First, the best news ever. My pathology came back negative. Free and clear! My risk for ovarian cancer has been reduced substantially! YAY! AWESOME! WOO HOO! WOO TO THE HOO!
In one study, the risk for ovarian or primary peritoneal cancer (part of the ovarian cancer risk for BRCA+ women is also the lining of the abdomen) was only 1.4% in the group that had a BSO, and in another study, less than 1% of women with BRCA mutations who chose BSO developed primary peritoneal cancer compared with 19.9% of women who didn’t have surgery ended up with ovarian cancer or primary peritoneal cancer. This represents a 96% risk reduction for ovarian cancer after prophylactic oophorectomy. See the research here on FORCE.
I definitely have a sense of feeling liberated with those mutating cells GONE, GONE, GONE!
WHAT TO NOTICE 1 WEEK OUT WITH A LAPROSCOPIC BILATERAL SALPINGO OOPHORECTOMY (BSO)
- PAIN MEDS: I took 3 Vicodin total at 7pm, 11pm and 5am after the surgery. I took Tylenol thereafter, for the following 3 days. I just wasn’t in much pain (but definitely had a combination of discomforts). That said, everyone told me to take pills on time and not wait to feel the pain. Very good advice! The job of the meds is to avoid pain, so stay on them as needed. Also, you may want to keep a notepad of the meds you’re taking and when. It’s easy for the days to roll together and you lose track of time.
- BIRTH CONTROL PILLS: I stopped birth control pills prior to the surgery, finishing the pack on the Tuesday before. I had surgery on Friday and experienced slight bleeding through Sunday from the surgery. On Sunday, I started my period. It was very light and the bleeding lasted through Thursday. I didn’t really have any cramps.
- CARBON DIOXIDE/GAS: The gas they filled my abdomen cavity with to allow better visualization of the organs is finally nearly gone. Gas rises, so I’ve been burping up a storm. It was frequent the first 5 days and uncomfortable. Being vertical and walking–walking around the house, walking the backyard, the neighborhood–was the best way to release it. I used GasX the first few days, drank ginger beer (non-alcoholic) with meals, as well as a lot of water throughout the day.
- STOOL SOFTENER: I highly recommend using a stool softener beginning your first night of the surgery. Your abdomen has had a rough go and needs to heal without you straining. You’re also full-up from the gas, the swelling of your abdomen and your bowels which are restarting. I took them through Wednesday evening and functioning normally since. If you rather take laxatives, just take caution that you may experience stomach cramping, something that shouldn’t happen with stool softener. Your abs are weak so give them time to get stronger.
- HEADACHE: I had a mild but constant headache from Saturday through Wednesday. We’re not sure if we can attribute it to the surgery, the Vicodin, the hormones, the period or perhaps all of the flowers in the house (we moved them outside and wallah, headache disappeared).
- WALKING: From Saturday, the day after surgery, I began minimum 20 minute walks. Saturday was a very slow meditation doing laps around the backyard. Sunday and Monday were the same, except around the block. Tuesday I began to pick up the pace. Wednesday – Friday I started adding more time. Be cautious about tripping! Be mindful of every step!
- AB SWELLING: My ab was pretty flat after surgery and began swelling later on Saturday. It began bruising and feeling tender. I’ve been rubbing it daily with arnica gel which is cooling and helps minimize swelling and the colors of the bruising. A week later, it has gone down quite a bit, but I’m still puffy and retaining air. I think it’s all part of the repair process but I have a watchful eye on it. My other recommendation for people with sensitive skin, like me, is to use Propilis Beeswax Ointment on the areas of skin left red after you take off bandages, We have been keeping my wounds covered with cotton gauze to allow healing and protection and changing them daily. The adhesive in tape causes redness and sometimes a rash. The beeswax is helping soothe and heal.
- EATING: With the bloating of the gas, constipation and ab swelling, I haven’t wanted any heavy or rich foods. My appetite was smaller the first few days and getting back to normal over time. Yesterday and today I felt my cravings return. I’ve generally been eating smaller amounts and adding juicing for some very oxygenating chlorophyl-filled sips.
