I’ve been getting some requests for updates so here it is, because, who doesn’t love a good hysterectomy story?! Am I right? If you haven’t read my previous posts regarding my BRCA1 status you can start at the start here and here.
I had my BSO (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (say that 3xs real fast)) with complete hysterectomy in early July. Josh and I drove the 3 hours to St. Louis the night before and stayed in a hotel so we would be fresh for our 5:30am appointment. Dad and Donna wrangled the kids at home while we ate loads of sushi and enjoyed a nice walk around the city. Guys, did you know you can use surgery as an excuse for a date night?! I had no idea. I’ve currently scheduled 15 more surgeries for this year…just kidding…it is tempting though…
Look at us out with no kids!!!
This might seem a little silly, but I asked Josh and Bear to buy me a stuffed puppy dog to offer me some comfort at the hospital. My mom had a beanie baby dog she took with her to surgery and chemo appointments that she appropriately named Toughie. It just seemed fitting that I have my own ‘Toughie’ as I go along on this wild ride. Big Brother picked him out and named him Spokey and I love him.
This was taken in Pre-op while we waited for the Doctor. Josh and I made a ton of really inappropriate jokes regarding the surgery. I can’t share them with you, but trust me, we’re real comedians.
Surgery went great. My doctors were incredible and I had the most wonderful nurse. Guys, a good nurse is a treasure – I think that’s scripture right? Well, it should be. Dr. Easley said that everything went well and the biopsy they did, as part of their standard procedure for BRCA patients, came out clean. I did have a couple of cysts, but ‘PEW! PEW! PEW!’ (That’s me pretending to blast them away with my lazer gun) those jerks don’t get a chance to turn into cancer.
As I recovered at the hospital I had a crazy case of the shakes as the anesthesia wore off and severe dry mouth. I drank a ton of water, peed (that’s a very important moment apparently) and then I was released to come home. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The 3 hour drive wasn’t too bad until we got to the gravel road leading to our house…it was a bit bumpy for my liking.
After. I don’t know what was in that IV but it was some gooooood stuff.
The first few days I needed help getting in and out of bed and I slept a TON. I kept to my pain med schedule, but after about a week I dropped the stronger stuff and only needed Ibuprofen and soon I was getting around pretty good. Recovery was tricky because I felt so good by week 3 that I started to do too much around the house and had to have Josh rush home from work early due to some sharp pain. But all was well; the nurse at my doctor’s office said these pains were totally normal. Still, I slowed it down a bit. I’m super thankful for my Dad, Donna, Josh and my Aunt Renee who all showed up in a big way to help this momma out. A few gals from my Mom’s group also brought by some delicious meals to bless our family. I can’t thank you ladies enough for taking such good care of us! And I’m convinced that the cheesecake my Aunt Enid sent helped tremendously in my recovery!
So…now what? I have at least one more surgery to go, my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy (PBM) that I have tentatively set for mid June of 2018 (I’ll do another post soon explaining that in more detail). I’ve just had a mammogram that came back ‘all clear’ and I will need to have another one done before my PBM. (If I opted to not have the PBM I would need to monitor like a hawk; alternating mammograms and MRIs every 6 months for the rest of my life…no thanks.) I am calling a Dr. soon to set up my first colonoscopy…insert whatever joke you’re thinking of here…I’ll probably have to have one yearly to monitor for colon cancer. Sounds like a real pain in the butt (I’m sorry!! I had to!!) I will also need to see a dermatologist every year to check for melanoma. As awful as this all sounds I’m beyond grateful that I know that I have this gene mutation and that I have this opportunity to be proactive.
I am also super thankful for a Facebook group I’m part of called BRCA Sisterhood. This group has been such a lifesaver for me in terms of becoming more educated on what to expect during surgery, how to navigate life afterward and what areas to be more proactive in. I’ll offer some info below for anyone new to this journey in hopes that it will offer some direction or help. The FORCE website is also a great place to get more info !
Early Menopause : so far so good. I am having hot flashes, but I have been lucky in that they are not bad. Some women suffer terribly from them, but mine are manageable. I bought a fun hand fan to take with me when I’m out and about so I at least have a little relief. It makes me look really cool.
Exercise: We bought a treadmill in March and I set a goal of walking a mile a day. Realistically I walk 3-5 miles a week, but I increased the incline periodically and was at a 9 incline before surgery. I believe that being a bit more fit was super beneficial in my recovery. Exercising for 30 minutes a day is a great way to stay healthy and keep cancer at bay. I’m back on the treadmill and am working my way back up to a 9.
Scars: I now have 5 small scars in a rainbow on my upper abdomen where the procedure was done (Let me know if you would like to see pics and I’ll PM you). I’m not bothered by scars, but some women are. I’ve seen other women have this surgery with less scarring (the belly button is used) so talk to your Dr. about your options if you are considering this surgery.
Bone & Heart Health: Having ovaries removed at a young age can increase bone loss and lead to osteoporosis and can also increase risk for heart disease. A lot of women opt to have hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to offset this risk as well as keep menopause at bay. For now, I have opted to not receive HRT because it can increase my risk for breast cancer. I might decide to take HRT after I have my PBM, but for now it is off the table. So what do I do in the meantime?
Every year I will meet with my PCP to have blood work done to check my calcium levels and heart health. I will be taking vitamins and supplements to help strengthen my system to stay on top of my overall health. Here’s what I’m taking:
Lysine: strengthens immune system, helps in the absorption of calcium, can help reduce hot flashes.
Black Cohosh: can help reduce hot flashes and aid in…uh…dryness.
Vitamin D3: Per my blood work I was a bit low in vitamin D3 and my multivitamin doesn’t offer as much as my Dr. prescribed.
DIM: Promotes healthy hormonal balance and produces good estrogen and decreases bad estrogen
Melatonin: Y’all this has been a God send! I haven’t slept well since I was pregnant with Bear and I’ve gotten some really great sleep since starting on this.
Fish Oil: promotes heart health
Almond Milk: I’m drinking some every day in a super yummy smoothie to boost my calcium consumption.
Peppermint Essential Oil: I’ve started applying a drop to the inside of my ankles daily to help with hot flashes and it seems to be working. I didn’t have one hot flash last night!! We’ll see if it continues to work.
Well, that’s about it for now. As always, you guys are the best. There are a lot of women going through this who just don’t have much support or encouragement. I’m so blessed by you all. Your prayers, texts, gifts and you just reading this means the world to me. Thanks for going on this journey with me friends! And if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!!!!