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

Fibroid header (1)

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”

[Review] Headspace Free Trial

Orange Sun from Stocksnap
The Orange Dot. Not the Headspace version.

Decluttering the mind is one of my objectives this year, so what better way to do that than with mindfulness and meditation. Headspace came highly recommended by a few blogs and the Coach.Me community, so I decided to give it a try (also so you won’t have to).

Caveat: I am somewhat familiar with meditation, it’s just getting into the practice of it that’s difficult for me. Headspace is targeted towards complete beginners.

Day 1:

Signup process was relatively quick. Took me only a few minutes to sign up and get started. Headspace has a very intuitive interface and is great for beginners. When you log in, it’ll present you immediately with the 10-day program. Click on Session 1 to get started if you can.

Initial impression: OMG this guy is noisy. I’ve heard of guided meditation but one of the appeals of an app like Buddhify is that they have these long spaces of silence for you to actually relax and slip into nothingness. Headspace, it seems, intends to replace the noise in your head with the noise of their own voice. It was quite annoying.

Let’s give this a try at least until Friday. I can do Friday now, can’t I?

Day 2:

This went relatively easier than yesterday. Despite having slightly less time to meditate, I found it more relaxing compared to the day before. I still find it odd that the session begins with your eyes open and there’s an assumption that you’re sitting with your feet on the floor, but I’m being nitpicky.

That said, there’s still a bit too much talking for my taste, but it’s pared down compared to yesterday’s constant stream.

Note: You must complete the 10 days programme to access all other parts of the site, so you can’t jump ahead unless you finish. Or you could just click on the “Next Session” button once you’re done to skip ahead, I assume.

Day 3: Friday at last.

Now we’re getting into more familiar territory. The session starts off with a two minute video likening meditation to watching the flow of traffic. It’s a really good analogy, but not something I need to see when I’m rushing for time (I woke up late this morning).

Andy now has you trained to his specific routine, so after his usual ramble, he gets you started on counting your breaths up to ten before restarting while you meditate. You do this for as many times as he remains silent before he interrupts again.

I can understand the purpose of this exercise but it feels a little redundant and repetitive, especially since in the earlier part of his sessions he talks about focusing on your body. This particular exercise seems to have you focus on counting your breaths.

Final thoughts: I’ll probably continue to finish day 4 at least since Andy mentioned he’d be talking about pulling yourself back.

Day 4:

Erm… nope. Headspace is just not for me. After 3 attempts, I’m giving up on it. However, I feel a need to say that by this time, I realise that the problem is half Headspace, half me.

Conclusion:

The good: it’s a really great way to try guided meditation, and especially if you are the kind that prefers having your focus being directed by others. The 10-day programme is a really excellent way to get people started making it a habit.

The bad: I can’t stand Headspace’s Andy Puddicombe’s voice. There’s something about it that really gets on my nerve, in comparison to other apps like Buddhify and One Minute Meditation.

Should You: Get it? Only if you are a complete beginner with no idea how to start meditation. Otherwise, there are other apps that may appeal to you more. As for me, I’ll be going back to Buddhify.

[Review] Dr Shal Dental Surgery

X-Ray of my teeth taken at Klinik Pergigian Dr Shal
X-Ray of my teeth taken at Klinik Pergigian Dr Shal

Name: Klink Pergigian Dr Shal or Dr Shal Dental Surgery
Where: 24A, 1st Floor, Jalan USJ 10/1B USJ 10, 47620, Subang Jaya
Contact: Call 03-8011 6877 OR message them on Facebook (quick replies!)
Operating Hours:
Mondays – Saturdays: 10am to 9pm.
Sundays: 10am to 6pm.
Closed Wednesdays and Public Holidays

TL;DR: 4.5/5 stars, make an appointment before you go. It’s kinda pricey for me, hence the loss of half a star.

So I had to see the dentist after putting it off for almost six months (or more!). The reason’s simple: my previous dentist, while cheap and competent, had very limited working hours. He also had a long waiting list and I did not like his nurses.

What prompted this trip? One of my two milk teeth had chipped, and it was starting to hurt when I ate. I googled and asked people for “dentists open on Sunday” recommendations, and finally came across Dr Shal’s website. The opening hours caught my eye, followed quickly by the description of her waiting room and the fact that her listing on Google Maps was really professional.

