Things I didn’t know about fibroid surgery… until I had it

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Open surgery is like giving birth

Or undergoing a C-section, depending on who you ask. In my case, removing my fibroids is very similar to having undergone a C-section. The wounds are pretty much in the same place, so my dietary needs and recovery times are very similar. If you come from a background where post-delivery confinement practices are a thing, then yes, this is where I am at now.

Both my mom and my mom-in-law insisted I wear sarongs at least for the first two weeks to prevent wound irritation, and both keep reminding me to move slowly so I wouldn’t aggravate the wound. In fact even the nurse at the checkup yesterday reminded me to get up and sit down slowly (as you can tell, I kinda fail at this).

 

Your innards will literally change positions

Due to the size of my fibroids, my bladder, uterus and various other organs were pushed very far upwards in my body. The removal of the fibroids (10 removed of various sizes! With one left behind because it was too deep in!) has resulted in these organs slowly moving back downwards and otherwise towards where they should be.

Emptying my bladder the first one week plus after the surgery resulting in some massive temporary crampings (which I still get now and then). According to my doctor, this is normal as my bladder is learning that it can completely empty itself instead of always “holding back some urine” which was something I did not realise was abnormal.

 

Lack of appetite within the first few days is normal

One of the most common things that can happen after abdominal surgery of most kinds is that your small and large intestine stop working for a short while. This is one of the reasons why my doctor was “waiting” for me to pass gas – the expulsion of air meant that my bowels were working.

In my case though, a mix of post-operative ileus and lactose intolerance actually stymied my bowel movements for a few days. At one point I even threw up, and it was at that stage my doc realised that while my large intestine was moving, my small intestine was not. He recommended I chew sugar-free chewing gum to trick my body into thinking that food was coming.

This worked, up to a point. By the end of the second day I could take water and some liquid foods. Also I was sick of chewing gum. I still have the second bottle of sugar-free gum staring at me as I write this.

 

Being grateful for bowel movements

Until I could not go, I didn’t really appreciate my bowel movements. Let’s just say that I’m glad it’s regular now.

 

Probiotics may be issued at the end of your hospital stay

Remember what I mentioned about the gut not quite working? In my case my doctor gave me probiotics to be taken after I leave the hospital, as my doc didn’t want to take the chance of me getting complications from introducing gut bacteria while I was in the hospital. This is actually a pretty important step as abdominal surgery can wipe out your gut bacteria due to antibiotics.

 

Massive exhaustion the first few weeks is normal!

Your body will be redirecting your food intake and nutrition towards healing the wound, so expect to feel massively sleepy the first few weeks. In my case, there is a literal difference between having and not having coffee on a daily basis. On days when I have coffee, I can usually stay awake for up to 5-6 hours straight. Otherwise I’d need to go in for a nap every few hours.

 

The back story:

So for those who don’t know, I was hospitalised back in July for my small mango. After three months on a GnRHA (aka Zoladex), I went back in about two weeks ago after Deepavali for the surgery to remove my fibroids.

First, the good news. When I went on Zoladex (it’s what I’m referring to, easier to type compared to GnRHA), I was also advised to avoid soy and factory chicken (think KFC) as these encouraged higher estrogen hormone level productions (from what I understood).

The treatment seemed to have worked, because the biggest fibroid went from 12.5 x 8.6 x 7.3 cm to 9 x 6 x 4.5cm. It may not look like much, but when you consider that the fibroids have been with me for years, the reduction is insane. Reducing the size of the fibroids meant that I would be a better candidate for keyhole surgery, which comes with much faster recovery periods.

However, due to the positioning of the fibroids, my doc decided to switch from laparascopic to open surgery during the procedure. This was due mainly because some of the fibroids were directly up against my organs – removing the fibroids via keyhole could damage said organs.

My hospital stay got extended due to stomach issues mentioned above. Having some Milo (with milk) triggered sensitivity in my bowels I did not know was possible, which ended with me throwing up whatever little food I had and then some.

On a good note, this gave my doctor the clue he needed to resolve my food issues, so while I was put on fasting, I was still on the IV drip to prevent dehydration.

Oddly enough, my IV hand was switched from my right to the left during my recovery period in the hospital (this was not as unexpected or bad as it sounds, it was just surprising).

What was odd about it was that I developed superficial thrombophlebitis two days AFTER the IV was removed. It manifested as a swelling on the back of my right hand that found relief with a cold compress. A week after leaving the hospital and many applications of Fucidin later, and it’s almost all gone. In fact the spot tends to itch now. Huh.

 

FAQ about fibroids

Note: there’s a gory photo of my fibroids laid out in a row in this section, which is why it’s hidden under a cut. 

