrink them) I could get a myomectomy to remove the fibroids but leave the uterus or I could get a hysterectomy.
LESSON 3: RESEARCH YOUR OPTIONS
Well when I researched the three options I thought perhaps that the least invasive (EMBOLIZATION) would be best so I made an appointment with an interventional radiologist. He took one look at my ultrasound and said “My you have a large uterus” really….. I wanted to say back to him “Well you have a large butt!” He said I was so congested with fibroids he could not tell how many but yes there were at least grapefruit size. Okay now I wanted a more detailed picture so I ask him to order me an MRI (Goes to rule 2 advocate for your health). An MRI is like the difference between an X-Ray and Google Earth! When the results came back it confined huge fibroids/huge uterus! Also it showed that the fibroid was pressing on my spine, compressing my bladder (remember the issues I was having) and compressing my bowels. (Well that explained all the bowel “emergencies” that I had not attributed to this!)
LESSON 4: UNDERSTAND PHYSICIAN BIAS.
After looking at the results, my interventional radiologist advocated for his procedure. This was despite the fact that the shrinkage would be just that – shrinkage of a minimal amount on huge fibroids.
My GYN advocated for her to do a hip/hip old fashioned hysterectomy. Don’t forget that some physicians advocate for what the procedure they have the most experience, and not always for what is best for you! My GYN never even mentioned the Davinici Option.
Back I went to research. I ruled out Embolization – I didn’t want them minimally shrunk I wanted them gone!
I ruled out myomectomy. If you are going to go through the procedure go through it once. Fibroids return. I also made the decision based on the fact that I had no personal need for my uterus – I wasn’t trying to have children and at 49 that ship had sailed anyway!
So that brought me to the hysterectomy option. When I researched traditional and DaVinci it was a no brainer. Davinci was better, quicker return, less pain/blood loss etc. Okay decision made!
LESSON 5: RESEARCH YOUR DOCTOR
I was fortunate to have a friend who knew someone that had sold the DaVinci in the past and asked advice how to find a good qualified doctor. You want someone who has done at the very least 50 of these and the more the better. Well the doctor I had chosen had done over 1,000! You also want to ensure that they have a low conversion rate, meaning that when they are doing the DaVinci procedure how often do they have to pull out of it and convert to a traditional hip/hip incision. My guy less than 1%. Okay so I found my guy!
LESSON 6: PREPARE FOR YOUR SURGERY
I watched U-tube videos of the procedure and did research about what to expect (side effects, healing time). Everyone is different but what I have found is that your attitude towards the procedure has an affect on the outcome. I did a lot of positive visualization, told my body what it was going to go through and how I wanted it to heal. I also knew I was going in as a warrior and would get through this. So many other people are in the hospital for cancer treatment, chemotherapy, their kids dying. I just put it in perspective for me. Plus good surgeons know what the heck they are doing.
I also made sure I was in good shape. Exercise, Yoga, Meditation – every bit helps.
I had my surgery on March 15, 2012. The surgery itself went great and low and behold I had a HUGE fibroid that was actually the size of a small CANTALOPE! It had invaded my entire abdominal cavity, my ureters were embedded in it etc. Wow some “benign” tumor! I actually ended up staying the night in the hospital because my surgeon let me know that due to the size and compression of the fibroids that one of my ureters got a little scalded. Remember in hysterectomies they are cauterizing so there is heat from the surgical equipment they use. (This is actually more common and well known possibility). My surgeon had immediately called in a urologist and a stent was put in my ureter to ensure proper flow and healing. I read a lot of stories where docs don’t do this and patients go through a lot prior to the doc figuring out he did this. So just a sign of a good doc who took the right steps. I had no problem with that. I was out the next day.
No real pain. No need for pain meds. The ride home was a bit tortuous as every bump in the road is very uncomfortable but I got to blame DH instead of the terrible highway roads! The drive from the hospital was a little less than an hour
Pretty much came home and went to bed got up a few times to walk, as that is important, then back to bed. Kind of feels like the worst day of the flu. You don’t want to read, talk, watch tv etc. I could feel though that I was getting better and stronger all the time.
Woke up Day 3 and was walking better (although still grandpa steps and slow but getting better). I showered – which I think cures everything anyway! So back to life eating, slow walking and sleeping in my own bed (A body pillow does help!)
Two weeks post op You would never be able to tell I had anything done. I was walking normal and am even able to walk pretty fast. Not able to work out yet (beyond walking) and shouldn’t lift anything heavy but my body wouldn’t really allow it anyway. I can easily walk 4 miles at a good pace so at least I keep myself active that way.
4 weeks post op back to working out, running/yoga etc. Still get a little swelled but that is to be expected. Your body will tell you when you are ready.
I did have an issue with my ureter healing which I will post under bladder forum, however, I just had that fixed. (I am now 3 mo post DaVinci) Would I do it again. ABSOLUTELY! I feel better, I look better, my bowels and bladder work better. You just have to understand the risks and you have to understand that if something happens you have to get yourself through it.
Is it scary looking at all the things that can happen, heck yes it is. But life is scary! If someone told me that they were going to put in my body a cantaloupe size benign tumor would I accept that – absolutely not! All along I had been told fibroids were benign and were not an issue— well not when they effect or press on so many other things. My ureter issue was a bump in the road, but they fixed it – and it was being crushed by my fibroid anyway. I have never felt better or been happier about my situation and I hope that I provided you with some insight.
Best of luck as you decide to do what is best for you! Advocate for yourself and your own health!