Those were the words I have been waiting to hear since my diagnosis on June 18, 2014. I heard them yesterday from my Ob/Gyn, Dr. Rojas. (He is one of the best physicians I have ever encountered, and certainly the best Ob/Gyn. I could write an entire book about this man and his outstanding attention, care and kindness – and maybe I will in the future – but for now, I want to simply include my praise within the context of this recap.)
After chatting with my doctor and asking my follow-up questions, the most important thing I took away was when he said, “Now all you have to do is heal and put this all behind you.” AGREED!
Now that I know it’s officially benign, I want to put this all in writing so that I can:
- Put some closure around the procedure for myself;
- Fill in those people that I gave pause and concern with the initial post, FB post and dopped-up instagraming (ill advised); and
- Give anyone facing a similar diagnosis a peace of mind or at least the details of a procedure that’s kind of hard to research without reading a bunch of ill-informed crap.
So here we go, one week and one day out of surgery.
I was diagnosed with PCOS and it was determined that I had a rather large, likely-dermoid cyst on my right ovary. It had to be removed (it was affecting some bodily functions and would just keep growing otherwise… and also we had to make sure it wasn’t cancer) and I chose to do it robotically to take recovery time from 6-8 weeks to 2-3 (and to minimize the scarring).
I had to be at the Weingberg Building at Johns Hopkins Hospital by 9 a.m. My surgery (yes, I will call it a surgery, now having survived) started at 11 a.m., and since I was the second surgery that day and likely starting a bit later, it’s best to be on time for these things, yes? I’m usually always late, but not for important things like dermoid removal.
My mom came to pick me up, as promised, at 8:30 a.m. I was still busy wiping myself down with industrial strength cleaning wipes (for surgery), and they leave your skin super sticky for about five minutes, so I was killing time and waiting to put on clothes. My mom, ever helpful, said she’d let the dog out one more time.
Hold up: Did I mention I was dogsitting? Yep. Probably not the best idea, but it is what it is. Instead of staying at their house – which I normally do – I took the dog, Daisy, to my house. Why? Because I didn’t know how surgery would go, how I’d feel after and also they were redoing their floors so we physically couldn’t be there. This theme of taking an easy situation and making it more complicated will repeat itself throughout my tale.
A few minutes later, my mom comes back inside and asks if I’d let Daisy back in the house.
No, I hadn’t.
“Well she’s not outside.”
WHAT THE WHAT? YOU CAN’T LOSE THE DOG BEFORE I GO INTO SURGERY! Do I cancel the surgery? How far could a 12-year-old lab with a bum hip go? HOW COULD SHE DO THIS TO ME?
I was emoting all the emotions.
Lucky for us, Daisy was simply two row houses down and we were back in business. I’m pretty sure that I sweat through my newly-cleaned skin, but what can you do?
We then hopped into the car, mom drove, then pulled over and made me drive us to the Weinberg Building where she dropped me off. She then went to go get my Aunt Dene who was going to keep her company and keep everyone (yes – everyone) entertained. I told my mom to get her AFTER she dropped me off because Aunt Dene is usually late, like me, and I didn’t want anymore drama before surgery. Oh Molly. If you only knew…
I assumed I’d have to wait a million years to be taken back to get ready for surgery. This was not the case. I registered on the kiosk, registered with a human, sat in the waiting room long enough to pull out my book and start reading one page… and then voila – it was time to go back to get prepped.
This is when I wished my mom and Aunt Dene were already with me. I didn’t want to go back there alone, but I put on my big girl smile, told the friendly folks in the waiting room what my mom looked like (incorrectly, I might add. Oops.) so they could direct her to my prep room and was on my way.
I then encountered at least fifteen different people, and please believe me when I tell you that each person was friendly, calming and confident. I didn’t hesitate in the least and really felt like I was in the best place I could be for this surgery. I had my vitals taken, my allergies were confirmed and reconfirmed a million times and I changed into my sexy surgery get up:
I now regret this photo, but it is what it is.