- BEING SLOW: Hard for me to do but I cherish it when I finally accept the slowing down. No lifting of anything larger than a milk carton, no major stretching to reach. My husband can help me with those things; if you live alone, move heavier things to counter height and even, lighten the load of laundry soap or other bulk items for just what you’ll need during the two weeks of recovery. Also, make high items lower before your surgery.
- SLEEP: I took 1 sleeping pill, on night two. I was otherwise sleeping pretty well. Depending on when you start your Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) you may find your sleep disrupted. It’s so critical to your healing that you get a good night’s sleep so don’t avoid a sleeping pill if it will put you into dreamland for 8 hours! If your hormones are disrupting your sleep, and you’ve been active, and not yet on your HRT, ask your doctor about starting them. They can help get you back into a sleep pattern.
- HRT: I had surgery on Friday and started the HRT on Monday. I didn’t want to experience symptoms and everything I’ve read and women I’ve spoken to convinced me that I’d have symptoms eventually and rather, get above them. There is risk from surgery of blood clots, and estrogen can cause blood clots, so the surgeon wanted to make sure I was up and walking around to be safe to start them. If you’re vegetating on the couch and not getting up and not having some activity, you may need to delay starting the HRT until it’s safer. Check with your doctor. It’s hard to distinguish some of the surgery recovery symptoms from what may be hormone resetting symptoms. Was my irritability from the bloating or were my hormones at play? Was that a night sweat or my body releasing toxins? Take note and ask your doctor if you aren’t sure. I’m not feeling any symptoms that I can detect at this point. I’m only on my second patch (I replace them every Monday and Thursday). I’ll keep y’all posted!
- BRAIN FUNCTION: I’ll admit, the synapses aren’t firing as per my usual. It’s getting better over time but my body is sending all of its energy to healing and repairing. So be patient with yourself and your loss for words, your inability to focus or react to things with the same clarity. You may also experience low energy at varying points in the day. Honor it and be still.
- HEALING: I can fill little tingly sensations in my abdomen. Skin, tissue and nerves are repairing themselves. If you are quite in tune with your body, you might notice it more. It’s not painful. It’s a great reminder not to stretch and lift things! If there is pain take note and perhaps tell your doctor.
- ENERGY: With the absence of much pain, I have had pretty decent energy. I haven’t been sleeping all day or napping a lot. I’m pretty aware, though my brain isn’t firing in usual form. I’m at a loss for words at times. I have hours of good focus and then it shifts. I peter out a bit in the afternoon. Honor how you’re feeling and remember to take breaks, eat sustaining foods, drink lots of fluids, get some fresh air, and get vertical. I’m pretty freaken amazed at how my body is healing. That said, don’t push it. You are after all still healing. Honor that, too.
- TAKING NOTES: I highly recommend to keep a notebook where you can write down symptoms, how you’re feeling, changes, what you’re taking and when, how food affects you, emotions and anything else pertaining to your recovery. You may think you’ll remember, but it’s likely you won’t retain all of the combined little and big things happening to your body and your emotions. With the HRT, it’s also important to note mood changes as well as hot flashes and night sweats as you may need a stronger dose if these symptoms continue while you’re taking HRT.
- ALLOW YOUR COMMUNITY TO HELP: My far away family and far away friends have sent me fresh pressed juices and meals, spa clothing and reading materials, and local friends have brought flowers, a yummy plush bathrobe and lounge wear, a great lap tray with high enough sides to keep things contained, books, nail polishes, more juices, kale chips and macaroons (yes, I have a thing for kale and coconut!) and lots of cards in the mail. I have accepted the gifts and help understanding that your tribe is an important part of the healing process. Allow it in and let it help nurture you to wellness.
- CARETAKERS: I have to give a warm, gushy shout out to my husband, caretaker extraordinaire. I’m so lucky in love and in healing. I feel so safe and well taken care of in your presence. Thank you for all you are and all you do. And thanks to our tribe for recognizing that Jeff has been going through his own processing throughout this journey and for giving him your love, support and energy.