While writing this piece, I asked friends and colleagues whether they had any questions about the surgery, and most of it boiled down to:
Continue reading “Things I didn’t know about fibroid surgery… until I had it”

August 2019: Longer than I expected

Welcome to August

Edited: Yes, I understand that I am now posting this in October, which means this is two months late, but eh, I’m just happy I got this done. Haven’t been feeling this in a while.

Queen Bae
August… feels like a fever.

A fever that’s still happening in September, but that is a story for another day. I’m still not completely back to normal, and considering what happened in July, that’s kind of understandable. Money wise though, things are fairly stable, which is a blessing in disguise. Overall, things seem to have settled into a much more predictable tempo, which is nice.

Letter to self

Favourite pens

One of the things I have been trying to push myself to do is to play with the stationery I’ve been accumulating over the last few months. My favourite pens in August were the Pentel Dual Hybrid Metallics, along with the black notebook I bought from Popular not too long ago. There’s something mesmerising about watching the ink turn from red to shiny green or blue to gold while writing.

I have also been trying to push myself to use the arsenal I have been accumulating since I started this journey. The gorgeous tape here is from a series called Sword which Neko helped me get from this year’s Doujima in Singapore. It’s gorgeous and there’s so much of it, but it is so very pretty! Unlike a lot of washi tape though, it’s actually a bit fragile, so I use it for things I am pretty sure I don’t want to move.

Fountain pen cleaning

Stepping into inks

Thanks to Kakei’s suggestions, I began investigating a way to reuse my fountain pen cartridges while being able to play with inks from ink bottles (which, as we all know, is a deep rabbit hole). This journey made me realise a few things:

  • Sharp needles are very hard to find
    I was looking for syringes and online people were recommending mainly pharmacies (only if you are US-based or in a country where self-medication and injection is not looked down upon as it is here). Turns out Guardian and Watsons, the two biggest chains in Malaysia, don’t stock both the needles and the barrel. If they do, it’s only the barrel, which is more for feeding kids/pets.

    The bear and I suspected this could be because Malaysia had a war on drugs years ago, and having easy access to those needles was probably a bad idea. In the end I found what I wanted in Daiso, of all places. They have a variety of blunt needles that fit my needs, plus made me feel safer.

  • A little bit goes a long way
    Everything in perspective, but a little bit of fountain pen ink can go a long way. I think my cartridges all need less than 2ml (and I think even that is grossly overestimating their capacity) BUT they last me for weeks, even with daily writing. To be fair, I do tend to switch between different pens because of ink colours, but they don’t dry out (which was my biggest worry).
  • Stickerrific sells sample sizes
    Of a number of inks. I got two of them and now I am planning to get the full size of the Kyo-Iro ink: No 3, Flaming Red of Fushimi. This ink was a bit thin when I was using it in the Monami Olika, but when I switched over to the Kakuno it performed admirably.

    Kyo-Iro inks in Monami Olika

    The Soft Snow of Ohara is a very calming greyish-blue, but it’s not quite to my taste. A bit of research reveals that actually reveals that the Flaming Red of Fushimi is kinda dry, while Soft Snow of Ohara is a bit wet, both of which would explain their behaviour in the Olikas.

Enlightenment Ceremony

Family outings

The husband’s family attended Nirvana’s Enlightenment Day, which is similar (if not the same, I can’t tell because it’s all very Chinese-speaking/writing based) to the Buddhist holiday “Ulambana.” It is a day to pray for your family’s ancestors to gain enlightenment and reach Nirvana (so like the Catholic version of escaping Purgatory, as I understand it).

The festival coincides with the Hungry Ghost Month, so as usual, the practices may seem to have blended into each other. Which also means it’s…

Casa Hana mooncake

Mooncake season!

This year it kind of snuck up on me and the husband unawares. I was asking our respective moms if they wanted us to buy mooncakes, but both of them were “no, no need, no one will eat it.” Mooncakes are delicious, but they can also get very cloying very fast, and the husband and me don’t usually take more than one.

Mooncake packaging on the other hand, as you can see, was absolutely beautiful. If I could get just the packaging without the mooncake why yes I would.

Hi Bitna!

I got myself a new phone! There were several reasons for this, part of it being I needed a new one (not urgently, but it was getting to be from a “nice to have” to a “I should start looking at replacement features I want” and then they announced the Note 10 with plenty of features.

I was actually planning to wait but when the husband and I saw the pre-orders we thought it was worth it. Mainly because unlike the previous pre-orders, I would actually use the majority of the items. If you pre-ordered the Note 10, you get a wireless charging battery and the Galaxy buds.

Note 10 Preorder

I have not regretted my decision. There’s a ton of small features within the Note 10 that makes it quite worthwhile to upgrade from my Note FE, including colourful off-screen memo (it used to be only in white on black), to better camera features and upgrades, and a speedier processor. Battery life is also superior to my FE and it seems that the fingerprint sensor, even though it is now under glass instead of a dedicated button, is much more reliable than the FE’s.