Dr. Rojas came by, my mom and Aunt Dene met him for the first time and confirmed how awesome he is, I met Dr. Nickles-Fader (who was proctoring Dr. Rojas) who was very nice and reassuring and I met the team of anesthesiologists and they explained the procedure. That’s when I became nervous. Not because they did a bad job, but because I really thought about the breathing tube they were sticking down my throat. I guess I hadn’t considered that before as part of my this-surgery-isn’t-a-big-deal preparations, and knowing I have asthma… I just got nervous. But I was assured I’d be heavily sedated and likely not even awake. Besides – what was I going to do… cancel the surgery? Nope.
After a few jokes about drinking + oxycodone (thank you Aunt Dene), I kissed the fam goodbye and went off to surgery.
Once I was wheeled into surgery, around noon if memory serves, I was introduced to the robot that was performing the surgery. That’s a crazy sentence to type.
I then hopped from the bed they brought me in on to the surgery table (<– scientific term) and then it was off to the races. Not literally, of course, but I did feel like I was at a pit stop (which they pre-warned me about). Everyone there had a job to do and a role to play, and it was go time. Dr. Rojas was right there with me, holding my hand and giving me a last-minute pep talk. I think I said something about all the alcohol-related talk that preceded the surgery (again, thank you Aunt Dene) and the next thing I knew I was awake and it was 7 p.m.
Yes, 7 p.m. This surgery was to take no more than three hours on average, so when I finally did some basic math and realized that it was four hours beyond that, my first thought was: did I miss Top Chef Duels? (I’m not kidding. That was my actual first thought.)
I remember Dr. Rojas telling me that the surgery to remove the cyst went really well – it was, in fact a dermoid, they got it out with only three small incisions (and one in my belly button) and it looked benign (as pathology today confirmed).
The problem was – I had some difficulty accepting the breathing tube going down and then when they went to remove it. I started to panic and then remembered I was breathing just fine and didn’t remember a thing so… ok. It’s ok.
The “bronchial incident” added four hours more onto surgery time… and it also landed me in the ICU for the night. For observation. More of a precaution. Ok. It’s ok.
My stupid asthma attack (which was later explained as some blood entering my lungs from trauma – but I might have gotten that wrong?) took this outpatient procedure to ICU heights. Well done, lungs. #nope
I then hoisted myself from the surgery table back to the bed to go to the Weinberg Intensive Care Unit (WICU) and that’s when all the feels came.
I knew my dad was probably freaking out (he was), I was worried about my mom and Aunt Dene and what they must have been going through, I was SO THIRSTY and so sure I was of sound mind (I wasn’t.) I wanted to know if the dermoid had teeth, hair, bones and fat (it did!) and did it rupture (it did – but they got it all because it was in a bag) or come out whole and OMG WHERE WAS DAISY (answer: with my awesome neighbors doing great) and could they charge my cell phone (yes of course) and did the TV have the Bravo channel (it did!) and did I miss Top Chef Duels (enough with the Top Chef, Molly) and my breath is terrible and someone call my dad and I should answer the missed texts and calls (now is not the time) and holy cow I’m nauseous (as expected) and… so much. So, so much.
I think I checked Facebook (damn you, technology) and realized that HOLY SH*T I had freaked out the 90 percent of my friends who I didn’t even tell about the surgery. (Again – sorry all.) I then thought it would be a great idea to post something from the WICU:
but it turns out I was still too groggy, tired and loopy from the day and probably should have just waited. Oops, and again – sorry all!
I had amazing care in the WICU. My night nurse – Amelia – was fantastic. She was nurturing and kind and listened to my crazy stories and just made me feel as comfortable as she could. I cannot say enough good things about her.
Around 4 a.m., I finally had to pee – about time given all the IV bags of fluid I was absorbing and all the ice water I was downing. My fingers looked like sausages, but it still took forever to get the urge to pee.
TMI, you say? I’m here to tell you that there’s NO SUCH THING AS TMI IN AN ICU. I peed next to a window, with a wide open hospital gown, in front of nurses I just met and teams of residents and doctors doing rounds. NO BIG DEAL. I PEE ANYWHERE IN FRONT OF ANYONE NOW.
