I made the decision to travel from London to Birmingham to have my second laparoscopy in hopes of treating my Endometriosis. This time my surgery was scheduled will a skilled excision surgeon Mr. Chris Mann, who I found by joining an amazing educational group called Nancy’s Nook on Facebook. You can read about how I came to the decision to have another surgery in my last post. I want to highlight that there are very few doctors and surgeons with the knowledge and skill to treat Endometriosis correctly in all its stages so it does take a lot of research and sometimes travel to get the treatment you deserve. I know my story of many disheartening doctors visits and misinformation about treatment options is also the experience of many girls with this condition so if you are struggling and are considering a laparoscopy, finding a skilled surgeon you trust is the first step.
During my consultation with Mr. Mann back in October, we decided to wait until closer to Christmas to schedule my surgery. Being self employed, I don’t have any paid sick leave or paid holidays so I was anxious about taking time off to recover. Work usually slows down in the lead up to Christmas and I had booked to go home to Dublin to see my family, so it made sense to use that time to recover. This also gave me some time to get prepared for surgery. Once we set the date of December 13th as surgery day, my fiancé Nemanja arranged to take time off work so he could come to Birmingham with me. He wasn’t allowed to wait with me, or be there when I came out of recovery at my previous surgery which you can read about here. This time I had specifically checked with Mr.Mann if a partner or family member was allowed wait with me and visit once I was awake, which wasn’t a problem. I felt so relieved knowing he would be by my side to hear the results of the surgery and to hold my hand.
I threw myself into the practical tasks of organising everything, which was my way of helping myself feel prepared while also keeping so busy I didn’t have time to think about the actual surgery. As we were traveling from London, we had to book accommodation near the hospital, so we opted for an Airbnb apartment. We chose Airbnb over a hotel for a few reasons, 1; we would have a kitchen to make our own food and not have to rely on room service or eating out. 2; we wouldn’t be cramped in a hotel room, we would have a separate bedroom and a sitting room area, so while I was recovering Nemanja could do some work in the sitting room if I was resting in bed. 3; I had to do a bowel prep the day before surgery (basically taking laxatives prescribed by the hospital to clear everything out, incase the bowel needs to be operated on) so I felt more comfortable having a kitchen to make up the solution and a bit more space so Nemanja wouldn’t be right outside the bathroom door at all times!
I was busy working as much as possible in the lead up to my surgery, so I did all my Christmas shopping online in advance (to the point my bank blocked my debit card on Black Friday because of the unusually high spending). I made a million to do lists on my phone while waiting in line at castings or sitting on the train to work. I would map out my free time between work so I knew when to call the cat sitter to arrange them minding Cookie and Oscar while we were away, or when to call my health insurer to organise procedure codes for the hospital. If I could arrange it in advance, I did it! I packed my hospital trip bag in advance, and put things aside ready to be packed for our trip to Dublin for Christmas. I also bought a few things that would be comfortable to wear after my surgery, but I think that will need a whole post itself.
Having had a laparoscopy a year previously, it was still relatively fresh in my mind. I hadn’t forgotten what it was like and I felt duped having to do that all over again so soon. My first laparoscopy I didn’t know what to expect which perhaps was better, and I think a lot of my frustration stemmed from the fact that I was still in the same position as I was before that. I had a lot of hopes that once I got a diagnosis, things would get better. I thought it would mean I could get the right treatment, I would be taken seriously and I wouldn’t keep having to have tests for things like STIs or ectopic pregnancies when I presented with pain. Sadly not much had changed. I couldn’t help but fear that this surgery would have the same outcome, and my mind whirled with all the possible scenarios my anxiety could conjure up.
Taking time to process these feelings and practice some self care was a really important part of preparing for surgery that I hadn’t foreseen. I spoke to my friends and family about my fears and I made sure to set time aside for myself, even if it was to relax in the bath with relaxation music on, having time to work through all those thoughts was necessary. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t have a meltdown (or a couple) before my operation because I did. I have to thank my fiancé for always calming me down and being supportive even when I lost the run of myself overthinking things. But if you or someone you know is going through this journey, I hope this can give you some understanding of what it feels like. Whether you are having a minor or a major surgery, there is a lot of emotions that go along side it. Everyone has their own experience of Endometriosis so whether its hope for future fertility, dreams of being able to do the things you haven’t for a long time or just wishing for any improvement at all, those thoughts are normal. It’s important to talk about your fears and not bottle up what is running through your head. You will be amazed at how even just being honest and letting others understand you a little better can help. Don’t internalise your feeling, instead try talking to your family, leaning on your friends, or joining a support group.
Until next time…