Testing Note 10 camera

The stylus upgrades were also quite fun, especially with the selfie function. I just need to remember to press the button to trigger the Air Gestures, otherwise I’d keep thinking it was faulty. :p Overall I think if you’re coming from Note 8 and below, it’s a worthwhile upgrade.

Cats on roof

Now that I’ve written all that, it seems that August wasn’t as empty as I felt it was. And I left out the bit about reorganising my desk, but that’s something I think I’ll write about in the next entry. Onwards to September!

July 2019 update

Leia from Stickerrific

So July was a very eventful month for me. Somewhat. The biggest event of the month led to me getting very little done, work-wise, but I am still here, and I am still able to write, so for that, I am grateful.

Hospitalised

The small mango

For those who aren’t following me on Twitter, Insta or the like, well, I was hospitalised in July. What had begun as stomach pain was actually a huge fibroid. This fibroid had grown to the size of a small mango (my words, not the doc’s), and was pressing down on my other organs, leading to epic pain and helplessness.

I have another entry lined up about the full details about that, but suffice to say, thanks to the small mango, I now have an inkling of what menopause holds for me in a few decades.

Thank you for those who came to visit me while I was warded and those who followed up. I love you all.

Platinum Night Haul

Stationery!

I paid a few visits to Stickerrific for various reasons, including cat therapy. Just taking their photos alone makes me happy. There’s a certain charm and patience about them.

Also I bought new pens. And attended the Platinum Fountain Pen night, which celebrated their 25th anniversary. I ended up getting two Preppys and replacement cartridges at a massive discount (thanks guys!).

Chewie from Stickerrific

Getting up to speed

I still feel like I am moving very slowly. There were a lot of things that happened at work as well – projects coming to fruition, colleagues going on leave, and other things.

I’m just glad that July is over. And yes I know I am posting this end of August but I should have something new coming up soon hahaha.

June 2019 update

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This is one of those updates that are late, simply because life literally got in my way.

Or rather, my “small” mango, but that is an update for another day.

Today however, as late as it is, I want to recap what happened in June.

A reason for this is so that I have a memory of what happened in June, because otherwise I could forget unless a stray photo reminds me. For another, I have not had the inkling nor desire to journal for some time, so this is not a bad way for me to chronicle my month.

Image of pens in pencil case

June was kicked off in a big way by the Popular Bookfest. I went there to check stationery out, not intending to buy more than perhaps a pen or two if I saw something interesting, but as it turns out there were more deals than I expected.

Among the things I got were fineliners I had been eyeing, a Kokuyo pencil case for travel, new editions of the Duo Tone Pentel Gel ink, stickers (but of course) and some unexpectedly cute but super thick washi tape (which I instantly regretted in a “I should have realised it was this big” kind of way).

I had a ridiculous flu (which, in hindsight, makes me wonder if it was a sign of things to come) in the second week of June, but that didn’t stop me from taking my colleague to Stickerrific. Raya Hols are wonderful when traffic is clear (from Jaya One to Bukit Bintang in less than 40 minutes and this is with me getting lost is incredible timing!).

Stationery supplies

I also went to the Bookfest for the second time that same week to pick up the main deal and reason why I wanted to go there in the first place – Kokuyo’s large washi tape cutters were on sale at RM10 per piece. When the original is around RM18 – RM20 it’s definitely a good buy. I also picked up Tombows which I had been meaning to play around with, along with some really gorgeous and nice to use Juice Up pens.

The following week was me clearing my room, followed by celebrating my birthday. This year felt quite chillax compared to the years before, and I appreciated the husband taking me out to lunch and trying Xin Fu Tang with me. On another note, the bubble tea trend which started beginning of June shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. People do need to feed their sugar addiction I suppose (says the sugar addict herself).

Food collage
Actually looking through my photos for June, if there was one word to describe it, the word would be indulge. I took the opportunity to indulge and treat myself, from hanging out with friends to buying things for myself.

Remember I said I went wild with the stationery? I also bought a pair of Xiaomi Airdots (NOT the Redmi, those are black, mine are in white), which is a really nice pair of wireless earbuds. Reason I got them was because the ones I got back in September died. One side of the earbuds went kaput and the seller wasn’t willing to honour the warranty, insisting that if I wanted them to honour it I would need to pay for shipping back to China, so in the end I decided to blacklist them and just get a proper brand name that I would at least recognise.

Nintendo Switch

I was also “encouraged” by the husband to get a Nintendo Switch, which I did after coming across several good deals. Several days later I was told that another acquaintance could have scored me a cheaper one but eh too late.

Collection of cute animal postcards

June was spent in a haze of playing games, good food and hanging out with friends. Work was getting intense though, so I brought along some “friends” to work to make me smile.

As to my small mango well… that’s coming soon!