Peeing and eating and not needing the respiratory medicine anymore got me a ticket out of the ICU the next day. (Shout out to Kate and Genevieve who were my new nurse and nurse-in-training after 7 a.m. – you both were wonderful as well. And very, very patient with me.) (You won’t read this, but I’m writing it anyway.) (Thanks nursing staff at Weinberg!)
Home-based recovery is boring and challenging and annoying and wonderful. Wonderful because you’re at home and it’s not as hard as you thought it might be. Annoying because it gets so boring so fast, and you don’t really have enough energy to do anything meaningful with your at-home time, like you previously thought you would. Challenging because HOLY CRAP MY STAIRS ARE STEEP AND WHY AM I DOGSITTING AGAIN?
Boring because it’s annoying and challenging. But all-in-all, it’s amazing how quickly the body heals. It wasn’t easy for the first three days, but it wasn’t terrible. Thanks oxycodone? I stopped taking the pain medication on Saturday, and basically just had to keep myself from doing too much.
I think the most difficult part, after the initial few days, is remembering that you just had surgery and needed to take it easy. I felt no pain on Sunday, but after a 15 minute car ride to the pool (at the house where I was dogsitting), I was beat for the rest of the day and slept 14 hours that night. In other words, take it easy, Molly! (I should mention I’m not allowed to bathe or swim (yes – I can shower, duh) for 6-8 weeks, so I just laid down and put my feet in every once in a while.)
But how great is that? I had a large 11+ centimeter in diameter cyst removed laparoscopically BY A ROBOT and three days later my biggest pain was my left arm that had a IV catheter placed in the artery (OUCH OMG SO MUCH HURT – still! A week and a day later it’s still super sore, bruised but getting better.)
SWOLLEN CITY PITY PARTY. (Plus all the beverages because I’m still me.)
I am not allowed to drive yet (maybe Saturday?) and while I feel no pain, I still get tired quickly. I can’t do any exercise for six weeks, but Dr. Rojas might be able to clear me sooner depending on how I heal. I’m hoping for sooner because I miss the team at Rev Cycle Studio and my #TruetTime. All this sitting without any physical activity makes me nervous, I won’t lie.
My goal is to go back to work on Monday – even if it’s just for a half day. I seem to be on track, but we’ll find out.
All this sitting/laying down has allowed me the time to get my new jewelry-business adventure launched, so that’s one really big positive.
Let’s Give Thanks
Of course I couldn’t write up this recap without giving thanks to everyone of you for sending your positive thoughts, praying and otherwise supporting me. Thank you, you wonderful people, you!
- Thank you to B, C and V – wonderful neighbors (and friends) who assisted in all-things Daisy related. They fed her and let her out during the day, and took her into their home during my unexpected ICU overnight. No questions, no hassle – just many offers to be helpful. What a RELIEF they provided. Thank you, neighbors!
- Thank you to Aunt Dene – you made all of the care team laugh with your questions about pain meds and drinking, you brightened my day by being there to take my mind off of things, you certainly kept my mom sane by being there with her the entire time and you thought of questions to ask that I never would have thought of, but definitely wanted to know. THANK YOU!
- Thank you, Tinkerbell (aka my mom). There isn’t enough room to thank you for everything you did and continue to do for me. You may have almost lost Daisy pre-surgery, but you also took care of me, waited on my hand-and-foot and kept my demands in check. I LOVE YOU. (You also don’t own a computer so I know you won’t read this.)
- Thank you to everyone that reached out via Instagram, Facebook, text, phone and floral/food arrangements:
There is nothing better, after any big life experience, than knowing people care about you. You feel vulnerable and not at all like yourself, so it’s so, so, so nice to feel the love – no matter which form it comes.
This was a long post and if you made it this far – get a hobby. JK – thanks for your time.
I probably left something out, and that bothers me, so I reserve the right to come back and add information in. If you are considering a similar surgery, please feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.
I’ll leave you with my favorite emoji because peace, man.
P.S. Things you
don’t need to should know: The entirely of this post was typed while watching/listening to this Disney Top 60 list (and frankly, I find the choices to be a bit odd and overly Hunchback heavy):
Take from that what you will. (See guys? I’m still me.)