I made an appointment for 6.30pm today and walked into the clinic a few minutes before I was due. Several things was apparent to me the moment I stepped in.

  • The clinic felt more like an exclusive spa
  • It had free wifi (YAY), a massage chair you could use for free, one TV playing Nat Geo and the other Harry Potter
  • Free coffee and tea, with a reminder that these drinks stain your teeth. Also plain water
  • Interesting mix of Nat Geo and female mags like Her World, I think, for your reading pleasure
  • Competent, friendly and warm receptionists

Now with all this just from the moment I walked in, I thought the Dr was going to be super cut-throat and not very professional about the treatment and all. I was pleasantly wrong.

Dr Shal was extremely professional and patient. She asked me to list my problems, if I was on any medications, any form of ill health, etc. I naively suggested removing my chipped milk tooth, but she insisted on me doing a digital X-ray first. Turns out, I had missing permanent teeth, so if my milk tooth was gone, there was nothing to replace it.

So she told me how much the x-ray was going to cost, and then the probable cost of the filling, and mentioned other problems I had (a lot of which I kind of suspected but it was nice to be confirmed, though my wallet disagrees). We agreed to tackle the most important issue first (milk teeth decay) and then we’d fill the other cavity in later. She got to work.

I don’t want to relive the entire thing again, but suffice to say:
* Numb lips from gel means I can spit out water properly (kept going everywhere)
* Looking up + dehydrated mouth = #NaoGetsAHeadache
* That took far longer than I expected!

At the end of it all, Dr Shal made me bite and then grind my teeth to ensure she had put enough of the filling. She adjusted it twice before she was done with me, even at that point where I thought I was ok with it. We then had a chat about my next appointment and clearing up some of my misconceptions about scaling (apparently, scaling is to remove the plaque on your teeth and is not to make you look pretty).

How was it? Quite good, actually. Dr Shal is very professional, caring and warm. Her nurses are great too! Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a dentist.

Cost:
X-Ray- RM90
I think this is a firm price. It’s well worth it, cause they take your entire jaw instead of just a selected area (like another dentist did before).

Filling – RM120
According to Dr Shal, fillings start at RM50 onwards. Mine was expensive because she had a large cavity to close. She also added at least two different meds before the actual filling to kill the infection in my tooth. This part of the procedure took the longest.

Antibiotics & Anti-inflammation meds – RM25
The antibiotics are compulsory (my teeth was fighting a bacterial invasion, after all), but the anti-inflammation is not. I took it cause it supposedly helps reduce the swelling and helps fight the bacteria too.

Local anaesthetic – RM10
Some people can do without it, I can’t. It was much more effective than other dentists I’ve been to though.

[Health] Longest sick bout so far

I’ve never been this sick for this long before.

Been battling a really bad flu and cough for the past two weeks. It culminated in a high fever (for me) of 39°C last Thursday, though since the doc gave me antibiotics my temperature has been going down. I suspect that my first bout during that first week was viral fever, and then I somehow got reinfected the following week with something else. Either way, I can sleep better now; I’m not coughing myself half to death like I was the past few nights.

Hopefully this means I’ll be back to normal by Monday. I hate being sick. /whine

A quick update

If everything goes well, I’ll be posting a [NaoReviewing] piece on Buddhify this Sunday. I love this meditation app, and it’s been helping me find quiet spots to meditate. Works wonders when I’m standing around in the LRT (current job posting’s in KLCC for the short term).

I’m also planning to upload a video or two about my Clash of Clan attacks. Mainly because I just love seeing my witches in action. There was also a fun GoHog attack I recently finished I had too, so that’s always good.

Things I’m learning this week: Screen recording for Android and how to add a voiceover to a Youtube video. Am also planning to do a quick ebook on a social media career in Malaysia, but haven’t had time to sit down and write yet (or rather, brain’s been on holiday).

With that, see you guys in a bit!

PS: If Zrytec and Cetrizine as antihistamines don’t work for you, consider going for TelfastD. Got a strip from Guardian KLCC today at RM14.70, and my nose stopped dripping within 40 minutes. With the haze going around I’ll take all the antihistamines that won’t kill me. ^^l